A Little Trick I’ve Learned By Homeschooling

Because I have five children and home school them all, I have learned a little survival trick in life. This trick is called “zoning out.”

Incase you are not a “zoner”, let me tell you how this works. My kids will be incessantly talking to me or trying to show me something (usually two of them at a time) while I am already doing a gazillion things at once. To the untrained eye, I appear to be listening, nodding now and then and giving an obligatory “ah-ha”, but in truth, I am in the zone…zoned out, that is.

I have to tell you that I really hate this about myself.

I want to be all there for my kids.

Children need attention, and relationships are built on times of undivided attention.

I love my kids and want them to know that I am their biggest cheerleader, but somehow when I am “in the zone” I am sending them the message that they are bothering me, just plain boring or worse, that I am totally uninterested in their little lives.

I am my child’s first teacher. Their first impressions about life and their worth come from me. The way that I respond to them verbally and non verbally sends LOUD messages about their value to me and  as a human being. And sometimes when I am not thinking,(aka zoned) the messages that I send are not the messages I want them to learn.

For example, say your little guy runs up to you with a fist full of your geraniums that you planted (and really did not want picked bare.)  Your response/reaction sets a tone for your relationship. When you are “in the zone”, you would most likely just react. You  scold. But most likely this little human being was expressing affection and was  looking for a warm response in return. Of course, you would have seen that if you had been “all there.” He was  relating to you and sharing with you. You can replace a geranium, but you may not ever be able to recover the heart after sharp words are spoken. (Direction and instruction about not picking planted flowers can come later.)

The atmosphere of the home should be warm, welcoming and accepting of the whole child, and this does not happen when I am zoned out.

Zoning out sends the message that we are uninterested when we should actively  encourage creativity, even at an early age, by praising their little attempts and  by telling them how much we appreciate the fact that they shared it with us. We should listen to their stories and ideas. Listening to and caring about what your child values endears you to them and sets up an atmosphere of trust in the home.

Does your child feel free to try something new and fail? Do you hover over your child’s projects to make sure they “do it right.” Mistakes should be expected. None of us are perfect. If failure is a big deal with mom, they will not risk it.  Anytime your child shares with you, either a thought or a project, they are relating. They are looking to you for love and acceptance.

“Mommy, look at the paper dolls I made.”

“Mommy, listen to this song I learned on my violin.”

“Look at how high I can jump in these sneakers.”

“Do you like my picture, Mom?”

“Does my hair look all right?”

“Does this shirt look okay on me?”

The response that you give and the tone in which it is delivered speaks volumes.

“OH MY, those dolls are lovely.”

“What a smartie you are on that violin.”

“Wow, that IS a high jump!”

“Creativity needs an audience, some appreciation, the response of another human being.” Edith Schaeffer.

No matter how dumb the project or thought, a child should never be told they are stupid. Insulting or humiliating a child could close a door to that child’s heart that may never be opened to you again. (And if you do say something that hurts your child, by all means, ask forgiveness. Restore the relationship. They have feelings too!)

“The human being looking for understanding needs to find it at this moment. The need for sharing …needs response. The spark must meet another spark or the fire dies out and dark discouragement can flood in.”

Edith Schaeffer

If you are a distracted or zoned out mom like I can tend to be, let me share how I regroup and refocus:

  • Place reminders for yourself around the house, on the fridge, or near the sink where you wash dishes.  Mine currently say “ Only speak words that make souls stronger.” and “Every day is a little Life.”  and “Speak only what builds others up, and ministers grace to the hearer.”
  • Think of not having your child. We don’t have any guarantees, you know. Then thank God for the day that you do have, and live it fully with your child.
  • Realize that someday you will be alone in your house with all the quiet your heart can take…but for now, invest in your kids hearts.

Disclaimer:

There ARE times when a mother needs quiet time for herself! I am not talking about being totally child centered to the point of exhaustion and neglect of the mother.

When the kids were little, and I couldn’t get out as easily, we use to sit on the couches with books and all read or do puzzles quietly for a half hour. Other times Peter would watch the kids so I could go out and have some “sanity time.” I would go to a coffee shop, antiquing or out to lunch with a friend. My little time out and about made me a better person all around and I was refreshed and ready to jump back into life. I was ready to be all there for my kids again.

12 comments

  1. ★★★★★

  2. Anne says:

    Uh, yikes. Yes, you are totally right. But this is HARD for me, especially with two nonstop chatterbox girls!

    I do find it much easier to be a loving, focused mom when I am well-rested, not starving, and have had some time to myself that day. Also, I am considering implementing a “Do NOT talk to Mom while she’s in the bathroom, ever!” rule at my house. Just for a little peace and quiet!

    • SJBeals says:

      Ann, I have a few chatterboxes and some days I feel like my head is swimming! :) Love the “No talking through the bathroom door policy.”– The exception to the rule could be if they are bleeding. :)

  3. Jenna says:

    I agree, zoning out is a big problem and so easy to do. Definitely something I need to work on!

  4. Diana says:

    With 8yrs of marriage and 5 kids between 7 and 8 months I can’t remember when I have tuned back in. Its awful. I find it easier I guess to just zone out the whole day and be minimal, because of all the needs. I agree so much with this post and have been feeling lost lately. I found this blog through women living well. I will try your suggestion on notes around the house. I definitely don’t want to regret these years ! I really like the note * every day is a little life :)

    • SJBeals says:

      Diana, I can totally relate! I am the note queen! :) It helps to just put it in front of you where you can remind yourself, and it helps you to meet your own goals. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Nicole Auld says:

    Love the post! Found your blog through Women Living Well.

  6. Heather says:

    My kids have learned that I do this, and will take advantage of it. Not good. LOL

    I do not even do it purposefully. It just happens.

  7. I do this so often. Usually the immediate consequence is that I find the kids doing something I didn’t intend for them to do, and they tell me “But Mom you told us we could.” Thanks for the gentle reminder.

  8. katy says:

    I really love this post, Sarah. I am going to try your post-it technique! So inspiring :)

  9. […] I would do less: scold, zone out, and all “media” in […]

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