How I Homeschool, Work From Home and Still Stay Fit

How can a very busy mom find time to stay fit and healthy? Learn how a homeschool, work at home mom fits it all in. Well, sort of.

Homeschooling and working from home each by themselves are enormous tasks. How about adding in staying fit?

They require a lot of time and mental capacity from me. It requires that I am organized and manage my time {somewhat} well. (Let’s face it, no one is perfect!)

So how do I squeeze in working out 5-6 days per week on top of homeschooling and working from home without neglecting something?

It’s not easy but it’s not impossible.

The Struggle is Real

I love being home. I am a homebody through and through.

And the truth is, I often wrestle with going to the gym. I wrestle with guilt, with duty, with there always being something else to do.

Homeschooling takes a solid 3-4 hours per day, at least. Working from home is another 3-4 hours per day. Already I’m at 6-8 hours required of me. Let’s count that as my “full-time job”. But it doesn’t stop there.

I have weekly staff meetings at my church and a weekly homeschool co-op. That’s about 7 hours per week.

There is cooking. There is cleaning. There is laundry. There is parenting in between it all. There is shuttling children to different activities. The minutes and hours add up so quickly. And all of it is important. All of it is priority.

And despite what my mind wants to convince me of — the gym is a priority as well. Without my time in the gym, the other priorities don’t go quite as smoothly. Not to mention my attitude can go downhill without the “happy drug” {endorphins}.

When All of Life Feels Urgent

I struggle with taking time to go to the gym sometimes because I often believe there are more urgent things I need to be doing. And there are only so many hours in the day!

  • My office is a wreck.

  • My laundry remains sitting unfolded in a basket since yesterday.

  • I need to focus on a work-related project

  • My children are fighting too much today

  • I spent an additional 3 hours helping certain children with math

And yes, these things need to happen. But neglecting my health shouldn’t be the way to make it happen. In addition, the more days I miss going to the gym, the harder it is to get back there. I will just continue to justify why I can’t go.

The struggle is real.

Staying Aware of My Self-Talk

My self-talk is a large key to what I can accomplish. If I tell myself I can do something, I’m more likely to believe myself and take the steps to make it happen. But if I continuously tell myself “I can’t…”, then I won’t. I’ll somehow convince myself I can’t accomplish something.

Our thoughts have a powerful influence over us. This is why it’s so crucial to speak life! It’s not necessarily about “positive thinking” your way into something. Instead, it’s telling yourself the truth.

I also like the idea of aiming high. I like to aim for 5-6 days a week, because even when I can’t get to the gym that many days, I’m at least attempting to. This will at least put me in the gym 3-4 days on those weeks I’m super busy, which to me is still acceptable.

Make It Work For You

Busy mamas, I get it. I really, really do. It is a constant battle back and forth with choosing the best things. Taking care of our health should be on the list of “best things”. It will help us live a high quality and energetic life . Which to me beats getting through the days grudgingly, with little to no energy, and feeling yuck most days. Not to mention all the health issues I’ll be fighting off by staying fit and eating {mostly} well.

christin slade weightlifting

You don’t need to leave the house to workout. Do something you love so you don’t dread it. Personally, I love weightlifting and don’t love cardio. So, I head to the gym to pound some weights. I come home and my children can see the difference in my mood and energy levels. The comparison to the days I don’t go to the gym are night and day.

You don’t need to workout 6 days a week. Start with 1 or 2 and work your way up to a number that works for you.

It’s Not Perfect

The way I fit it in is I tell myself all the reasons I need to go. I remind myself why I go and how I feel when I don’t. Sometimes that means the laundry waits or someone else does it. My family is 100% supportive of my health & fitness goals so they help me reach them when I need it—often offering to do what I have to let go of.

It’s not a 100% perfect by any means. Like today, getting through math with 3 of my children alone has taken over 3 hours. It’s 3:24 PM and I have not gotten to the gym. {I was supposed to be up at 4:45 AM to go, but I didn’t sleep well last night, so I snoozed my alarm}. This is just reality. So I’m still figuring out if there is a way to make it to the gym some time before today is over.

Some days the laundry and emotional needs of my kids take priority and other days the mental health of their mother takes priority.

That’s just the way it goes. But I don’t give up. If I don’t make it, I try again the next day.

Never quit trying.

For His Glory,

Christin

How You Can Prepare Your Toddler To Become A Teenager

There are things you can do while you're kids are toddlers to prepare them (and you) for the teenage years.

There seems to be a stigma that goes with parenting teenagers. I mean, I get that teenagers have their moments just like anyone else would. But I have to say, so far my experience has been mostly positive. 

I currently have 2 teenagers in the house, with a 3rd joining the clan in July, when he turns 13. 

Now, I won't say teenagers don't come with their own set of challenges and sometimes they can act like toddlers...and so can some adults. But they haven't been what everyone has warned me of over the years. In fact, I find quite a delight in having teenagers.

When my teen girls take the initiative to clean the kitchen counters or consistently ask me if I need help with dinner or cleaning or anything else around the house, I feel so blessed.

Now, I'm not going to say that just happened over night. Nor will I say that will be the case for every teenager. 

Toddler Training

When my children were toddlers, they were in the thick of training. The terrible twos were not going to be a thing in my house. (Actually, age 3 was worse, ahem).

Toddlers are a challenge because they are learning their own independence and often use that knowledge to exert their will. This is a time to train them that tantrums and tears won't get them what they want. It's also a time for them to learn they can't always have what they want. 

The younger you instill this discipline into your children, the happier everyone will be. Honestly, a lot of the shaping of a child's will really begins at the toddler stage. If it doesn't begin here, it does get more difficult the longer you wait. 

But it's also a time to work with your toddler's natural curiosity. They are learning about the world around them, so of course, they want to touch everything. They don't have a clue as to what's okay to touch and what isn't. Lovingly training them in this can help them understand their boundaries---and believe me, despite their disputing, they love boundaries. 

Toddler Boundaries

Boundaries make children feel safe and secure. They won't ever be able to vocalize that to you directly. But they will communicate it through their behavior. 

This is also a great time to begin to really have a regular Bible reading time. Teach your toddler the great stories of the Bible and talk about Jesus regularly. Your walk with Christ should be a natural outpouring out on to your family. We love the New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.

Mamas, I want to encourage you. The toddler years are TOUGH. I know. Lord, don't I know it! I remember wondering how long it was going to be this hard or was it ever going to get any easier. It does!! It really does. Not only that, but if you take the time to train your children, not just right from wrong or safety first, but begin teaching them about Jesus; prioritizing Him in your life and in theirs, you will reap fruit in the teen years you may never have expected. 

Marg & Gab

The Fruit Will Come

After 9 years of being in the same dance studio, we are switching studios after this dance season. Since we moved last year, we're now about 45 minutes away from the studio and it has been hard for our family to drive that distance three nights a week. And since I'm the one doing the driving, I'm exhausted from it. 

Their current dance schedule leaves Wednesday nights open but the schedule at the new studio, for their level of dance, puts them in class on Wednesday night. That's the night of youth group. 

Gabriella, who's been dancing since she was 3 and Margaret who only came into dance at age 11 but learned she's gifted in tap, both decided to drop down a level in dance so they would not miss out on church. This decision, made on their own, was surprising to me, but it also delighted me. To see my teenagers prioritize their lives {and wanting to} was watching the fruit bloom from the seeds my husband and I had planted so long ago.

Keep planting those seeds mama, because the fruit will come and it will be such a sweet time!

For His Glory,
Christin Slade

Five Simple Ways You Need to Nurture Your Children

While there are many activities we could do to help nurture our children, I'd like to share with you a handful of them that are easy enough to do just about every day. 

It's easy to allow yourself to get lost in the day to day chaos of life. We get lost in the consistent feeding, bathing, and clothing our children as well as doing laundry, dishes, changing diapers, etc. We get caught up in the robotic life of caring for the physical needs of our children, while nurturing our children becomes lost in all the daily necessities of living. While these are certainly important aspects of mothering and nurturing, they are the bare minimum. Mothering is so much more than that.

While there are many activities we could do to help nurture our children, I'd like to share with you a handful of them that are easy enough to do just about every day. 

I want to share 5 ways to help nurture your children’s minds and spirits.

1. Read quality books aloud.

Reading quality books is nurturing for the mind and for your relationship with your child. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child to sit with you to read. But being consistent helps with making it a habit.  After getting over that initial “resistance hump”, reading time will be an enjoyed time with you and your children.  Some great character building books include fables, Beatrix Potter stories, books by author Thornton Burgess, and of course Bible stories.

2. Conversations–and lots of them.

Children ask a lot of questions. Many times I tend to push them off as insignificant. But I need to remember, though I know much of how the world works (as compared with a child) , my children don’t. They are trying to understand the world they live in by asking questions. This gives me an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation. It is time well spent and much is learned. Children will value our opinions and direction more when we take the time to listen to them and answer their curiosities.

Additionally, as we take the time to answer their one thousand "why" questions when they are little, they are more apt to come to us when they are older and life isn't so simple anymore.

My teenage daughter (who is nearly 16) isn't afraid to come to me with questions about social issues, love & boys (well, one boy), friend struggles, etc.  My 11-year old son shares some of the unacceptable, unidentifiable, or alarming behavior of other boys. He is curious about the world and people around him and is eager to learn about all of it.

Moms, can I just tell you that it's okay to tell your children when another child is behaving or acting in a way that is unacceptable? This isn't being hateful or judgmental, it's identifying a clear right and wrong for your child in the most tangible way possible. When my child hears another child swear, I make it clear that for my son, that is not okay and I explain why. I do not belittle or even dislike the boy doing the swearing. We are still to be loving toward those who have different values then us and I make sure to teach that to my children as well.  

ChristinSlade_Five Simple Ways You Need to Nurture Your Children

3. Share a hobby. 

This might be difficult to narrow down at first, but don't give up! Do you and your children enjoy the library? Swimming? Dancing? Playing cards or doing a puzzle? Building Lego creations or drawing?

Help them foster their talents. If you don’t know much about what they do like, search it out and learn! Or better yet, have your child teach you.  My eldest daughter has been in dance since she was 5 years old. I also have two other children in dance now. A few years ago, I started taking a dance class and each year we enjoy being a part of the recital together. 

The point is to take the time to be interested in the things they are interested in, too.

4. Special 1-on-1 time.

In addition to spending small bursts of 1-on-1 time with each child everyday, every week, my husband or I take one child out to breakfast for their own special time. We let each child decide who they want to go with because it gives us a bit of insight to that child’s greatest need. As a matter of fact, this opened my eyes quite a bit to how much my children needed me, even though I’m home with them all day. A couple of my children needed me to go to breakfast with them. I thought for certain they would choose their daddy. This has allowed me to adjust our time spent at home, to better fill their “tank”.

This is especially challenging but necessary for moms with many children. It's too easy to think of and work with our children as a collective bunch because that's what's easiest. But it's not best to always do that. Our children need to be seen and recognized as individual persons rather then a collective of children. 

5. Speak grace.

This may be one of the most crucial aspects of nurturing a child. Our words and our tone have such an impact on our children, you could not even imagine. Not only do they learn from us how to speak to others [by how we speak to them], but they learn our very hearts through our tone and words. Are we speaking in frustration? Anger? Annoyance? They know. Speaking words of grace is the best, and I mean the best way to diffuse anger and create an environment of peace. 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I cannot even begin to tell you how true those words are. And it helps to get to the root of our frustrations, and deal with them.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

And it isn’t just our face it makes cheerful, but the face of our children. It isn’t just our spirits that would be crushed, but our childrens.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many ways to nurture our children, but they do all have one thing in common: our time.

Our children see what’s most valuable to us by how we spend our time.

What are some ways you nurture your children? 

 

For His Glory,

Christin


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14 Activities for Children That Don't Include Television

Looking for some ideas for your children that don't include television? Here's a list to get you started.

While the TV in moderation isn't inherently bad. Watching it excessively can have it's downfalls, for sure. And what about those times when we don't have access to a television? Maybe the power is out or the repair man had to take your TV for a few days? Or maybe you're camping--oh wait, most people have TV's in their campers these days. 

But wouldn't it be nice to just shut it down for a while to allow our brains to breathe a bit? Sometimes we are so overstimulated, we don't know what to do with ourselves when the TV is not available to us. Believe me, I am completely guilty of this and experienced such a sensation last night. 

While this list is far from exhaustive, it will point you in the right direction and get you started.  Some of these require you spending time with your children while others are more independent.

14 Ways to Engage With Your Children 

1. Bake

My children love to bake. I typically allow them to do so if they agree to clean up their own mess. Sometimes I'll stand close by to supervise while other times an older child will assist. Baking is a great way to learn measurement and cooking skills!

2. Board/Card Games

How about a good, old-fashioned game of Clue (Clue Jr.), Connect Four, or Brain Quest? Or Go Fish, Skip-Bo, Uno? Games are fun and many of them teach strategy skills. 

3. Play-Doh

I love Play-Doh, and so do my children!! It's inexpensive and there are endless creative ways to use it! As long as I keep it stocked, my children will use it. You could also make your own by doing a quick search on Pinterest for some tried-and-true recipes!

4. Go to the Park or For a Walk

If the weather is favorable, you could pack a picnic, a frisbee, a jump rope or other outdoor toys and make a day of it! But even just an hour or two away will be enough for a dose of fresh air and worked muscles.

5. Write a letter

If the weather isn't so favorable, perhaps your older children could write a letter to a friend or relative out of state. There are so many benefits to this simple act. They will practice their letter writing skills (something that's a bit of a lost art today with email), while letting a loved one know they are thinking of them. A younger child could draw a picture and dictate a letter that you write out for them. What a wonderful way to show someone they care!

6. Draw/color/paint

I admit, I'm not quick to allow paint. It makes a HUGE mess and can just feel too overwhelming most days. But drawing or coloring are often big hits around here. Especially if there are new {quality} colored pencils, markers, or crayons to do it with. Unfortunately, cheap colored pencils or markers don't make for pleasant drawing or coloring. It can be frustrating to be drawing and the pencil lead constantly breaks. Crayola is a good way to go! If you have a budding artist and want to take it up a notch, go with Prismacolor

7. Clean

You may not need to utilize this idea unless there's a lot of whining and complaining going on. But I encourage you not to be afraid to have your children help you clean the house regularly. It doesn't have to be the whole house, all the time. But maybe washing windows one day and cleaning out the bathroom sink another day. These little tasks go a long way--not only in keeping your house clean, but also in training your children how to clean. A trait they will need before they eventually move out. Trust me, you don't want to wait until they are teenagers for this. By then, it's nearly too late. Start them young. 

christinslade_14 Activities for Children That Don't Include Television

 

8. Read Together

Grab a book and read aloud! These are some of our best times together! We've read missionary stories, literature books, historical fiction, sci-fi, and more! It's a great opportunity for enjoying the unfolding of a story with our own imaginations. You can even allow your children to draw, color, or play with Legos while you read. As long as they are quiet. 

9. Read the Bible

I suppose it should go without saying, but it's always a good time to read the Bible! You can read to your younger children from a great children's Bible 

10. Build a Fort

Kids LOVE to build forts and then play or read inside of them. We have Fort Magic which allows for some pretty amazing creations. But sometimes, they are just as content to use their bunk beds or a couch!

11. Listen to an audiobook

Maybe you have a child who doesn't love to read. You can borrow books on CD from the library or buy audio books for them to listen to. My children have enjoyed hours of listening to The Chronicles of Narnia, Adventures in Odyssey, The Bridge to Terabithia and more! 

12. Have a dance party!

If you have Just Dance, you can utilize that and have a dance-off. If not, that's okay, too!! Just put on some music and have some fun! This is especially great on a cold or rainy day! It helps to keep those weather blues away. 

13. Remember all those toys they have?

I often remind my children they have a basement full of toys when they come to me saying they are bored or have nothing to do. I think having too many toys can actually be a hinderance to children's creative play.

14. Let them be bored.

OK seriously, this isn't as bad as it sounds. It's actually good for children to be bored. It helps them develop their own imagination and creativity.

What ideas do you have for activities outside the television? Share your ideas in the comments!