Gratitude and the Time-Poor Homeschool Family

He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ec. 3:11)

“…There is time for every matter and for every work.” (Ec. 3:17)

For there is a time and way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” (Ec. 8:6)

Teachers are notoriously time poor. I don’t mean just homeschool teachers. I’m referring to all classroom teachers in private and public schools. And, when homeschool teachers start operating like classroom teachers, I mean them as well. 

Unfortunately, most homeschool families at some point in their homeschool experience fall into the trap of bringing the classroom home. We’ve spent a lot of time in our podcast talking about this phenomenon. 

However, I’ve been looking at statistics recently that really make me question why anyone would ever want to bring the classroom-style into their home. I guess so many think that the professionals have it together, but that is not the case. “Being time-poor is perhaps the number one grievance experienced by teachers” (Howells and Lucas, 2023, p. 11) 

Here is a line of statistics that I have been looking at recently, and this is from international schools:  

  • Only 2 percent of teachers describe their work-load as manageable.  
  • The OECD which is an international development organization reported that teachers across all countries felt overwhelmed by administrative work.  
  • In another international study, teachers reported that the sense of being time-poor was linked to their intention to leave the profession.  

I’ve looked at the research and what I’m finding is that the actual teaching wasn’t the problem but the detail work around the teaching and managing the classroom (including behavioral issues).

Teachers of all kinds are having a hard time getting on top of their to-do lists because of managing the process around teaching. And, the processes and extra stuff around teaching piles up to the point that the teacher gets further and further behind on their to-do list which increases pressure on them. Sound familiar??

Now, I do understand that the life of a classroom teacher is different from that of a homeschool teacher, but there is a similarity in the feeling of being time-poor. What eats into the time of a homeschool teacher is a little different in that it involves managing the home (cooking dinner, cleaning, managing different age groups, being a parent, wife, etc.) 

But, here is the thing… You do have enough time.

I don’t say this to trivialize the pressure that you feel because I know this sense of being time-poor is very real, especially right now. However, a big problem that all of us have is our relationship with time and the way we perceive it.

In our experience in working with homeschool parents, many start to feel the weight of being time-poor right around October, which is about 9 to 10 weeks into the school year. Then they hold on until the holidays and the feeling returns in mid-January. 

Not surprisingly, 9 to 10 weeks is approximately the same cycle professional teachers feel. 

This is a real burden for many of you, but when you’re struggling with a burden, the first place you should go mentally is to ask the question, “What do you know and believe about God?” 

This is what David did. He ran mentally to meditating on the character of God. (Read Psalm 57)

So, if God created the heavens and the earth—the sun and the moon. He would not make the mistake of making the days too short. Right??

Therefore, you’re either thinking about your time wrong or you’re trying to do too much in the time God has given you. If you’ve taken on too much, it’s time to cut. There are things you’re doing and processes that you’re following that you don’t need. 

If you’re thinking about time wrong, I have a very simple answer for you. As we have said many times, truths in the Bible are incredibly simple. That is not the problem. The difficulty is in applying these truths because every current and reflex with you and around you works against the truths in the Bible. 

So, the simple answer to your damaging relationship with time is simply more thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving, Seriously?

First, before describing why thanksgiving helps and how you become better at being thankful, I want to say that God wants you thankful. You just work better…

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:6-7) 

Also, to be clear, don’t think of thanksgiving as something to just add on to the to-do list. It’s not! It’s not something that you do. Thanksgiving is something that you are, and it’s a choice. In any given scenario, you have a choice to be thankful or not. In other words, what is transformative about this is that life is not just about what you do but the attitude and inner thoughts while you do it. 

So, how does something as simple as thanksgiving take away a sense of being time-poor? How can a simple thank you remove a sense of being time-poor?

Well, feeling that you are time-poor results from a feeling that you are losing something as the clock ticks. You resent every second melting away. And, when someone messes something up that you have spent time fixing or creating, you think of it as time wasted. All this does is increase the weight of time and the feeling that you don’t have enough of it. 

So, what if you did the opposite? Rather than resent time, you made the choice to be thankful for the time you have. 

Start with being present in the moment and not trying to multi-task or watch your phone. You work on one thing at a time and are present mentally in each moment.  

Then you choose to look for the gift. Maybe it is a smile from your son or daughter. Or, it could be laughter—or, maybe simply the beautiful day and being able to enjoy it in the midst of a school day. It is ok to be thankful for the small things. 

This changes things completely…

If you actively look for things to be thankful for—and, think of them as gifts—you start to feel like you have abundance around you rather than time melting away.

This flips the perception which is really the beginning of solving your problem.  

You’re not someone with a scarcity of time that keeps melting away. Time is no longer the enemy. Actually, you have an abundance of things to be thankful for around you and the choices you’ve made have made that possible. Time is a gift because it brings you this stuff you are thankful for. You have chosen to spend this time with your family, and you are thankful for it. 

Rather than resenting time because it steals your opportunity to get on top of your list. You are thankful for the way you have chosen to spend time because it means you have access to the gifts. 

Now, you might be thinking that this sounds way to trivial and simple. I am going to tell you that it is simple but not trivial. 

Try it! I dare you!! 

And, maybe you’re thinking right now that there’s so much wrong that there isn’t anything to be thankful for. Well, my response would be that worldview is the problem. There is always something to be thankful for. Some of you might have to think harder to find them, but we are surrounded by gifts. 

To take this further, try writing down a list of all the things that you have taken for granted in your day. Anything…no matter how small. 

Start writing. And, challenge yourself… Write down five things each day that you are thankful for. 

Then, ask your children to give one thing they are thankful for each day. 

Thanksgiving creates a sense of abundance which is the reason that thankful people share more and are more generous. So, if you approach your day with a feeling of thanksgiving, it will ripple into everything around you. 

Try it! What happened today that you are thankful for? Be detailed and descriptive.

Describe what it is and why you are thankful for it. Detail is very important and enhances thanksgiving. Also, it is important to remember that thanksgiving as the Bible describes starts in humility. You do not deserve the good things. They were not earned. Instead, they are gifts. Gifts are not earned.  

Keep in mind that in this exercise, time is a gift because it gives you these good things in your life that you love. 

Now commit to do this every day no matter how hard it seems. Make this choice every day.  This choice will remove the anxiety and stress you feel about time.  

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 6-7) 

Then move to your children. Have your children start their day with Thanksgiving. As mentioned last week, thanksgiving makes them a better student, but it also gives them a better relationship with time and removes anxiety. Allow your thanksgiving to overflow to them. 

One last thing, thanksgiving is a characteristic quality which means that you should not feel pressure to be thankful every second of the day. There will be some valleys. It’s okay! Your goal is to be characterized as thankful. When there is a valley, don’t beat yourself up mentally. Just make the decision to rehearse to yourself the gifts to pull yourself out of the valley of resenting time.

Thanksgiving is a choice. Therefore, when you start to get down and anxious, make the choice to not be content with the valley. Thanksgiving is the way out!  

What if I could promise you a path to get 30% more done in a day? How about a productivity assessment with a short 7-day productivity email course? There are 7 basic areas that I believe will give you 30% more time if you do them consistently. Here is a link to the page that will lead you to the assessment and the email course.

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