Friday, December 27, 2013

5 Ways I Improved Family Life In 2013

"I achieved everything I wanted to this year," said no mom ever.

And if I'm being honest, I failed to do my best in a myriad of ways.


{Yes, there's a "yet!"}

This year, I DO feel that I improved some areas relating to my family life.

And it all began with examining a few personal excuses.

1. I changed the landscape of Dinner Time.  
Unfortunately, my family doesn't have the privilege of my husband's presence during dinner. Because of Joey's work schedule, and the excuse that my little ones were in booster seats anyway, I'd always justified a TV-centered dinner for myself and the children.

Then about a year ago, I dropped off something to my sister during dinner, and her beautiful family {which included her husband and their three small children} was eating around the table. That image stuck with me as I drove home. I wanted our dinner hour to be the same...and I knew my excuses had gotten in the way long enough.

Eventually, something clicked. I dried up my pity party tears and decided that just because Joey couldn't join us didn't mean technology had to. I decided that, from now on, the children and I will eat together in the kitchen each night. And we will say grace. And the kids will say, "May I be excused when they are finished." You see, I was raised in a home where we ate dinner around the table nearly every single night, so, naturally, I'm fond of this method. I know how this act of breaking bread together can unite a family and help to foster communication and thoughtful dialogue. My goal is to instill this family time throughout the week with my own son and daughter. {And, no, you're not a bad parent if you still eat in front of the TV. You have to do what works for YOU. :)}

2. We decided to homeschool our son for Pre-K. 
And you know what? I think this is going to be an "until further notice" decision, for we are loving it! This learning format works for our family, and we really do LIKE being together. I assure you - homeschooling doesn't = weird kids. Oh, the looks I often get when I tell people, "We homeschool." After the eyebrows lower, people withdraw a bit and probably feel sorry for my poor, "unsocialized" kids?. I just shrug it off because, chances are, I would've given the same response had I not understood what homeschooling is all about.

And what IS it about? It's about flexibility. It's about praying in the "classroom" and pledging allegiance to the Christian flag, as well as the American flag and Oklahoma flag. It's about my son learning ahead  -because he's ready - and challenging him to rise to the occasion. It's about field trips and creative play and lots of hugs and kisses from his teacher. ;)

3. I incorporated healthier living into our daily lives.
As a stay at home mom, and as a homeschooling mom, I like incorporating workouts - or P.E. -  into a few of our days. When I workout, the kids are jumping around with me. They run and twirl and roll around and laugh. It's extremely satisfying to hear their enjoyment. Today, my son was running up and down the hall saying, "Sissy, come on! Let's run so our bodies can get healthy and strong!"

No, we're not always riding bikes around the neighborhood in matching cardigans. "Alls" I'm saying is that my husband and I worked even harder this year to cultivate a favorable perception of exercise and health, and we led by example.

{Girl Code: When your BFF loves mascots, you stop walking and take a picture with Thunder's "Rumble!"}

4. Our children now learn a memory verse every 2 weeks.
If you don't think something as simple as a memory verse can impact your family dynamic, you're mistaken. For example, this week in school, Grayson learned Ephesians 6:1 - "Children, obey your parents." {I've already leaned on this verse 1,000 times.} When he's nervous about the dark, I say, "Remember your memory verse? Jesus says, 'I am always with you.' He's with us right now. Even in the dark. So we don't have to be afraid!"

Of course, memory verses don't solve all of our problems! But...they do provide a little nugget of truth to aid us throughout our days. It's like a crutch, there to fall back on when we need strength. This also serves as a way to cultivate a knowledge of the Bible, which is important to me.

5. I blogged less.
Any blogger knows just how TRULY time consuming blogging can be. {Can I get an amen??} There's the writing, the picture uploading, the linking up, the following up on comments, the visiting other blogs, the upkeep of sponsorships...{I'm out of breath!} So, I chose to blog a lot less and spend more time away from the computer.

This is why I don't advertise or do sponsorships on my blog. I don't want any strings attached in terms of holding up my end of a bargain. All bets are off when you're still wiping bottoms and don't get much time for yourself. If that makes me a horrible blogger, then...I'm a horrible blogger! :) We ALL have real lives to tend to. Life is our first priority, and we should never ever feel guilty for that. I APPLAUD people when they "take time off." {I realize, however, that some of you DO have a huge following/sponsors and subsequent obligations to uphold. I say to you: Keep up the good work!}


And there you have it. The 5 things I improved this year.

But, alas...

There are still so many things to work on.

I want to react more calmly to my children's disasters. Drink more water. I want to spend less time on social media. I never want to make my children or husband feel like an incovenience. I want to work even harder on being healthy. Send more snail mail. I want to buy my kids less toys and stop caving in to their every desire. I want to get them to bed earlier. I want to go out with my husband more - this NEVER happens!! I want to judge less, extend grace more. Turn off the TV so much more.

The list goes on. And it will always be there, for I'm not perfect - and, frankly, I don't want to be.

I do, however, want to examine my excuses and intentionally work to eradicate them.

May 2014 be a prolific year for us all in terms of improvement.

May I come back next year with - dare I say? - 6 things on my list. #GoBigOrGoHome

What did YOU do right this year? Any goals for next year?

Linking up with: 
Feature Friday at Blissful and Domestic
Thriving Thursdays at Serving Joyfully

Thank you for a wonderful year,


Stacy @ Sweethearts + Sweet Tarts said...

I relate to a lot in this post. I need to work on my excuses and in general, I need to be so much more productive. I look around at what doesn't get around my house and I know I can do so much better. And I am also considering homeschooling my little guy for the rest of the preschool year. I wish you the best of luck accomplishing your goals!

Stacey said...

Examining excuses and working to eradicate that's brilliant!! I just might join you in that pursuit.

Design_Fluff said...

A hearty YES to everyone of your goals. I can relate to most of them. I would love to see you blog twice a month instead of one. I love reading your thoughts!

Olive said...

Dear Meredith, I am so thrilled with your mothering and really good thoughts expressed here. My kiddo memorized scads of verses and I know it made a huge impact on her. She is now living with missionaries in South Korea while doing an internship for her university. I attribute her love for God to all the little things we did while she was a kiddo. Your thoughtfulness will pay off big time.

I blogged much less this year and I am perfectly fine with that. I have a small business to run and I am busy with two homes and Joe and our fur kids come first always. Much love, Olive


How wonderful sweetie, I loved your post and all you improved, although, there will always be more and more room for improvement, life is like that, it's never at a stand still!
You have such a Young and lovely family, perfect for starting the right way. We grew up eating meals together and I did with my own family too and my married daughter does too, so they do carry it on. Thanks for your sweet and kind visit.
Happy new year to you and yours.

The French Hutch said...

Hi Meredith, Hats off to you for making hard decisions. Best to make changes while your children are young and It sounds like it’s going great.
It’s time to make those dreaded lists for the new year and I have a long one.
Best to you and yours in the New Year!


sandy said...

Hi, Meredith,

Sounds like you know how to be intentional about having what is truly important in life. I agree with the blogging comes before blogging. I took off most of Dec. for that reason. And congrats on the home schooling! It can get difficult to keep it up but I'm told it is totally worth it! I didn't homeschool my kids but I know I would have loved it! Have a wonderful New Year in 2014!

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

Hello Meredith,
I will say this...eating together at the dinner table makes a huge difference with a girls are adults now and they still bring up things about times at the dinner table when they were growing up...keep it's worth it. Thanks so much for sharing at my party and I hope 2014 will be a great year for you and your family.


Ashley Ditto said...

Love your improvements! Have a beautiful new year!

ChatterBlossom said...

Great goals! Especially the dinner table one, that is how I grew up too.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2014 dear!!

Дарья Пленкина said...

i like you blog!
you follow earch others?
let me knows!

Linda Primmer said...

Hi Meredith. Such a wonderful post. Sometimes we lose our way. Home schooling is great. You are a wonderful Mom and it shows. Blogging does take time and we need to have priorities. Family first.
Let's hope this new year is full of good health, happiness and blessings. xoxo

Julie said...

Well, all that's left to say is "Good Job"! Have a glorious New Year and keep up the good work.

I Create Purty Thangs

PolkaDottyPlace said...

2013 was a great year for you!! Way to go because each of the items you posted required intentional effort on your part. Your kids seem so happy and it's exciting to see that your hard work is paying off. Keep up the good work. I love reading about your life with kids slightly older than mine so I can get a little glimpse of the reality that is to come. Thanks for sharing your family life tips!! Happy New Year!!

Rea T said...

I am a believer of number one too Meredith. We grew up with having our dinner together around the table and it really does foster good communication & allowing us to know what's up with us. I am lucky that my husband is home on dinner time & we gather around the table and eat together with the tv off. Our kids hate it but we try to make them understand that we would like to communicate & talk to them what's happened during the day...
Happy New Year!! huggies♥

Pamela said...

Loved this!! Got a few great ideas, too. My first time here. I'll be back....

chateau chic said...

You have made wonderful choices, Meredith! Eating dinner together is a huge positive way to promote unity and discussion. Home schooling is an excellent way to raise up godly young people which we so desperately need today. I find that home schooled children are more at ease socially and very polite, a delight to have around.
Keep up the good work. You're an inspiration to all of us, no matter what our stage in life is.
Mary Alice

Nada Nada Limonada said...

Great post! I'm glad you found some things that work well for your family and stuck to them!

Michelle Nahom said...

I have tons of room for much its not even funny! I have three words to work on this year and I am going to nail them! I love all that you accomplished this year! Happy New Year!

Christine Graves said...

Totally love this post! You walk the walk....and talk the truth!

It's great to see a woman who knows what she wants, and isn't afraid of judgement from people who aren't walking in her shoes or paying her mortgage ;-)

Stay true my friend!

dee -@ The Old Fat Hen said...

I love the idea of eating at the table and I try to do that every night sometimes I slip and say ok lets watch a movie while eat and its usually at these times that my boy plays up and mucks around with his food so the table will be getting a workout this year-love dee x

Patty Antle said...

Meredith, you are doing a great job. I loved reading this post. I applaud you for doing what you love and not doing what others think you should do. I hope you keep blogging because I enjoy being your blog buddy. :)

Patty Antle said...

Meredith, you are doing a great job. I loved reading this post. I applaud you for doing what you love and not doing what others think you should do. I hope you keep blogging because I enjoy being your blog buddy. :)

Patty Antle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patty Antle said...

Oh my goodness, Meredith, I ran into a publishing comment problem - maybe you can remove my duplicates. :)

Liz Lewis said...

I've always thought dinner around the table was important -- even as a kid. I don't do it anymore, because I live in a tiny apartment without a dining room, but I can't wait to have my very own dining room table one day where I can spend time with my family and friends.

Michell Pulliam said...

Absolutely LOVED your list Meredith, especially #2. We homeschooled ALL of our kids in pre-K, Kindergarten and our oldest in 1st grade. I wouldn't change it for anything! It gave them a wonderful foundation and yes, I loved the perks of us being "together"! :-) I love #5 also. I hate being in binding agreements. I've always been a free-spirit and I love not being bound by any obligations to people, who quite frankly, I don't even know, lol! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you a blessed 2014 my friend! xoxo

must love junk said...

Meredith, I love this post!! You have a great approach to motherhood-you can tell that your beautiful family comes first, and I love that!
Happy 2014 :)

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

love this! yes to all! we eat around the table every single meal and we do homeschool.
I love it, and our children are extremely I am not worry about what other people might think :) do what works best for your family

Ugochi said...

I looove the changes you made. The first that comes to mind is the change I made from working myself so tired that I get cranky and irritable. Making the home not fun for my family.
Happy New Year Meredith, I pray it is fulfilled and satisfying for you and your family!

Mom In The USA said...

Hi Meredith,
WAY TO GO GIRL!! I relate to all of these! Our goal for this year is to actually buy a [REAL] dining room table. That's great that you are homeschooling your preschooler. The comments I get after telling people we homeschool are that they want their kids to be involved in extracurricular activities and social events.
#5 AMEN SISTA!! As you told me a while ago: your true readers will always be there and based on your comment count here, you have no shortage of support.
I can't wait to see what you have in store for us in 2014.


Tara Jefferis said...

Meredith, I adored this post so much. What an inspiration, thank you. Tara.

Sherry at The Rusty Pearl said...

Meredith… YOUR a beautiful SOUL. I thank GOD for meeting people like you that totally enrich my life and make me want to be a better person I love this whole post and read each word. YOUR children are beautiful and your such an amazing mom .. That family is blessed to have you and that picture of you and them is a framer my friend. I love the things your doing for 2014 . I wish with all my might I could of homeschooled I was working single mom at the time and just couldn't. The homeschool children get GOD and they get scripture and they get one on one attention and they are the best socialized children on the planet That is my personal opinion. This world needs less time of people judging and more time LOVING and that is just what you do .ON the dinner situation. I agree 100% and its awesome and an awesome opportunity to talk and break bread and give that focus on the family .MEALS are special and they grow so so fast. GOD bless you and I wish i lived near I would be hanging with you my friend. PS thanks for your sweet comments on my blog. I smiled and said AWEEEE I love you Meredith. YOUR a great soul. BLESSED GOD crossed our paths to encourage one another .

Sherry at The Rusty Pearl said...

when i wrote that is what you do ..Was on the loving part LOL