How Will You Measure Your Life?

measure-your-life-416x620In an interesting twist on and melding of business and life management genres, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life? explores how tried-and-true business theories can illuminate and improve your personal life and overall life trajectory.

Theories, Christensen asserts, often apply to smaller units like families or even to individuals, not just to larger organizations.  In this book, he shows readers how to think differently about the ways you allocate time and resources, develop your family life, and measure your overall life success.

I thought the sections on building strategies, keeping kids motivated, emphasizing processes AND resources (versus, in the family example, giving your kid a lot of lessons in how to do stuff but no real life experience of how to solve problems), and establishing a family culture were excellent.  I was encouraged in some areas, challenged in others, and inspired overall to improve my perspective and change some tactics.

Although many people do New Year’s Resolutions (and I’m one of them) I also find the start of the new school year a good time to evaluate where we are as a family and define some goals for the year.How Will You Measure Your Life? would be a great resource if you want to think through your family’s culture, ways to provide helpful experiences for your kids, and personal or professional goals for yourself.

Do you find yourself re-evaluating when it’s Back to School time?

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Being Realistic About Balance

I recently read an article entitled “Women with Big Jobs and Big Families: Balancing Really Isn’t That Hard.”  Part of me wants to cheer that such a headline is possible.  It’s great that some women have big families after attaining a level of professional seniority and compensation (or maybe after marrying men who are highly paid) so they can afford a full-time staff to handle details and logistics.  But part of me wants to call foul.  Most of us are looking for balance without the financial wherewithal to say it “really isn’t that hard.”

I get that articles like this are about encouraging young women to lean in and work for a position that makes balance easier before having kids.  But for those of us in the trenches, balance absolutely really IS “that hard.”  For most of us–including women I know with “big jobs” and those with passions that don’t come with as large a paycheck–figuring out how to mesh our parenting priorities with our other callings takes significant time and thought.

Balance is often on my mind–I’m reading about it, evaluating it, troubleshooting it, tweaking it, or trying to maintain it.  It’s never simple, but it’s a worthy pursuit because I don’t think balance is ultimately about making more money or having a prestigious job or making your kids your idol or any of those extremes.  Whether you work full-time, are home full-time or something in between, a balanced life is one in which you are confidently living your priorities.  A reader pointed out recently that it can be helpful to see how balance works for other women, even if they don’t have it all figured out.  So in that spirit, and with the caveat that my circumstances (and priorities) fluctuate wildly in this season of life, here is the balance I’m working with now.

Work/Writing – I am self-employed as a corporate writer and marketing consultant.  Sometimes I have a lot of projects at once, sometimes not.  I do this work between 10-30 hours a week, but I think my sweet spot is 20–more than that and I get frazzled, less and I get nervous about bills.  

We have an excellent babysitter for 10 hours a week–one afternoon and one morning.  She handles the kids amazingly and gamely supervises their independent schoolwork.  I try to schedule client meetings and calls for those hours.  Sometimes a friend watches the kids if my meetings don’t line up with babysitting hours.  The rest of my work fits in to daily afternoon quiet time (only the baby naps, everyone else reads or plays quietly) or on Saturdays.  I am not very productive at night, so while I sometimes do mindless work stuff like admin or emailing after the kids go to bed, I prefer to unwind then and get to bed early so I can be fresh for the next day.  

I also spend some time every week on personal writing like blogging and fiction.  I don’t get paid for that, but I love to write and I figure that writing for fun makes me better at the writing I do for pay.  

School – According to time diaries I’ve kept at various times, I devote 20-30 hours per week to homeschooling.  That includes planning and prep, as well as direct teaching time.  At this point, having homeschooled in one way or another for six years, I have a lot of things figured out so I save time by not reinventing the wheel, but I do pay attention to phases and individual needs and am always tweaking things to improve them.  My primary goals are that my kids would love truth and beauty, be lifelong learners, and get an education tailored to their unique needs and levels, so I try to approach individual subjects from that perspective, rather than being locked in to other benchmarks.  Homeschooling is challenging, but for me it is very, very rewarding.

Mind/Body/Soul Care – Most days I get up between 5:30 and 6, throw on exercise clothes, and have my morning Biblestudy and prayer time while cooking and eating my breakfast eggs and having a cup of coffee.  Then I exercise in the basement (right now I am alternating Jillian Michaels workouts, modified somewhat to accommodate pregnancy).  By the time I’m done, the kids are usually up and starting breakfast.  If I’m lucky, I can finish my workout and start my shower before they get up, but if not the bigger ones are old enough to poor milk, cook eggs, serve baked oatmeal, or whatever.  Although one child did recently set a fire in the microwave so I may need to revisit rules about unsupervised cooking!

I keep my mind sharp by reading all sorts of things, and keep books all over the house and car so that wherever I am, if I have a few moments to spare I can read.  I’m not sure how much actual time this comes to in a given day–it varies–but I average about two books per week so I guess I’m getting adequate reading time!

I tend to go to bed early most nights, but I have a lot of insomnia issues, so adequate sleep is an issue.  Since it’s been a lifelong problem for me and I don’t make it worse by staying up too late, I just do my best.  I try to rest on Sundays, at least by taking a break from paying work and trying to avoid housework where possible.

Relationships – I like my husband.  I enjoy spending time with him.  We can’t afford regular date nights, and we’re always looking for ways to carve out more time together.  But we do try!  Although I spend a lot of time with the kids as a group, I also try to make time for one-on-one outings.  They take turns going to do errands with me, going out to Starbucks, etc, and Josh does that too.  So each kid gets at least one special date with me and one special date with Josh every month.  It’s often more, but it’s good to have an achievable minimum.  I’d like to have more friend time, but I find that the best I can really do is one or two outings or playdates per month, and I try to make one or two book club meetings.  I’d love to be in a position to really do the whole “community” thing with friends, but in our area I haven’t figured out how to make that happen.

Housework/Errands – I need things to be tidy or I get stressed out, so we pick up twice a day (kids have assigned jobs like sweeping, dusting, straightening, wiping the table, etc) but I don’t do a lot of deep cleaning.  The kids are learning to clean bathrooms, and I help them out.  Josh is really good at cleaning, being more detail-oriented than I am, so he cleans our bathroom every now and then.  He also does the yard work.  I do the cooking and Josh washes the dishes most nights.  I do the laundry and ironing and change the sheets.  We trade off for things like mopping and taking out the trash.  I usually do the weekly grocery/library run and other assorted errands with one of the kids (which makes it more like a fun outing and less of a chore), although sometimes I take all the kids to Costco (and almost always regret it) or if there is only a Costco list, Josh will do it because he is a ninja and getting in and out of there fast.  While I think we would both prefer to have a weekly cleaning service and someone else to mow the lawn, right now that’s not in the budget so we make do, and I think we do a passable job of sharing household responsibilities.  

Other – This is a pretty full list, so we don’t usually sign up for other activities.  We go to church weekly and both of us serve on the worship team and in the nursery.  We go to other church events as they come up and do random things like go to concerts or strawberry picking or visit a museum once a month or so, but we tend not to do a lot of evening events, especially not regularly scheduled ones.  The oldest three kids have piano one afternoon a week at the same place, and this summer they are in swimming lessons at the same time once or twice a week.  During the school year the kids take three electives each at our co-op, which meets one afternoon per week.  We don’t have any interest in living in the car or missing our evening family time, so that’s about it for now.

I’d love to hear about how you make time for your various callings and interests.  How do you balance?  If you have an epiphany to share or a link to a related post, let us know in the comments!

Overwhelmed

overwhelmedI hadn’t planned on reading Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time because I felt like I didn’t need an excuse to dwell on the aspects of my life that feel fragmented and times when I feel overwhelmed.  However, I’m glad that I did finally read it because the overall tone was not “golly, we are all screwed” but rather the encouragement that I’m not alone or uniquely unable to get my life together, and the inspiration of plenty of ideas for changing my perspective and reducing the feeling of frenzy.

What was most helpful for me was how the book challenged my usual narrative about the causes for what the author calls “time confetti.”  I have four kids, I homeschool, I am self-employed, and I am pregnant.  I avoid listing everything I have going on because that in itself is overwhelming.  Sometimes I think if I had a regular job, or if my kids were in a traditional school, or if we lived in a walkable city rather than a suburb I would be less overwhelmed.  This book helped me to see that overwhelm is a cultural condition shared by working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms who don’t work, and women without kids.  Men can be overwhelmed too, but in our culture we have a set of assumptions that does overwhelm women more than men.

I also realized that actually, given my circumstances, I am not as overwhelmed as I could be.  We have made a lot of deliberate choices that minimize stress and avoid being too busy, and I tweak my life a lot to experiment with ways to make time for what is truly meaningful.  So at times my life feels crazy and often my leisure time comes in very short snippets, but overall I think I’m on a good track.  That said, I did get some great ideas for further reducing stress and overwhelm that I plan to try out, especially as I’m looking for even more ways to streamline with a new baby on the way.

Aside from personal take-aways, I loved how Overwhelmed contained a lot of research and data to spur thought on our culture and challenge our mindsets.  So many deeply entrenched roles and ideas are tied up in what makes us overwhelmed, and it helps just to expose our biases.  Schulte looks at the Western idea of the “Ideal Worker” and how many people believe in it like a religion, in spite of vast amounts of data that show how dumb it is in practice.  She also examines the roots of the “Distant Provider Father” and “Self-Sacrificing Mother” roles, and looks at alternatives and ways people are trying to be more involved dads, moms who put their families first but don’t burn out, etc.  Along the way the reader is challenged to think about his or her individual priorities, what he or she really values in life, and how to actually implement those in a daily routine.  Schulte points out that choosing not to live an overwhelmed life is a deliberate and often counter-cultural act, and yet encourages readers to take workable steps toward a different perspective.

As the subtitle suggests, Overwhelmed is loosely organized into how to combat fragmented, frenzied lifestyles in our families, our work, and our leisure.  The writing is excellent and highly readable, thought-provoking and insightful.  I think students of society and culture, men and women who are interested in navigating a meaningful life, and people interested in how policies impact the lives of real people would find this book fascinating and useful.

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?  

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Nurture by Nature

nurtureNurture by Nature ranks as one of the all-time most helpful parenting books I’ve ever read. Usually I prefer less practically focused books in this genre, but in this case it’s the incredibly detailed specificity that makes the book a winner.

The book begins with the premise that many (not all, but many) parenting issues are actually rooted in how we relate to our kids. In other words, the problem is not always what is happening but how it is going down. By understanding our own temperaments and the different temperaments our children possess, we can overcome many misunderstandings of motive and intent, and parent our child in the way that is best for his or her particular bent.

If you’re an involved parent, you probably do some of this intuitively. We all know that the same consequences don’t work the same way for different children. We know that some kids are more sensitive or more logical than others. We see that some of our kids need more downtime, more snuggle time, or more freedom to talk things out than others. But how do you really dig into these differences and find tactics that work in a consistent, reasoned fashion?

You read Nurture by Nature. I have read a bunch of personality books, but they make it hard to type kids because they are geared toward adults. As adults, we’ve had years to learn how to cope with our weaknesses, how to function in our society, and how to relate to other people. Kids are still learning those things. So a child manifests a personality type in different ways than many adults. This book does an INCREDIBLE job of helping parents pinpoint differences between personality distinctions using the Myers-Briggs types, which is, while not perfect, a pretty nuanced framework. First you work through your family’s types in light of temperaments (the two most dominant letters in any type—SJ, NT, SP, NF), which can be helpful to start narrowing down the types for any one person. Then the authors walk through distinctions between each of the letter pairs as they apply to children, and then how children evidence each individual Myers-Briggs type by age. I found it enormously helpful to see how each type behaves in age brackets—birth to preschool, elementary kids, and teens—especially because those sections highlight particular challenges for different types of parents with that type of child, as well as techniques that really work for that type and stage and how to show your love and support in a way the child can understand.

My husband and I had a fantastic discussion about this (he finds the Myers-Briggs framework fascinating too) and how we could tweak our parenting and better understand our kids. It was so illuminating to see how certain recurring conflicts have been rooted in our misunderstanding one or another child’s temperament, and also in seeing how to reframe our responses to difficulties. One of our kids has been giving us a major challenge lately, and it was amazing to learn that temperament is part of that—as well as getting insight into how to respond to problems that has REALLY worked as we put it into practice.

This book has changed how I relate to my children and I’m seeing wonderful results, even in the short time since I finished reading it. I also talked over the concept of personality types with my nine year old, who is now reading the book in an effort to better understand the conflicts she has with her siblings.

Nurture by Nature is an incredible resource, and I highly recommend it to parents, other caregivers, and teachers. At the very least it will make you more understanding, and at best it could revolutionize your family relationships.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Deconstructing Penguins

penguinsI got so much out of Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading that I ordered my own copy before I finished the one I borrowed from the library.  I’m glad I did because I’ve already referred to it again a few times.

The kids and I discuss books a lot.  We talk about the books we read for our history and literature selections, we talk about the books we read out loud together just for fun, and we have mom/kid book club discussions when Hannah or Jack want me to read something they’ve read.

While I enjoy these discussions, I have not always been intentional about what to ask and how to direct the conversation.  Sometimes I ask the kids for narrations (telling back what they remember–which also shows me their interpretations and how they weight different events, always interesting), and sometimes I let them bring up topics they want to cover.  Deconstructing Penguins gave me a different way to tackle book discussions.

I love the framework the authors used–based on their years of leading real book groups with kids 2nd grade and up–of approaching each story as a mystery to solve, teaching kids how to find the protagonist and antagonist to get at what the themes and the author’s message are, and helping kids learn how to read critically.  The method is a kid-friendly walk-through of literary analysis, and if you have studied literature as an adult it will feel familiar to you.  But even if you haven’t read anything remotely literary since a tortured 10th grade English foray through The Scarlet Letter, Deconstructing Penguins will give you the tools to make yourself and your kids more discerning readers.

Since Hannah was re-reading The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for the eleventy-hundredth time recently (it was one of my favorites too–must be a firstborn girl thing) and that book is one of the examples from Deconstructing Penguins, I decided to try the method out on my unsuspecting 8 year old.  I re-read the book too (it’s still good!) and walked through a similar discussion to that described in Deconstructing Penguins.  It worked out great!  Hannah gave many similar answers to the ones described in the book, but it was also interesting to note where she veered off into other observations and connections.  Overall, it was a really enjoyable book discussion and I think it was more fruitful than our usual free-for-all method.

If you want to encourage your kids to be good readers, or aren’t sure how to talk to them about books, I would highly recommend Deconstructing Penguins.  It would be great if you want to lead group book clubs like the authors did, but it also works in a one-on-one setting.  It’s a fabulous resource, and one you would not regret owning.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

The Bookmarked Life, #7

2The Bookmarked Life is my take on catch-all posts–a record to help me remember this season of life.

Right now I’m:

…Considering

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.–Edmund Burke

…Furnishing my mind

photo (1)Eliza turned 18 months old and is an endless source of entertainment for us all.  She dearly loves reading books (that’s how you can tell she’s one of us!), latching and unlatching things, putting on and taking off her shoes, and dancing.

Recently, she began saying “Yam” for yes ma’am, and when asked to say “I love you” she solemnly blows a kiss and says, “It is.”

…Learning about

After readingThe Locust Effect, I was bothered by the fact that I wasn’t doing anything to help the problems of human trafficking and violence against those in poverty.  Then, just a couple of days after I finished the book, a friend invited me to hear a presentation by a lady who, finding herself an empty nester and very convicted about the problem of human trafficking, decided to start a company that partners with organizations who rescue people from human trafficking and give them meaningful work at a fair wage.  She imports the things they make and sells them here in the US, giving all of her profits back to the organizations she partners with.  I learned a lot from her talk–like the fact that chocolate and coffee are two products that are often implicated in human trafficking, and how by simply spending a dollar more at Costco and buying the fair trade chocolate chips instead of Nestle, I can do something.  It’s tempting to say “well, what difference does it make if I buy fair trade coffee or Folgers?” but even little things do make a difference (see Edmund Burke quote from earlier in the post!).  At any rate, you can learn more about the company–Accessories for Hope–online, and Sherry does travel to speak at churches and community groups if you’re interested.

…Living the Good Life

photoWe took the children to LegoFest over the weekend, and although I don’t think any of us felt it was worth the price we paid for the tickets, once viewed as a sunk cost it was a fairly fun afternoon.  We were expecting more tips and instruction on how to build better, but instead it was more of an exposition of different types of Legos, plus lots of piles of Legos for building random things.  The session we went to was sold out and very crowded, so the kids didn’t get to play any of the games and relays.  Still, it was fun to get downtown and do something random and unusual with our Saturday!

…Teaching

Even as I was reading about modern slavery in The Locust Effect and modern prejudice and genocide in The Sunflower, the kids have been learning about slavery in history.  They were very taken with William Wilberforce, as they all are quite sensitive to injustice.  Then we turned to the topic of slavery in America and have been having deep discussions about the Missouri Compromise, the nature of prejudice and injustice, the ways that black people were mistreated in both the North and the South, the way the Irish were mistreated in the North…the kids are drawing connections I would not have expected from their ages and our discussions have been very rewarding.

…Excercising

So, I’m running over 3 miles most mornings now…in the basement.  I think I need to move this party outside, but now the 5am temperatures are well below freezing and I still often have kids waking up early while I’m exercising.  I did buy a pair of running pants though (on wild clearance, but still) so I feel quite official.  I need to find a way to get my strength training back in, and have considered alternating running with a Jillian workout, but at oh-dark-thirty in the morning I’m much more motivated to run than to have Jillian admonish me to “push the up button!!!!”

…Seeking balance

By Thanksgiving I will have wrapped up the extra work project that has been taking up a lot of my time since August.  I am simultaneously looking forward to more breathing room in the schedule while also hoping that not too much time goes by before the next big project appears.

…Building the habit

The last of my fall habits (order, focus, grace, duty) is also a habit that one of the kids is struggling with right now.  That has been helpful in reminding me to give grace to this particular kid, since I have a hard time doing things I have to do as well.  Duty implies things we ought to do–that is, we have to do them, but we don’t necessarily want to.  Lots of life is this way, and it’s worth it to cultivate a habit of duty.  This is not to say that you should blindly accept everyone else’s ideas of what you should do, but in the things you know you must do, duty means cutting the whining and getting it done.  As an adult, I tend to whine internally and make excuses to avoid things I don’t want to do.  I’m tired, I’m stretched too thin, I don’t feel like it…you know.  I’m working on catching myself in those thoughts and taking time to think them through–is this a case of needing to give myself grace because I really did only get three hours of sleep, or is this a case of needing to be kind and patient even when I’m on my last nerve?  I suppose if there were easy answers I wouldn’t have to work on this habit!

…Listening to

The kids have been listening to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie on audio during quiet times lately.  There are a couple of words I wish had been omitted (the hazards of audio books!) but I think due to the narrator’s spectacular accent they haven’t noticed.  I need more good audio book recommendations!  Send suggestions!

What are you bookmarking this week?

 

Note: Most of the links in this post are to my longer reviews, but one is to Amazon, and it’s an affiliate link, just so you know! 

The Way of Boys

The Way of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Boys was a much better book than some of the others I’ve read or looked at (not only because it doesn’t include words like “difficult” or “brat” in the title, sheesh!).  The author, a psychologist, has spent over 20 years helping boys and their families, and he has lots of common sense and helpful wisdom about boys in general.

Many of the boys Dr. Rao sees come to his office after receiving diagnoses like ADHD, Aspberger’s, sensory processing disorder, and various other things.  First of all, he thinks many of these boys are diagnosed poorly, too soon, or by unqualified people. The book contains a lot of helpful information about what to do if your son gets a diagnosis, and how to figure out if it’s accurate and what to do about it.

Even if your child is not being labeled in some way, Dr. Rao’s advice and insight will be helpful.  The book includes tips on how to more effectively give rules to boys, how to dispense consequences, and how to know if your boy is acting up because he’s in a new developmental stage, is testing boundaries, or is just not getting enough exercise.  I especially liked the common sense discussions about team sports and their value (or not) for young boys.

I found The Way of Boys refreshing, helpful, and insightful, and would recommend it to all parents of boys, whether you’re dealing with behavior diagnoses or just a normal kid having normal kid issues.  This book is calm and rational and encouraging in the fact that the vast majority of boys are just normal kids, and will give you ideas for how to help them along.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Transforming the Difficult Child

I read Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach after seeing it recommended as a resource for calm and effective parenting (particularly about getting kids through their homework without fuss, although the book is more comprehensive than just that!).  It took me a bit to get past the title.  I don’t refer to my children as “difficult,” nor do I find that title helpful even in kids who are difficult.  The authors use the term “intense” in a couple of places, and I wish they would have stuck with that in the title too.  In fact, I think the title could be off-putting to parents like me whose kids are basically great but sometimes have bad behavior.  That said, the authors note that their methods are applicable to all kids, not just “difficult” ones.

Once I got past the title, I found some helpful information.  Some of these ideas have been in other books I’ve read–putting energy into positive affirmation rather than giving attention only to negative behaviors, etc–but this book gave detailed examples that helped me think through how to implement the ideas with my elementary-aged kids.

I’ve put some of these ideas into practice and have seen positive results.  I’m not sure how completely I buy in to the whole system (I don’t know if I have time to do the complex daily tally of good and bad behaviors traded for points and privileges–it seems laborious), but at least the first half of the book was quite helpful.

If you’re interested in positive parenting techniques, Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach could be helpful for your consideration.  If you’ve read the book and tried the techniques, what did you think?

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Homeschooling With a Baby

This year in addition to three scholars, I have an active and mobile baby in the mix. How do we homeschool with a baby? Creatively.

Sometimes Eliza is eating while we do school.  Other times she’s playing with toys in her high chair (as pictured, with magnet boards).  She also is happy to roam around pulling things out of baskets and making huge messes.  It could be because she’s the fourth child, but I’m much more tolerant of the mess making.  What? You want to pull 478 different magnet letters, puzzle pieces, shape tiles, and blocks out and mix them up while I teach your brother how to diagram sentences?  Go for it, babycakes!

I’m kidding. Partially.

With older siblings around, I have the freedom to designate someone as the babysitter while I do Office Time with another child.  The watcher’s main job is to keep Eliza safe, prevent her from ingesting poison, and keep her occupied.  Sarah usually finishes her school work earlier than the others, so she often plays blocks or My Little Ponies with Eliza.  Hannah and Jack just keep an eye on Eliza while they do other assignments.

We’re sort of in an in-between phase, but Eliza still sometimes takes a morning nap.  On those days, we try to cram Office Times in while she sleeps.

Then there are the times when we look up from one-on-one teaching time and see this adorable face peering in at us.  It’s hard to resist, so sometimes Eliza is allowed to crash Office Time.  She tries to scribble in notebooks, pulls bookmarks out of books, climbs all over us, and otherwise distracts us teaches us how to focus.

I do think it’s good to be able to work while there is distraction around–not all the time, but every now and then.  In life, there aren’t many times when you have the luxury of completely silent focus and yet you still have to be productive.

But for the most part we rely on sibling babysitting, naps, and designated school time toys to keep Eliza occupied while I’m teaching.  She sits on my lap during read-alouds and quietly plays pretty well nearby when we’re doing our subjects together.

I’m trying to make more of an effort now to read board books and picture books to Eliza.  I want her to know and love the favorites we spent years with when the other kids were little.  Some days I fit it in when we’re in the rocking chair up in her room, and other days it’s just here and there when she brings me a book.  I know I’m not reading as many picture books to her as I did to the older kids when they were her age, but maybe it’s about the same amount of time since she does listen in on the school reading.  And I do plan to keep up daily nursery rhymes, Aesop, poetry, fables, fairy tales, etc in our reading rotation because those are important for baby linguistic development as well as enjoyable for everyone else.

So that’s baby-schooling for us.  If you have babies or toddlers in your homeschool, how do you handle it?

The Family Worship Book

If you’ve only got time to read one book on family worship, I really recommend A Neglected Grace over The Family Worship Book: A Resource Book for Family Devotions.

That said, if you’re interested in the topic of how to set up family worship (or Bible time, or family devotions, or whatever you want to call it), The Family Worship Book may have some helpful ideas for you.  Personally, I found the tone a little less encouraging, and the suggestions seemed more black and white and less flexible.  But I did get some good ideas for components that could figure into our practice, and also a good list of hymns and Psalms that reminded me of favorites I still need to teach the kids.  I could have gotten that from a quick perusal of the hymnal and Psalter we own, but the list was a nice quick reminder.

At any rate, what we’ve settled on for a routine is to do our worship before we read the bedtime chapter of our current read-aloud.  We sing the Doxology, read a chapter of the Bible (from Acts, currently, we finished Joshua), sing a hymn or Psalm, say the Apostle’s Creed (because we’re working on memorizing so the kids can say it during our church services), work on our Bible memory, sometimes sing another hymn or Psalm, pray, and sing the Gloria Patri.  It doesn’t take very long, all told.  Some days it goes very smoothly.  Other days, the kids are wound up and it’s a tougher thing.  However, I’m keeping in mind the advice from A Neglected Grace that having the daily commitment is helpful over time, even if individual days here or there make you wonder if any of this is sinking in.  The commitment to having family worship and reading a chapter before bed has also made me more mindful of our family schedule, and what has to happen when in terms of eating dinner, doing evening chores, getting ready for bed etc, so that everything can fit between when Josh gets home from work and when the kids need to be in bed.

If you read any good books or resources on family worship, please send them my way–I’m interested in what other families do!

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.