Tag Archives: #kids

Lock-down schooling (and working) and the one thing that was a total surprise

OK we’re not strictly in lock-down yet, but the COVID-19 cases in our area are starting to climb so I decided last week to keep the boys home from school. I’m a pretty organised person – my day job is project managing and directing – and I’m relatively smart so I knew it would be hard but do-able. I saw many pictures of friends’ kids sitting at their new home work stations with big beaming smiles – yeah, this is do-able.

Well, my home schooling began with a trip to the supermarket because, as a staunch anti-panic buyer, I was running low on some basics. For some reason my relatively well behaved kids turn into the spawn of satan at the supermarket, so while taking a conference call, wrangling an uncooperative shopping trolley and trying to wrangle my equally uncooperative children round the shop while trying to sound cool and professional on the conference call, my first home schooling day started with me in hysterics in the car park and my kids staring at me like I’d gone insane.

That was generally the tone for the whole day.

You see I’m a single mum and I work full time. I can’t afford to cut back my hours – I am supremely blessed to be in a job that is secure (at the moment). What that means is that I was trying to mum, to work and to teach all at the same time and I felt like my brain was imploding with the mental and emotional load of it.

On top of that, we’re all going through something completely new. There’s fear and uncertainty and things are changing every day. The mental real estate needed to process all that means there is less left for dealing with other things. Doing this on my own means also there is nobody to turn to to share the mental and emotional load or divide the attention that the kids need while you’re trying to do other things. And when you’re pouring a lot into little people, with diminished mental real estate that don’t leave much for yourself.

People told me not to worry about their schooling. But in actual fact my 9 year old gets extremely anxious and needs the security of knowing he is following a structure. My 8 year is a crazy Tigger-like guy and for all our sanity he needs structure as well.

But two things have really helped. First, a lovely couple in my Bible study group sent this:

This helped. It really helped.

Second, and this was the super surprising thing, was our family devotions.

My kids attend a beautiful Christian school and they start every day with devotions. I decided to try and follow so I asked the boys to pick a song and then after that we would do a Bible study together.

My 9 year old picked this, which I thought was a great pick for the reality we’re living at the moment:

Another in the Fire: Hillsong United

Then we did a Bible study together using I Can Learn the Bible. I read the lesson and then they wrote down the memory verse and we talked about what it meant and how they could see it applying in our daily lives. And then we prayed.

It was simple and short. Maybe 20 minutes all up. But I felt a wonderful connection with them as we followed this together.

Me and my household, we serve the Lord. We church. We talk about God and God’s community a lot. We read Bible verses. We talk about Jesus. We pray every day at different times. But we had never before spent time in this organised way and it was a real surprise to me. Stupid really, because I know this. Grounding in God is the first and best thing of parenting. I know that. And I know the positive effects of being in his word. But right now, in this moment, this was a new thing.

In among the chaos and uncertainty, the world stopped for 20 minutes. It was just me and my boys and God.

It re-focused. It anchored. It connected us to each other and it connected us to God. He enfolded us in his peace. And so I am wonderfully grateful to God for bringing us light in the darkness and bonding us together.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

Is a woman’s place in the home?

No. Unless you want it to be and it works for your family.

If you want to work, work.

If you want to remain in the home, remain in the home.

Neither makes you inferior.

Love God. Love your family. Outside of that, do what works best for your family context.

That is all.

PS I realise this is a broad topic. If you have worries or struggles or questions on our biblical “mandate” or what culture bombards us with, comment or message me and we’ll talk about it some more. Today’s McBlog is to remind you to have confidence in your situation and to be kind to yourself.

Some lessons for Mother’s Day from my great great grandmother

Mother’s Day can suck for a lot of people. For some it’s a beautiful and wonderful day with your own mum, and you as a mum. For others it’s a reminder of everything we don’t have.

As a single mum I find it a mixed blessing. It’s a day like any other because who else is going to take care of the kids? There’s no special breakfast in bed, or gifts, or lunches. It’s just the same old same old. Except with a gnawing feeling that other mums are getting something that I don’t.

Except this year. I’m determined not to feel that way this year. Here’s why.

My great-great-grandmother was born Sarah Ann Lee in Hampshire in about 1857. She married my great-great-grandfather (Henry) and they had about 6 children together. He was away at sea a lot – he was an engineer in the Royal Navy just as steam ships were starting to be introduced. Sarah Ann died of tuberculosis after the birth of their last child and Henry married the housekeeper by proxy to ensure there was someone to take care of the children (because I suppose that’s the kind of thing one did back in those days).

By all accounts the housekeeper was not very nice to the children. He was a very loving father though. He wrote a letter to each of the children individually, of which I have inherited one.

“Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Prov. 31:28.

A token from the father to the children.

In affectionate remembrance of a loving wife and devoted mother. She was the inspirer of all that is best in my character and I do pray her ennobling qualities may be reflected in the children. Patience and contentment with an exalted sense of truth and right pervaded her whole life which from childhood was one of complete trust in God. She always had a cheery word for those in trouble and the old folks of her acquaintance will ever remember her love for them and they with us all sadly miss her bright and happy disposition.”

It’s beautiful. As I reflect on these words, I note how many of the fruits of the spirit were in her. I don’t suppose that she was a perfect angel at all. This is Henry’s loving eulogy to their children, not an editorial comment about her every day behaviour. But there is much to admire here.

She was an inspirer of good in people around her, she was kind, patient, joyful, content, and above all had a complete trust in God. These qualities she, and Henry, prayed would be reflected in the children.

So this Mother’s Day, I’m not going to look at Facebook to see what gifts everyone is getting or what was delivered to their bedside for breakfast. I’m going to look at my children to see the many admirable qualities they already possess. I’m going to take a moment to self-reflect on the good qualities that have been passed on to me from my mum. I’m just going to take time to appreciate the beauty around me in the things that are not obvious, but are so tangible.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). I see these already in my kids. I mean they also have the gifts of being forgetful, messy and really annoying, but that’s pretty normal! And one thing I know is how proud of them I am for their kind and innocent hearts, their love of God and their wide eyed joy.

Mother’s Day might suck – but we can choose to treat it differently. Switch off Facebook. Take some time. Self-reflect. Look at those around you and see what qualities you have inspired in them, and they in you.

Look to Christ Jesus because great-great-grandma Walker’s beauty was underpinned by a complete trust in God. He is the inspirer of all that is good in us, and what he grows in me, I pray I can pass on to my children, and always see it there, and praise them for it.

Knitting for mental health. Yes. Really.

I have a problem. I realised a long time ago that while watching the TV to relax in the evening, I would also be on my phone. I couldn’t seem to stop. If I tried to put my phone away, my eyes darted around and I couldn’t seem to focus or settle. It was as though my brain needed two things to be happening to feel satisfied. I’ve seen those memes that describe being a woman as having 12,000 tabs open in our brains, and I think its true!

The trouble is, if my brain needs this split stimulus, it means I’m having trouble being in the moment. It means I have trouble relaxing and just focussing on one thing. It also means I was never truly de-compressing my brain and was staying wired right up until I was supposed to be sleeping (and guess how that was going?)

Well, I thought, if my brain needs more things, clearly social media or word games is not a healthy thing to occupy it with while I watch Masterchef. So I taught myself to knit. During the school holidays, I watched YouTube videos to learn how to cast on and all that jazz. Then I set about knitting squares to get into the swing of things.

Thankfully, My Mate Kathryn saved me from myself. She can actually knit. She set me up with a pattern for a snazzy blanket, showed me where to get good wool and taught me how to do it.

What a revelation. There’ve been several benefits I just wasn’t expecting. First, it has helped me to stop the split focus thing. With my hands and part of my brain occupied in the task of knitting, it helps trick my brain into thinking it has tabs open. But because its a repetitive task, I don’t have to think about it too much so I can focus on the moment far better.

Also, exactly because it is repetitive, it helps me to relax. And, I’ve learned a new task (I know! At my age!!) – and I’m gradually getting better with practice so there’s a sense of accomplishment. Add to that the fact that I’m creating something and there is an immense satisfaction.

I decided to knit a blanket for each of my kids. It makes me happy thinking I’m creating something for them. It’ll be (hopefully) they keep and cherish.

It’s no surprise of course. Knitting is used as therapy for lots of conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, even chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because it is calm and repetitive, it is almost meditative (which is why it works so well as a therapeutic activity). I used to support the local women’s domestic violence refuge via our church ministry and they used to have knitting groups for just that kind of purpose.

It’s also not just women who are doing it now too – even guys are getting in on it, because it is so good for mental health! You can even double down and make blankets and beanies for people in need which just enriches the mental health benefits and makes the world a bit better as well.

The best thing is that every so often, me and My Mate Kathryn and My Mate Meredith will have a knitter-natter – an old school get together to chat and laugh and and share while we knit. And there is nothing better than sharing all this with friends.

Give it a go. I highly recommend it (although I have a no-shares-sies policy on Kathryn and Meredith).