Apologia Educational Ministries has once again hit a home run with this latest time management book specifically designed for home school moms, "Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms".
I was privileged to receive this book back in June, for review. I found it easy to read, almost conversational, as if I was sitting down in my living room sharing a cup of tea with author Mary Jo Tate, listening to practical advice on being a mom, homeschooling, and ministering to my family. The wisdom in this book is priceless.
About the book: Flourish was written directly to mothers to not only share wisdom about day to day tasks that are universal and common to motherhood and managing a home, but also to give special instruction when a mother takes on extras, such as homeschooling or running a home based business. There is special attention given to those mothers who find themselves in a situation where they are single or the sole source of financial provision for their family. Flourish is 282 pages long, and includes worksheets in the back that accompany the chapters, as well as an online resource with additional customized and printable worksheets.
About the author: Mary Jo Tate is a successful homeschool mom, entrepeneur, and motivational speaker. She writes from her own personal experiences, and expounds in an unfiltered way about what worked and what didn't in her own personal journey. She has been homeschooling since 1997 and is mom to 4 sons. Her personal blog is Flourish At Home.
How Did This Book Speak to Me? The tagline of this book is "Stop enduring the journey and start enjoying it!" Most days I really do enjoy homeschooling and this crazy life I lead. It is a very busy life though, and I often wonder if I am as effective as I could be in many areas. Balance is a somewhat elusive goal that, while I know is important, in practicality is often not achieved. Whatever the crisis or priority of the moment is - that's what gets the attention.
This book was eye opening. At times, while reading it, I wondered....does this lady know me? Is she peeking through my windows and watching my life? How does she know all this about me? The book spoke clearly and directly to me about areas of my life that need an overhaul. While it was very convicting, the author comes across kind and gentle, as a fellow "in the trenches" mom who struggles with the same issues, not as someone who was beating me over the head with my failures and causing me to feel even more defeated. I found the exercises to be very analytical, which I enjoy. Using the worksheets and writing down areas of my life that need improvement helped me to feel like I am actually formulating a plan to succeed, or at least do better. It did not just make me walk away feeling like there was no hope. I love how the chapters are organized. It is not just instructional, but very practical.
What is included? Here are some thoughts that you will find in this book:
- An Invitation to Flourish - tells about the author's story and talks about examining your own life, encouraging the reader to get out of their comfort zone and envision what their life could look like.It introduces the reader to the pre-book self-evaluation, where you answer direct questions about your own life and goals. The heart of the book can be found in the following quote, which I just love:
2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time - helps with learning what true balance is, and helps the reader analyze what can be changed and what can't while examining their priorities. I think, for my own self, this journey can be summed up in one sentence from p. 19, "Find peace in the space between the ideal and reality."
3. Emphasis on "Organization Promotes Efficiency" (p. 33) where the author takes you through a journey to find "FREEDOM" in your life. Topics discussed are delegation, organization, and self-discipline.
4. Where Did My Time Go? Teaches the reader how to evaluate their life using the personal time log. It is not someone telling you what to do, but guiding you in deciding what your primary focus should be, and what you can let go of in your life.
"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least" ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (p.25)5. Goal setting - it is not about making unrealistic goals, but about making manageable goals, formulating a plan to achieve them, then re-evaluating and setting new ones. There are seven planning tools to help with the practical aspect of this. While working towards our goals, we must also stretch our self with thinking big and dreaming. Again, the recurring theme is balance.
6. Attitude Adjustment and oxygen masks: There is a ton of practical advice that speaks to a mom's spirit. All the good planning and organization in the world will be for naught if the mom is mean and nasty while accomplishing it. Life has interruptions, and learning to deal with them and be flexible will teach volumes to the little sets of eyes that are watching us. I enjoyed the chapter about "oxygen masks" and the reminder to build time in to my schedule to maintain my own spiritual, physical, and emotional well being, being reminded that when I am flourishing, it will cause my family to flourish as well.
7. A large portion of the book is dedicated to practical help for the nitty-gritty of keeping a home, running a home school and parenting in general. This is a great help, and I found much useful, down-to-earth advice in these chapters. I loved the emphasis on making memories with the children.
8. Special attention, in fact a whole chapter, is completely dedicated to operating a home business. In our economy, most families find it difficult to survive on just one income. This is very practical help for women who need to supplement family income while trying to remain balanced with parenting, keeping the home, and home schooling. I found much of the wisdom of this chapter very applicable as we have begun a family business this past year, and juggling my new found responsibilities with it has been difficult. I am still working through some of the planning and adjusting that comes with that, and the included weekly plan worksheets have been helpful.
9. Solo Act - Another whole chapter is dedicated to women who are in a position where they must 'do it all'. Any number of circumstances can contribute to this, such as death, separation, or even military deployment. There is definitely a different set of special needs that these women have, and I love how Mary Jo Tate, who has 'been there' as a single mom, raising 4 boys, running a business, and home schooling, addresses these needs in a loving and compassionate way. Although I am not in that position, reading this chapter helped me to understand better the ladies that I know who are, and how I can be a better help and encouragement to them.
Final Opinion: I am really enjoying this book. I lightly read through it for the purpose of writing this review, but now I am really enjoying going back through it a second time, chapter by chapter, and really digging into my own life, learning how to apply many of the principles that I am learning. I have been using all the worksheets, and disciplining myself to write things down, examine my life, and make some decisions about my daily time expenditures. My heart's desire is to see my family flourish and be useful in the service of the Lord, and I see how much of this really depends on my own attitude and actions. With the instruction I am receiving from this book, I am encouraged about my new outlook on my life, family, and home.
What does it cost? Flourish is currently selling for $15. on the Apologia website.
Is it just for home school moms? I honestly believe the practical advice in this book would be beneficial to all moms, not just those who home school.
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