Thinking outside the Square

Sometimes in our parenting role, we need to look at things a bit differently. We may be at a point where one child is frustrating us, or a child may not be able to move forward in one area of their life or in their attitude about something. We can get to the point where doing the same thing over and over can make the problem or situation worse. Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. It may be time to take a step back, reflect, ask God for insight, and look for a completely different approach.

When my daughter and I were overseas in February on a mission trip to Cambodia, Matey, our 10 year old boy had to go to work with hubby several times. He loved it. Since I returned home, we initially used this as an incentive for him. Those weeks when his attitude was great, when he got his school work finished, he was allowed to spend the day with hubby at work as a gardener. He is quite a strong little fella so for the first few hours he really pulls his weight and helps greatly. Matey was excited this last Friday because it was a demolition job. What young boy doesn’t love destroying things!! Currently when it suits hubby, myself and the client, Matey will go to work with hubby as his attitude is great and he is learning a lot on the job. He no longer needs an incentive. Yesterday he spent 7 hours assisting to pave a backyard.

This change in routine has helped the whole family. It gives me a break for the day and enables me to spend some time with Princess (12) just on our own. We can concentrate on Maths and science and not be disrupted and I know Princess likes that. In fact, Princess seems to get twice as much school work done on those days, thus raising more questions about how I can help her achieve this on those days when Matey is around. Matey is loving it and learning many things. Things like getting as much ready as possible the night before for the 6am start, work first then play later, how the men who work for hubby relate to each other and to him, practical skills, how great it feels to work hard and get the job finished, how not to interpret hubby when hubby is under pressure, etc. I am also noticing how hubby has become one of Matey’s heroes, how Matey when he speaks about his dad has a new level of respect for him.

The family is a unit so when something affects one member of the family, it also has an effect on the rest of the family members living together. Sometimes we can become frustrated over issues with our children and can’t seem to break through. I am finding when I take a break, step back and pray and reflect and try to brainstorm new and different methods or reasons or even why, then I tend to experience a ‘light bulb’ moment and find a workable solution for the individual and thus the family. Sometimes I try to start reflecting with a blank slate and look at every component and how I could vary it. I also find that I am asking God more and more to speak to me overnight about an issue for the following day and I will wake up with the way to go forward, or at least try.

One of the great things about home schooling is the flexibility. Schoolwork doesn’t take as long to do when it is 1:2 or 1:4 as in a classroom of 20+ students. I am learning to be creative and find different ways of approaching schoolwork. Reflecting back recently on when Princess was in grade 1, I remembered how she hated filling in maths books or worksheets. It was a struggle. One day, I hit upon the idea of writing the answers on stickers and she had to do the sum and put the right sticker for the answer. She loved it and filled them all out in record time. We kept this up for a short while and it ensured no more bulking at doing work. We then abandoned worksheets for awhile and did sums orally. This helped ease any tension and still achieve the purpose of helping with her maths. The real issue for her at the time was she hated writing. She needed to conquer that but at that particular time, one issue at a time was enough. There would always be plenty of time for practicing writing.

I also find that when I iron, I have the time and space and quietness around me and amazing solutions seem to come to me then. The children don’t come near me (otherwise they know I will ask them to take over the ironing which they don’t like to do) and I pray and God seems to just ‘pop’ these amazing creative strategies into my head. The same with my morning shower. My favourite place though, is walking along our local beach and allowing my mind time to be still and let God talk to me and bring new things to the surface. I find that when I am in a place where my mind can be still, so many solutions seem to surface.

What issue or problem does a member of your family have at the moment? How could you think outside the square? Is there a place where you can go that you find it easier for you to reflect and answers seem to come easily to you there?

2 thoughts on “Thinking outside the Square

  1. Ellen

    What great lessons you identified that Matey learnt by helping Dad. I particularly love the training in getting things ready the night before; the anticipation it brings for the next day and joy at an easy get-up-and-at-em morning. Great job Matey!

    So good to be encouraged to take time to be still and expect great things to happen on your mind and heart. Thanks Jane – your blogs are priceless 🙂

    • Jane Post author

      Thanks Ellen. One of the beauty’s of homeschooling is being able to be flexible and allow Matey a day a week to be with his dad at work, learning things that you don’t necessarily learn from books.

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