3 Easy Ways to Shape Minds {Without Losing Yours}

The days sometimes run together here in big lumps of what-I-didn't-get-done. We ate and slept and wrote and talked, but there are just so many hours and unexpected things, and so many projects and good intentions left to wait. Then the weekend comes and all discipline takes the bus home. Just packs its bags and leaves me in a pile with the laundry.

Sometimes as mom-of-four-kids I feel like the weight of four worlds is on my shoulders, like my mind might just explode with the responsibility.

I need more thankfulness and I need to zoom out a little, to see the bigger picture.

These are the slow and imperfect things that I pray will add up over the years and bear fruit, the things that are lightening the load I think I carry:

We have lots of conversations. 

With, and not at, each other. Listening and allowing disagreement with grace, considering the point the other person is trying to make.

I despise drama and over-wrought emotion, so grace is working over time here. My husband also prefers rational conversation and dinner time talk is often not rational in this home, but we know that part of our job as parents/educators is to facilitate godly and gracious communication.

It's a slow work. Not losing our minds in it means we have to be proactive by bringing in thoughtful topics, ones we know our kids will want to engage in but also ones that will produce some fruit.

It's as easy as discussing the sermon over Sunday lunch and as practical as taking turns while we each tell about a part of our day. We learn to listen, we learn to speak clearly, we learn to wait our turn and to be attentive.

We still look like prime time news sometimes - a mass of people all spouting their wisdom at once. But it's a process and we are trying.

Book Shelf

We have lots of books on the shelves. 

And I'm letting go of the guilt from not having read them all.

By stocking the shelves and reading together as a family, we've provided food for their minds and a little rest for ours. They can learn from a whole world of teachers and we don't have to have all the answers.

We do, however, have to make time and space and quiet for reading. We do have to resist the urge to google every question (though I love Google). And we do have to guard our choices in books just like we guard our movie selections.

company's coming

We have lots of interesting company. 

We live in the tiniest of towns, but interesting people are everywhere. So we make it a point to have company as often as we sanely can and we are blessed with a diverse group of friends and acquaintances.

Our kids don't always engage in the conversations but they are exposed to different cultures and different experiences this way.  They love to listen to a good story, and they are inspired by farmers and missionaries and loggers and activists, by people much smarter than mom and dad and by experiences more varied than ours.

I believe we should talk about things that are difficult for us, read some books that are too hard for us, and have some friends that are very different from us. The challenges are good and we are reminded that we are part of a big picture, not the focal point.

What would you add to this list?  What kinds of things are you doing with your children to grow their minds, and yours as well?