Ready to Get Off the Merry-Go-Round? 7 Steps to True Soul Replenishment for Homeschool Moms

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It’s easy to consider rest as a “someday” item: one of those things that we know we need, but just haven’t quite found time for.

I’d argue that, unfortunately, this is the norm for most families.

Why is that? Why do we say we need rest, but never make time for it?

Maybe a frenetically busy schedule can be a comfort in an odd way. Maybe we feel important, always having somewhere to go and someplace to be.

So many of us are moving faster and faster… towards what? What is the goal of all of this rushing? To say that we did more things? That we provided more experiences for our kids?

Our frenetic pace has left us “experienced” but lacking in the fundamentals of the complete experience of being human.

And oddly enough, the fullness of “being human” is what our society is desperately longing for. We long to relate to each other—to know and to be known on the deepest levels—and yet somehow we expect that to happen in the 20 minutes we have between turning off our electronics and collapsing into bed.

I want to ask, “Sure you visited 5 museums last week, and still managed to get ballet, guitar and softball practice in. But what was it like the rest of the days?” I just don’t believe that all that rushing around (and prep work that it takes to get to all those destinations) provides an atmosphere of calm and peace.

I want to ask these stressed-out folks (and sometimes that includes me): “Where are you going?” I mean that question literally and figuratively.

Where? Are? You? Going?

Somehow we’ve determined that calm and peace is found in having lives that are full of experiences and activities. We’ve elevated the people who have the busiest schedules to a god-like status because they somehow seem to have experienced more of life.

But my question is, “More of what?” Is life solely about activities and experiences?

What about the joy of silence? Of being by ourselves, just meditating and thinking about the deeper issues of life? Of unplanned, unhurried time with loved ones where all the aspects of life—sadness, boredom, questioning, laughter—can naturally occur?

7 Steps to True Soul-Replenishment for Homeschool Moms

We spend our time “being busy” and rest and relaxation have been relegated to that one week a year when we take a family vacation (which, by the way, I’ve found to not be particularly restful for me since I’m just basically wearing my “mom hat” with different scenery). Replenishment is in very short supply, and we need it perhaps more than we’ve ever had.

Is Simplicity the Answer?

Ironically, “simplicity”—one component of a restful life—has become a buzz word of late. Maybe we’re streamlining our lives somewhat, but it seems that we’re making our lives more efficient so that we can fill in the gaps with more activities.

Honestly, we may have embraced simplicity, but overall, we just haven’t given up the golden goose yet. That “golden goose” would be our love of experiences; our love of stuff; our love of feeling busy and important. We desperately want peace and rest, but we don’t even know how to slow down to make it happen.

The Ultimate Choice

But what if we actually tried it? I mean, really stopped and determined to live differently? To incorporate restful activities as a regular, methodical part of our routines? The fact is that most of us can’t jet off to Tahiti once a month for some peace and quiet. But maybe little doses of peace–like little streams of water to thirsty and dry souls—can over time bring the restoration we’re all so desperate for.

I’m not suggesting that rest become “one more thing” to do. I’m saying we need to carefully examine our involvements and make some hard determinations about our quality of life. There might be things that are enjoyable, but are they taking away from an overall sense of rest and peace in the home? It might be time to let them go (even if it’s just for a season).

Remember the term “opportunity cost?” There is a cost and a value to our time. What we say yes to has incredible value because it requires our most precious resources: our physical time, mental energy, and financial resources. Each family is given differing amount of each of these things.

It’s simply a matter of determining how we want to spend our resources. If we choose to spend them running around and never resting, then we need to be alright with feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at times.

But if we decide that rest and soul replenishment is more important, then we might have to say goodbye to a few things—even if they are “good” things.

It really is as simple as making a choice and accepting the consequences.

If you’ve realized that, yes, it’s time to get off the merry-go-round, here are some ideas for making true, life-giving rest a priority.

7 Steps to True Soul Replenishment

First, it’s critical to identify what you find restful. This isn’t what allows you to “numb out.” What activities truly bring replenishment to your soul? For me, first and foremost, this is silence. I’ve also found that writing, reading, crafting and having deep conversations with others fuel my tank.

Second, carve out time in your day for mini soul replenishment. I mean it. Make this a non-negotiable for your day. We’re not talking hours and hours here… see what a small break in the critical stress points of the day can bring. Yes, this may mean saying goodbye to other activities (even those that are “good”). Which is why…

Third, we must decide—is this activity pushing out our family’s ability to rest? It may not look like one particular activity, of course; it may be a combination of activities. If we truly want rest we need to make choices to allow it to happen, and many times that means saying no to other things. What is the overall best for our family? Consider the opportunity costs.

Fourth, take small steps. Many of us have existed so long on the merry-go-round that it’s unrealistic (and honestly unnatural) to immediately eject ourselves off the ride. Begin to consider and experiment with small shifts in thinking and activity and notice the changes. As you become comfortable, add more changes little-by-little until you feel as if you’re back in a proper rest-work balance.

Fifth, realize that there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules here. What may be too many activities to one family may be not enough for another. We have to determine the boundaries and limits for our situation, and gauge that determination on the current mental state of ourselves, our spouse and our kids. No rules and no judgements here.

Sixth, consider setting aside one day a week to concentrate on rest. On those days, make a concerted effort to remove any distractions to rest. A great place to start is to take a break from technology for the day. It may not feel like it, but that email or Facebook post really can wait. Experiment with turning off the TV either on Saturday or Sunday, and see how that affects the level of family connection and overall feeling of rest.

Overall, stop talking about it and just do it! For the longest time I really resisted getting rest and was the queen of lip service in this area. It is still a struggle for me, honestly. But the more I deliberately make space for rest in my life, the more I see its benefits. My life (and that of my family) truly has become so much richer.


P.S. Interested in learning more about rest and finding true joy in your homeschooling? Check out Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video course: “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms.”

Along with 8 pre-recorded, online videos, 88 pages of life-changing worksheets and access to an online community of other “bloom” participants, when you join “bloom” between June 16-20, you’ll receive more than $82 in freebies and discounts! Registration closes at midnight June 20, so don’t miss it!


About the author:

Alicia Kazsuk writes about living the beautifully imperfect homeschooling journey at She has been married to her best friend for 14 years and together they spend their days lovingly guiding their four passionate and creative kids.

Alicia is also the author of Plan to Be Flexible and the creator/producer of Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video courses “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms” and “rhythm: Guiding Your Family to Their Ideal Learning Flow.”

She believes each day offers new opportunities to grow in grace and to trust God in unexpected ways; and that “acceptance with joy” is one of the hidden secrets to a full, contented Christian life.

You can find her at Vibrant Homeschooling (, as well as on Facebook (, Twitter ( and Pinterest (

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Homeschool Curriculum in the Digital Age

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to save in our homeschool budget.  I try to use whatever thrifty resources I can, which often includes digital products. I was an old school holdout for years before I came to accept digital homeschool curriculum and books, but the practical side of me (read: frugal) won out.

Homeschool Curriculum in the Digital Age ~ 6 Advantages of Using Digital Homeschool Curriculum


Advantages of Digital Homeschool Curriculum

There are some advantages to digital homeschool curriculum that I’ve come to appreciate in the past few years:

  • it’s available instantly when you need it
  • it doesn’t take up room on your bookshelf
  • it’s easily portable (we like to read on our Kindle)
  • you can print what you choose when you choose
  • it can be used for more than one student and printed multiple times (depending on the particular copyright permissions of the material)
  • it is generally less expensive than print materials

One of the great resources I discovered last year is the Build Your Bundle -Homeschool Edition. Not only does it offer great prices on digital curriculum, it’s very customizable to suit your individual needs! I love that! There are bundles for Charlotte Mason, copywork, math, science, history, language arts, middle school, high school, preK and elementary, just for boys, and just for girls. If none of those meet your needs, you can build your own bundle with selections of your choice. Does it get any better than that?

Yes, it does. Why? Because not only does it offer pre-assembled bundles, but you can actually build your own bundle of resources! Perfectly customized and individualized, just like homeschooling!


Build Your Bundle Details

The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale is here!
2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale
There are several individual bundles, priced starting at $10. The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale will consist of the following bundles, plus, of course, the BUILD YOUR OWN OPTIONS!! These bundles are full of products from popular publishers!

  • Preschool-Kindergarten
  • 1st-3rd grade (2 bundles!)
  • 4th-6th grade (2 bundles!)
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Notebooking
  • Copywork
  • Unit Studies
  • Just for Boys
  • Just for Girls
  • Character Bundle
  • Just for Moms (2 bundles!)
  • Fine Arts
  • Special Needs Bundle
  • Non-Faith Based/Secular Bundle



The Build Your Bundle Sale is ONE-WEEK ONLY – May 25th – June 1st 2015.

Don’t miss the BIGGEST homeschooling sale of the year.

Do you use digital homeschool curriculum? Why or why not?


Happy homeschooling,


Sara (69 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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DIY Totally Safe Art Supplies for Toddlers (and their older siblings)

Guest Post by Lisa of School at Home Mom.

As a mom of an active 21-month old, I am always looking for new ways to excite his curiosity and sustain his focus. Early childhood learning is so much about hands-on experiences and exploration, and art activities are a perfect way to delight a child’s senses.

Up until about last week, though, my little artist was still putting everything into his mouth – or coating his hands with everything and then putting them into his mouth!

So, I decided to hold off on splurging on art supplies and make my own food-based materials. This way, he could explore freely, and I wouldn’t have to constantly be on “DON’T EAT THAT!” patrol.

Most of our DIY supplies use only a handful of ingredients that can be stored at room temperature in a kitchen. Just about everything we use is something we’d want to keep around for baking or cooking anyway, and can be found in every grocery store. What could be easier?

DIY Totally safe art supplies for toddlers: homemade play dough and finger paints

Benefits of DIY (besides saving money!)

My son loves to make his own art supplies. He runs to the cabinet where we keep our projects stocked and opens it up, declaring, “Paint! Paint!” and eagerly gets his smock on so that he can help me mix the ingredients.

Some of the skills we can work on while creating and using the art supplies:

  • Cause and effect
  • Colors and color mixing
  • Opposites (wet/dry, big/little, open/shut, soft/hard, slow/fast, etc.)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Hand & finger strength

If you have more than one child, these DIY projects are perfect! The older children can help to prepare the supplies in a more scientific way, observing how changing the quantities or process changes the outcome. The playdoh project uses more precise quantities, and would be perfect for an older child learning about customary units of measurement and fractions.

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

DIY finger paint


  • Small amount of water
  • Baby cereal
  • Kool Aid or food coloring

Procedure: Mix the dry baby cereal with water to desired consistency, then mix in the coloring.


My son's masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

My son’s masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

Fun with painting!

Fun with painting!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

My son was never a fan of baby cereal, so we ended up with a whole open container of it that we didn’t want to throw away but couldn’t donate. Using it up as thickener for finger paint was the perfect solution!

Note: we do not drink Kool Aid, but we do keep packets stocked for use in projects. I order them in bulk on Amazon so that we can get a variety of colors, and they’re widely available in grocery stores too.

Kool-Aid (or anything else with food coloring) will stain hands and whatever else it gets on, so an old shirt or smock would be great. My son gave himself a red belly button from one of his early painting sessions before we invested in a smock! Personally, I don’t mind – I abide by the saying “If he got dirty, he had fun today!”

For kids who don't like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

For kids who don’t like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn't have to worry about contaminating the brush!

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn’t have to worry about contaminating the brush!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn't resist touching it!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn’t resist touching it!

My son actually hates the feel of finger paint, or anything else that is the least bit goopy or sticky. After he made it clear that he was not going to be touching the paint directly, I taped a sheet of plastic cling over the goop. Then he loved it! Later, I gave him a basting brush, and he got into moving the thick finger paint around with that.

Once he got the hang of the brush, I decided to move on to regular paint. My 2 ingredient recipe for that is next!

DIY paint


  • Water
  • Kool Aid packet

That’s it! Mix & enjoy.

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The finished product!

The finished product!

After my son had an epic painting session involving like 8 packets of Kool-Aid, we ran out! So we substituted regular food coloring instead. He loved watching the drops of coloring diffuse out into the water. It turned into a bit of a science experiment!

Other paint making ideas:

  • Using water mixed with spices and flavorings
  • Using water with food coloring & salt, for a glittery effect

Another variation: sprinkle the Kool Aid on the paper first and then paint with water – your child will be able to see the powder mixing in a bit at a time. My toddler was mesmerized!

If you homeschool multiple kids: Your older children will enjoy writing secret messages in white crayon and then painting over it to reveal the hidden words! Or, how about a secret “math code” using number sentences or patterns?

Speaking of practicing math and reading, I’m a big fan of using manipulatives and hands on materials to make abstract concepts more concrete. This next project will provide a sensory experience for little ones, while your older child can use it to make numbers and letters, or even cut it up to model fractions!

DIY Playdoh

There are plenty of recipes for playdoh, but many of them use salt – which doesn’t work for my son’s eczema-prone skin. Here’s one that was gentler for him, and still used food-grade ingredients.

Because this recipe uses heat, you won’t want to prepare this one with your toddler’s help. Once it cools, you can enlist your child’s participation for mixing in colors.

Bonus: This recipe is gluten free, if that’s a concern for you.


  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Food coloring of your choice (if desired)

Mix the ingredients and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly and watch for when it begins to thicken. When it thickens enough, take it off, allow it to cool, and then mix in the colors.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh - big victory!

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh – big victory!

The texture of this playdoh is soft and a bit sticky at first (if it’s too sticky, add more cornstarch). We were able to keep it in the fridge for several weeks. We allowed it to warm up a bit before playing with it.





Lisa of schoolathomemom.comLisa has been a special education teacher for 15 years and is looking forward to wrapping up her final months of her teaching contract so that she can homeschool her young son. She is also eager to help other homeschool families who can benefit from her years of experience working with children with many different learning styles, strengths, and needs. If you are new to homeschooling, her 100 Day Countdown begins on April 21, 2015! In addition to her years in the classroom, she has also traveled to 6 continents and participated in endangered sea turtle conservation projects and archaeological digs. Lisa currently works for the Museum of Natural History developing curriculum and teaching enrichment courses and camp sessions to children ages 5-10. You can learn more at her website,

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