About Amy

Amy is the homeschooling mother of 8 living children and 1 precious little girl playing at the feet of Jesus. Raising Arrows is where you find years of homeschooling and home management knowledge, as well as grief support for those who have lost a loved one. You can find Amy on

The Blessing of Homeschooling – Networking and Job Experience

This is the final post in the series on the blessings of homeschooling.  We’ve talked about serving others and traveling.  Today, we’ll talk about how homeschooling offers opportunities to network and gain job experience.

The Blessing of Homeschooling - Your kids can network and gain job experience | RaisingArrows.net

There is still a crazy misconception out there that homeschoolers have no social skills.  People on the outside of the homeschooling world assume that homeschooling is isolation at its best – or worst.  However, our experience has been that homeschooled children have MORE opportunities to socialize in QUALITY social situations than their public schooled and private schooled counterparts.

Because homeschooling hours are flexible, homeschooled children and families are able to be at events during hours most children are in school.  Sometimes a public or private school will be able to take a field trip to an event, but it is always a form of crowd control and rarely a time that involves quality interaction with whomever the event is centered around.

On the other hand, homeschoolers tend to go places as families.  There are the occasional homeschool field trips, but most of the time even those are attended by entire families.  The time they spend at the event or venue is usually not only better quality, but also higher quantity.  They have the time to spend truly learning and asking questions; whereas, a school group is on time constraints and is forced to shuffle from one place to another as quickly as possible.

As I mentioned, homeschoolers are good at asking questions.  These questions tend to lead to interactions that often result in more “behind-the scenes” information and opportunities.  For instance, several years ago, we visited a museum in South Dakota during the off season.  Our children were the only children there.  During the tour, our oldest son, who was 9 at the time, was allowed to help the docent by holding artifacts and answering questions.  She catered to our family, and even gave us extra privileges to explore various parts of the museum.

Museums are a great place to start networking.  Many museums have special guests, and if you can swing a membership, you are often invited to members only events where you get to meet important people.  Our children have met astronauts and mountain climbers, authors and entrepreneurs.

So, let’s talk about how cultivate these networking opportunities that can turn into careers  for your children.

First of all, teach your children manners and how to listen.  Teach them at home, and then take them out in public to practice.  Being polite and listening closely will go a LONG way in giving your children chances to meet people and participate in important opportunities.

Secondly, look for opportunities that match your children’s interests (and yours!).  Invest in museum memberships and magazines that will have events that will be of interest to your family.  Save up money to attend a “once-in-a-lifetime” event.  Encourage your children to enter writing or photography contests.  Take them to a variety of historical sites, shops, and restaurants as you travel from one place to another.  These types of investments will often lead to chances to gain knowledge and experience that will further your child’s interests.

Encourage your children to ask questions.  One thing people do not do enough of is ask questions.  It’s important to acknowledge that we can learn from others, especially those who are older than ourselves.  This is networking at its best!  To encourage your children to ask questions, be sure to ask your own questions when on a museum tour or at an events.

Teach your children to volunteer.  Some of the best networking comes from time spent learning a skill and gathering information without expecting to be paid.  You might call it good old fashioned internships or apprenticeships.  You never know when these opportunities will turn into a “real job.”

Teach your children to work hard.  Do everything as unto the Lord – even if it is something menial or boring.  There have been many times my son has been working hard doing something for his grandparents, and has ended up being hired by a neighbor to do the same thing at their house.  His hard work is evident.

I would highly encourage you to take a look at the 10KtoTalent Website for more ideas on how to gain valuable networking and job experience for teens!

I want to leave you with this…

Don’t be afraid to live counter-culturally.  Don’t be afraid to instill work ethic in your children by having them work hard at home.  Don’t be afraid to be different and not look like everyone else.  It will be noticed.  It will be appreciated.  It will lead to opportunities for your children.  But above all, don’t stress.  God has a calling for each of your children.  He fills in the gaps you leave – and you will leave gaps just as there were gaps in your education.  He equips your children (and you!) for the things He has called them to.  Rest easy in His faithfulness!


Coming this MONDAY – a unique way to build your homeschool library!  I love things that are out of the box, and this is definitely in that category!  There are some great digital products available in this year’s Build Your Bundle Sale, so be sure to click below to learn more, sign up for the giveaway, and get coupons!

Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale

Large Family Hacks – Built In Step Stool

Our family spent the evening with another large family (12 children) we’ve been friends with for many years.  I am always inspired when I visit their home, not only by their faith and joy, but by the little tips and tricks they have put into place to make their home run smoother.  It made me realize there are many things large families do that are a matter of efficiency and survival that would be great to share with others, no matter their family size.

So, I decided to start a series here on Raising Arrows entitled Large Family Hacks for that very purpose!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! | RaisingArrows.net

Today’s Hack is from last week’s visit with our friends.  Over the years, they have been slowly building their home debt free, adding to it a little at a time.  One thing they added in the bathroom was a built-in step stool that is the perfect hack for a large family!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} | RaisingArrows.net

This step stool can hold up to 150 pounds!  It is housed underneath their bathroom sink on a metal track.

The reason this is so great for a large family is because there are so many ages and stages in a large family.  You might have teenagers and toddlers and everything in between trying to use the same sink.  Having a step stool you can slide under the sink eliminates the “kick the stool out of the way” game.

Additionally, large families need even their littlest ones as self-sufficient as possible.  Having an easy way to reach the sink to brush teeth or wash hands is a great way to give little people something they can do on their own!

It would even be a great addition for fixing little girls’ hair so you don’t have to bend down so far!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} | RaisingArrows.net

There are a lot of different plans out there for this type of thing.  This one from Ana White calls for making use of the toekick at the bottom of the vanity.  This one I found on a woodworking forum has some extra perks built in.  This one has storage space inside the stool!  (I’m always looking for more storage space!)  No matter how you build it, it would be a great addition to any bathroom you want to make small child friendly!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! | RaisingArrows.net

Visit the Large Family Hacks page

The Large Family Living Pinterest Board

Large Family Living Home Page

How to Get a Mommy-Break Without the Help of the Television

Have you entered to win homeschool curriculum and get valuable coupons for the Build Your Bundle Sale? Click below to sign up!
Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale


We’ve all done it.

It’s too noisy.  It’s too wild.  It’s too stressful.  We need a mommy break, so we turn on the television and plop those crazy little people in front of the screen so they will be contained and occupied.

Let the big black box babysit for a while – Mommy needs to catch her breath.

How to Get a Mommy-Break Without the Help of the Television | RaisingArrows.net

We don’t like to admit it, but when the going gets tough, the television (or computer) saves the day.

Sort of…

The problem that comes from using the television as a regular babysitter is that we and our children become dependent on the feeling of being entertained.  It is a fine line between a healthy use of screen time and an unhealthy use of screen time.

Certainly, there are seasons when we don’t even realize the television watching is getting out of control.  We often “wake up” from those seasons, only to realize we have a lot of work to do weaning our children from the screen.  However, there are many times when we want to do better with not using the television as a babysitter, but we can’t think of anything that will occupy the children and offer us the break we feel we need.  So, we default to our old habits, and let them watch “one more show”.

Today, I want to offer you a few alternatives to television when Mommy needs to catch her breath.  Not that I’m asking you to stop letting your kids watch television altogether, but because I know you feel guilty putting them in front of the screen as often as you do, yet you can’t think of anything quite as effective.

Alternatives to plopping the kids in front of the television when you need a Mommy Break | RaisingArrows.net

First of all, here’s a short YouTube video from my channel discussing how we handle television in our home. I want you to start here before we talk more in depth about ideas for keeping the children occupied without it.

The second thing I want you to do is ask yourself WHY you need a break.  Make sure you aren’t running after that elusive Me Time.  If you have a habit of running away from your real life, then alternatives to television aren’t what you really need.  What you really need is a heart to heart with yourself and God.  That’s not the focus of this post, but it had to be said before moving on.

OK, so now let’s talk about alternatives to television and screen time…

Audios
There are tons of great audios out there that require your children to use their imaginations.  Some of our favorites are the Jonathan Park series and the Brinkman Adventures.  Put the kids in a room with a CD player and give yourself a few moments to breathe while they enjoy some quality, brain-engaging entertainment.

Crafts
Some of you are probably thinking I’m out of my mind for suggesting crafts as something that would give mommy a break, but if you keep a craft bag with things in it that aren’t super messy (i.e. anything but glitter), then you can pull that bag out every now and then and keep the children occupied for hours on end.

Outside
Even if you have to go outside with the children, taking some time in the out-of-doors, is a great way for everyone to change up their routine and get reenergized.  Have things like bubbles and chalk available for an added bonus!

Room Time
This is a concept I learned from Tricia at Hodgepodge.  Not only does Room Time help to keep children occupied when you need a break, but it is a great way to teach your children to sit quietly while you do school with older kids.  You can read more about this concept HERE.

Have older kids babysit
Way better than television is an older child spending time with their siblings.  Specify how much time you need and give them some activity ideas.

Bathtub
This can’t be an unsupervised break, but I have found just sitting and reading while the kids play in the bathtub is quite relaxing.  You can also use the bathtub as their own private play place.  Dry out the tub, fill with toys and kids, and let them have a ball!  (You can also let them stand at the kitchen sink pretending to “wash dishes” with plastic dishes – I remember doing this as a kid!)

Take a ride
There have been times when I needed a moment to think, and I’ve loaded up the children and we’ve gone for a ride!  Roll down the windows, play some relaxing music, get the kids a drink or snack, and just drive a bit.

Isolate yourself for a moment
This has to be very purposeful because you do not want to zone out for too long, but taking yourself outside or isolating yourself in your bedroom for a time can do wonders for getting back to the top of your game.  It doesn’t take long if you tell yourself you don’t need long.

Give your children a task
By giving your children a focused task, you give yourself a moment to breathe.  This needs to be something simple like picking up sticks in the yard or wiping down walls with a rag.  While they do the task, you take a breather elsewhere.  This will give you about 10-15 minutes.

Have them read a book
Even if they are too young to read, give them a picture book and have them take some down time.  This is something you should start young and do often!  Not only are you getting a break, you are fostering a love of reading!

Be creative
Sometimes all it takes is a cardboard box to keep them entertained for hours!  Look around you for things that are out of their norm that would give them a creative outlet and give you a little bit of a brain break.

And lastly…

Teach your children to be quiet
Play the quiet game.  Offer rewards for the quietest child.  Whatever it takes to help your children learn that when Mommy needs it quiet, she NEEDS IT QUIET.  This is a process, but a very good lesson for your children to learn.  You will be able to afford them many opportunities if they have been taught the importance of being quiet on demand.  This serves a much higher purpose than just giving you a break, so be diligent!

While this is not an exhaustive list of ideas, I hope it gives you a place to start.  The television truly does have a mesmerizing effect on children (and most adults!), but it isn’t much for getting creative juices flowing or offering quality engagement of the brain.  It should be used rarely and with caution.

Feel free to share how you take a break without plopping the kids in front of the television!

Win Homeschool Curriculum!

I am so excited!  Today through next week, you have the opportunity to win homeschool curriculum from some of your favorite companies and bloggers!
Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale Graphic

(Note:  The links in this post are affiliate links.  When you click the link, and later purchase, I receive the commission from that sale.  Thank you for considering purchasing from me!)

On May 25, the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Curriculum Sale is coming!  Before the sale starts, you have the chance to put your name in to WIN 3 BUNDLES of your choice AND get exclusive COUPONS!

Here’s how:

1.  Click THIS LINK and enter your email address in the link on the page.

What you get:

  • An ENTRY into the 3 Bundle Giveaway
  • A COUPON to use during the Build Your Bundle sale

2.  REFER FRIENDS to the Build Your Bundle Sale on that same page.

What you get:

  • An additional COUPON to use during the sale!

PLUS…

If someone you referred wins the giveaway, YOU WIN TOO!  Now, that is an awesome deal!  I really, really, really hope its one of MY readers who wins!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!

Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale Graphic

 

My New At-A-Glance Schedule {2015}

Make your day run smoother by using an At-A-Glance Schedule! | RaisingArrows.net

For those of you new to Raising Arrows, let me quickly explain what an At-A-Glance schedule is…

An At-A-Glance Schedule is a rough sketch of your day.  It is not a schedule for the entire family.  It is Mom’s Master List.  It isn’t super structured or binding.  It is a bare-bones approach that keeps you on track without making you feel guilty.

I was looking back at my old At-A-Glance schedule and realized how very outdated it was.  We haven’t had piano lessons on Wednesdays in well over a year!  Ideally, an At-A-Glance schedule would be re-assessed as circumstances change, or at the very least, every year.  It may not need to be changed every year because remember, it isn’t a tight schedule, so you won’t have things like “Baby’s Nap” on there or other things that change often.

This past weekend, I quickly worked through my old schedule to create one I believe will be a good fit for this year.  By the way, when I say “year”, I mean “school year.”  About this time of year, I am going through all of my homeschool materials and resources to see what I need for the upcoming school year, and figure out what that school year should look like.  (I like to be able to share with my readers what the intricacies of our homeschool looks like, so expect upcoming posts that highlight the changes for the 2015-16 year!)

It really is very easy to revamp an old At-A-Glance Schedule once you have the template of your day, so if you can find the time to put together your first one, any that follow will be very simple to make!

{affiliate links included}

Here is a quick guide to creating your first AAG:

1.  Write down the natural rhythm of your day.  If you get up at 8 am, don’t write down a wake up time of 7 am.  If you start school at 10 am, don’t write down 9 am.  This is the REAL routine you follow.  There will be time later to decide if you need to change your routine.

2.  Make a list of the things you would like to do in a day that are not on your “natural rhythm schedule”.  Don’t get crazy, but do get it all out.  This is a good exercise in realizing what things you THINK you should be doing, and the actuality of what can be FIT in to your schedule.  This list is there to help you work through what’s in your brain and start releasing the guilt you have for not doing EVERYTHING.

3.  Prioritize, Plug In, and Cull.  Sometimes all it takes is being purposeful and plugging it in.  Sometimes you have to have the sense to just let it go.  By writing out the things you WISH you had time for and comparing them to the natural rhythm schedule you wrote down in #1, you can see if you really do have the time for those things.  For instance, I would love to get back to sewing, but this isn’t the season for that because there are other things that NEED to be in the schedule.  I can let go of the guilt of not sewing because I know the things I have plugged in are PRIORITIES.

When you have a list of things that truly NEED to be on the schedule, then you can think about where they go.  Again, your AAG is NOT a full-blown schedule, so you are not looking for a place to plug in every single thing, but rather you are making sure there is enough MARGIN in your day to accommodate the things that are truly important.

Margin by Richard Swenson is a good book to help you understand the WHY and HOW of margin in your day.

4.  Write it out, type it out, post it.  I always write a rough sketch, go over it in my head, go over it with my older children and my husband, and make sure it is doable and everyone who has a choice is on board with it.  Then, I type it out, laminate it (with this laminator) and post it.

I always make more than one copy.  One copy is near my “office”, one is on the refrigerator, and one is with my homeschool materials.  (In the new house, my “office” is separate of my homeschool materials.  You’ll notice in this post, my office and homeschool area are the same.)  The reason for this is so that you truly can see the schedule AT A GLANCE!  It’s everywhere you are when you might need a little EXTRA focus.

5.  Tweak as needed.  I know, I know – I ALWAYS say this, but it’s true.  I was an English major – every paper was a rough draft!  Every SCHEDULE is a rough draft!  This gives you permission to change something.  HOWEVER, just because your AAG didn’t work the first or second, or even third time you tried it, does NOT mean it isn’t the “right” schedule for you.  It simply means it is NEW.  If after a week or two of really trying, it still doesn’t work, THEN tweak.

You will find that your day RARELY goes the way you plan, but having an At-A-Glance Schedule will help keep you on a track that moves forward and makes sense.  It is never meant to tie you down or stress you out!

Would you like to take a peek at my new AAG?  You will notice a couple of things:

1.  We are late risers.

2.  I sometimes (not always) rely on audio and video to keep the younger crowd occupied during a section of school that requires me to stay focused on the older crowd (I just put it on the schedule as an option).

I’m also including some links at the bottom of this post that I’ve written about specific items mentioned in the At A Glance Schedule.   These will help you understand more about how our day runs and what I mean by certain sections on the schedule.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY AAG!

Helpful Links:
Morning Chores
Quiet Time with Small Children
Another Take on Quiet Time
Christian Mom’s Guide to Blogging
Table Chores
Schooling the Little First
Easy Homeschool Lunches
Laundry Ideas
Special School
Art & Artist Time
Special Night

One of My Favorite Things About Being a Mother {especially a mother of many}

Some of us sort of “fell into” this mommy thing. Others took a purposeful leap. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves in to!

There are so many blessings to being a mommy, but today, I want to share with you one thing I absolutely LOVE about being a mommy – especially considering I have a lot of children!
Being a Mommy (especially a mommy of many) holds so many treasures - here is one of my favorites | RaisingArrows.netAspen is 4 months old now.  Her little personality is beginning to emerge more and more every day.  I find myself wondering WHO she will be.  And THAT is my favorite thing about being a mother…discovering who each of these little people are!

Even before I give birth, I wonder what and who the baby will look like.  What color of hair will he or she have, will they have my dad’s chin dimple? How much hair will they have? Will they have Ty’s longer-than-normal second toe or my sharp nose?

Once they are here, I gaze into their little eyes and sometimes even ask out loud – “Who are you, little one?”

And as who they are becomes more and more apparent, I marvel at God’s handiwork!

Each one, SO different from the next.  Beautiful snowflakes, individually revealing the image and nature of an amazing Creator, coming together to be OUR family.  Because there are no two alike, our family is unique, strong, organic, and fluid.  Every year, brings a new discovery, as each of our children mature into who God made them to be.

We currently have…

a researcher

a photographer

a designer

an actor

a precious link to Heaven

an encourager

a joy

a giggle box

and a beautiful reminder of God’s mercy and love

I am smitten by these little ones the Lord has so graciously loaned to our family.  Every day, I watch them, I study them, I learn more about who they are, who God created them to be, who I am as their mama, and where all these threads fit into a royal tapestry I could never dream up on my own.

Oh, what a blessing to be a mother, with each child changing me, changing our home, and changing the world by expressing the image of a God whose creativity is limitless!

I pray you not only had a wonderful Mother’s Day, but that EVERY day is Mother’s Day, as you discover more about each precious soul who calls you Mommy.