Along with our church change, this was the second biggest change we made. By outside activities I mean things like sports, meetings and the like, not outside play time. Jeremiah and the girls, minus Moira, were involved in soccer. Between Jeremiah playing soccer on his own team, and him coaching two of the girls teams, soccer took up 5 days a week. One of those days happened to be half of our Saturday. That time on Saturday was just game and travel time, not the time it took for everyone to rest from all the activity. That left our Saturdays totally unproductive.
After we made a family goal plan we were able to talk with the girls about how our outside activities were not helping us to achieve our family goals. Not only was soccer not helping to meet our goals, but it was hindering our goals. We determined that we needed that Saturday time to work on our outside projects (animal care and gardening). So, even though they only played half the year, we made the hard decision to pull them out of soccer. Not only for the girls, but for Jeremiah as well. Although there were tears shed, I think they got over it faster than I anticipated because we were not asking only them to give it up, but Daddy was giving it up as well. They saw that the sacrifice was being made by all.
In soccer's place we were adding in the gardening and animal work, which the girls wanted to do. We were also committed to adding in fellowship time with the saints. This was definitely lacking in our lives. We made sure to get that fellowship time up and running. The girls are very much enjoying this fellowship time. They are also enjoying all the planning and dreaming of making our slice of land as productive as it can be. Just take a look at that picture of Isabella in my last post. All the girls have been getting homesteading/gardening/animal care books out of the library. Isabella, in particular, has been taking notes from them. All on their own! Isabella and Moira are also keeping a record book of everything we produce. Currently that amounts to how many eggs a day we get. When we start milking and gardening we will be weighing what we collect. They keep notes off to the side about any supplements or changes we make. This way we can look back and see what worked and what didn't. They had seen this record keeping on a blog and they decided *on their own* to keep a record for our family.
In the past we have made, or attempted to make, changes to our family. But as the word 'to' implies, it wasn't a collaborative exercise. It was forced. As parents, that is sometimes what we are called to do, but when making changes it is never a good idea to just take things away without adding something in it's place. It is also not a good idea to leave the rest of your crew upset about the changes, feeling helpless and a victim. There is a balance to be had. We didn't have that balance in the past, and that is why I feel our past changes did not last, or were not accepted. This doesn't mean you have to have your children's permission to make changes, that is not what I am talking about. But to make this work, they do need to 'get on board' with your new ideas. For example, the girls were not happy about giving up soccer. But they were excited about making our place into a small homestead. When they saw that by giving up soccer we would have more time to make our place into that dreamed of homestead they were willing to let soccer go. It was *very* important for us to make real, concrete plans for them to see we were serious about making the homestead one of our family goals. We made sure to come to the pow-wow table with ideas before hand so that they knew we were already thinking of these things. And we made sure to write down all their ideas and discuss ways in which we could implement them into a workable plan. We then started to do simple things like go online in search of books to educate ourselves to make our dreams a reality. We also talked about what we needed to buy, and put a time table together of when we could obtain the needed items. We are having the girls help us search for free items on freecycle and craigslist (with us watching over them). We also ordered gardening catalogs to look over seeds and fruit trees/bushes.
We talked about how we could save money to purchase the things we were going to need. Again, by putting it in their hands, and giving them ideas as needed, they have come up with lots of ways to save money. Not only that, but they want to do them, as they see we are being serious about our goals. In the past, when we took things away (and they needed to be taken away), we either left a hole there, or gave a token idea of what we could/might/should/would put in it's place. But then that was as far as we got. Nothing ever materialized from those scattered thoughts. This time we put it on paper, they see us rearranging our budget, they see us giving up things ourselves, and they see we are serious in wanting their ideas as well. We are talking about these things almost daily. We rearrange plans when needed. We are working out times/schedules and the like to make the time available to reach our goals. We are reading books and watching videos that all have to do with our goals. And our children are, for the first time ever, EXCITED about what our family is doing. It truly is a *FAMILY* affair. It's not every man for himself, which was how we were living before.
Now, before I sign off, lest you think we are perfect...we are NOT. We are making mistakes, we fumble, we have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Our children will try to read a homesteading book when they should be reading about Archimedes, or they are looking at the prices of Jersey cows when they should be doing their math :-) The children have squabbled about who's idea was better or should be implemented first. We are learning how to work together and love each other, which is one of our biggest family goals, besides the number one: Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.