The Fruitfulness of Balance
Balance, balance! You’ve heard experienced homeschoolers, authors, and speakers say that you have to balance your life while homeschooling. You wear multiple hats, keep a busy schedule, and still want to disciple and enjoy your children while you accomplish many tasks. Sounds good, and I’ve offered that advice as well. But what does “balance” mean and what does it look like?
Did you learn to ride a bicycle when you were young? Perhaps you started with training wheels or maybe you courageously skipped the “sissy wheels.” Your parent or older sibling helped by giving you a push and instructing you to “balance” and keep pedaling. You swayed left and right, adjusting your body to stay upright and not crash. You moved, dodged, and felt what to do so you could remain on the seat and enjoy your ride. Soon you learned to swerve to miss obstacles in your path, and after practice, you could confidently sail down the street with the wind in your face and a sense of freedom in your heart.
Just one catch—the only time that bike was perfectly balanced was when you were straddling the bike with your feet on the ground and not riding it at all. You weren’t going anywhere!
Parenting and homeschooling are a lot like riding a bike. You bend, lean, and adjust. You try to balance, but it is impossible to have perfect balance always. In fact, it isn’t even necessary to have perfect balance at all moments to ride the bike. An unexpected event happens and you get off track (a swerve) or you use your time unwisely and don’t get the results you want (a crash), but you get up, brush yourself off, get back on the bike, and make adjustments for a smoother ride as you go forward. When you crash, you don’t say you can’t ride a bike; you know that the crash was a temporary setback. We see true balance when we view the complete ride with its constant movement to stay upright and move forward. The total of what you do over the course of raising and teaching your children is what matters.
So relax and enjoy the ride! I’m officially letting you off the hook, Mom, for any moment when you blew it. Look at the big picture. See how to adjust. Change what makes you crash, and when you swerve to miss an obstacle, get back on the path as quickly as possible. The overall balanced ride produces fruitfulness.
How Balance Looks
Balance in each home will look a bit different, but some principles are common to all. Just as one person may own a sleek racing bike, or another a sturdy mountain bike, or another a comfortable touring bike, the package may be different but the basic principles of staying upright on the bike and riding are the same.
Balance is to know your priorities and stick to them. That may mean staying off the computer except for designated times so you can get your housework done or, conversely, leaving a messy house for the day because you and the children have an unexpected opportunity to do something fun and rewarding that perfectly fits what you are studying.
Balance is weighing choices about people against choices about mundane tasks, keeping both in perspective. Either choice (with people or tasks) taken to an extreme will sabotage your ride.
Some love to work in their homes and others run from those duties. Look for ways to simplify in any way you can. Perfectionists, relax! Focus more on people and know that you will get to the mess later. You will; you can’t let it go for long. Messies, lean the other direction and get your work done. It won’t magically disappear! You both will feel better about your life and the ride will be smoother.
Ask yourself these questions to get a sense of your balance: What makes you feel off balance? Is reality the basis for that feeling? What choices do you need to make to bring any part of your life back into balance (lean, sway, and adjust)?
Is imbalance in your life temporary or is it your way of life? Do you have overall balance when you look at the long term?
Seek God to know the truly important things. He is the perfect scale with which to measure balance. Confess quickly any imbalance He reveals, and seek to change that imbalance. Don’t berate yourself; just work on it with His strength.
Raising your children and teaching them is the most important thing you will do in your lifetime. It “feels” so insignificant at times—wiping noses, doctoring skinned knees, cleaning floors, and answering the same question twenty times. Scripture says, “Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly” (Job 8:7, NASB). What you do on this ride lasts for generations to come. It does make a difference!
Balance brings fruitfulness. The fruit is sweet at harvesttime. When we have true balance in our lives, the ride for our children and us is joyous. So keep pedaling!
Originally published in Homeschooling Today magazine July/August 2011