Apologia Educational Ministries has become a go-to resource for many homeschooling families. Not only do they have superb science curricula for elementary through high school, but they also have books on history, Christian teaching, and encouragement. One of these books of encouragement is Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms written by Mary Jo Tate.
This 288-page softcover book retails for just $15.00 and is replete with Mary Jo's life experiences as a single homeschooling mom with a home-based business. Perhaps you are a married homeschooling mom who is not receiving a paycheck or a homeschooling mom who works outside of the home. This book is still for you. The encouragement and tips provided in this book are applicable to many different people. The chapters are topic specific, so if you aren't single, you can choose to skip the chapter on being a single mom. However, Mary Jo suggests you read it on the off chance something within it will help you to understand what your single friends are dealing with and will provide you with ideas that may encourage them. There are chapters on raising kids and chapters on our attitudes. The chapters I enjoyed the most, despite the fact that I am not an organized person, were the ones on organization—setting goals, big dreams, weekly plan, daily tasks, running to-do list, etc. I think I loved them because the direction Mary Jo provided was easy for me to accomplish. I didn't have to purchase binders and folders and filing cabinets. I just needed some paper and a pen.
I don't think any of her ideas are wholly revolutionary, but I feel like her book did provide some balance for my life. When I first wrote down work- and school-related tasks on a running to-do list, there were nearly 25 things on it. It felt so good to be able to cross things off that list once I finished them or even just worked on them for a portion of the day. One thing she suggests is writing things down that were accomplished but not planned. This allows you to look back at your week and see what you actually did get done. One week I didn't write down blogging, but I did have a few minutes I could spend on a homeschool science-related post. What a good feeling that was to actually get something done I didn't plan on doing!
One of the biggest things I took from Flourish is to multitask when I am able to do so. I took Flourish with me to the doctor's office so that I could read it while I waited. I listened to a CD I needed to review while driving in the car. As I wait for a page to upload for work, I try to plan our school for the year. When I take my son to work, I run errands while I am out so that I can save gas and time.
I have not done a great job writing out a specific daily task list, but I have found more organization through Mary Jo's encouragement than I had before reading Flourish. She does provide some forms in the back of the book so that you don't have to create your own. There will also be some downloadable materials available for those who purchase the book. However, I simply have been writing things down on notebook paper and keeping it by my computer. I have found in the few weeks since I've read this book that I am a bit less absent-minded, except for when health issues for three people in the family hit at once. Nothing throws me off more than worrying about the health of my loved ones. I know, I know. I'm not supposed to worry. I have prayed more recently. I have been working on memorizing Scripture so that I am strengthened spiritually. I even find that I believe a little bit more in my ability to accomplish things that I didn't want to do before, like make things from scratch and doing a little bit more cooking from recipes instead of just throwing things together that I've always made. One thing I have to do is make time to accomplish my big dream of finishing my novel. That is the thing that always gets postponed.
There are 16 chapters in this book plus some appendices. Some of the chapters are entitled:
Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
The FREEDOM Toolbox
Where Did My Time Go?
Aim High: Setting Goals
What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
We Interrupt This Program
It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment
Training Your Children
Managing Your Home
Flourishing as a Single Mom
Mary Jo Tate has been a single mom, has started her own home-based business, and has had health issues. Thankfully she has shared her experiences with us. She is down to earth. Her methods are simple. They are doable—for any of us. The benefits obtained are worth far more than what you will pay for this book. You may say to yourself, "Now, why didn't I think of that?" or "Of course, it's so simple!" That's what I love. It's like Mary Jo gave me permission to stop struggling and to do those things that I enjoy, like reading. Whatever you enjoy doing but don't take the time to do, Mary Jo teaches you how to incorporate those hobbies back into your life. Yes, you can have your own time!
I plan on re-reading this book so that I can continue to establish balance in my life and implement the things that I didn't on the first read through.
You can find Flourish through these social media Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryjotate #flourishathome