Apologia Educational Ministries is pretty much the first name in homeschooling. If it's not one of the first companies you learn about when you start homeschooling, you likely don't have a computer. Or a friend - because friends tell friends about Apologia. It seems entirely appropriate, then, that it is Apologia that brings us the book Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate, because Mrs. Tate talks to her readers as if they were her friends.
Simply reading the sample of this book available on Apologia's website spoke to me, as Mrs. Tate talks about something that I think about every day. She notes that there are great resources on the market for homeschooling moms - guides and planners that include schedules for school and home maintenance - but that these planners don't take into account the needs of working moms! Now, she speaks specifically of a home business. My work (freelance writing) isn't really a home business, but it is definitely a more-than-part time job, and I can't fit my life into someone else's schedule. In fact, it is axiomatic with me that I have time to do 2 out of 3 necessary things in an given day. Every day I need to teach the kids, work, and take care of the house. I can get two of those done, but never three. Right off the bat, Mrs. Tate seemed to "get" that conundrum. Needless to say, I knew I had to read this book!
What is Flourish?
Flourish is many things rolled into one book. Think of it as a self-help book, a motivational guide, a planner, a workbook, and something more that is ineffable. To give you some idea of what is in the book, here is the Table of Contents:
1. An Invitation to Flourish
2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
3. The FREEDOM Toolbox
4. Where Did My Time Go? (Me - Don't we all ask that?!)
5. Aim High: Setting Goals
6. What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
7. We Interrupt This Program
8. It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment (Me again - I always forget that this is half the battle!)
9. Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
10. Training Your Children
11. Making Memories
12. Managing Your Home
13. All of Life is Learning
14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom (me: I'm so glad for the inclusion of this chapter. There are so many women in this situation, and too few books in the homeschooling world address their needs.)
15. Home Business
16. Moving Ahead
Not only are these chapters almost compulsively readable, but each chapter is followed by time for reflection. I appreciated this forced stop at the end of the chapter, as I read fast and if I am not compelled to slow down, I won't. This book is one that is meant to be digested slowly, though, and not gobbled in one sitting. Of course, how you read is up to you, and you certainly can gobble. Doing so will cause you to miss so much, though, not the least of which are the exercises at the end of the chapters! Mrs. Tate has clearly anticipated her audience well, as she requires you to consider what she has told you in each chapter before you move on to the next. Because each chapter builds on the previous one, this step is necessary if you truly want to glean something from her book.
So what are you supposed to take away from Flourish? I think more than anything, Mrs. Tate's message is one of hope and encouragement. First, you have more time than you think (part of the process of the book is keeping a time log - that is *always* a painful process. It's like wearing my Fitbit - I learned that, for the most part, I *am* realistic about where my time (calories) go, but there are those cases where things get away from me.). Seeing those discrepancies is important - if not always enjoyable!
Second, it's okay not to be perfect. Whenever I read a book like this, I always worry that I will be smacked over the head with my own inadequacies over and over again (like anyone could do that better than I!), but Flourish does not do that. If anything, it does the opposite. Mrs. Tate encourages you to be at peace with the fact that the reality does not live up to the ideal. As a perfectionist, I balk at that notion, but as a WAHM who homeschools 4 kids (including one who is...difficult), it is a message I need to hear over and over again.
Third, organization can work. One great perk of buying Flourish (a bargain at $15) is that you then get access to bonus downloads including scheduling forms. Honestly, it's a work in progress (the organization, that is!), but that is no justification for giving it up altogether. I read some books and feel like throwing in the towel. When I read Flourish, I felt just the opposite.
Whether you are organized or not, work from home or don't, are a single mom like Mrs. Tate or an old married lady like me, Flourish has something to say to you. It is written for all moms and would be enjoyed by all moms. Click the banner below to see what other Crew moms thought.