Flourish Book Review
I feel frazzled and exhausted. I can no longer pinpoint when it started and with just two kids (when most of my friends have 4 to 6), I just don’t even feel justified to be this worn out. It was with mixed feelings that I received Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate from Apologia Educational Ministries because on the one hand, I knew I needed to read this book to regain control over the time that seems to slip through my fingers, but on the other hand, I dreaded that I would need to write this post upon reading the book. Lately, I find it so challenging to make time to sit at the computer to write for the blog.

I was right, though. This life coach handbook is a book I needed to read, and if you feel paralyzed by your to-do lists, then this is the book for you as well. This book is truly help for real moms.

Mary Jo Tate, who homeschools her 4 boys and also runs a successful business, teaches practical encouragement to get your time organized. She shares how to find balance in the different roles moms have. I appreciated that Mary Jo recognizes that sometimes it isn’t possible to do it all perfectly. She demonstrates that through transparently sharing some of her challenges and struggles. The book is written to help you put into action the concepts being taught, and each chapter has been so valuable, filled with tangible ideas of things I can do to utilize the minutes in the day more efficiently. When you purchase this book ($15 from Apologia) you also receive free downloadable pages for taking notes, implementing lessons and keep track of goals!

I felt very encouraged by reading Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms. Even the sections on being a single mom and on having your home business had parts that were relevant to me.

Ways the book has impacted me:

The biggest impact was the following quote, the opening to chapter 4, which hit me like a blow to the stomach.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day as were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Life’s Little Instruction Book.

Each of the people listed managed to fit so much into their day.  It made me feel a bit guilty for the drips and drops of time I lose throughout mine.

Here are the main contents of the book and my biggest take-away from each chapter.

1. An Invitation to Flourish – Flourishing is thriving and abounding.  When you flourish, you can take better care of your family and then they can flourish too.

2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time – We can’t do it all, but we can redefine what we mean by “it all.” She used the analogy of making sure you don’t live your life in triage mode. In order not to live in triage, you have to evaluate your circumstances and decide what you can’t change, what you can change (or eliminate), and what you are not willing to change.

3. The FREEDOM Toolbox – Mary Jo shares a tool to assist us in changing our ways to get us out of triage mode.  FREEDOM is the acronym for all the steps.  Focus on what only you should do and delegate other things.  Reflect on what is working, what is not, and find your focus.  Educate yourself and never stop learning. Eliminate activities that don’t fit your goals and priorities. Discipline, that is self-discipline, to stay focused on your tasks.  Organize – be organized.  Multitask, meaning pair something like folding the laundry or exercising with listening to an audiobook or talking on the phone.

4. Where Did My Time Go? – In this chapter, she suggests that we keep a time log for a couple of days.  We were on vacation, so I didn’t, but it is on my list of things to do since I am curious to see where my time goes.  Upon reading this chapter, I have been trying to be more aware of how I am using my time.  She recommends setting a schedule or routine to follow and explains how to profit from using small time intervals to accomplish small tasks.

5. Aim High: Setting Goals – Write those goals down! And also share them so you can be held accountable. The next chapter goes into detail about how to set goals.

6. What Do I Do Next?: Seven Essential Planning Tools – While the 7 planning tools she described are helpful, I was hoping for more examples of what my goals might be. I never thought this part would be so hard. I think my whole identity has been taken over as “homeschooling mom” and I am going to have to do some soul searching and praying to find out who is buried in that “homeschooling mom” sweater.

7. We Interrupt This Program – This chapter is all about how to deal with interruptions.

8. It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment – Don’t “let your fears cause regret, but go for the things that make you a little  – or even very – uncomfortable.”  We are encouraged to let go of perfectionism and to set the tone for our household with our own attitudes. Focus on the positive and check the whining at the door!

9. Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days – It’s rather important that we moms take care of ourselves first.  Prayer, sleep, nutritious food, plenty of water, and exercise are a vital part of the plan.

10. Training Your Children – I was happily pleased that I do many things she suggests in chapter 10. She includes sample chore charts, which I enjoyed perusing.

11. Making Memories – Build family traditions, spend one-on-one time with each child (I need to improve on this point) and keep up with preserving all these memories (taking photos, writing down the cute things they say).  I do need to work on preserving the memories.  While I take thousands of photos, they are not well organized and I don’t keep up with writing all their cuteness down.

12. Managing Your Home – This chapter gives some tips on how to keep things organized.

13. All of Life Is Learning – She gives a brief overview of homeschooling.  It is the most succinct, yet thorough description of homeschooling I have read.  This chapter is the best things for a mom brand new to considering homeschooling.

14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom – Mary Jo urges married moms to read the chapter anyway, and to be an encouragement to any single moms they know.  Amongst other things, she reminds single moms to stay focused on God’s faithfulness and to surround themselves with a good support network.

15. Home Business – This is another succinct but quite thorough 101, this time on home business.

16. Moving Ahead – Remember to do what works for your family and not to wait for the most favorable conditions.  Those favorable conditions never come; there’s never a “best time.”

Things I liked about this book:

  • I love the quotes throughout the book, such as “Productivity is never an accident.  It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. ” Paul J. Meyer.
  • There are exercises at the end of each chapter to help you apply and implement what was just read.  These have been made into downloadable printable worksheet type documents.  You get an access code upon purchase of the book.

Things I wish I could change:

  • The book does not lie flat! This makes it more difficult to actually do those end of the chapter exercises.

How the book has challenged me:

  • Some of her recommendations, like setting aside quiet time, delegating household chores to the kids, eliminating activities (Bear’s time consuming gymnastics!) and making learning a regular part of my life, I was already doing.
  • I need to be better organized and a bit more self-disciplined about tasks. If I think about 15 minute time blocks, I could probably accomplish more.
  • Multitasking (the mental kind) is undermining my focus.
  • She talks about setting very specific goals.  I stated above how hard this is proving to be for me.
  • I would like to be more purposeful about recording the things my kids say and do (I guess there’s one goal for me).

I think Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is a worthy read, invigorating us into action to be good stewards of the time we have been given.  Though I summarized the contents here, my summary hardly does it justice.  Mary Jo Tate goes into much more detail in her book. And if you keep a commonplace book, the quotes on the edges of the pages will keep you busy for awhile.

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