When the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew was offered a book published and offered by Apologia Educational Ministries titled Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate, I all but begged to be on the review. Having never been disappointed by anything from Apologia and finding the title of this book intriguing and perhaps even encouraged that I could learn from having read it, I was so excited. Then when I was chosen for the review… I was thrilled.
Mary Jo Tate begins her book by sharing a bit of her story. She’s raising four sons alone, homeschooling, and running a business. She’s running multiple businesses, really, with different topics she speaks on, writing, editing, and she also teaches in a homeschool co-op. It’s tiring just to consider. But, in reading her book, I’m beginning to see how she makes it possible. Priority, time management, and using the time and energy you’ve been given to manage the tasks that must be accomplished are good and right goals. As a mother of seven, homeschooling four children, caring for three younger ones, and keeping house and home, I have a lot to learn from Ms. Tate.
Chapters in Flourish include:
1. An Invitation to Flourish 2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time 3. The FREEDOM Toolbox 4. Where Did My Time Go? 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 Attitude Adjustment 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 15. Home Business 16. Moving Ahead
About the day after I read the chapter ‘Where Did My Time Go?’, I found myself paying attention to not just my hours, but my minutes. How many hours do I waste away being unproductive? More than I’d ever considered possible. Simply by being aware of my tendency to waste time – particularly on the computer, I wasted less. That day was my most productive day in a long time.
I really appreciated the chapter ‘Home Business’. I do not have a home business, but ideas roll around in my head. Someday, I’d love to have that chapter directly apply to me. In the meantime, learning a bit more is very good.
Ms. Tate loves forms. She provides many samples of the forms she uses in the appendix of her book. Writing things down is so not me, and I rather bucked her methods. I’m still in inner debate on whether it’s a personality flaw that has me fighting schedules or if it’s merely personality. I have to be able to go with the flow around here, and interruptions constantly arise with small children. We have routine, but lack schedules. I’ve tried to put many of the suggestions and challenges into practice, with mixed results. In the end, I think it’s making her ideas work for us – and my personality. I have experienced firsthand the benefits of making lists and planning my day out better (Both time and gas were saved when I planned a route for our shopping trip so that we weren’t trying to figure out where to go first and forgetting stops along the way. Remembering the bank and the post office doesn’t always happen… hooray for a plan!) but I still fly by the seat of my pants on a regular basis. I think my biggest frustration in making a list beyond the time it takes to make one is what happens when my plan doesn’t happen… I get frustrated. It’s easier to lower my expectations for the day, for the time it will take to accomplish things with my children. Mary Jo Tate addresses this too… and it struck me: I’m forever thinking my children will live up to my lowest expectation of them. Why should I expect more from my day than my lowest expectation as well? Thought provoking, anyhow.
Where to go from here? I think I’ll read the book again. Try a few more things. See what I can take away, put into practice, and form new habits. Some days, survival with a touch of school is all that’s in store around here – but maybe, just maybe, I can go about my days with more purpose, balance schedules with grace, and become more productive in the chaos. That home business might not be so far off in the future if I’m successful.
Flourish is softcover and contains 289 pages. It is available here for $15.00.
To read what 99 other TOS Crew reviewers thought of Mary Jo Tate’s book, check out the Review Crew Blog here.