Make Time for Things that Matter: Impact and Significance
Making time for significance
I had the opportunity to speak on “Making Time for Things that Matter” at the Ultimate Homeschool Expo last week, and I’ve also been reading a book called Eternal Impact: Investing in the Lives of Others by Phil Downer. Although Eternal Impact isn’t focused on family relationships, one of the key ideas — significance — applies beautifully to the idea of making time for things that matter.
Because “school” is such a big part of homeschooling, it’s easy to get bogged down in details — what curriculum to use, how many math problems to do each day, how to motivate little Ebenezer to prefer phonics to Legos. The big picture, the key to lasting significance, sometimes slips into the background.
Significance as a factor in planning
Phil Downer defines significance as “making a difference in the lives of people over time.” The biggest idea I try to convey when I talk to homeschooling moms is that children remember atmosphere more than activities. It’s more important to create a home in which there is love, respect, and a united purpose to build strong relationships, than it is to be super-busy, part of every co-op, sports, or ministry opportunity, or to keep house to Ritz-Carlton standards.
There are many good things you can do, but what are the best things? What will have a lasting impact on your family? In the definition of “significance,” note the phrase “over time.” As your family grows together, your home will take on its own individual atmosphere.
Looking back to move forward
You’ll understand what I mean about atmosphere when you think back to your own childhood, and visiting your friends’ homes. When you walked in the door, what did you notice? Did the house seem welcoming and warm? Was your friend’s mom easy-going and kind, or did she bark at her children (and maybe even you)? Was the home extreme in some way — cold and sterile or packed to the ceiling with clutter? Which homes did you most enjoy visiting?
Charlotte Mason wrote that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life,” and it’s a truth that becomes clearer every year I live. I believe that home atmosphere is one of the key ways that homeschooling moms can create significance in the lives of their children. The atmosphere I’m talking about isn’t related to the size or cost of your home or the perfection of your housekeeping, nor is it necessarily affected by the curriculum you choose or the church you attend.
It’s an atmosphere that you purpose to create that allows your children to walk in the door and relax, knowing that they’re unconditionally loved and accepted, and they’re in a place where they can freely ask questions, share joys and griefs, and learn to be the individuals they were created to be. Homeschool moms have a unique opportunity to impact their children’s lives for both time and eternity. With the big picture in mind, it becomes possible.
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There are other books that can help as you seek to create a home atmosphere with significance — the power to make a difference to your family. Here are two of my favorites and one I’ve recently discovered that fits quite nicely with them.