Those of you who are married, when’s the last time you went on a date with your spouse?
I’ll let you think about that.
If the answer is not within the last two weeks, then it’s time. If you’re racking your brain right now and can’t seem to remember, then you’re way overdue. Or, if you seem to recall celebrating your 10th anniversary at Dairy Queen with a baby in tow last year, then NOPE. You’re way overdue too. And no, that one time, when you and your spouse went to the grocery store together doesn’t count either.
Now, as you know, watching a movie isn’t the best carefree timelessness that one can spend with one’s spouse, for the obvious reason that you’re not giving your attention to your spouse. Naturally, it would be better to go for a walk together. Or enjoy a cup of coffee at a cafe together. Or a glass of wine at a restaurant together. Or anything else away from your home and your children – little blessings that they are – so long as you two are together.
And I hate that I have to say this, but you had better not have your phones near you. Well, maybe you need them for your children’s sake, but absolutely no using them otherwise. It is abominably rude to check your phone in front of your spouse, let alone other people. So put it away.
That said, there are times when a Movie Night might be the ticket, especially if grandma is busy and you can’t leave your house. So, if you’ve already spent at least fifteen minutes in eye-to-eye conversation with your spouse today, then I recommend watching the following movie:
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is the best date night movie ever for the following reasons:
It’s clean. (This is a Miracle. I guess it did come out in 1952.)
It features John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, who are sure to satisfy both husbands and wives.
It’s set in Ireland, complete with lovely Irish accents.
It’s light-hearted. The Catholics are Catholic. The protestants are protestants. There are some really funny jokes, if you’re able to catch them.
Now this movie is not perfect, however. For example, you will see a priest support a questionable scheme to convince O’Hara’s belligerent brother to let her go courting.
A while back a friend of mine gave me Matthew Kelly’s latest book Perfectly Yourself, so I read it over Lent. It was exactly what I needed.
Let me begin by quoting a funny, but insightful passage from the book:
I have seven brothers, and as you can imagine, as children we could be quite a handful from time to time. When we went altogether too far, my mother would send us all to the laundry room. That meant we were going to get a spanking, usually with a wooden spoon. We couldn’t all fit into the laundry room , so some of us would sit around outside. Nobody wanted to be first, because everybody knew she would be tired by the time she got to the end, but sometimes she started with those inside the laundry room and sometimes with those outside.
Having sent us to the laundry room, my mother would then go and make herself a cup of coffee and sit at the kitchen table and drink it slowly before coming to spank us. I asked her several years later why she used to do this, and she told me that she used to get so angry at times and that she never wanted to beat us out of anger, but she needed to spank us out of love.
This passage really struck me. How many times do I discipline my children out of anger and frustration? (Click HERE for my post on Yelling.) All the time. Sigh. I’m always confessing it and always vowing to improve, but am I really working on this? Nope. Kelly convinced me that I need an action plan.
Now I know that in some circles Kelly is scoffed at. I’ve personally come across it, and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps for some he’s not “Catholic” enough in his approach to writing and speaking? For it is true; he appeals to all kinds of people – Christians and nonChristians alike. I guess I would argue that it’s not his mission to explain or defend Catholic doctrine and theology, but rather, his mission is to inspire everyone to live better lives, which is appealing to all people, at all times.
And I need to hear his message from time to time. And I need his practical advice, which this book gives. If you find yourself in a similar position, I strongly recommend reading Perfectly Yourself. This is not a book to thumb your nose at. Rather, put your nose in it, and read it.
By the way this book isn’t all about discipling your children either. It’s set up as nine chapters or lessons that help you take a good, hard look at your habits and lifestyle. Kelly encourages you to do the next right thing. He wants you to grow in virtue. He tells you to simplify your life and quit with all the worrying. And all along there are practical suggestions and interesting stories. It’s truly inspiring.
Like Matthew Kelly?
My brother, Rodney, is a avid Matthew Kelly fan. In fact he’s an ambassador for Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic program. (Click HERE for the Dynamic Catholic website.) Rodney insists that it was Kelly’s website, daily videos, and books that saved him from the cesspools of our culture.
I asked him what he thought of Kelly’s work. He said, “Nobody teaches you anything any more. You go to Mass, which is of course a good thing, but it’s meaningless unless you know what’s going on. And I was sick and tired of not knowing anything. Then I came across Kelly’s books and website, and they are the best thing ever. And he’s not boring. It’s all engaging.” And Rodney went on and on and on… This all coming from a young man with a rocky past – a marriage, two children, a divorce, and an annulment – all by the age of 27.
My point is that Kelly’s writing appeals to all walks of life.
Now I have a few things that I prefer to hide from my children. And I know you’ve got a few things that you hide from your children too. So, I thought it might be interesting to share this short list with you.
5 Things I Hide From the Children
Play Doh. This might label me as a crank, but I don’t like this stuff. I only save it for two reasons. 1.) It’s twenty below outside, and the children are driving me crazy. 2.) My floor needs to be swept and scrubbed anyway. In the meantime, I hide this dangerous stuff in a locked cabinet.
2. My Scissors. You might think that I’m hiding these dangerous blades because I’m afraid the children will run round, with that sharp, pointy end directed towards their little eyeballs? No. No, that is not why I hide my scissors. I hide my scissors because they’re always stealing it because they’ve lost theirs. And they want to cut cardboard diaper boxes to make rockets and houses. So, right now, my scissors is hiding on top of the refrigerator. And they’ve resorted to knives. (Just kidding, of course.)
3. Tape. Yes, the children are perpetually stealing this too. For, how else are they to join the diaper box to the Amazon box to make something even bigger and better? I now hide my tape in my bedroom dresser. (As an aside, can you imagine how excited my twin boys were to receive a roll of duct tape for their birthday from their grandparents? Excited.)
4. NFP Chart.* Does this one need explaining? Well, I certainly don’t want to explain it to my children either.
5. Dots. My favorite candy. I guess maybe this is childish and unsophisticated? Even so, I’m not ashamed to admit it. There’s nothing better than opening a box of Dots and eating all the red and pink ones on Date Night. (My husband gets the other colors; he’s very sacrificial and self-denying.) So, I try to hide my candy in an upper cabinet in my kitchen.
Anyone have anything to add the list? If so, I’d love to hear what it is.
I’ve been homeschooling now for almost six years. This has been the hardest job I’ve ever had. (Certainly harder than teaching sophomores at a high school. Or the time I shelved books in a library. Or the time I cleaned toilets at a state park. Or, well, you get the idea.) And I hate to break it to those of you just beginning, but it does get harder. For example, six years ago, I only had a kindergartner. Now I’ve got a fifth-grader, two third-graders, a first-grader, and a preschooler. (Not to mention a toddler and another in the womb.) But the good news is, it’s all worth it.
Well, to celebrate six almost down and about twenty-five more years to go, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned.
10 Things I Wish I Knew Six Years Ago
Get up before the children do.
Yep, you just need to do it. You’d never stroll into your old job at the office without being ready for it. I mean, praying, showering, putting on “real” clothes… If you can do this, your day is set. Now that said, there are seasons when this is not possible. For example, the three-month-old baby screamed all night and Susie puked and Timmy wet the bed. Prudence, mama.
But just because I think this one is really important, I’ll give you Jennifer Fulwiler’s thoughts too:
“It’s not always possible, but if you can make a habit of getting up an hour before everyone else in the house, it will change your life. (I say this as the biggest non-morning-person in the universe. There are vampires who enjoy watching the sun rise more than I do.)”**
**Click HERE for Fulwiler’s complete list of things she’s learned while parenting. She’s hilarious.
It is a bad idea to compare yourself to others.
I will never be a crafty mother. I detest finger-painting, gingerbread-house-making, and sticker charts. If my children can’t do the project on their own, forget about it. Now I know some of you are very talented in these artistic areas. This is a good thing, and I’m genuinely glad for your family. I’ve decided not to worry about my creative disabilities, however, and it’s freeing.
Quit worrying about your children not learning anything.
This one’s absurd. Anyone remember Andrew Pudewa relating his experience in a public prison, er, I mean in a public school? How he would get so bored, he’d see how hard he could bite himself? Then, when he’d get sick of that, he’d see how long he could hold his breath. (I actually remember doing that one in public school too.) The point is, our children are learning. And in the very least, they shouldn’t have to resort to arm-biting and breath-holding.
Make a “Rule” or schedule for your days and stick to it.
This is really freeing–almost as much as not comparing yourself to others. With my Rule, my priorities are set, and I know what I’m supposed to be doing at all times during the day. If you’re looking for more about this, I recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life. She’s really intense, but insightful.
Just because one child seems born to learn quickly, don’t think they all will.
I had a child who sat down and read the Old Testament for fun, at the age of five. I can tell you, it was a piece of cake teaching that one to read. And now, I’ve spent the last three years in purgatory, just sitting on my couch, praying to Jesus to give me the patience to not rip the book out of the kid’s hand, chuck it across the room, and storm out myself. (May it please God to not test my patience any further with slow readers, for I may not make it. Amen.)
Outsource those terrible subjects you hate.
I hate math. And guess what? When I attempt to teach math, my loathing for the subject comes out, no matter how hard I try to hide it. But my husband loves math, so last year, he took it over. (I will love him forever for it.) In our household, math starts at 7am. Yep, before breakfast, and it still goes well. If there’s a subject you despise, think creatively. Maybe switch a subject with another homeschool mom? Or, budget for and hire a tutor? Enroll in an online program?
Eat breakfast like a prison camp.
In our house, everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together. We eat peanut butter toast every single morning. We’ve done it for years. There’s never any complaining about it because they know what to expect. And I never have to worry about meal planning for breakfast. (On the weekend, there is a reprieve. Saturday is oatmeal. Sunday is cold cereal, which is their favorite.) You can imagine their excitement when my parents give them orange juice, as a present.
Learn to say no.
You want to destroy your family life? Then frantically run from event to event, never eat a meal together, and never pray together. As a culture, we are far too busy. Little Sally does not need to participate in gymnastics and tee-ball while playing on the soccer team and taking violin, piano, and voice lessons. This is ridiculous. Pick one. And let your children experience a childhood of climbing trees with their siblings, reading a book on the grass, eating dinner as a family, and receiving Dad’s blessing at night. This other Chosen Busyness is Satan’s great attempt to divide families. And it’s crept right into Catholic and home schools.
Are you going crazy?
From time to time, I have to put myself in time-out. As I have a small house, this gets tricky. I mostly prefer to hide in the bathroom, but there isn’t anywhere comfortable to sit, unless I take a bath. This year has been the Year of the Bath. I bought myself some lavender epsom salt. It smells nicely. I also prefer to take a martini and my book in there with me too. What do you do to get away? Furthermore, I recommend instituting quiet time every afternoon. And if possible, take a few Saturdays off a month, and go on a monthly date with your husband. Life is too short to do otherwise.
Lastly, think of all you’ve learned!
Yes, I finally have a fifth grade education. Whenever I feel poorly about my job as a mother and educator, I console myself with the thought that at least my children know more now thanI ever did at their age.
If you’ve found this post helpful, send it to someone else who might appreciate it.
Anyone have other thoughts or ideas? I’d enjoy hearing about them.