Consistency, my word of the year

posted in: extra 14

If there’s one thing I hear homeschool moms lament over and over it’s their own lack of consistency.

And I’m right there with them.

There were the early years – before I was truly homeschooling – when I determined that consistency was going to be the one thing needed and by George I’d do it. There were the tired years when I was both pregnant and trying to teach someone to read and I realized just how fragile my resolve was. We moved. We were sick. We had another baby, one who wouldn’t sleep through the night.

Can we cling to lifelong learning in the hopes that this all evens out in the end?

Yes, there is much benefit in living this life together, in simply reading lots of books and restoring fellowship when it’s broken time and time again.

But there’s also actually benefit to completing a math book, finishing a paper, memorizing a poem, and parsing Latin sentences. And you can’t do those things unless you put in the repetitions, day in and day out.

I must be getting older.

I find myself smiling when I see moms say they are their own enemy to the education they are hoping to give their children. “I am the one who needs a kick in the pants, not encouragement.” they say. “Ah,” I think, “her oldest is probably 5.”

Because when your oldest is 7 or 8 and you’re pregnant for the fourth or fifth time and you start seeing each child as another person you have to endlessly repeat a/ay/aw with and the toilets are never clean and you know school only picks up from here, then you do need encouragement.

When your oldest hits his first argumentative phase, when one child has a harder time with math or with reading, when the curriculum you thought you’d love isn’t working – then you do need encouragement.

Then one year you realize – I realize – the oldest has made it to middle school and we’re actually doing ok. I’m not pregnant, I’m sleeping through the night most nights, and I’ve taught four children to read. We could be farther along in a lot of things, but we can have pleasant and informed conversations. We had our consistent times and our inconsistent lax times, and we’re pulling through ok.

Then, we’re at a crossroad.

I hear homeschool moms lament over and over their own lack of consistency. Let's add some consistency to our homemaking & homeschooling in 2016.

We’ve been through the uncertain phase, where we aren’t sure we can hack it. We’ve been through the exhausted phase, where we just do what we can. We come out the other end and it would be easy to think that we can do what we did during the exhausted phase and keep coasting. But what if that season is actually over? What if the grace we received during those years needs to build some spine and stamina in us now?

We have to steward what we are given, where we are right now. If we have no newborns, adequate sleep, no health problems and no huge life disruptions, the right response is not to rejoice and relax. The right response is to rejoice and dig in, to make hay while the sun shines. This season is not guaranteed to last; this season is a thing to be invested, to be spent, poured out so that there might be growth.

No matter what season you’re in, it’s a thing to invest, to pour out and to pour into so that there might be growth. But what that looks like will be different.

With no excuses to not do the work, it’s time to do the work, day in and day out, maintaining an even keel and not growing weary of doing good, of putting in strong school days.

It’s time to grow in consistency.

What is consistency?

Starbucks is consistent. Mcdonalds is consistent. What you order is the same wherever you go. Is that the kind of consistency we’re after?

I don’t think so.

We can’t always put out the exact same standard effort, doing the exact same thing day in and day out, no matter what happens. Because life happens. And our job isn’t to ignore that and pretend situations, people, needs never change. Instead, we’re to be responsive in our planning. We’re supposed to take into account the needs in front of us and respond accordingly, always moving ourselves and our young ones down the path we’ve chosen and away from the cliffs on either side.

The dictionary defines consistency as “the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.”

That is, exactly what we are performing, what we are doing, might vary, but the quality does not – over weeks and months and years, not just one strong day here and there.

Quality of effort, not uniformity of actions.

It means we show up and put in the effort when we don’t feel like it, because there will be days we don’t feel like it. And if I skimp on or shrug off school whenever I don’t feel like doing it, we’re going to be consistently slacking, not consistently faithful.

School days do not have to grow tedious to be consistent. Consistent quality, consistently living up to the level we’re at requires staying engaged and changing things up in response to our children’s needs. It means taking rest when rest is needed and not burning out in the name of high performance.

Consistent in affection.

Consistent in attention.

Consistent in patience.

These are the qualities we must be consistent in just as much – more so – than consistent in completing math pages.

This isn’t an overnight resolve, where we undertake to be consistent, tighten up our belts, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and just do it. Consistency is a virtue, one we grow into, one we learn to love while we learn to put it into practice.

Will you grow in consistency with me this year?

14 Responses

  1. Leanne
    | Reply

    Love this – thank-you. I am in the stage of having kids who are 8 (twins) and no major life changes on the horizon. This is my season to dig in, do it well, and have consistent days. Thanks for this reminder and challenge.

  2. Anna
    | Reply

    Yes, being faithful in the little things, knowing they add up to big things over time – part of the inspiration for my blog title, and something I’m striving for (but not always accomplishing!). Great reminder that we need to grow in consistently demonstrating patience, etc. and not just in getting the academics done. I think that’s a lot harder!

  3. Jamie
    | Reply

    I really appreciated this. Thank you so much for sharing. I am now homeschooling an 11th grader, 9th grader and 7th grader. Things are so very different with these ages. It’s not a time for me to sit back and relax now that the “hard” work is done. These teenagers need me just as much as the littles did, just in a VERY different way.
    You can know that you are not alone in your desire to grow in consistency this year. I am right there with you seeking Gods guidance and strength to do the very best I can with what He has given me right now.
    Thanks again for your challenging words.

  4. Carolina
    | Reply

    Looove this! I will be printing this out and taping to my forehead. I too have middleschooler and often feel like I need to be consistent with the math pages…but gosh really it needs to be the love and encouragement. I was just chatting with a friend this morning about consistency, Maybe its the word I need for the year, thanks!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Love and encouragement is harder in the middle school years than the little years, but they do need it just as much.

  5. Jessica Perteet
    | Reply

    Thanks for these words. I am battling morning sickness with my 4th baby and my oldest is only 6 so I feel like I am in an earlier stage you mentioned where you need lots of grace to get through.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Hi Jessica! Yes! There’s lots of grace for those sleep-deprived and morning-sick years! I did a lot of audio books during those times.

  6. […] Simply Convivial: Consistency […]

  7. Tory
    | Reply

    So encouraging. It was exactly what I was hoping for–someone a few years down the road to share some wisdom with me. A sigh of relief to feel some higher perspective, and I loved what you said about being consistent in things like affection. So wait?? Maybe I actually have been being consistent in some things????? {{mind blown}} Wow am I looking forward to this year. :D

  8. Janis
    | Reply

    Thank you for this post. While I love reading what you wrote, I was nervous reading this one. I am a mom of five kids, ages 9 months to barely 8 years. While I would love for consistency to be my word, I know that would set me up for failure. Of course I want consistency. But my kids don’t. That’s not their priority. They would rather have grace. I was afraid your post would make me feel like I could never measure up. But it didn’t! You actually told me that this may not be my season for consistency.

    “Because when your oldest is 7 or 8 and you’re pregnant for the fourth or fifth time and you start seeing each child as another person you have to endlessly repeat a/ay/aw with and the toilets are never clean and you know school only picks up from here, then you do need encouragement.”

    This is where I am. My oldest was 7 1/2 when my fifth was born. I wanted consistency so badly that I lost sight of grace. And boy did I know it. And my kids knew it. And I hated it. But when I shifted toward grace my home returned to order without all the yelling. It wasn’t perfect and consistent order, but it was enough. But having grace was so worth it.

    Thank you for REMEMBERING that moms in my season of life need grace. There are those that can’t seem to remember. Those that seem to think that their season of life is a result of them finally learning to be consistent rather than a completely different season where consistency can be added to the grace already given.

    Thank you for being a constant encouragement. It’s posts like this that drew me to you in the first place. :)

  9. Jen in Oz
    | Reply

    I am right there with you Mystie. I was just thinking almost the same on my drive home after finishing work at midnight. Roads are so clear it is a lovely time to ponder and reflect.

    And yes now my youngest is seven it is time to dig in and really get some things done already. Thanks for reminding me to not linger longer in those hazy days but also reminding me to accept that those days happened as part of a season that has now passed.

    Best wishes
    Jrn in Oz

  10. […] considering what my word would be I came across Misty Winckler’s post about her word for the year “Consistency’ and it was really good. I need help with that as well and I am choosing that word for my self, but […]

  11. […] I chose a different word for this year, virtue is still a key concept not only for me but for anyone interested in classical […]

  12. Kimberly
    | Reply

    Oh, Mystie! Boy did I need to (re) read this today…I love how you speak of movement with your children. I have shifted the way I think about homeschooling to more of a moving toward rather than a list, so I love the idea of “moving ourselves and our young ones down the path we’ve chosen and away from the cliffs on either side.”

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