Slowing Down


                 As we became a homeschooling family we dove headfirst and completely submerged ourselves in our new lifestyle.  We joined all kinds of groups and signed up for extracurricular activities.  I didn’t want my children to miss the social aspects of public school or be left out of opportunities to develop their talents.  We soon found ourselves involved in dance lessons, play groups, book club, science classes, art classes, sports teams, guitar lessons, and the like.  Just typing this list makes my head spin.  Somehow we managed to keep our heads just above water.

                 One night my husband made a startling comment as we sat down to family dinner, “This is a novelty,” he remarked.  I quickly realized that he was right.  Family dinners had become few and far between, family home evening was even going by the wayside as I made justifications that we were getting plenty of family time, after all, we homeschool!  Our weekends were filled with all kinds of activities and I was really starting to wear out. 

                My littlest kids were spending hours in the car each week as we sat in traffic to drop kids of at their “enriching” activities.  After the third or fourth week in a row of relentless activity I had finally had enough.  I now longer cared about looking like a flake or a quitter.  I started weeding things out left and right to clear some space into our schedule.  One by one I cancelled activities and I began to feel lighter.  That next week, I had carved four free days into our schedule. 

              Suddenly, we had the gift of time!  I made a point to have family dinner.  I read an article posted recently on The Sentinel about making family home evening a priority.  We held family home evening that week.  Guess what?  I was starting to find my center.  I was amazed at how many enriching activities we could actually do at home when we were not sitting in traffic trying to get from one activity to another.  I can’t believe I was almost robbed of one of the most precious gifts of homeschooling, simplicity. 

                The adversary wants us to be completely distracted.  He wants us to be rushing from one activity to another so that we cannot hear the one resounding truth that we are enough.   Our young children especially need their Mothers and they need family time at home to learn and to play and explore.  Our children need us to really SEE and HEAR them.  While I believe that it is important for kids to be involved in extracurricular activities so that they can socialize and develop their talents, these activities cannot replace that crucial time spent in the home.  As homeschoolers, we are blessed to create our own schedules and choose our priorities for the most part.  I am grateful for the wise counsel of former General Relief Society President, Julie B. Beck in the following quote:

Mothers Who Know Do Less

                "Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power."

                  I hope to be able to guard and protect our most precious commodity – time.  I hope to have the discipline to choose only the best things and the confidence that I am making the right decision not to choose it all.   

How To Solve Any Problem! 7 Self-Government Principles - by Nicholeen Peck

The best way to teach your children to live by principle is to live by principle yourself. This is a story of when I was tempted to react, but chose to be assertive instead.

Morning Exercise

Our family loves to go exercise at a local city gymnasium in the Winter time. I usually go walking while the children roller blade or shoot hoops with the basketball. So, we were rather surprised one day when we noticed a new sign at the building saying that basketballs and roller blades, among other things, would no longer be allowed in the building during exercise time.

When we noticed the sign we were right in the middle of rollerblading and playing ball. Have you ever had that feeling of guilt mixed with confusion, mixed with anger? Well, that was my first impulse. I didn't know why the rules had suddenly changed and felt attacked. No one likes change.

As I walked around the gym watching my children break the rules I started dreaming up ways I would speak out against this unfair treatment. I imagined some cranky lady calling the city complaining about having to share the building with children. I had been really careful to make sure my children didn't ever bother any other exercisers if they should happen to be using the building at the same time we were, so this was a shock.

I have never liked it when people give in to complainers and end up taking someone else's freedom away in order to please the one person who can't control their emotions or seek to understand others.

As I was pondering my assumptions of why this disturbing sign had appeared at our city gym, I had an epiphany. Like lightning striking me, I realized that I was dangerously close to doing the exact thing I was assuming someone else had done, or worse.

Problem Solving Process – Disagree Appropriately

Whenever I start feeling emotionally out of control or agitated I think, “What principle do I need to focus on here?”

These principles are listed here as problem solving steps.

  • Connect In Person
  • Seek to Understand
  • Pre-Teach
  • Be Assertive instead of Aggressive or Passive/Aggressive
  • Use Diplomacy
  • Disagree Appropriately
  • Make a Proactive Plan

Connect In Person

Calling or emailing someone is easier, but going in person to discuss a concern is always better. Then the person you are talking to can really feel your heart and see that you don't want to create a problem or make life hard for them. Problems can't be solved to make both sides happy if there isn't an honest heart-felt connection first.

Seek To Understand

Seeking to understand others is a sign of love. It is naïve to expect someone to want to understand me if I don't want to understand them. So, I knew I needed to show the director of parks and recreation that I understood her. After all, she had a hard job. People in her position have to deal with angry people day after day and rarely ever get thanks.

I said, “I know your job is one of the hardest jobs in the city. People call you to complain every day about everything from snow removal to problems with facilities. I don't want to be one of those people, but I do have a concern I would like to discuss...”


If you can remember, it is always preferable to tell someone what you are about to do before you do it. This decreases their anxiety and prepares them to accept your communication.

I said, “I brought my children with me today so that I could teach them a valuable communication lesson. I told them that when you don't like how something is, it is better to go calmly talk to the person instead of get angry. I told them that they had more of a chance of being understood if they respected the person enough to communicate calmly and give them a personal visit. That is our purpose here today...”

Be Assertive

Aggressive behaviors and communications always disconnect people. And passive/aggressive or passive behaviors disconnect and don't allow others to understand you at all. The only effective form of communication is assertive communication. There is always merit in calmly speaking up so that you can be understood.

Use Diplomacy

Diplomacy is the act of effectively dealing with people based on a feeling of mutual trust. Each person trusts in the goodness of the other, and relates to each other trusting in their good intentions. This skill assumes goodness and excuses small flaws or misunderstandings.

When I want to speak to the kind woman in charge of city facilities I knew she was trying to make everyone who used the facilities comfortable. Some people are most comfortable when they have solitude to exercise. Other people are most comfortable when they can exercise with their children in an environment which encourages a love of exercise; in all its forms.

I tried to make sure she knew I understood that different people feel comfortable in different situations.

Disagree Appropriately

Disagreeing appropriately is one of the four basic skills we need to learn. Even very small children are able to grasp the steps to this simple skill. The hard part is remembering to use the skill instead of reacting to the situation.

While calmly looking at my new acquaintance I explained that I understood her difficult position. After I sought to understand her I said, “I go to the gym with my children for two reasons. I want to encourage them to exercise each day and I don't want to be there alone. I don't feel that it would be safe for a woman to be there all alone, and usually no one else is there...Would it be possible to make a plan for how we can all use the building to fit our needs?...”

The skill, disagreeing appropriate is a problem solving method for life.

Make A Proactive Plan

People thrive when they have a plan. Also, making any changes in behavior or procedure is impossible without a well thought out proactive plan.

In this situation it would be rude of me to come to this person with a concern and not present a proposal for a solution. If I required her to problem solve the whole situation for me, she might be able to see what my family's needs really are, or what my family is willing to do to make the situation work for all people.

I said, “What if we carried on as we have always done for the past two years when no other patrons are at the facility, and then we adjust our activities if others want to use the building? We could ask the other exercisers if they mind our basketballs or roller blades, or I could just give my children an instruction to walk during the time other people are there. Would that work?...”

The Magical Moment

This kind woman really understood our concern and seemed to appreciate the fact that we understood what others could be feeling too. She thought our plan was acceptable and agreed to allowing us to follow through with it. Her decision was a magical moment for my children.

Prior to going to the city offices, I told my children that the city might say no to our suggestions, and that if we got a no answer we would accept it and stay calm. But, this wonderful woman chose to accept the disagreement and practice diplomacy too. She trusted our goodness, just like we trusted in hers.

I am happy that my children will always have this experience at city hall to reflect back upon. They will always know that speaking up in a kind understanding way solves problems, while stewing and getting angry because you don't want something to change never solves anything.

Buy Nicholeen's New Teaching Self-Government Family Tutorial DVD Set, or other books and audio courses.