© 2011 mikeandbrynne

Reality Check

During my “rest and recovery” period this month I created the ideal homecoming scenario for the return of my older boys:  We would laugh and talk for hours.

They would embrace the carefully articulated weekly schedule.

Of course, they would share their progress in piano with a cheerful heart and attitude.

After such a LONG summer break, they would be anxious to get back to work:  to jump into their former jobs and assignments and to delve deeply into learning.

In my post surgery daze, I was confident that they would want to organize and purge their items from the last school year that they had left haphazardly spread throughout their bins, closets and shelves.

I was living in an alternate reality……..

Just to be clear I will let you know that ONE of those items (the first) DID occur–we had a wonderful time catching up until the reality that their almost-four-month -summer of traveling and vacationing had come to an end.

Now, my kids love to learn.  Truly, they do.  It is one of the fringe benefits that we have managed to cultivate with their individualized curriculum.  Yet they were still not confident that they wanted to trade their body boards for math books or even math games.  “Mom, ” my nine year old attempted to explain, “kids LOVE summer no matter how much they like to study.”

The first day back to reality was a disaster (maybe that wasn’t strong enough–nightmare??)…..at least in regard to the piano.  I was dictator mom.  I hated it.

Day 2 –At least one of my children, who will remain anynomous, was still throwing himself on the floor within 15 minutes of piano practice.

Day 3–I decided that I was going to exercise patience at all cost.  “Daily Blessings” (jobs) went much better, but Taylor decided he was going to quit the piano (we had a great discussion about HARD THINGS).

Day 4–We went on a retreat with Mike’s work (vacation already??) and my third spent an eternity (okay, maybe it was only four hours, but it felt like FOREVER) in the hotel room instead of at the pool attempting to do a couple of pages of piano theory that he had the entire summer to complete.

Today marks a week (minus a couple days the hotel pool for the work retreat) and I have to say that our realities are starting to merge.  I have still heard a few, “This is WAY to hard!” and “I DON’T want to do that!” and “I can’t believe I have to unload the dishwasher AGAIN!”–but on a whole life is settling back into a comfortable though noisy and active reality.

Here are a few things that have helped:

1.  Time–I think it takes at least a week’s worth of time to readjust to the reality of practicing the piano

2.  Shoulder Tap–Instead of raising my voice or reminding my seven year old AGAIN of “the appropriate behavior” that a situation warrants I have just started tapping him on the shoulder as a reminder to refocus (usually when he is practicing his music).  If this is not successful than I a tap him on the head.  If he still doesn’t refocus than he is obligated to do a job for me before I will return to help him complete his assignments.  Surprisingly it has been enormously successful.

3.  Reading President Hinckley’s talk, “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth” with the kids–giving them a vision of WHY they are doing all of this.

4.  A study with Mike on a talk from Lee Robbins called, “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”  The talk suggests that when we discipline children we should focus on the motive behind the behavior (he calls it the “TO BE”) rather than the actual behavior (which he calls “TO DO”).  He explains, “When children misbehave…we often misdirect our discipline on what they did….But the do-their behavior-is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts.  We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the futures?”  Thus, this morning when one of my kids raised his voice at me, instead of focusing on the behavior-the raised voice- we discussed the importance of the virtue of respect and the commandment to honor your Father and Mother.  It has helped me to be calm.  One last thought he expressed, that should cheer all parents of determined children was this:  “A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101.  If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505…you might consider the more challenging child a blessing  and opportunity to become more godlike yourself.”

Luckily we have surpassed Parenting 101 at our house……..thanks for the reality check!


  1. Erin Tennison
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | #

    Love your parenting tips! So great that we will all have doctorates in parenting after we graduate parenting 505 without raising our voices! Love you Brynnie and I love how expressive your boys are!

  2. Jessica Sedgwick
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm | #

    Brynne, you’ve always been a great example to me in not raising your voice. You are super patient. I thought your kids just automatically listened and obeyed so that you didn’t have to raise your voice ! 🙂 So I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for the great articles, too!

  3. Carole Kerch
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 3:45 am | #

    Hi Brynne I am a cousin in law probably removed ( my sister is married to your cousin Tom Haight). I just started homeschooling this year. Your blog is fantastic!!! Truly helpful to me in these early homeschool stages. Thank you for your ideas and honesty. I am eager to read on!

    • mikeandbrynne
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:39 pm | #

      The first year is the hardest because you are constantly wondering if you are doing enough!! Relax and enjoy and let me know how I can help!
      🙂 Brynne