Currently, I am very happily expecting our fourth child and we are staring down the last few weeks until we get to hold our newest, little sweetie! The homestretch is so exciting! The kids talk about the baby constantly and we all can’t wait to snuggle her for the first time!
As you already know, the final push to the deadline of anything is often the most daunting time period, too. Not only are we in the last days of this pregnancy, but we are in the last few weeks of our school year, trying to patiently wait out these lingering weeks of cold, winter-like weather, and striving to keep the kids focused on finishing the school year well and not going stir-crazy in the process!
Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation: nearing the end of a project and losing energy, motivation, or focus… or all three! I sympathize with you. Here are some ways that we have learned to keep up excitement and focus and finish the course well!
Begin and End POSITIVELY! Determine to begin and end every school year, project, or task on a positive, upbeat note! This is a concept that I was encouraged to put into practice with each and every school lesson. And as difficult as it is on some days to end a mind-numbing math lesson on a positive note, it usually can be done, albeit with a considerable amount of effort. An encouraging word, a hug, a star at the top of the worksheet can go a long way to remind your child that they have done a good job! Don’t merely “end” your school year or project, resolve to make the end of it a happy time! Plan a “last day of school” party or special family dinner. Remind them (and yourself) how far you have come over the last school year and encourage them to keep up the good work until they get to the “finish line.” Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement is the name of the game here. I know it is hard to dole out encouragement when you are feeling discouraged yourself. Remember Proverbs 14:1, “A wise woman buildeth her house:” It is our great privilege to be the primary cheerleader for our husband and children. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to brighten their day and encourage them along the way!
Don’t Forget Rewards and Incentives Maybe you have an incentive system already in place, or perhaps your reward chart is lagging at the end of your school year. Revive it and set up small goals to keep your family moving in the right direction until the end of the school year. Sometimes we don’t want to take time out at the end of a busy school year for field trips or other non-essential things. At the end of the school year we feel that we need to buckle down and get all of our work accomplished. But sometimes, the homestretch is just the time that your family could benefit from a little R&R together.
Last weekend, we took the kids on a daytrip that we had been promising them since the beginning of the school year. At almost nine-months pregnant, sitting in the car for a few hours on a beautiful Saturday was not my first choice of activities, but it was just what our family needed to get away from the school books and projects, have some fun together and recharge us for the last few weeks of the school year and this pregnancy! It was such a joy to this mommy’s heart to see their happy faces and hear them each say over and over again on the way home, “Thank you for this day!” and “This day was SO much fun! Thank you for doing this!”
Maybe daddy could schedule a “date night” with his girl, or you could squeeze in some special one-on-one time with the child who needs the most encouragement. It might do worlds to improve their focus and keep them on track!
Step Back and Look at the Big Picture Perhaps you are feeling especially discouraged because you haven’t met some goals or markers that you were hoping to cross by now. Maybe a particular subject or project has absolutely overwhelmed you, and you’re feeling like a failure in that department. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Did you work hard? Do you see any signs of improvement, however small? Did the Lord give you strength to finish your course, whether or not you arrived where you wanted to be at the end? Then take heart and remember that there is always next year, next time, another chance to improve in that particular area. The Lord promises never to leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will always provide sufficient grace to meet the challenges that He puts in our path. (II Corinthians 12:9) Focus on finishing this course in reliance on His grace and promises! That is all you can do. Direction is the goal, not perfection!
I pray that each of you will find the strength you need to finish your course with joy! Like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:8, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof:” May the Lord find us faithful until the finish line!