Kumon Blogger of the Month — Earnest Parenting
December 6, 2011 ~
Every month, Kumon features one blog that we feel is a valuable and interesting resource for parents. This month, we are excited to recognize Earnest Parenting as our December Kumon Blogger of the Month. Amy LeForge started Earnest Parenting in hopes helping others (and herself) find joy in the frustrations of parenthood. Over the years, she has become a resource and outlet for parents all over the country. Amy took some time to talk to us about Earnest Parenting. Check out her responses below and be inspired.
Tell me about yourself – family, interests, etc.
My name is Amy LeForge. I am the mother of two sets of twin boys (ages 8 and 13) that I home-school. I love to read and quilt but never have time for either. I also love to help people with their parenting and encourage them to keep at this difficult job.
This month, we’re focusing on the importance of giving and sharing. Would you share a favorite holiday experience with us?
My absolute favorite holiday experiences in my whole life were the years that my parents took us to the nursing home on Christmas Day armed with about 50 poinsettia plants. The local nursery couldn’t sell them anymore after close of business on Christmas Eve, so they donated them to us. We took them to various nursing homes and facilities; it had to be done on Christmas Day because we didn’t want to seem like we were just taking leftovers. I learned so much in doing that, and I’m thankful my parents dragged me along at the time. It’s a big part of my own effort to teach my boys about the joys of service.
Why did you start Earnest Parenting?
I started because home schooling was very difficult for us. As a certified teacher with a master’s degree in educational psychology and instructional design, I just knew I could teach my own children easily. Oh, boy, was I wrong about that! I started asking other home-school moms if they were struggling and rarely got an answer to my question. When I searched online, the only results were articles telling me that I was the one who needed to change—that praying and being more humble would help. I agree with those articles, but I was doing plenty of praying and changing already, and it still wasn’t working. I needed some support and encouragement. I figured that there had to be a lot of other families just like mine, who were struggling and considering quitting. I thought sharing the experience would help both me and them get through and even succeed.
What’s your inspiration to continue blogging?
Now that I’m further along in the parenting journey, I see that all of parenting can be difficult, not just home schooling. So many parents are just plodding along, doing the right thing day after day without being thanked. I want to recognize and encourage these parents as much as I can, as well as be a resource for help with parenting problems.
What has been the reception to Earnest Parenting?
I think it’s been very good! I get positive comments and have gotten emails from parents saying they feel better about being frustrated after reading my articles. Readership is growing all the time, and especially exciting is the Heroes In Parenting program.
What do you hope to communicate through the blog?
I want to encourage parents and help them understand that doing the right thing day after day is really heroic. We hear on the news stories of parents who get it wrong. That’s a pretty small minority of the population though. Most parents are doing things right, and they should be celebrated. Someone once found my blog with the search term “I am a failure at parenting.” That’s so sad! I want to help people not feel like failures. I’d like them to recognize immediately that they can find encouragement and support here. I’d like them to know that parenting is a job that’s hard, but it can be done. We can be honest about the hard parts and celebrate the fun stuff and all get through it together.
The holiday season can be a very busy, chaotic time. How do you try to maintain a routine?
I maintain a routine by sheer force of will, a calendar and a flexible spirit. We put all events on the calendar (because if I don’t, I will forget … guaranteed) and try very hard to stick to that plan. In the event of a conflict or distraction, we make the best decision we can as a family and don’t worry about it.
What’s your best tip for celebrating this holiday season on a budget?
We’re keeping the holiday budget low a number of ways this year. I try to use coupons and comparison shop as much as possible. I’m also trying to stock up on any sale items. There are rumors of big price increases coming, so I’m trying to be ready for that. As far as Christmas, we have been focusing more on making memories than exchanging stuff with extended family. Instead of gifts with my husband’s brother and family, we’re going to go out to eat at a nice restaurant and just have time to talk as adults. The kids are all going to have a bowling outing together. For our own children, we reduced our gift-giving to three gifts per child a few years ago. It was a bit of a play on the number of gifts the Wise Men brought on their journey and has really helped sharpen my focus on finding items that would truly be useful and pleasing rather than whatever seems novel. I spend a bit more on each gift, but since there are only three it has resulted in a lower shopping budget.