Homeschooling has been part of our family for 14 years—it’s etched into our lifestyle. There are so many reasons I truly love it—but like most worthwhile endeavors…it comes with some hard days (hard years even)! Sometimes it’s because we’ve all been sick—nothing like the stomach flu to take you way off your game (and add 10 extra loads to the laundry)! Sometimes the days are hard because of life changes and stages—like new baby and no sleep hard! But sometimes things get hard and overwhelming—because I made them that way…ouch. Here are 5 ways I’ve sabotaged my homeschool…
1. Being Too Flexible
So, if you have more than two kids—I think you can relate to this problem: Doctor Appointments! There have been years where it seemed like I was going to some sort of doctor or therapy appointment for at least one of my kiddos on a weekly basis. And because we homeschool, when the receptionist would schedule our appointments, I was always so quick to say, “We’re flexible—anytime will work.”
And yes—while it is nice that we can visit a doctor without having to physically take our children out of class and all the hoopla that entails—it still causes disruption to our day. In theory, I can just rearrange things—but in practice we are tired and worn out after a doctor’s office or therapy visit (especially if you are carting around all your kids…my oldest three went everywhere together because we had to).
Finally, after all these years—I try to be more protective of our time. Obviously—the appointments still need to be made—but I’ve stopped telling everyone we’re flexible! Think about the least invasive time that works with your schedule (for us that’s early afternoon)—and have that time ready when they ask, “What time works best for you?” In addition, I try not to book more than one appointment per week—it saves my sanity.
2. Not Creating Boundaries
Along the same lines of being too flexible…sometimes we are too available. Here’s what I mean—no one is ever “just a stay-at-home mom,” and in addition to the regular work you are doing to care for your family and home—you have a JOB. A fabulous, non-paying job…You are a teacher–you have lessons to plan, projects to create, stories to read, and top that with a side of Algebra. You are BUSY—this is work. It’s okay to admit that. Sometimes I really don’t want to admit things are hard or challenging. I have no idea why (I think it has to do with being a Type A in recovery), because what I’m doing is truly all-consuming and important work.
So when activities come up or people call and need help…I want to be easy-breezy and say, “Yes –I will also teach Sunday School, organize a homeschool co-op, go to bible study, babysit your kids, etc…” But the fact is—you are a working mom. You do not have extra time on your hands. This is not your season for volunteer work. Stop feeling guilty and say no.
Additionally, because you are home—sometimes family, friends, or neighbors might feel like you are available for babysitting. I would just caution you about always being someone’s childcare fall back. Don’t get manipulated—you’ve made sacrifices to stay home and do what you do. You are doing it for your kids—not everyone else’s! Of course—being able to help in an emergency or a very short-term situation is a different thing. But you know when someone is taking advantage of you—don’t be afraid to set boundaries!
3. Trying To Do It All
Besides trying to do it all—you might even be trying to do it all perfectly! The fact is you cannot do it all.
All may or may not include (and is not limited too)…Cooking amazing meals, keeping a spotless house, having quiet time in God’s word, exercising, grocery shopping, getting yourself and your little people clean and dressed, having a passionate, connected relationship with your spouse, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking 8 glasses of water, driving your kids across town for ballet, piano, and baseball, going out for ladies night, doing everything else on your to-do list, and teaching your kids…
Well you can try—but here’s the thing. We each have to decide which of those things are truly the most important and what things we can let go (don’t let your spouse be the thing you let go—choose snuggling and Netflix over the dishes). You cannot let your self-worth rise and fall with your to-do list. We have to get okay with doing things imperfectly—imperfect still blesses our family! Do I clean as deeply as my momma taught me? No. But it is good-enough (and I think there is some research about dirt being good for kids)! The FlyLady has really helped me gain a healthy perspective on housekeeping—and serving my family with love and grace. (FLY—stands for Finally Loving Yourself!!)
How can you cut some corners and take the pressure off? For me, I use paper plates and plastic cups—a lot. I make a lot of grilled cheese for dinner. Gourmet meals are just not feasible for me in this season of life—too much time, too many picky kids, and too much mess. Of course, I like for us to sit and have our bowls of cereal together—when that happens, I count it as a win! Honestly—3 nice meals a week together—GOALS! It’s not perfect, but that is where I have given myself grace. Where can you give yourself some grace too?
Also remember—these life stages and phases seem so permanent when we are in the thick of them. But they aren’t. Just because you can’t hang out with your friends and have coffee now—doesn’t mean you never will again! Now that I have teenagers, I have a whole lot more freedom to run out and meet a friend or grab a burger and beer with my hubby. It’s glorious—and trust me, you will need the burger and beer when you have teenagers! The toy room will not always be a pit—they eventually stop playing with toys! (Which is actually so sad, and I’m afraid I’m going to start hoarding toys for future grandbabies). Hang in there—it all passes…fast!
4. Comparing Yourself to Other Moms
I honestly didn’t think I was guilty of this one…But then I started thinking about stress or pressure I’ve felt in regards to homeschooling or parenting. A lot of it stems from feeling like I need to be doing something else…joining a formal bible study, signing up for mommy-and-me gymnastics, teaching Latin, finding a homeschool co-op, etc… All of these are great things–but they haven’t always fit in with our homeschool or family situation. In fact, some of them have added a lot of extra stress.
So my point is—just because you think all the other “good moms,” are doing something—doesn’t mean you need to be doing that thing too. If you love making crafts with your kids, awesome—glitter away! But—if you don’t…that is okay too! Let yourself be inspired by other moms—not defeated!
5. Not Preparing
I’ve been doing this awhile…so, yes—I can, “wing it.” Which is easy—because most of my curriculum is simple and organized; I can just open the teacher guide and do the next lesson. BUT—when I do spend time preparing for the week (usually on a Friday or weekend afternoon)…things go so much smoother. I feel prepared and organized. I’ve been able to think of fun activities, gather materials, and order items from the library or Amazon. When Monday morning rolls around—things just click so much better when I’ve taken the time to prepare in advance (I love my planning pages—grab them here!).
Along those same lines—having all our materials together and ready before we start on a lesson has been so important. If I’m running back and forth from the storage cabinet–grabbing manipulatives, markers, papers, or books—the interruptions really hurt the momentum and flow of our lesson. Your kids will be more engaged and you’ll get through lessons faster if you gather all your materials before getting started.
Among the many lovely things about homeschooling—we get to start fresh every morning. I love it! We can begin better habits and make adjustments. This is beautiful, messy, grace-filled work…I’m thankful that God has called me to do it!
What habits are helping your homeschool? Can you relate to some of these challenges? Please feel free to share your thoughts and tips—I know they will encourage other moms!
P.S. These verses always help me—especially on the hard days!
2 Corinthians 12: 9 (NIV)
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
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