As a homeschooler, especially as a homeschool blogger, we tend to portray to the world the greats of homeschooling. We take cute pictures of our kids doing super creative and fun things. Most of the time their hair is brushed and they are fully clothed. Haha! We carefully crop out the dust bunnies in the corners and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling fan. It can start appearing as though homeschooling is all “rainbows & sunshine,” giving outsiders the impression that perfection is the standard and we meet that standard. We appear to be the moms that have it all figured out!
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with idea sharing or showing off the things that are working. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that sometimes those days are few and far between.
Some days are more like rolling storm clouds! You know…the days where kids are fed up and frustrated Mama is fed up and frustrated. Tears are rolling down everyone’s faces. You have eaten all the emergency stash of chocolate! Threats to call the principal (Dad) are flying out of your mouth! When he does get home from his long day of work emotions are erupting like a giant “homeschool volcano!”
String a few days like that together; maybe even weeks or months. You may end up doubting that this “homeschool thing” is really for you. Thoughts like “I’ve failed,” “Do we need to do public school?” or “I just give up!” start filling your mind. Making all this worse is that you still browse all your friends’ blogs or talk among your homeschool group comparing your known imperfections with their portrayed perfection.
Well, I for one will stand and admit that this “homeschool thing” is hard! We have rainbow days and storm cloud days! So, now what??? What do you do to get through the storm clouds?
~ Take a deep breath!
Realize that all of life is stages and phases! One of the most common statements, uttered daily under my breath, is “This too shall pass!” Shake off the worry and know that God is in control! Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
~ Seek God!!!
I have found that some of my hardest days are the ones that didn’t start in the Word! As a Mom/teacher/every other hat we wear…we have a lot riding on how we act and feel. In order to meet the demands thrown at us we need to be prepared for the battle. How do you prepare? Ephesians 6:10-20: “Put on the armor of God!” I am a firm believer that you can not fill the cups of others if your own “spiritual” cup isn’t full. How can we expect to overflow God’s grace and love if we aren’t allowing Him to fill us?
~ Have alone time!
Yes, it is OK to lock the bathroom door behind you, even in the middle of the day and take a deep quiet breath! You don’t have to abandon the kids but set a daily quiet time. Let the little ones nap. Have the olders occupied with quiet activities for at least an hour a day. Put on a movie, have quiet time reading, books on tape/cd, other activities that involve NO noise. While that happens do something you enjoy that doesn’t cause stress! This is a NO WORK time!!!!! Remember and repeat…“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13
~ Have a spouse retreat.
I’m not talking blow the bank and go on an elaborate getaway (unless that’s possible haha!) But take time together! Marriage is hard work and often it begins to fall by the wayside during stressful times. Don’t talk business; just enjoy each other. Spend time in prayer together. Remember that you are both unique creations of God that have chosen to join forces as a TEAM! You’re in this together and support each other! Hubbies, remember that it is hard for us gals to “shut off” our minds and relax! So, be patient and understanding!
~ Sit down (either by yourself, with your spouse or both) and make a list of why you homeschool.
Academics are important but they aren’t the ONLY thing. One of the values of homeschooling is that for the most part we are able to be flexible. You have the ability and freedom to foster your child’s interests and passions. When we get frustrated, we lay off of the cause of the frustration and move to another area of study. Even if that area of study isn’t traditional learning!
~ Create a vision.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn form it.” Who do you want your children to become? We all want them to read, write and be active and contributing members of society. But who do you really want them to be? What skills do you want to release them into the world knowing? Write them down — pencil/paper style – and keep them somewhere for future reference. Things like…Godly character, servanthood, compassion, integrity, honesty, etc… Also things like…home management, laundry, cooking skills… Then on days when “book work” isn’t going so well but you still need to do “school” you can pick things from that list and focus on developing those skills in a creative way!
What things are working and what aren’t? Is it an area where you can step back and give it a rest? Do you need to think of making a curriculum or game plan change? Or do you need to just push through and wait for that infamous breakthrough moment? Do you have a struggling or gifted learner on your hands that just might need to see the concept from a different perspective? Try having your spouse explain the concept in a different point of view. We all have different learning/teaching styles. One thing that I have learned for sure is we are not a one size fits all family! Each of our children is special and unique! This requires some quick thinking and regrouping sometimes but in the end ALL can learn!!!
~ Remember success isn’t always what we see on the surface.
I found the image below some time ago, so I’m not sure who to give credit to. I have had it set as my desktop background and it helps remind me that sometimes breakthroughs are happening… just out of sight. Some days we are just the seed planters, other days we cultivate the soil. Sometimes we weed and water the garden. Eventually the crop will come.
~ Surround yourself with supporters!
Have a close group of like-minded friends and family that have your back. We all have those people that you can really talk to about struggles. (If you don’t, find some ASAP!!!) Have them be a bounce back board, just a listener that will have empathy and understanding. This would not be the time that I would discuss homeschooling with those who are unsupportive and/or confrontational. Don’t surround yourself with anyone negative!!!
When it is all said and done, always follow the plans that God has for your family! He will guide and direct you when you seek him. Sometimes it seems that he is silent and far away, but I assure you that he is nearer than we will ever be able to imagine. He will never leave or forsake you! He will not lead you down a path that he cannot bring you through. We must follow, listen and obey! Only through his strength can we accomplish this! But we are in it together!!!