I know several people homeschooling this year for the first time ever.
How awesome, right? The homeschooling movement continues to grow, which can only mean good things for the future of our nation and its families. I talk to these homeschooling beginners and I feel their excitement and understand their apprehension, and I try very hard to give them every ounce of encouragement and inspiration I have to offer.
Because I love homeschooling. Truly. It’s my passion. It’s something I believe in.
But I also believe in being REAL. And being real means confessing there are times when I really don’t love homeschooling so much. Being real means sometimes homeschooling is tough and sometimes I get discouraged and sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking oh-my-word-please-tell-me-I-don’t-really-have-to-help-with-algebra-again!
Homeschooling is amazing and worth it in every way. But it’s not easy. And no matter how long you’ve been doing it, there will be those days when you wake up and you look at your day and you just don’t want to spend it homeschooling.
It happens to all of us. Really.
But I’ve learned a few things that can offer some help on those days when the thought of homeschooling is just overwhelming. Call them lifesavers, if you will. Whether you’re a homeschooling newbie, or you’ve been doing this for years, some of these little lifesavers might be good to keep in mind.
On those days when you just don’t feel up to homeschooling…
Explaining my early homeschooling experience gets a little complicated, but it basically consisted of two disastrous years followed by a send-the-kids-to-Christian-school year, followed by the happy and successful years we’re enjoying now.
So the biggest difference between the “Disaster Years” and my current homeschooling experience? PRAYER! Yes, attitude has played a big role, approach has been important, but prayer has been essential.
I’ve been doing this homeschooling thing for a while now, so I do feel more capable than in the beginning, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still days when I have to fall on my face before a wise and wonderful Savior and desperately seek His grace to overcome all my inadequacies and my selfishness and my impatience.
And I have found He always provides grace enough. Always.
2. Take a day off. Just because.
Sometimes school, coupled with all the other stresses and responsibilities of life, becomes overwhelming enough to call for a day off. Or even two or three.
It’s okay. Really. You can do that in homeschooling!
Yes, you’ll have to make up the work elsewhere, but if your house has gotten out of control and taking a day off to clean will set your mind at ease a little, then do it! If fractions, spelling tests, or your 3-year-old’s uncanny ability to interrupt school always at the worst possible moments is reducing you to tears, maybe a day off would help. Trust me, your kids’ brains won’t shrivel up overnight and some time away from the books and the routine may help you feel better mentally and emotionally, so you can be ready to tackle school again tomorrow.
3. Get outside!
Every once in a while you need to change things up. That may mean an impromptu field trip. It may mean doing school at picnic tables in the park or on a blanket in Grandma’s backyard. We’ve even taken books along with us and schooled in our minivan, just for a change of pace.
The same school routine and environment day after day can become very stifling very quickly. Winter, February in particular for me, can be especially long and hard, and breaking out for some fresh air and exercise, even in cold weather, can be a real help when you’re not feeling much like homeschooling.
4. Make contact with a homeschooling friend
Not everyone has an amazing network of friends and family who homeschool. Some of you may be the only homeschooling mom you know or you may live far from the nearest homeschool group or co-op. That isolation can be tough.
But things like social media and the marvels of modern technology make it easier to contact other homeschoolers than ever before. Facebook and other social media sites offer multiple “virtual homeschool groups”, and while I realize that’s not the same thing as having a best friend who homeschools, it can still provide an outlet for the occasional “I’m so stressed and I just need an encouraging word” post to draw some encouragement from others.
If you have homeschooling friends, keep in touch with them. It can be such a blessing on those tough days to shoot out a text and receive a bit of sympathy and/or encouragement in return. Sometimes there is amazing comfort just in knowing you’re not alone in your homeschooling struggles.
5. Eat chocolate
And I’m not kidding.
For one thing, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and may even improve blood flow and lower your risk of heart disease.
But even if it doesn’t do any of that stuff, it tastes awfully good! And yummy treats can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered in those I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this moments . Trader Joe’s Speculous Cookie Spread Dark Chocolate bars are my favorite, but purchase your own favorite guilty pleasures and keep an emergency supply somewhere. Go with healthy foods if you prefer: Dried fruit. Almonds. Good protein bars. Just make sure they are treats you really enjoy.
But I highly recommend the chocolate. There are few things more delightful when eaten in secret.
6. Spend all day learning about something you love
It can be really fun and refreshing to teach something you love. And it still involves learning! If you love to cook, spend a day cooking with your kids. If you love trees, spend a day teaching your kids how to identify them. If you love and miss the state where you were born and raised, spend an entire day learning about it! Wish your kids knew more about their family history? Pull out old photo albums and letters and mementos and teach them about their ancestry.
You can do that as a homeschooler and go back to all the other stuff tomorrow. Isn’t homeschooling awesome?
7. Make time for something YOU enjoy
And I’m talking about something in no way related to school.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “Yeah, Tanya. That’s easier said than done”… but I also know that most things we set our minds to — those things that we make priorities — we’ll find a way to accomplish. Finding spare time or a babysitter if one is needed can be difficult, but I often think overcoming mommy guilt is the greater challenge. We’re chronic caregivers and multitaskers, so letting go of some of that to focus on ourselves, just for a little while, is almost against our nature, especially as homeschooling moms who pride ourselves in being there for our kids.
But there is nothing wrong with temporarily setting aside that pile of laundry so you can work on the craft you so enjoy doing. It’s okay to let the mess in the kitchen go if you find yourself needing the reprieve of a book and a bubble bath. Naturally your season of life, (whether you have littles or older, more independent children,) can greatly affect your liberties here, but whatever the stage, you can probably think of something you enjoy doing that is possible if you’re determined to make it happen.
Implement #2 here if necessary, but sometimes all you need is an hour or two to relax and clear your head. For me, there are few things I find more restorative than a drive in the country. Alone. But your “restoration” may come from somewhere else: Walking. Gardening. Even shopping! Never underestimate the ability of your mind and body to rest and recharge as you do something you truly enjoy.
It’s not shucking responsibility. It’s not neglecting your family: It’s decompression time. And it can help you in your homeschool.