2013 is year 7 in our homeschooling journey. Choosing to homeschool our children was the best decision we have ever made. It has been a journey of excitement lots of joyful memories and experiences, discovery, bonding, learning and growing. It has also been a journey peppered with learning and character challenges, exhaustion, tears and doubt. This comes with the territory and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not being entirely honest.
When we embarked on this journey, never in my wildest dreams did I think I was starting on a journey that would turn out to be MY true education! As I stand here, in 2013, and look back at that inexperienced but enthusiastic young mom who was starting on this road, I realise how much experience and time has taught me. I am able to see that our journey has taken me personally through different seasons and some difficult learning experiences.
Some of the most difficult seasons I have had to endure was feeling overwhelmed. In hindsight (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?), I see that much of my feeling overwhelmed was self-inflicted and could have been avoided!
Some (but not all) Attributing Factors to Feeling Overwhelmed:
* Vague vision
* Unrealistic expectations – set by self
* Saying ‘Yes’ to things that you should say ‘No’ to.
* Relocation – (this is hardly self-inflicted but deserves to be looked at as it is a reality for allot of us)
* Life Clutter and disorganisation – this is an interesting one – bear with me
Okay – lets take a closer look at these 5 main factors that I suspect most of us suffer from at some point.
We all decided to homeschool for a reason that seemed pretty darn good at the time. It was a conviction and a vision strong enough for us to either pull our children from the system that majority of people accept as ‘normal’, or decide to not even send our children in the first place. Over time, this vision can become clouded and faded. Life happens, the daily grind takes over, we are having difficulty dealing with blessing number 2 and blessing number 3 seems to forget all his reading skills each time the sun sets! We pull our hair, wonder what on earth we were thinking of and actually view the school that is within walking distance through rose-tinted glasses. It’s at this point that you need to have a very clear vision on why you decided to teach your own. Write it down! This was one of the things I did at the beginning of our homeschooling. I wrote down God’s call on our lives, I recorded the vision He gave us. When things get tough, I read this entry in my journal. I am reminded that ours was a call from God and I ‘press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me … forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heaven-ward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4: 12 -14
This comes from looking at what others are doing. A lovely trap that most of us willingly fall into. We want to see what others are doing, we secretly measure ourselves against what they are doing and then compare. More often that not we fall short in our own eyes – we are after all our own worst critics. We expect our dear children to do all we have in mind PLUS what Mary-Jo down the road is doing with her children. Our children are frustrated and we feel like a failure. Reality Check: God called each family home in order to fulfil HIS plan. HE has a plan for our children and His plan for our children is not the same as His plan for dear Mary-Jo’s children. Seek God for His plan and stick to it! Be confident in God’s leading for you and your family.
Saying ‘Yes’ to Things You Should Say ‘No’ To.
This is an area that new homeschooling family’s can fall victim to. We are desperate to make sure that our children have enough ‘socialization’ opportunities, so we say yes to every field trip, every science fair, and activity that crosses our path. We spend more time in the car away from home than actually at home. ‘Home’ schooling becomes anything but at home. Slowly we become aware of feeling exhausted, disconnected and overwhelmed. Be selective in what you choose to participate in. Decide on one or two activities and stick to it. I promise your children will not be deprived of social interaction, it is a very difficult thing indeed to avoid all social contact. Social interaction need not and should not only occur between people born in the same birth year. It does not reflect the reality of society. So cut yourself some slack mom :o)
This is one area I have had more than my share of experience in. We have moved house and country a few times and the experience has taught me that taking a few weeks off over this time will not cause my children to fall behind. In fact, when we moved from South Africa to England in 2011, we were ‘off’ school for 6 weeks and still managed to finish all our years work 3 weeks earlier than the official academic year! Moving house is a reality that our children will one day have to deal with. Let them be involved in the move, teach them the organisation/packing/planning skills that they will need one day. If you really feel like you need to do something, plan a few educational DVDs, outings, or games.
Life Clutter and Disorganisation
Ah – the most subtle and alluring trap that we walk into without even realising it! There are many things that I would lump under the heading of ‘Life clutter’. One of the major areas would be the Internet and social media sites. What an alluring time waster! I’m sure that the enemy must be rubbing his hands in glee as he watches millions of mothers spending ours surfing the net, playing interactive games, ‘socializing’ on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s easily done, you just mean to pop up and check those emails, or a quick visit to see what your favourite blogger is up to and then a nip across to Facebook to see what’s going on in all your friends lives and before you know it – BAM! – two hours have gone by. Dinner needs to be cooked, the children are needing your attention, you still have not planned your lessons for tomorrow and the home descends into chaos.
This ‘life clutter’ walks hand in hand with disorganisation. You cannot be organised if your attentions are not where they should be – in the home. Mom – when you decided to be at home full time, you chose the home to be your career. Teaching your children, loving them, leading them, guiding them, running your home efficiently is a worthy and noble career. Be present, be available. Cut the clutter and refocus. Remember that the enemy is subtle. He’ll grab your attention and distract you any way he can. Be on guard and do whatever it is you have to do to be found faithful to your call.
Just recently I felt the conviction of cutting down on my own blogging time and of getting rid of useless time wasters. I had to purge my life of empty busyness that was distracting me from my goal of raising my children for Christ and of being the wife, mother and woman that God wants me to be. I find that I need to de-clutter every so often. Like I said, these things creep up on you and you only begin to feel the overwhelming effects once they’ve tipped the balance.
Lets face it, being a full time mom and homeschooler is time consuming and it can be a lonely path. But there is nothing on this earth that can compare to raising your children for God’s kingdom. Oh the joy to be able to stand beside them in heaven one day! May life and it’s pressures not overwhelm you, instead may you take courage and do what you have to do to run the good race and win the prize.
May God Bless you and your homes!
This article was written for The Curriculum Choice’s ‘Help For The Bad Homeschool Days’ Carnival