I cannot forget the first year we homeschooled my now-grown daughter. It was preschool. I took the Sonlight PreK Core, which had no schedule at the time, and created my own schedule to read the stories grouped in weekly themes. I poured over books about homeschooling and materials for homeschooling and bought everything we could afford to make preschool fabulous.
We marked off our schoolwork off of the schedule every single day and rarely missed a day. We took fabulous field trips. In short, I was on fire and that first year was fantastic. Even in the next few years as I added another baby and started preschooling my middle child, we kept going strong and added more fabulous to the fabulous.
But somewhere along the way, as I added three more babies and managed my growing health issues and household duties, I lost track of that fire. These days – I KNOW I’m not the perfect homeschool mom. I sometimes get down in the dumps thinking of all the opportunities I missed with my twins because of overwhelming health issues and stress. But then again, I hear reports about the value of play and think to myself, the twins have got this play business down! I’ve learned that I do not have to be perfect.
Homeschooling is full of stress, tears, and beautiful moments. Its a marathon, not a sprint. I found out pretty quickly that I am not the perfect homeschool mom that I set out to be in the beginning. In fact, I cannot be that perfect homeschool mama! If you find yourself getting down in the dumps about not achieving homeschool perfection here is some encouragement for you. Life is messy.
Know you’re not the only imperfect homeschool mom.
Seriously, no homeschool mom is perfect. Not a single one of us can claim that title, at least not for long. From the outside, looking in, it may look as though someone is perfect – especially on social media, but don’t let them fool you. Instead of watching “perfect” people from the outside, surround yourself with transparent women who lift you up and encourage you. The most amazing years in our homeschool were the years I purposed to connect with other moms who were real and deepen our friendships. Our kids connected, we connected and we purposed to spend time together as often as possible just living life beyond academics. The impact these relationships have had on everyone in my family was incredible.
One Day at a Time on this Homeschool Journey
One thing I like to tell homeschooling mamas is today is just one day, there’s always tomorrow. A hard day is just that. A day. Sometimes, we have hard seasons. But it’s just a season. The best way to stay manage in those seasons is to press on. Stay strong. Keep going. Finish the race. One day at a time. One day where you read a picture book to your kids and count that a victory.
One day when you spend more time praying with your kids than you do teaching them to read and you realize – they were learning through all of that. One day when a math lesson finished on the way to the doctors office was enough. Or a few months when a child on the cusp of puberty had an angry meltdown every single day for months at a time and “education” was minimal at best but each day you worked on coping skills together and made progress towards control.
I’ve graduated a child who did more than her fair share of work in doctors’ offices and in the car going from one to the next. She got a 4.0 her first semester in college and a 3.85 her second semester in college. That’s because she was learning to learn and live life. Not just regurgitate. So when you have a bad day or a bad season focus on the skills God would have you work on in that moment and know that you can start fresh with academics tomorrow. Little by little you keep pressing on.
Simplify Your Homeschool Schedule
Sometimes a very minor change to your homeschool schedule will make life incredibly simpler. I know many people who bought into or actually like the idea of scheduling your life in fifteen minute or thirty minute increments. To me, this concept of scheduling is insane. It doesn’t work for me. We have a schedule flow. A workflow. Its constant in that every day is similar, but flexible in that when a doctor’s appointment comes up or changes last minute we can just go with the flow and move on to the next thing when the time comes.
Whether you like to schedule the nitty-gritty or go with the flow, making everyone stressed over a hectic schedule won’t make anyone’s life easier. You will find that you’re a lot more productive when you can breathe. Cancel activities that don’t have a measurable positive impact on the life of your kids or family. Make sure you have time to do everything with excellence rather than cramming in as much as you can haphazardly. Consider loop scheduling.
Persevere When You Want to Give Up Homeschooling
Each of us will have a moment or two, or maybe ten, when we want to quit. That yellow bus looks so easy. The truth is moms with kids in homeschool still have to deal with the anger issues, the math issues, and other forms of overwhelm. They just have a lot less time to work on math issues and anger issues because the kids are gone all day. Sending your kids to public school is not always easier but in a moment of mental or physical or emotional exhaustion the grass always looks greener on the other side. Keep at this homeschooling thing, you will be glad you did!
Here are some things that can help you change your trajectory on the days you want to give up and go back to bed.
- Take your kids on a walk.
- Get outside together.
- Take your kids to a park.
- Splurge on ice cream cones or $1 burgers at McDonald’s.
- Declare it a pajama day and serve breakfast for lunch or supper.
- Reward finished school work with jelly beans, m&ms, skittles, or nickels. Just this once, just to get through the day.
- When everyone is finished play games together. This is a strong incentive for some kids!
- Take an impromptu trip to the local museum after lunch or plan it for tomorrow if the closest one is a day trip.
- Have a quiet time where everyone has to lay down, including mom. Not sleep, but lay down.
- Take turns playing with a miniature sandbox as each child finishes a subject.
- Jump on a trampoline or mini-trampoline.
- Get out construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers, and let everyone create.
- Exercise together.
Find more ideas to change your homeschool day from bad to good here.
Attend a Homeschool Conference and Be Encouraged
For me, a homeschool conference is like a steroid shot during an asthma attack. Homeschool conferences bring the zing back into my homeschool zeal like nothing else. If you can’t attend a live event – you should definitely take a look at an online homeschool conference because you can attend in pajamas, eat at home and avoid hotel costs! Plus the cost is generally lower as well. The 2018 Homeschool Mom Conference is one example and is only $15 for the homeschool specific track, and $25 for the all-access pass to over 150 sessions about homeschooling and also working at home. That’s an incredible savings over attending an on-site homeschool convention, and you still get a swag bag and vendor hall!
Change up your Homeschool and Ditch What Doesn’t Work.
Sometimes we get stuck in this thinking that we cannot give up on anything at all in our homeschool That to stop mid-year is to quit. When it comes to curriculum, if it doesn’t work you need to ditch it! Stop beating your head up against a wall trying to make that math curriculum work. Nothing is more discouraging to moms and students than being trapped with material that isn’t helping you master the subject. Find something that works. If your budget is limited, find something that will help your child understand the material without costing you any more money. Use free supplemental material to fix what you have.
You can find so many things to adjust if homeschooling isn’t working well. If getting the kids to get started each day is a struggle, consider circle time. If getting up at seven isn’t working, sleep in until ten. If eating supper at five doesn’t fit with your family’s schedule, eat at 8:30. If attending co-op is a dreaded event, quit the coop. If getting to science is a struggle join a coop or find a tutor with which to barter services. If math is horrific, use Kahn Academy to figure it out. If attitudes stink take a break from other subjects to learn about obedience and responsibility. If lunchtime is screwing up your entire homeschool day reconfigure lunchtime.
One year I was trying to make a hot lunch every single day and it was ruining our day. I’m serious. You do not need to cook two or three hot meals a day. We use a lot of lunch meat, but if that bothers you get your kids set up with other proteins like hummus, boiled eggs, or peanut butter, and just make sure they have a good balance of proteins to carbs and fresh veggies or fruit. Lunch doesn’t have to be fancy!
Homeschool Perfection is not even the Right Goal.
One last thing. You know your not a perfect homeschool mom, well join the club because neither am I nor anyone I know. Perfection is not even the right goal. We get caught up in that goal and lose sight of where we really need to be, which is in the moment, intentionally living life with our kids. Sometimes, someone else thinks they are perfect. They think they need to tell you what you are doing wrong and how to “fix” what you are doing. They have all the answers to every problem. Don’t listen to them! Run! Don’t even listen to me even, unless what I’m sharing something you need to hear and something that will help you homeschool intentionally.
This is your journey, your homeschool, your family, your children, your life. One day at a time, focus on whatever it is you can do to move your children and your homeschool in a better direction for that day. Simplify. Stick with it. Throw out the crap. Change up what’s not working. Reach for the right goal.
You can do this, Homeschool Mom.