Mamas, I hear you.
I hear you because I am one of you.
Tired. Weary. Second guessing your decision to homeschool. Knowing that homeschooling IS what you need to do, but wondering how in the world to make it work. Overwhelmed. Feeling like other areas are being neglected. Pondering life. And wanting to scream....
Sound familiar? Maybe you are here now, or maybe you've been there.... or maybe you figure it will come- one day.
Here's some help....
The first thing- PRAY!!!
I know we think that's a no brainer, but sometimes we forget that the Lord wants to hear from us- good and bad. Pray and ask Him to remind you of your why. Your original reason for keeping your children home. For being a stay at home mom. Your why.
Once you've taken that deep breath and prayed, then it's time to troubleshoot. What exact areas in your life need work? Is it a certain subject that always throws the day off? Is it because you aren't getting to do "xyz" because there never seems to be time? Do you feel like you are just going through the motions? What is it that need work?
For me, there were a couple big areas. One was that as my children were getting older, they weren't going to bed as early as they once had. Which resulted in me not having any down time in the evenings. When they were little, they all went to bed at 7:30pm and I would have 2-3 hours of complete down time to do whatever I wanted to do. As a stay at home, homeschooling mom, time apart was crucial. Now that they are older (7, 9, 10, 11) they had started going to bed staggered- the younger two about 9pm and the older two around 10 or even 10:30pm. Yes, most of the time they would read in their rooms the last hour or so before bed, but they would also come out for different things they needed. And really, by the time you got one group settled, it wasn't long before the other group needed settling. Bedtime just felt crazy to me.
It wasn't until I was reading on Facebook a post about bedtimes and saw SEVERAL moms sending their children- all of them- regardless of their age- to bed at the same time and most were all in bed by 9pm- that it hit me..... I COULD DO THAT!!! Later bedtimes are all well and good, but they aren't NECESSARY. There are certainly other ways to reflect older sibling priviledge.
So my kids have all started going to bed at 9pm. Giving me about an hour to just.... chill.
Another area that I felt.... um.... discontent at was homeschooling.
It was because I had gotten away from my why. The reason I wanted to homeschool my children. My why went beyond "God wants us to" and "have you seen the public school system lately?!" and it took me re-visiting it to see that I had gotten carried away with "school". Textbooks and schedules had started overtaking us and less character study, Bible learning, connecting, reading, loving to learn was happening.
This was a little harder to fix than just adjusting bedtime.
It took an actual "break" from "life" and some Pinterest and web searching. Once I knew the areas that I wanted to improve I could hone my search in. For instance, I desired more character training for my children and less sit down book work. Searching for "hands on math" or "free character lessons" started giving me ideas of how to tweak things. Reading other blogs who shared similar learning setups as I desired gave me inspiration.
Tina's blog post, If I Could Turn Back Time, was SO helpful to read. Tina is very wise when it comes to homeschooling and I definitely consider her a mentor. If you've been struggling, it's definitely worth the read!
Be careful not to compare yourself to others, instead gleam what you can and leave the rest. Don't make yourself more crazy than you already are!!!
The younger three children and I will be going through the Fruit of the Spirit in an effort to add more Bible learning (a high priority) to our day. Yes, we start the day off with family Bible time, but we really lacked "lesson time".
Another thing that I'm very excited to add is a few things from Keepers of the Faith. If you noticed, I am planning on doing the Fruit of the Spirit with only the younger three, leaving my oldest with no formal Bible time outside of family devotions. She will be doing Write Upon My Heart Character Curriculum independently. She is very mature and does better doing a lot of independent studies so I think this will be good for her.
Knowing that I will be having specific time to focus on God is a huge relief for me. I don't know about you, but I need Him a whole lot more than I've been allowing Him to be. Since I feel a relationship with God and good character is even more important than knowing how to divide or spell correctly, I knew I needed to fix that to reflect. It was one of my why's... to make sure they were taught Christ! And a few minutes each morning was not enough!
In addition to the character curriculum, we will be purchasing the Keepers of the Faith and the Contenders for the Faith handbooks! I am SO excited to use the Keepers with the girls and to have hubby do the Contenders with the boy! Learning new life skills and more- such a wonderful addend to our homeschool.
It isn't easy, but when you feel overwhelmed- like you just want to scream- because you realize everything is out of control- take a step back, pray, breathe, reassess, and then start figuring out what needs to be done to change it.
Because if it's something important, then it's something that will require time and effort to make it work!
Stay tuned for part 2 where I talk about a crazy house and what I am doing to fix it!