A friend of mine came to me this week in private and told me she wanted to get off the homeschool train. She asked me if I had ever thought of quitting. I admitted to her that it was a constant battle with me, but I had felt that God was really calling me to do what I was doing, so I couldn’t take credit for sticking in there – I could only say that He had given me the strength when I was weak.
Let’s face it (and this may be a newsflash for you brand new homeschool moms): HOMESCHOOLING IS HARD. Sure, it’s the bees knees. The teacher supplies may give you a warm fuzzy. The books smell delicious and your collection of reading material is admirable. Your kids may even have a big vocabulary (here’s praying they never use it against you).
BUT THERE ARE DOWN SIDES to homeschooling, too. Like frazzled nerves. Cereal night… again. And I won’t try to scare all you moms of young kids out there, but teenagers don’t come with instructions and even if they did, you wouldn’t have time to read the manual before they hit a new phase. Parenting is hard stuff, and homeschooling is downright scary at times. It takes a firm commitment and a LOT OF ENCOURAGEMENT to get to the finish line.
I’m almost there – the end of the homeschool tunnel: graduation.
And I am still alive.
This should give you hope – because I used to tell people during my “teen, tween, nursing infant, and toddler” days (yes, I said that right – all four stages at ONCE, people – I’m trying out for “Gold Star Mother’s Day” which I heard was a real bona fide holiday)… “I suck at homeschooling so you don’t have to”. I said at one point it was going to be the new tag-line for my blog. Now, that was sort-of a joke. But only sort-of. I’ve had my share of disappointments and made plenty of mistakes. I’m still making mistakes.
I was (and am still) in need of a LOT of grace, a LOT of chocolate, and a LOT of encouragement to have survived all those years and to be continuing on with another set of little people after the big ones are done.
So this post is about how I made it through without getting off the train. And just so you know, I’m not saying these things because I am a paid photographer for the THSC Conventions. I’m saying these things because I said them to my friend the other day when she told me she wanted to quit (and asked me which school district was the best in our area – she’s serious, y’all… REAL DESPERATION).
Have you been there? The end of your rope? I have. More than once during this homeschool journey. I probably will be there again. Here’s how you and I both can keep from giving up…
Here’s how to hang on when you feel like giving up:
1. Confide in a CHRISTIAN HOMESCHOOL FRIEND who will give it to you straight. Don’t go seek out your mother-in-law who has only tolerated your homeschooling all these years because she’s polite and well-mannered. You want to hear from someone who has preferably been where you are and come out on the other side.
2. GET YOUR HINEY to a homeschool convention. I say this with the utmost love and respect: if you’ve been homeschooling for years without going to a conference, you are most likely burned out and about to summon the school bus. Because I don’t know WHERE I would be if I hadn’t wandered the vendor hall aimlessly between nursing station stops, bumped in to other homeschool friends who had been inspired by me at one point (can I get an Amen that I actually inspired someone else – even through all those sleepless nights and tears?), and sat gleaning the most valuable information from countless leading minds in the homeschool community… people who had been where I was and come out on the other side. Mama, you need a pep talk. Get yourself “churched”!
3. Pick up a homeschool mom self-help book. I would suggest starting with “Are You Enough?” by Roxanne Parks (Amazon link below – go buy it and save your sanity):
Hint: YES YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Seriously. Are you getting yet that you need to hear from someone who has been where you are and come out on the other side? She has. In spades. She has been one of those people that has kept me from my very own straight jacket – and kept my kids from the bright yellow bus.
4. PRAY. This really should be number one. Prayer changes things and that isn’t just a cliche (or as the Lego Movie says, a “Cat Poster”). You can tuck this one before #1, #2, #3, and keep on doing it until something changes. Because it will. Either He will change YOUR HEART, or the situation that is causing you so much burnout and grief that you want to give up. Crack open that dusty Bible and enroll yourself in a ladies Bible study (even if you have to do it alone or online – I hear you, mom with infants and toddlers). Get a fresh word and a new UPLOOK.
By the way… Jesus has been there and come out on the other side, too.
5. Give yourself some grace because you are human. This is going to be hard. I know. I’ve been there and have bashed my own head in a million times when I have felt like I have failed. I’ve lived with fear that I would fail again. You have to remember to be kind to yourself and wipe the slate clean each day. Toss what isn’t working. Spend a day detoxing and just giggle, read, and hug. Be OK with making mistakes and let your kids make them, too. JUST RELAX and breathe, mama. You can’t mess them up – they are here for a purpose – and their Heavenly Father loves them more than you do.
You could add a #6 to this list if you wanted, too. Mine would be eating tacos, but you can put whatever happy place or food addiction you want there. And lots of it.
If you are considering going to a homeschool convention soon, you might check out the Texas Home School Coalition Convention in The Woodlands, Texas next weekend, July 21-23rd, 2016. I’ll be there at the conference taking photos and trying to listen to as many good tips as I can from all the speakers as I sneak in and out of every room.
Are you a homeschool blogger? Read more about their Homeschool Blogger Perks here: Calling All Texas & Surrounding Area Homeschool Bloggers! Have you been thinking about coming to the convention, but you need a discount? You can get a blogger discount by using the code: BLOGGER2016. THSC is hosting a homeschool blogger fellowship on Saturday and is giving homeschool bloggers a $50 discount to convention which you can use to get in free (one person), or if you are THSC members already, you can use the discount on a $50 credit toward their children’s programs and/or tickets for the Amazing Chemistry Show or Encouragement by Chocolate.
There’s that word again: Encouragement. THSC has a lot of that to pass around. I sure hope you have a blessed and ENCOURAGED 2016-17 homeschool school year. Life is too short to not be in love with your job (especially when it involves spending time with the most important people in your life – your kids).
I want to look like this happy homeschool mom I snapped a photo of in the vendor hall. She’s buying curriculum and has a smile from ear to ear. I want to rub shoulders with people like her and catch the homeschool vision again, don’t you? Bonus: she’s got on a fabulous denim jacket. You can’t go wrong there.
So, what do you say? Are you staying on the train with me? Will I see you at THSC?