Today, let’s look at some common areas where we can get overwhelmed and how to alleviate them.
Measuring ourselves by other people’s standards
Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t get it together like other homeschool moms do!”
If you’ve gotten your image of what the perfect homeschool family looks and acts like from some homeschool magazine or hotshot Internet site, get rid of that notion. It’s not reality. The families on those mags and websites got themselves gussied up for the occasion. It’s called a photo shoot. If you could be the proverbial fly on the wall the rest of the time at their house, you’d see they have issues, just like the rest of us.
People sometimes talk like they have it all together, tempting the rest of us to beat up on ourselves because we fail at being just like them. We want to do it all, because they seem to be doing it all — with a smile on their faces!
The truth is, God doesn’t expect you to live somebody else’s lifestyle or hold yourself to their standards. He just wants you to follow His plan and seek His wisdom for your unique family.
There is no perfect curriculum. No matter how glowing the reports, if the system everybody else told you to use just isn’t working, it’s OK to change to something different. Some of these are short-lived trends anyway.
Some families thrive using a very relaxed approach: exploring their interests at their own speed, using “living books” (non-textbooks), seizing learning experiences as they arise. Others do much better with highly structured materials — perhaps a full curriculum package that covers all the bases. Some even do well with a correspondence course, complete with deadlines. It all depends on you and your children.
If your homeschool materials are causing you or your children to stress out, it’s probably time for a change. One of the wisest pieces of advice I received in our early years of homeschooling came from Mary Pride, in her first edition of The Big Book of Home Learning. She said to expect to spend some money on resources which turn out to be duds. She felt it was just part of the process, and nothing to feel guilty about.
Housekeeping — too clean or too messy
Either extreme can cause stress. I said in Part 1 of this series that it’s likely you will need to lower your standards a bit in this area, but letting it all go to the dogs isn’t healthy either!
Use part of your homeschooling day or week to teach the children to do housework, and then put it into regular practice. You can count this as Life Skills, and attribute school hours to it. In addition to learning how to keep a tidy home, cooking and sewing can be part of this “class.” Older children should be helping care for the younger children’s needs, as well as bearing some of the overall workload.
Child care, home economics, and shop classes are making a comeback in public schools. Why shouldn’t you include them too? You will just accomplish them more informally than an institutional school. If you need ideas, check out my article, What About Life Skills? for a list of basic life skills our children should be proficient in before they graduate.
Make summer activities work for you
If your state homeschooling laws require a minimum number of hours, get a head start on your next school year by counting summer hours spent doing educational activities. Include summertime trips, sports, reading, clubs, etc. and note the hours spent on them. This is a practically painless way to accumulate lots of learning and lots of hours credited toward classes.
Those historical spots you visit? Vacations to other parts of the state or country? Those are social studies field trips.
Sports? — physical education.
Reading? — part of your language curriculum. Keep a list of the books read.
Arts and crafts with the parks department? — Yep! That’s part of your art course for the year.
Now, what do you do to decrease your overwhelm? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Previous: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)
All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam