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How to Relax in a World of Overwhelmed Homeschoolers

How to Relax in a World of Overwhelmed Homeschoolers

As early as a month ago, a lot of moms in my local homeschooling group began talking about feeling overwhelmed and discussing strategies of how to do everything that needs to get done in a day.  Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear non-homeschooling moms have a similar conversation.  Some things struck me during this conversation that I wanted to share with you, especially if you’re dealing with feeling overwhelmed as the semester comes to a close and Christmas is only a few days away.

We’re All In This Together

Though we work and live in separate houses, it feels like we’re super-isolated sometimes.  The truth is, every homeschooling mom has the same daily struggle of trying to do school lessons, keep the house clean, get kids to activities, and put some healthy food on the table.  All of this without becoming Dictator Mamma.

None of the moms in our group were judgmental toward our more overwhelmed moms.  They’d offer suggestions on how to manage their time, or what kind of chore schedule their household used in order to keep the laundry from overflowing the laundry room.  They’d share apps for grocery shopping or meal planning.  And then they’d say something like, “But then again, if you looked at the stack of dished in my kitchen right now, you wouldn’t take my advice at all.”

It’s Not Forever

The truth is, feelings of overwhelm are cyclical.  There are just simply times when it’s going to happen, so get used to that.  And know that it won’t last forever.

I have practice at that since hubs is in the Navy.  It’s easy for me to say, “Well if we move to a place that sucks, it’s okay because we’ll move again in three years.”  You can handle anything for three years, especially if you know there’s an end date.  The problem with homeschooling ruts is that we don’t automatically know there’s an end date.  But everything on this side of eternity is temporary isn’t it?  Nothing lasts forever, good or bad.  So we have to learn to savor the good, and just let the bad come (because it will go too).

Don’t Compare Yourself

Here’s the other problem, we look at our friends’ Facebook or Instagram feeds and wonder why our lives don’t look like that.

As Bubba and I have been reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, I sit in amazement after every chapter wondering just how on God’s green earth those people did all they did in a day.  Then I realize that I didn’t grow up on a farm.  If my family attempted to sustain ourselves through farming, we’d die in a few weeks.  The knowledge of how to harvest crops, slaughter livestock, or even make candles was learned through the apprenticeship of a lifetime.  Kids were surrounded by these skills.  They started learning as toddlers, first by watching, then helping, and finally by doing.

I have this mom friend who can can anything: make her own wine, knit anything, grow a garden that feeds her family, and on and on.  Yet I didn’t grow up learning the same things she did.  Sure, I have no doubt I could learn to do all that she does, but should I feel the pressure to do all that she does in a day?  No.  My skills and experience are different.  She posted these super-fun pictures of her family making homemade gingerbread houses for Christmas.  My kids and I will be decorating our store-bought gingerbread train today.  And you know what?  It’s all good.  Both our families will have great memories from the experience, no matter how many hours we did or didn’t put into baking our gingerbread!  And that’s the real point.

As for the supportive atmosphere of our homeschooling group, I know that if I ever do want to learn how to can vegetables, make wine, knit, grow a great garden, or whatever, I have the resources.  I know that if my kids ever want to learn these things, we have the resources.  All the moms in our group would love to share their skills and knowledge.  And if any of them feel like I have something to offer them or their kids, I’d be more than happy to share.

Using a crib as a laundry basket works!Homeschooling isn’t supposed to happen in a vacuum.  The smartest homeschooling moms know when to outsource things.  Hire a tutor for Latin, ask the outdoorsy neighbor to take your kid hiking, join a co-op so someone else can teach your kids physics.

Instead of comparing yourself to other homeschooling families, use them.  Partner with them.  Encourage one another, and work together.

And don’t be afraid to admit when you’re in the overwhelmed stage because right now, in your town, there is another homeschooling mom who has finally figured out a system that works.  She’s giddy and itching to share with you what’s working for her.

But maybe you shouldn’t take my advice.  Anyway, I’ve got to go deal with consequences of getting behind on laundry. (Luckily the crib makes a great XL laundry basket.)

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

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  • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
  • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
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