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 Twitter 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.
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.)