If you are hitting a wall in your homeschool today, this post is a virtual hug of encouragement to help you rediscover your homeschool joy. Although it's a list of suggestions, please don't hear them as another list of tasks to add to your already overburdened to do list. I'm like you—a fellow mom who also struggles with feelings of failure and exhaustion. My arm is around your shoulders as I speak these words. I don't have it fully figured out, but these are ways I ward off the negative feelings and stay focused on the long-term prize of raising my children in this homeschool lifestyle.
1. Take a moment to breathe.
I know that this suggestion can seem nearly impossible, especially when you are in survival mode. But I find that merely going to bed 30 minutes earlier or doing a babysitting swap with another mom for a couple of hours of quiet—whatever it takes to make a little space to reflect—can work wonders on my perspective.
2. Remember why you chose to homeschool in the first place.
Maybe those reasons have changed, but digging into why you started is key as you develop endurance in the hard times.
3. Review your goals and your mission.
- What do you want as a family?
- What do you want your family culture and lifestyle to be?
- What do you value?
- What do you most want to pass onto your kids?
Now think about the steps to get there. If you haven't sat down with your spouse to talk about family goals, do it now! Discussing my goals energizes me by taking my eyes off of the everyday grind and onto big picture, purposeful living. If you want to make your goals formal, write out a mission statement to put into your journal or the front of your Instructor's Guide.
4. Simplify with your goals in mind.
As you pare down to the basics, you distinguish between what is non-negotiable and what is the icing on the cake. Sometimes even a certain child may be a homeschooling priority for that year! Maybe your big goal is to help Sam learn to read this year or to help Hannah conquer Algebra II before taking the SAT. While you create a lifestyle of learning for the whole family, most of your energy will be spent toward your particular goals.
5. Did I mention simplify?
While you are simplifying your goals, simplify your schedule. Go over your calendar and determine what you really love and what is simply adding stress and frantic activity to your life. Cut ruthlessly what doesn't match with your goals and values.
Consider changing up your homeschool routine to see what might work better for you. Some moms decide to work with older kids during the little one's nap time. Some even do night-schooling! Shift things around and see if you find your new groove.
6. Declutter your home.
Less stuff=less to clean and maintain which frees you up for the things that bring you joy.
7. Ditch Lone Ranger mode.
Think about how you can get your family on board to help reach these goals. To keep our household operating smoothly and happily, we expect everyone to participate in both the fun of life and the chores. Older siblings can read to younger siblings or help teach colors and shapes to a toddler. Think through how to get your family working together to thrive as a team. (Also, think how you could cooperate with a friend from time to time. Be creative!)
8. Surround yourself with Scripture.
You can bank on the promise that God inhabits the praise of His people. Put favorite Bible verses where you can see them. Listen to praise songs and Scripture set to music. Lift your soul to God throughout your day and let His presence make a difference in your homeschool routine. Turn your kitchen into a cathedral by doing the valiant work of prayer while you put your hands to simple tasks. Being mindful of God’s presence brings meaning into each of our days.
9. Add a shot of unexpected fun.
Sometimes ditch the routine and load everyone up for a surprise field trip to a free museum or to sled down the biggest hill in town. Announce a dance party and require everyone to groove for five minutes before moving on with the day. Bake something together. Start a tickle war. Do these things out of the blue and make memories with your kids. Something small that says, "We're okay even if this is a hard day,” goes a long way.
10. Focus on relationships.
I often get burned out when I become overly task-focused and miss connecting with my people. I sometimes have to shake myself out of commander-mode where I find myself barking orders and ask, “Am I really getting to know my children as people? Am I 'loving my neighbor' who lives right here in my house?”
We have to get things done, but I've been pleasantly surprised with how a few well-timed questions (and taking the time to listen) when we are driving, cooking or reading together can give us a sense of connection.
Spend a little quality time with each of your children and find out what's going in their hearts. Reconnect. I know that taking time to slow down and talk may mean you “get less done,” but the relational bonds you are building will smooth the paths to enjoy the process of learning together all the more. It’s worth the time! We need heart checks just as much as to do list checks.
God knows you, and He knows your children. He is with you as you walk this adventure of homeschooling. Through His grace, you will find joy and purpose as you remember your goals, simplify, and connect with one another.