When you've been homeschooling for nearly a decade, you get asked a lot of questions. Some of them homeschooling-related, but most pertinent to the daily ins and outs of how we live our lives as a homeschooling family. And truth be told, I don't always have the best answers. And, as we know, every homeschool family's day looks different.
Homeschooling was a choice we made for our family when we had three little ones, and to say I was eager to be THE BEST homeschooling mama was an understatement. I read all the books I could find about homeschooling, jumped into all the local homeschooling groups, researched all the curricula options, and have a color-coded schedule for our entire day.
Well, you can guess how long that lasted! Imagine my surprise when my three precious (and energetic) children didn't always stay on task or got sick, or plans changed, etc. After trial and error and tears (mine and my kids), I realized that just because we chose to homeschool, didn't mean I had to do it all and do it all perfectly. It meant that I could read the homeschool blogs and Facebook pages and enjoy the content and photos, but I didn't have to replicate what I saw in my own home.
I had to practice homeschooling and the art of letting go.
What I've Let Go Of In Order to Thrive
I am sharing my list of things that I had to let go of in order to show up for my family and myself in a positive and healthy way. My hope is to inspire the brand new homeschooler and the homeschool parent who's been at this gig for a while now. When we practice the art of letting go, we can open ourselves up to focusing on what matters most for our families and ourselves.
- Living in a sparkling clean house 24/7.
When I first started homeschooling my kids, I also tried to keep the house impeccably clean and organized--to the point that I completely exhausted myself. Yes, I had the kids "help" as much as they could (they were preschoolers when we started). I envisioned that all the homeschooling would happen in a neat little box in a neat little time frame and then I'd have hours upon hours to clean and make the house look like a magazine spread.
Go ahead, you can laugh at me (or perhaps you're nodding along because you did the same thing!) but this is truly what I thought. When our kids are actually HOME all day and not away at school, you have to prioritize your energy, resources, and determine what is good for your home and family.
You can try out different routines, chore schedules, meal plans, etc. Letting go of perfection and enjoying your family and your home as-is is more important.
- Being the sole person responsible for all the home education.
If you've read my blog posts here over the past couple of years, you know that I outsource some of the homeschooling subjects. Now, this wasn't always the case, especially at the beginning of our journey. Once I got over myself and once I realized that my oldest son really needed outside classes/teachers, the vibe in our homeschool changed.
We've been in co-ops, utilized online classes, attended camps, and more. Not only have these experiences enriched our homeschooling days, but they've also given me a breather and offered my kids so many wonderful opportunities.
- Making all food and meals from scratch.
I've always enjoyed cooking and food is very important to me. Early on in my motherhood journey, we determined one of our kids had many food allergies and sensitivities. I went down a path of nutrition, wellness, and other health-related topics and spent hours and hours a day preparing homemade everything. And while it did help my child (and the whole family too), I was left with precious little time to fill my own cup.
Between the cooking and baking prep, homeschooling, parenting, and homemaking, I became overwhelmed. All the healthy food in the world cannot help a burned-out mama. If you find yourself struggling with this too, please give yourself a break. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life and where you can cut yourself some slack and where you can make some (healthy) short-cuts. Your family needs YOU too.
- Finding and using the perfect curricula.
Can we all agree that there is no such thing as perfect homeschool curricula? And can we all agree that homeschooling is not one-size-fits-most and that what works for your best friend's homeschool may not work for yours? Awesome! So, now that we've established this, we can be mindful of our purchases and stop over-analyzing each and every book or program.
Many of us are guilty of overbuying homeschooling products and programs while searching for the BEST math book, spelling book, literature guides, etc. While I am grateful for the wide array of tools, books, and programs available to homeschoolers today, I have learned to let go of my unrealistic expectations, to partner with my kids to find what works for them, to dive into their passions, and to be more mindful with my homeschool budget dollars.
- Loving homeschooling all the time.
I don't always love homeschooling. It's true. There were days (and sometimes whole seasons) where I just felt like traditional school might be better for everyone.
We've considered various scenarios for our kids over the years, especially as we approached high school. At the end of the day, I got comfortable with not always loving to homeschool and that it didn't make me a bad homeschool parent. It usually means that we all need a break from school or each other, that we need to tweak our routines or classes, or that we all need some sleep and probably some sunshine and fresh air.
- Thinking that homeschooling will protect my kids from bullying, friend issues, etc.
I know many families homeschool their kids to protect them from things such as bullying, drugs, social pressures, friend issues, and more. I used to be one of those parents.
As my kids have grown, we've encountered various situations that are challenging and downright difficult. I think we need to be realistic and open with our kids and teens, keep communication open, and have a good support system as well. Homeschooling your kids doesn't ensure that no bad things will ever happen.
Homeschooling and the art of letting go is a daily practice, friend. This is not something that you just wake up and decide to do one day and everything magically changes. No, it takes practice, patience, and persistence.