I smiled as my hand sliced through the warm water. It’d been ages since I’d swum laps at the local pool. I’d forgotten how good it felt. My 12-year-old son had been talking about swimming lately, so here we were, in the quiet morning, enjoying our time together.
This is so easy, I thought. We should do this more often. But after just a few laps, my muscles started complaining. The initial sense of ease dissipated, and it began to feel more like exercise. I continued on, though, determined to make the most of our short stint in the water.
It dawned on me that homeschoolers can encounter a similar experience. At first, you’re so excited to embark on this new adventure called homeschooling. Armed with good intentions, stacks of workbooks, and boxes of manipulatives, you take the plunge. Each day brings new joys as you realize your dreams of teaching your child are becoming a reality.
But all too soon the initial excitement wears off. Maybe life gets in the way. Your sweet little angel isn’t quite as angelic as you had pictured. A heavy cloud of worry threatens to sap your hopes and your energy. And yet you have to keep going. But how?
How do you make any headway when laundry and groceries and bad behavior seem stacked against you? It’s not always easy, but it truly is possible. Here are a few tips to keep you swimming in the right direction.
Take time for yourself. Get up before the kids so you have time to breathe and think about your day. It takes effort to forgo a bit of hard-earned sleep, but even 10-15 minutes of quiet reflection does wonders. Those few moments can make you feel more in control and more at peace. You’ll be better able to face the day’s hiccups. And your attitude will rub off on your kids.
Remind yourself of why you started. Why are you homeschooling in the first place? Most parents have concrete reasons for not placing their child in a public or private school. Revisit your reasons. Write them down so you can refer to them when your days get tough.
Reach out. Call a friend, a fellow homeschooler who understands what you’re going through. Sometimes a listening ear is all it takes to calm the churning waters.
Look at how far your child has come. In the midst of the busyness of your days, it might not seem like you’ve made much progress school-wise. The spilled oatmeal, squabbles over toys, ringing phone, forgotten must-do’s on your to-do list can overwhelm a body. And oh yeah, there’s that thing called school, which got squished into a shortened timeframe again. What’s a mom to do?
Jot down the progress your child makes, the accomplishments in each school area, no matter how small. I suggest keeping a notebook rather than sticky notes, which get lost faster than a tourist in New York City. Over the span of a week and a month, you’ll be able to see that your pupil really is moving forward, even amid the crazy chaos called life.
It’s like the story of two boys who were tasked with crossing a field by walking with one foot directly in front of the other. One of the boys looked at his feet the whole time and ended up yards away from the target. The other boy kept his eye on the destination point and arrived with ease.
Be honest: Do you tend to focus on your family’s daily busyness, like the boy who focused on his feet? This is sure to lead to distress and frustration. Or do you keep your eye on your goals, big and small? This will give you buoyancy when troubles try to weigh you down.
So keep your eyes on your goals. When the waters get rough, you’ll be glad you did.