“I only have another ten years,” she said rather sadly. I hadn’t seen my friend in years, and as we were catching up, I was lamenting (actually complaining) about my recent empty-nest status. Geni, the mother of 11 children who has been homeschooling for 26 years, was sad that she only had ten years of homeschooling left! Wow! Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of homeschooling enthusiasm and perseverance?
She continued to share that staying the course to the finish line (graduation) really had nothing to do with her children’s actions or attitudes, but on her staying focused on her mission – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. (Colossians 3:23) She draws her strength and encouragement from scripture and listening to worship music. She also cautioned from using our husbands as our sole source of encouragement and fulfillment. “We, as women, must come back to the wellspring of life and to the One who gave us this life for His glory.”
Another source of Geni’s encouragement and sustainment is the co-op for enrichment classes they have in their home. Gathering together and taking turns teaching with other homeschoolers shares the load of school and exposes the children to different teaching styles. It is also a chance to get out messy materials and do projects and science experiments with others, the fun things we tend to not get to on our own.This is the making of homeschooling memories!
Another dear mom, Kathy, has been homeschooling her 10 children for 30 years. Her youngest is 12 years old, and she still has three kids left to graduate. Kathy says her secret is to keep going back to the Lord and remembering that He has called her to love others (especially her children) the way God loves us, sacrificially. For her that means giving her kids close family relationships, a better learning environment, and a more positive experience than she had many years ago in public school. She says giving up is not an option.
There is no question that we can get tired and many of us go through difficult trials or seasons. But just as we don’t usually quit a paying job when we get tired or bored, we mustn’t be too quick to give up on homeschooling. There are many cures for invigorating a wearisome homeschool: getting more structured, getting less structured (aka being less rigid), getting more organized (simplify or get the kids to help more), getting less organized (relax a bit), lowering your expectations, and if you are running ragged, cutting back on classes and extracurriculars outside the home. Or maybe you are feeling isolated and need to add in more shared teaching, activities, and socialization. If you are just lacking confidence, seek assistance. And lastly, if you are bored, include some diverse and experiential learning and go on some stimulating field trips. Because the truth is, if you’re bored, your kids probably are too.
Often, I find moms are giving up because they have been too rigid. All work and no play is one recipe for burn-out. As I have said many times before, homeschooling is about so much more than academics; it is about instilling the love of learning, sharing adventures and life experiences, exploring the world around us, trying new things and building relationships! Collaborate with other homeschoolers and make fun things happen! And above all else, find ways to laugh together! Laughter is the glue that holds families together!
Other moms feel discouraged and underappreciated. It is so easy for us to forget that while raising, teaching, and discipling our kids can feel like a thankless mission, God sees what we are building and HE is pleased. And even though we often feel that our kids don’t appreciate it—much less notice all we do for them—stay the course. You will be blessed when they are older as we get to reap what we sowed. Besides, when our kids are inviting their friends over, what would we want to hear them say about us? “My mom is amazing, she always makes sure I have clean clothes, the house is spotless, and she can put on a holiday spread like you wouldn’t believe!” Or would you rather hear, “Come on over, you’ll love hanging out here!” Let’s create the kind of home that they like bringing their friends to.
If you are losing your joy or feeling down or overwhelmed, take a few minutes by yourself to pray, listen to uplifting music, or take a brisk walk outdoors. You might also consider cutting back on caffeine and sugar and try to get some additional sleep. Forgo zoning-out on TV and instead do some light, uplifting, laugh-out-loud reading. Spend some time with your husband; remind yourself that you are not just a mom and teacher. These can do wonders for energizing and improving your state of mind.
Many women are tempted to quit when mom gets sick. Yes, these can be trying times, but God often uses these hardships to draw our families closer together. One mother told me that the last few of her many children have learned much more about compassion than their older siblings because they support their mom as she struggles through the crazy symptoms of menopause.
There is no question, homeschooling is a profound commitment. For some, it is a conviction from God. Just as we, more-often-than-not, hear adults say that they wish they had not quit piano lessons as a kid, I hear from so many moms wishing they hadn’t given up on homeschooling. One wise mom shared, “Don’t stop! Whatever you do, don’t stop! We made the fateful decision to put our kids into school, and I wish we hadn’t. We can never go back.” Sadly, she was now dealing with a whole new set of issues that were far more difficult to handle.
So, dear friends, press on! You, your children AND your entire family will greatly benefit from your perseverance.
If you are struggling or feeling burned-out, please seek out some support and encouragement and be sure to sign up for our FREE monthly newsletters. Find and attend a local support group; create one if you need to! If you are a member, feel free to contact one of our consultants; we, at HSLDA, are here for you!
Did you know that each department has consultants available to assist our HSLDA members? Please check out our web departments: Toddlers to Tweens, High School, and Special Needs. | Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.