I recently read a meme that said something like, “Never again will someone question what a stay-at-home mom does all day.” I’ve read countless others about how all moms are now homeschool moms, and how after day three, everyone is graduating!
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It’s great to find levity where we can because here’s the thing. Everyone’s schedules have been flipped, blended, and shaken, not stirred. Day-to-day life isn’t what we expected or planned. But if there’s one thing I want to say to all of us now, it’s simply this: breathe.
And for those of you who did not choose home education but have been thrust into it anyway, remember to take time to grieve. Your choice about your child’s education has been taken from you for now, and that’s a loss. It’s hard, and I feel for you.
Actually, my heart breaks for you because I know how hard homeschooling is when you choose it, let alone now–when you are not only trying to figure out where you’re going to find chicken and toilet paper and how to mitigate meltdowns and anxiety, but also how to be a teacher. Overnight. With limited resources.
But from one mom to another, I cannot emphasize enough that you are able.
You, mama, can do this
Here’s the one thing I know for sure about your family, even though I’ve never met you. God placed you where you are, for your kids, for this time. When you made your decision about your child’s education, you could not foresee our current reality, but God knew that we’d all end up here, in this same boat. And God is with us in the boat. He has not left us alone.
With that encouragement (hopefully) sinking deep into your heart, I’d like to humbly offer a few ways we survive as a homeschool family.
Success isn’t measured in pages completed
Some days we finish school in two hours, and everything is great. Other days it takes us much longer because we need more breaks, more snacks, more snuggles, more redirection. Don’t be afraid to improvise. Long ago, I scrapped the idea that each page had to be completed for something to be mastered. I also ditched the pressure to finish an entire lesson in one sitting.
Be flexible when you can. If your little one can compute numbers well but struggles with fine motor skills, take turns writing the numbers for them. They’re still learning. You’re modeling for them how to write, and writing isn’t the focus of math anyway. Even if you wrote every number for them all through the rest of kindergarten, they would still figure it out. They won’t get to be fifth graders who don’t know their numbers. Push them and challenge them, but when they’ve reached their limit, let them be done.
Life skills are just as important as ACADEMICS
We have two dogs and a large backyard. There are no household responsibilities that my husband and I despise as much as potty patrol. So we are willing to pay our kids well if they do it for us. “Well” as in they could own that Ninjago Titan Mech they’ve been dreaming of with just a few patrols.
My son has been saying for a few days that he’s going to do potty patrol. We’ve sent him out with the scoop and the trash can, but within a few minutes, he’s off building a fort or finding a way to destroy something. Each time I remind him to get back to his job, he says he’ll finish it tomorrow.
So instead of science today, he’s learning how to be a man of his word. He’s learning to follow through. (And tomorrow he’ll learn that his parents keep their word, and he’ll get that new toy.)
Life skills and academics don’t have to be mutually exclusive either. Bake cookies together to practice fractions. Let them write a thank you note to practice handwriting. Or have them help you with meal planning to practice SYMPATHY FOR MAMA BECAUSE SHE IS COOKING A THOUSAND MEALS A DAY. Ahem, I digress.
Be a student of yourself AND your child
This is a great time to learn even more about how your kid works, how you work, and to try to find a middle ground if you’re different. You need to compromise or else every day will be a battle. Find the balance between limits and freedom, order and flexibility. What seems like basic structure to you may cause them added stress, and what seems like chaos to you may make perfect sense in their little brains. (For more on this, check out the book Smart But Scattered.)
Now if both you and your kids are the free-spirited, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, get-distracted-by-the-wind types [as my daughter and I are], well, then all I can say is: Good luck!
Enjoy each other
When things get back to normal, how will your kids remember this time? Will they remember fights over school or forts in the basement (or doing schoolwork in the forts in the basement)? At the core of my being, I believe this time can be one that makes families stronger. Families can relearn how to live everyday life together without jumping from activity to activity, rushed mealtime to rushed mealtime. We can open new ways to communicate and empower our kids to build, create, invent, and play. We can find new hobbies, new loves to enjoy together.
Grace, grace, and more grace
This is new to everyone in the family. Give them–and give yourself–lots of grace.
- Take breaks.
- Hide in the closet and drink your cup of coffee while it’s still hot.
- Let them watch an extra show: a great time to regain your composure, get in a good mindset, and for goodness’ sake, get to go to the bathroom by yourself.
- Let them eat PBJs every day for lunch if you’ve lost the energy to create the bento box Pinterest lunch.
- Send them outside to play when you feel like you can’t handle another argument or sassy comment.
- Try to get some time alone and some time with your spouse. Friends, we can’t pour from empty cups.
And remember, you may blow it. Even the best plans will sometimes fail. Pick yourself up, model apologies and flexibility, and pray. God will fill in the gaps that need to be filled.
We’re in this together. How can we encourage each other without overwhelming each other? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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