I am supposed to write an encouraging blog post about how wonderful it is to homeschool, then give a big pep-talk about our upcoming year. But I have to be honest with you. I am not certain I am up for it. You see, my little homeschooling system isn’t working. And by little, I mean my toddler.
It all started when I began the year just as I ended it last year. We would have a good breakfast, get the husband out of the door or sent to his office for work and we would begin our day. My two year old would play at the table for a little while, make a few laps around the house, watch a little show or two and we hobbled along. I expected that to work again. Big fat NOPE, there. Not even for a second.
Day one stunk. Day two was super stressful. Day three was survivable, but my husband began to get worried and I was toast. Hello! We are only on day 3 of an entire school year. What in the world? Thursday we managed to get through, but I needed a time-out. I called a friend to meet for coffee.
When I got in my car to drive away, I told myself that there was a great school down the street from me and that it wouldn’t be THAT bad to sign them up. We had two weeks before the public school kids started anyway, we could readjust our entire lives by then. No big deal. My nerves were fried and I was grasping for anything that would relieve the stress I felt every morning for four hours.
The great thing about my coffee date was that it was 30 minutes away. I cranked up the air conditioning and turned off the radio. I road in sweet, cool, calming silence for 30 whole minutes and it was divine. I half-way brainstormed, half-way turned off my brain and just drove. But during that 30 minutes, something happened.
I realized that I was forgetting a major component of homeschooling and that was really the root of my problem. How could I have so easily overlooked this? Hello! Where had my flexibility gone? I had become so rigid in how I scheduled my day and it simply wasn’t working for our season of life. My rigidity needed to change. Quick.
While I stressfully sipped my overpriced, extremely sweet, fruity tea drink and waited for my friend, I mentally went through my week and decided how to best work around the loud volume and high energy produced by the toddler. He still is a strong napper, so I had to use that to my advantage. We would simply flip our day around and school in the afternoon while he snoozed.
My idea was implemented immediately the next day and the changed was noticeable. The kids could focus, I could stay at the table with them to see that their lessons were completed correctly and my nerves were not shot minutes after we began. It’s only been a week, but we can all see the benefit of our schedule change already.
So, here’s the pep-talk, dear homeschooler: be flexible. Can I repeat that for you? Be flexible. Wait. You are probably not close enough to hear that…let me shout it once more… BE FLEXIBLE!!!! It’s short and sweet, but it’s so often so hard to implement. There is almost always an answer to our frustrating, stressful days and it usually has nothing to do with giving up or making a major life-changing decision. Know why you are doing what you are doing and figure out a way to make it happen. Keep your creativity alive and brainstorm new ways to do the same ol’ thing. Homeschooling can be a joy when it’s pleasant and low-stress.
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother with three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.