In January we made an unexpected trip to Michigan. Our longtime friends, as in best friends even BK (before kids), lost a parent. We dropped everything so we could make it up for the funeral. We rented a minivan to drive up and due to my husband’s often travel, had enough miles for all of us to fly home. It was nice to not have to do that long drive home. On the plane my 11-year-old heard the flight attendant give the talk about putting your oxygen mask on before placing it on your child. She looked at me and said “What? That sounds mean!”
I replied, “If I get my mask on first, then I’m okay and feeling good to help you and all of your siblings make sure you are safe and your mask is on properly”.
This is an often heard analogy, but that’s because it’s TRUE. We can’t give from what we don’t have. If we are limping along, huffing and puffing with no joy – what sort of example are we setting for our children? Would you want your own daughter thinking she has to drag herself around, constantly being the martyr to be a “good” mom?
Giving our all to our family is what we do. But, giving with no time to refresh or renew our own spirit is a recipe for disaster.
How Can We Revive Our Homeschool Soul?
Surround Yourself with Good People – Homeschooling can be super isolating if we let it. Particularly if you live in an area where there are not many homeschoolers or at least not many like minded homeschoolers (we are a diverse group!). Having good friends that you can share a laugh with, chat about curriculum, and share the ups and downs of parenting is imperative. I’m not sure when that is more necessary when we have toddlers or when we have teenagers!
In real life friends are important, but on-line friends can be crucial too. Sometimes you can make friends on-line who really fill your cup, they just don’t happen to live close by! Facebook can be used for good and for complete distraction, I have just made a point to cultivate a friends list that lifts me up and joined a few select groups that feed my soul. I left a homeschool group that felt judgy and critical, even though it was supposedly a Christian group. I happened to find another and man do I love that group! I feel challenged and encouraged, not defeated and unworthy.
Say No – I fall into this trap too. Feeling like my kids need to be involved in all sorts of activities or do summer camps. Experiences are awesome teachers, but frantic activity does no one any good. We tend to have busy seasons, about 8 weeks in the fall with golf and baseball and again about 12 weeks in the spring with lacrosse and baseball. It’s not ideal, but with 6 kids it can’t always be helped. Most of the year though we aim to make afternoons and nights at home the norm.
Volunteering and helping others is also a noble act. We should definitely be teaching and modeling service to others. Again though, if we are running around doing for others and volunteering for every ministry at church, chances are our home life is a bit chaotic. Striking a balance is important. That’s not always easy but it is important.
Read – I love to read and have made it a priority this year. I have found that taking time to fill my bucket through words is exactly what I need. I’m slowly working my way through my classics list for 2016, these books are challenging me, which helps me in my vocation of homeschooling and mentoring my children. I also like to intersperse some of the more weighty reading with other books that enrich my life.
I recently finished reading The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson. This book is an excellent reminder of what is most important, creating a home for our family. A life giving home is not one that is perfectly decorated with everything in its place all the time. It’s creating a warm, inviting space for family and friends. Welcoming those around you into your home for spending time together, and building memories.
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristin Welch – There were many ideas I liked in this book, most of it is second nature, but it’s good confirmation. I’ve never really had a problem with feeling like I needed to “keep up with the Joneses”. I have other issues but not this one. I believe this book would be most valuable to those with younger children. It’s a good reminder though how most of the world does NOT think this way. Just spend a moment listening to those parents around you at sporting or other kid events.
I know this is going to seem strange, but I think Understood Betsy should be required reading for every homeschool mom, especially a new homeschool mom. I love the way the author explains life in a one room school house. Kids are fluid in different subjects, maybe doing 7th grade math, but 5th grade reading. Big kids helping little kids, with one teacher successfully managing the whole bunch! Plus, just a charming story for the whole family. One of our favorite family read alouds.
I just ordered this book, The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education by Ravi Jain. I will let you know what I think! I hope that it will help further define the education that we are striving for for our home.
Pray – This is the most important piece of all! Ask for discernment in all that you do. Ask for good people in your life, point out the ways and places you may need to say no, ask the Holy Spirit to nudge you with good books.