As a homeschool mom of elementary students, I thought the three keys to back-to-homeschool sanity were researching curriculum, organizing my homeschool space, and choosing extracurricular activities. Now, as a 21-year veteran, I know better. If you want your homeschool to be sane and happy this year, focus on these areas: faith, relationships, and self-care.
Three Keys to Back to Homeschool Sanity
Faith is the first key to back-to-homeschool sanity.
I began my homeschool journey like Peter–walking on water. Jesus called me to homeschool. I didn’t see how it could work with my desire to be a writer, my lack of organization, and my problem with impatience. I was nervous, but I stepped out in faith.
At first, I seemed to be walking the walk. But then I focused on the wind and waves. I was afraid. My kids could walk away from the faith. I could leave them poorly prepared for college. I thought I had to step carefully. That’s when I started to sink.
If God has called you to homeschool, He will equip you every step of the way–even when your child has a learning challenge, when you don’t know much about the subject you need to teach, or when you feel discouraged.
Understand that the Lord does not hold us accountable for results in our homeschools–just obedience. Peter didn’t have to figure out how to stay above water; he only had to keep his eyes on Jesus and walk toward Him. Worrying about choosing the right curriculum, the right extracurricular activities, and even the right discipline approach isn’t the burden God wants us to carry. He has a plan for our children that we can enjoy being a part of.
This key to back-to-homeschool sanity begins with daily prayer. Turn every worry over to the Lord during your personal devotions. I like to write my worries out daily. Then remind yourself that God has you by reading His Word.
But don’t stop with personal devotions. Make time to pray with your spouse and with your children. If that’s the only thing you accomplish for school on a particularly hard day, it’s more than enough.
The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner can help you make personal and family devotions a habit.
Relationships are the second key to back-to-homeschool sanity.
I used to do premarital counseling. Most couples gave more attention to the wedding ceremony, the reception venue, and the honeymoon than they did to their relationship. I see homeschoolers doing the same thing. We think curriculum, homeschool rooms, and extracurricular activities can make our homeschool successful when these things aren’t foundational.
While I have evidence that my high school graduates received a superior education through homeschooling, the close relationships we have with them and the relationships they have with each other are far more valuable to us. These close relationships didn’t just happen.
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To enjoy healthy relationships, we have to devote time to fostering them. If our homeschool schedule is so busy that we have nothing left to give our spouse and no time to spend getting to know our child’s heart, our homeschooling and family life are at risk. Set aside time to focus on relationships that cannot be superceded by other demands.
Next, we can focus on relationships by dealing with trouble spots head-on. The top areas homeschoolers ask me for help with are developing a reasonable approach to discipline, addressing parental problems with anger, and teaching kids how to resolve sibling conflict. There are no simple fixes for these common issues, but with commitment, we can see the Lord making changes in our families.
The Homeschool Sanity classes I offer can help.
Self-care is the third key to back-to-homeschool sanity.
Besides the grace of God and a helpful husband with a flexible schedule, my self-care has been the biggest factor in my being able to homeschool six children and be happy doing it. I knew early on that I don’t have the personality to be a martyr. I need breaks to do things that renew me.
Your definition of self-care and mine may differ. Self-care for you may be declining a party invitation so you can stay home with the kids, while for me it’s spending time with friends out of the house. Whatever recharges you and makes you happy will allow you to be a better wife and mother.
We need physical self-care. If you’re always tired, get more sleep. Don’t fall for the notion that staying up late will fill your tank. It feels good at the time, but the next day’s fatigue will erase any benefits you experience. We can also care for ourselves physically with exercise. Regular exercise is not selfish but will make you a more passionate wife and a more fun mom. The added bonus is you’re less likely to get sick.
We need emotional self-care. We all need social support, but some of us need more than others. I get depressed when I don’t have time to talk with friends. Be sure to plan social time into your homeschool schedule. In addition to social support, we need hobby time. I enjoy scrapbooking with a friend. The added bonus is my family loves the scrapbooks.
The blog post and podcast How to Be Happy and Homeschool Too will give you inspiration for pursuing both physical and emotional self-care.
Planning your homeschool curriculum, space, and activities for this year is of some benefit. But don’t neglect to focus on your faith, relationships, and self-care. The dividends they pay in having a happy back-to-homeschool are worth the investment.
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30 Days of the Best Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms Series Contributor:
Dr. Melanie Wilson is a Christian psychologist turned homeschooling mother of six. She is the author of the Psychowith6 blog, The Organized Homeschool Life, and Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum. She also hosts The Homeschool Sanity Show podcast.