Happily Exhausted

WHAT TO DO WHEN HOMESCHOOLING BECOMES HARD

The thrill of the beginning of a new school year has died down. The fresh curriculum is becoming worn through and you’ve already been replacing pencils and markers.

You may have started thinking to yourself, “Wait, what? I’m going to be doing this the WHOLE school year? This.is.hard!” You’ve got laundry, errands, dinner (actually let’s make that all meals), extracurriculars, disciplining, cleaning, character building, work, and let’s not even mention the worry of if you are doing enough.

It is a lot of hard work homeschooling, but there is a lot of joy mixed in there. So, what do you do when homeschooling becomes just plain hard?

WHY ARE YOU HOMESCHOOLING

Seriously, why the heck are you doing this to yourself? It would be so much easier sending your child off in the morning. Why have you chosen this?

There could be myriad of reasons. Poor school district, bullying, illness, religious views, too much homework, or wanting more family time. You are the only person who can answer the question of why you took this path. You may have started out for one reason and have kept going for other reasons.

I know for my family we started homeschooling right from the beginning because I loved the idea of my children learning at their own pace and having more family time. Now, the reasons we continue after almost 7 years is that, plus so much more.

Yet, when I find myself having a hard day (because there always is, that’s life) I remind myself why I’m doing this. Call it your homeschooling motto or slogan. Whatever you call it, you absolutely need your why.

Mine is:

I want my children to develop and keep their love for learning

Their love for opening up their curriculum each day, their love for talking about the books they are reading like they will explode if they don’t share all the details, and their love for asking questions. So.many.questions!

I love it! It is what keeps me going when I’d rather not be balancing teaching, toddlers, and the to do list.

FUN IN LEARNING SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR GOAL

Learning is meant to be enjoyable. Teaching should be enjoyable and sharing in those moments together is, let’s say it together — enjoyable.

If you aren’t having much of that lately I suggest adding some element of fun. That is different for each parent and child but hands on learning is a quick cure! Get out together and learn.

While studying marine biology I took my kids snorkeling quite often and at the end of the unit they swam with a dolphin (perks of Hawaii living).

We’ve been studying botany and will be going to a local botanical garden with flower guides in hand.

Lydia and Mr. Sea Turtle checking out all the fish together

Hands on learning doesn’t always have to cost money.

If you’ve been discovering astronomy take a drive to an area that is dark at night and star gaze for hours and then take the next day to paint your favorite constellations together.

If your child just read a great historical novel that took place in France look up French dishes and spend the afternoon cooking.

Adding fun is imperative to learning and life, so be deliberate in making the magic happen.

FRESH AIR IS THERAPY FOR YOUR MIND & SOUL
Make fresh air a mandatory requirement for the whole family everyday.

That might be spending P.E. outdoors, reading in a hammock, or playing in the snow; fresh air does the body good. It clears our minds, boosts our spirits, and I don’t know of any quicker cure for the squirmies or grumpies that we all get at times then being outdoors.

One study found that just looking at pictures of nature helped people’s mental energy bounce back. Imagine the even greater benefits of actually being in nature.

Another study found that just with a 20 minute walk, children with ADHD had their concentration increased. From depression, stress, anxiety, to lower blood pressure, think of it as nature therapy. And it’s free!

YOU MIGHT NEED A CHANGE IN YOUR CURRICULUM

It is very rare to start with a curriculum you absolutely love and keep using. It’s just part of figuring it all out and identifying what works for you.

So, if you or your child are dreading cracking open schoolwork that is a sure sign it isn’t a fit. It is awful to spend money and then end up hating it, but I can guarantee any homeschooling parent you talk with will tell you this sad truth. Try selling it and move on.

Remember, there are so many online options for every subject you can imagine. WE LIVE IN AN AMAZING TIME!

If you are looking to lighten your load take a peek at online schooling. Ask around, do the free trials and see if they are a fit. For one subject or for all of them.

FIND YOUR SUPPORT IN & OUT OF THE HOME

This advice is two fold.

If you aren’t feeling supported in your homeschooling then you need to find support somewhere. If that isn’t within your circle then branch out.

Look up local homeschooling groups that get together or Facebook groups. Be honest and express that you need support and encouragement. Mamas love to help mamas, so don’t be afraid to ask. We live in a great time with so many other homeschooling families plus easy access to one another.

When I began homeschooling I asked endless amount of questions to everyone I knew that homeschooled or were homeschooling. I also took concerns/questions t0 online homeschooling groups and was so grateful for so much advice and love.

Now within the home, homeschooling is a family affair.

Housework cannot and should not rely solely on you. Trust me, been there, done that, and it is exhausting and unreasonable. This is much harder when you have all younger children, but everyone can still help. Have age appropriate jobs for each child.

My kids know if they want homeschooling to work for our family that everyone pitches in. Especially in a large family, many hands make light work.

Not only with housework but it is a great bonding time for older children to help younger children with schoolwork. There is nothing like a beaming 5 year old who just read to an older sibling they admire.

Make a list of what needs to happen DAILY to make the house run and set assignments. Make a list of what needs to happen weekly, monthly etc. and get it done together.

Mama shouldn’t be the only one falling into bed at night from a fulfilling day.

Mama’s big little helpers

LOOK TO THE LORD FOR GUIDANCE

We like to think we can do it all, but that isn’t real life. In my first year of homeschooling I remember reading an article by a veteran homeschooling mother that suggested for the first three years of homeschooling do not make any major changes or take on any new stresses.

Oh man. In my first three years of homeschooling we had 3 massive moves (across oceans/the USA) and added 2 babies. All I knew was stress! I can look back now and see when and how the Lord guided me, things that I was able to let go of, and simply some days just having peace. Christ taught in Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Now I’ve come to see that when I make Christ my partner in my everyday our days run smoother, I am much more patient, and it is joyful! Even the hectic moments. Let Him help.

HAVE YOUR LEARNING TIME BE FLEXIBLE NOT RIGID

Public school is run by the minute and they need to do so to be efficient with so many children.

If you find yourself stressing over your schedule and the clock is telling you that it is time to finish history but you can’t pull your child away from facts about Paul Revere, try having a flexible routine over a rigid schedule.

Instead of thinking from 9 am to 10 am is Language Arts and 10 am to 11 am is History, plan on 9 am to 11 am for Language Arts and History and just go at your child’s pace. Somedays they’ll spend more time on a certain subject because their interests are peaked and that is what you are looking for, so run with it. It’s okay if they did way more math and not so much science as scheduled.

They’ll retain what they are enjoying and craving to learn.

MAKE YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING A PRIORITY
If homeschooling is something you do when you have time for it or you hope to squeeze it in your day, it will never work. It has to be the top priority in your home or all you will feel about it is stress.

Laundry can wait for the evening or weekend. Same with grocery shopping, errands, and just about everything else.

You can’t expect a child to retain information and make progress without consistency. Not only will it be frustrating for both of you, but sadly your child takes the brunt of you not making it a priority.

So, figure out exactly how you want to plan your days. Make sure everyone knows what needs to be done before school begins for the day and what needs to wait until after school.

PREPARING WHAT & HOW YOU TEACH IS ESSENTIAL

Curriculums these days are amazingly open and go. Meaning, very little preparation is required on the parents part, yet there is always some preparation.

If you’re feeling anxious when doing lessons because you needed an item and don’t have it on hand, start prepping in advance. It may not seem like that big of an inconvenience but small stresses add up.

If your science unit requires different materials make a list and shop for it all before beginning.

Look ahead and see what books your child will need to be reading and set a reminder of when to request it from the library.

Keep stock of art supplies if your family goes through them quickly. Even a stash of pencils, erasers tape, etc. are a huge stress relief when it is realized you are out.

TAKING CARE OF YOU IS A MUST

Me oh my, I am not the greatest at this, but have really have begun to understand you can’t serve others on empty. I’ve also come to realize self care doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be daily.

I’m talking 5 minutes here before you say, “I don’t have time for that.” Everyone has five minutes a day. There are many creative 5 minute self care ideas on the inter-webs but here are some of my favorites:

Stretch, take deep breathes, water indoor plants, pet your animal, snuggle your child, read your favorite scripture, listen to your favorite song, doodle, list things you’re grateful for, compliment yourself, savor a fruit or veggie, try out a new lipstick, or sit in complete silence in your dark closet while your children yell your name.

Uh, not that I’ve ever done that last one before 😉

My point, make a list of quick but fulfilling self care habits you can do daily that is rejuvenating.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A BREAK

Now with all these suggestions, know that there will be times when you’ll do all the above and still feel like I am so done.

You know what? That’s okay.

That’s when you know ya’ll just need a break. Take a day or two and just breathe. No grading, no math problems, just do whatever the heck you love doing with your child. Hiking, read alouds, visiting grandma, games, long walks. etc.

If you are feeling burned out always remember you’re a mama first and if that role is being affected then put the other hats away for a bit and just bask in your most important calling– motherhood.

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