“I WILL NEVER HOMESCHOOL MY KIDS” has most definitely come out of my house 20 plus times. I would always say, and I quote, “I will never homeschool my kids. God is gonna have to come and talk to me in his ‘Big God Voice’ and tell me specifically, because I will never homeschool.”
Well, here I am writing a blog on homeschooling, because God told me in his ‘Big God Voice’ that I was going to homeschool my girls. So basically don’t put absolutes on anything because you never know what will change. And honestly, I will say that I think I never wanted to homeschool because I didn’t want to give up my freedom as a mother. My two older girls have been in Mother’s Day Out 3 days a week since they were 2 and 3. So thats 5 years I’ve had at least had 3 days a week with some sort of time to myself or less kids at home… because in these last five years I’ve had 3 more babies. I’ve run women’s conferences in those 3 days a week, run a hand lettering business in that time, and of course doing ALL. THE. THINGS. i.e. grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning… Momming so hard. And it’s not like those 3 days from 9 am - 2:45 pm was ever enough time to get all those things done, but it surely made it easier. And I’m just gonna be real here, I am totally the mom that needs ample time to herself. I think every single mom needs that to a certain extent. I can promise you, a break from your kids to get some “you time” is good for your sanity. I need time to talk to adults and decompress. It just makes me a better mom for all my kiddos. So I think that was the biggest struggle for me, relenting to my designated “free time” for 3 days a week. But when it came down to what was better for my girls in this particular season, I chose what I felt was best for them and knew that I’d have to be intentional to get that time for myself in another area.
I’ve been homeschooling for all of seven weeks so I’m obviously the best and most seasoned mother to blog about this. Right? Lol nope. But I do feel like there are some things I’ve learned through this process that are worth sharing. I’m such a procrastinator, especially with things that God tells me to do, because usually He is telling me to do some unknown thing that calls for lots of unchartered territory. I surely did my part in procrastinating with choosing the girls’ homeschool curriculum. This girl right here had NO CLUE there were 1 million curriculums to choose from… until I posted on Facebook *one month* before I was supposed to start. And people were like, read the book “101 Curriculums” and I was like what? NO. Someone please just tell me what works for my kid because all that researching makes me sweat… That’s totally not my thing y’all. Yikes. Note to moms considering homeschooling, you should most definitely give yourself more than a month to plan this thing out. Anyway, I posted on Facebook asking what everyone’s favorite curriculum was and SO MANY comments came flooding in. I was like ummmmm what the actual heck, I did not know there were so many choices. (Cue me hyperventilating in a corner freaking out that I’d be ruining my kids for life because I would choose the wrong curriculum for them.) I x’d out of Facebook and went back to procrastinating. Sister need a second to think this through because I was completely overwhelmed. I needed cheese fries to make me feel better.
Then, my prayers were answered and my sweet friend Lauren called out of the blue to help a girl out. She had moved out of town a couple years ago and it had been a while since we connected. I can remember us probably 4 years ago (when she lived here) drinking coffee together talking about how we would never homeschool our kids. Yet, she’s been homeschooling for 3 years! So this was a girl I totally trusted and valued her opinions. Want to know the first thing she did?Validate that this whole process was, in fact, very stressful. Which totally allowed me to breathe for the first time in weeks. She shared her experience with me and also helped me choose a curriculum after many phone calls and texts. She was my total lifeline. She mailed me packets and info and went totally above and beyond because she knew just how stressed out I was because she had been there. She also said over and over that I would not screw my kids up, even if I didn’t get a curriculum I loved on the first try. Whoa. That was HUGE for me. And honestly, I feel like after talking to quite a few HS moms, almost every single one of them has the fear that they will somehow screw their kids up by inadequately teaching them. And let me just say this, You are their mother. You are the one that knows them better than any teacher will. So if you are on the fence because you think you are inadequate, just remember you made that child and you are more than capable. Does this mean I think every mom should homeschool? Absolutely not! I feel like both are so great. I mean I’m not even saying that I’ll homeschool for the rest of eternity. I think I will make a decision for each child, each year to determine what’s best for them. So please don’t take this as me saying every mom should homeschool, that is totally not my opinion. This is for the mom who is trying to decide, feeling totally and completely overwhelmed, and just needs a lifeline to talk things out and think things through without a panic attack (even though a panic attack might be inevitable at some point).
I wanted to choose a curriculum for my girls that would fit their learning style. They are visual learners and have great memories. They always have. They can learn the words to a song in no time. Ava-Kate totally rapped Lecrae in a talent show LOL. And she killed it. So for us, I felt like Classical Conversations was best, and so far, we love it. They are retaining information like little sponges and I’m blown away at how quickly they memorize the information. We are also using Saxon Math and All About Reading. This is not so you can choose the same thing as us, but just to give you a reference point.
Our daily schedule is still pretty flexible, which is how I like it to be. We get the little kids off to Mother’s day out and try to start our schooling by 10am. We don’t start until the girls get their daily chores done (brush teeth, make bed, brush hair/get dressed, put breakfast dishes away, make sure bathroom and bedroom is cleaned). Some days it takes them a WHILE to get these done and sometimes they fight me on it. But I love that I have the time to really instill this in them because as a family of 7, I cannot do it all and I’m 100% okay with that. Once we start ‘school’ it takes us a max of two hours and sometimes less. They LOVE art, so once we are done with our schooling they have the freedom to do as much art as they want to (as long as they clean up all of their mess when they are finished). This is hands down their favorite part. They would paint all day long, and now that we are homeschooling, it’s something they get to do way more. They spend a ton of time playing together and playing outside, and I love this for them. They also help out with whatever I need. They are currently folding all the kids clothes and putting them away. Now don’t start thinking our little routine is perfect, because I just had them hug it out for 15 seconds because they were just biting each other’s heads off. It’s all a process, I’m just trying to start teaching responsibilities earlier. I feel like I personally didn’t do a great job of that when they were in school 8-3 because they came home exhausted and then it was homework, play, dinner, baths and bed… I felt like it was all so rushed. So a huge plus for me is that I get to spend more time when them, teach them more responsibilities which of course helps me in the long run, and I feel like they are loving the whole learning process.
We have our hard days where I have to remind them (quite sternly) that I am the teacher. Some days they fight me or fight each other. Some days they cry because the other finished their worksheet first. Some days they lay their head on the table because they are already exhausted at 10am. Some days I don’t wanna do it. I’m like nope, I’m too tired and just wanna have a day to sit and drink my coffee (WHILE IT”S HOT), some days I feel like my own to-do list is too long and that I don’t have time. It’s not like it’s a total walk in the park, but I do feel like the pros outweigh the cons. And for a big family, it’s hard to get one on one time with your kids. Jake and I are always trying to reassess and try to give them that time. And y’all, that is so hard. Especially if you’re exhausted by an average day Tuesday. Having 5 kids 8 and under is surely exhausting even on your easiest day. I went from feeling like I never got to spend time with my big girls, except on weekends, to getting to spend all this time during the week, and I’m loving it. I mean I surely have my moment where maybe I wanna lock myself in my room to get a break… anyone else ever done that? No? K. Cool. But y’all for us and our family dynamic it just works in this season. It may not always work but once I realized it was okay to take this year by year, the pressure fell away. AND, in my circumstance, God asked me to do this. So when you are obedient in doing what He asks, the grace follows. You may not get the grace beforehand but you will get it once you start. So for us, it works. I’m loving the time with my girls.
So if you’re in a similar situation and you feel like you should homeschool but you’re super overwhelmed, know this…
Yes, this is a stressful situation, but it will get easier.
Even if you choose the wrong curriculum at first, you can always try another ’til you find ‘the one.’
Let go of that momma guilt that says ‘I’m gonna screw up my kids’.
You know your kid and you are capable of teaching them, even if you’re not a teacher.
Find a lifeline. Find your person to help walk you through this.
If by choosing to homeschool, you lose time for yourself during the day, be intentional about making that time for yourself somewhere else.
Set your expectations low and build from there. If you start out thinking you’ll be a Pinterest homeschool mom (which is awesome) but then you don’t live up to that, it may stress you out and really disappoint you (and feed into the lie of #4). So start small and add things in as you get the hang of it.
Relax!! Enjoy the process!!