Do you ever feel as if your homeschool life is so chaotic you don’t have an opportunity to enjoy it? Do you ever think about the peaceful homeschool you had in mind when you just started? And do you get mad when non-homeschoolers assume you are a saint to homeschool your kids because you are well aware that you are not?
You know how it goes.
Whenever you are at a playdate with new moms or meet someone at a playground, you’re bound to hear, “so where do you kids go to school?”
“Wow, you must be a saint.”
“You must be so patient.”
Patient? Hmmm… If I had to pick one word to describe myself as a homeschooling mom, it would be adaptable.
The inevitable challenge of homeschooling is that there are so many moving parts. We, homeschool moms, need to research and find the right curriculum, come up with a terrific schedule, fill the morning basket, keep up with educational trends (today it’s STEM), keep on top of housework, and don’t forget those arts & crafts!
The problem is that while you’re hustling just to keep up, suddenly, without warning, everything changes. The robot camp has gone virtual, the main curriculum is not working, and the dog ate the morning basket.
Back to square one.
Add to that the chaos of raising kids, the general unpredictability of life, the need to maintain composure under pressure, and the drama of those daily, real-time, life-and-death decisions (Who gets the last slice of cake?)… And things can get hectic.
In the noise and grind of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that there is an engine powering it all. No matter the quality and quantity of the parts, if the engine is out of sorts, the whole structure will come to a halt.
What’s the engine?
And you know it.
But here is the problem
You are not a priority on your to-do list.
If your child needed help learning fractions, you would research the best ways to teach fractions. If your high schooler required a new part for his science project, you would drive across town to find it.
You are too busy keeping all the balls in the air to take care of yourself.
Slow down, Mama.
I want to invite you to consider five ways you can serve yourself so that your home can be more adaptable, and the peaceful homeschool you always dreamed about more attainable.
Five Easy Steps for a More Peaceful Homeschool
Reverse the Flow
I know you sometimes think, “If Junior doesn’t learn astronomy (or botany or geometry), he will never get into college.” Or maybe it’s more of an “I can’t believe we are still on lesson 7. We are so behind...”
Perhaps it’s something you feel your kids need to learn, or maybe the conviction that they must know it by a certain date. Or else… they will never… ever … something. You’re not even sure what, but you know it will be bad.
If you tend to think that your kids are vessels to be filled with knowledge, consider reversing the flow. Instead of pouring things in, let things out! Curiosity, thirst for knowledge, dreams, ambition…
When your children have something they want to learn, there’s no stopping them. The school day flow is easy and natural. Your connection is fantastic.
So put your energy into creating a hunger for knowledge, in discovering what’s inside your kids that’s dying to come out. And if your days get lighter, it’s not because you’re doing less. It simply means that you’re moving in the right direction.
Read Picture Books
Homeschooling offers many opportunities for making life more stressful than it needs to be, full of unnecessary panic attacks and complicated to-do’s.
But the things that stick, becoming part of us and our daily routine, are often easy, pleasant things. For example, no matter your kids’ age, everything your children need to learn in life can be learned from picture books.
Picture books are easy. They are fun. We read them every day. I read them with all my kids, even my teenager.
This morning we read a picture book about pigs. There was one smaller guy that was being teased by the bigger guys who thought they were better. After much unfairness, the little guy saves the day. He even saves one of the bullies.
Every one of my kids had something to say about it. We talked. We disputed. In the end, my kids walked away with some really good things learned. Some people are bullies, and that’s okay because it’s only what you know and feel inside that matters. Smart people can outsmart the bullies. This discussion prompted them to go and do some math because they want to be smart people. I didn’t have to say a word.
If you have a car, one thing is inevitable; you have to fill it with gas. But your body? The most complex, exquisite piece of machinery ever created in the universe? Well, you probably tend to expect it to run well without giving much thought to what it needs.
One of the first things I studied in college was nutrition, and I can summarize to you what I learned in six words: what you put in, you take out. Junk in, junk out. Want more energy, more peace, more patience? Eat green salads and lean proteins. Drink almond milk and tea. And don’t forget the vitamins. When you feel good physically – when your step is light, your nerves are calm, your hormones are balanced, and your mind is alert – you can do anything!
I remember after I had one of my children, my mind felt sluggish. That’s it, I thought, my brain will never work like it used to again. But then I started experimenting. I increased the intake of some vitamins, decreased carbs. Added salmon. Took away dairy. I’m happy to say that I got back mental energy and clarity of mind.
I don’t say you should eat what I eat. I say, eat what makes your brain and body work well. If you want a peaceful homeschool, you need to have energy for the things you want to do.
If you don’t move, your body cannot make energy. You might automatically think that you need energy before you can create movement. Actually, energy comes from movement.
The other day I woke up, and my first conscious thought was, “I feel tired.” I hate low-energy days. So, I put my sneakers on, turned my running music on, and took my dog for a short walk. One step led to another. When you put one foot in front of the other to the beat of energetic music, sooner or later, you might find that you’re running.
By the time I got back, I was bursting with energy. I ended up cleaning a few extra corners and decluttering a closet.
If you don’t have the energy for everything you want to do in your homeschool, get moving. And teach your kids to move too. They will learn their lessons twice as fast, I promise you.
And finally, breathe. I know what you’re thinking, “of course, I’m breathing; if I didn’t breathe, I would be dead by now.”
Well, next time you’re standing next to your child repeating the same lesson for the third time while he’s staring out the window with unfocused eyes, pay attention to how you’re breathing.
If your chest is constricted, your breath can’t energize you. Pull your shoulders back and away. Inhale and let the breath move through you all the way down to your toes.
Better yet, go sit on a comfy pillow and meditate. Breath in – peaceful homeschool life, joy, and love; breath out – anxiety, worries, perfectionism, and judgment.
Meditation is the only way known to science to completely recharge our thinking mind. When you come back you will be better equipped to maintain equilibrium while moving forward with your lesson.
Don’t forget to invite your distracted child to join you for deep breathing exercises. It creates a deep connection.
Peaceful Homeschool: Final Words
So there you go, Mama! Take good care. Because we all know, your attitude, mental mindset, and energy level are the engine of your homeschool. I offer for your consideration five ways you can modify your daily living to create a more peaceful homeschool.
Always remember that just as the engine is the heart of the car, you are the heart of your family. Taking good care of yourself keeps that engine well-oiled, the gears turning smoothly, and the motor running with a peaceful whir.
I’m cheering you on.