August 25, 2015

Confessions of a Mediocre (at best) Homeschooling Mom

I hope this post will make you smile, take a deep breath, and see that things aren't as scary or as overwhelming as they may first seem when taking on the task of homeschooling your children. If this is your first year, know that there are many ups and downs, but if I can do it and keep my kids alive, so can you! If you're a veteran, you've probably lived all this and more! Sit back, enjoy reading, have a few laughs, and start a list of all the things you can praise God for, even if today was the worst school day you've ever had!

--My kids make their own breakfasts probably 4 days a week. Once, maybe twice, a week I make them a nice, homemade breakfast (which they usually don't want to eat), but other than that it's cereal, pop tarts, toast, and frozen waffles. This used to really stress me out (and still does at times), but I was wearing myself ragged trying to come up with the perfect, healthy breakfast for my kids and I just couldn't do it. I hope to one day be a little more prepared and get things together the night before and give them stellar breakfasts, but today is not that day. For today, we're striving for all being at the breakfast table at the same time, enjoying the independence of my kids being able to make their own food, laughing at the creativity of my kids as we chat during breakfast, and reading the Bible together while we eat our Pop Tarts and waffles.

--I don't set an alarm for my kids. Unless we have to be somewhere in the morning, I don't even wake them up in the mornings, I just wait for them to wake up. My kids are grumpy if you have to wake them up and that's just not a battle I want to fight right now. I know this will need to change one day as their future employers will expect them to be at work on time and most likely before 10 a.m., but I choose to worry about that another day. Today I am enjoying a few quiet moments in the morning without having to be awake at the crack of dawn, sneaking snuggles, and even sleeping in myself some days!

--I have no lesson plan. I don't look at the school year, plan out what we're doing when, and then carry it out. I tried that. We were all miserable. I had a schedule that was color-coded and timed. And we hated it. We were slaves to it. It had to go. Admittedly, I may have swung too far to the other end and we now have no schedule at all. We have a few routines that we usually do each morning, but they aren't set in stone. We actually do three subjects during breakfast. While they are eating. And I have no idea if they are even paying attention. But, they're pretty smart, so I think we're OK! I usually sit down on Saturday or Sunday evening and copy the pages I'd like to get done for the week (thank goodness my curriculum all has some kind of lesson plans built into them.) I don't write down any assignments until they have actually been completed because, well, why write it and then have to erase it later when we didn't get it, right? It sounds purely chaotic, but for today, it's working for us. Every day is different from the one before and the kids never have any idea what is next. It's the closest thing I get to surprising them!

--To you veteran homeschoolers this will be no surprise, but some days, I don't enjoy homeschooling! Some days I would much rather send them off to school and then head off to a job outside of my house. It just sounds easier. But deep down, I know this isn't true. But sometimes I just crave time to myself, even if it's in my car for just 10 minutes so I can listen to music, sing loudly, and pretend that I sound just like Christy Nockels while I'm belting out Let It Be Jesus.  There have been weeks at a time that it takes everything in me not to just shut down completely, let them watch movies all day, and I take naps and read blogs all day. I mean, a real struggle. It's a wonder we've gotten any school done at all. But, then I remember how fun it has been to be there for some of their biggest moments: learning how to read, getting a math problem they really struggled with, creating silly art pieces, reading their Bible alone for the first time, and so much more. It's so worth it (and teachers, I hope that those moments of victory in your classrooms outweigh the moments of frustration and defeat.)

--My kids watch movies. The Magic School Bus counts as science. Mr. Peabody and Sherman counts as history. Pretty much all the PBS shows have some kind of math in them. Some days, I just have to. Some days I cannot "school" anymore. It also means that when the teacher is sick, we can still get some school hours in. Or, when the students are sick, we can still get some school hours in. Most days, I feel so guilty about this. I feel like a total bum and loser when I add up the hours I let my kids watch TV or play a game on their tabs. But on days like yesterday, I'm thankful for them. The kids pretty much taught the entire science lesson yesterday on the different ocean zones because of an episode of Wild Kratts they watched the week before. Seriously! They really are learning from their TV shows!

--Time to be honest: I've learned that the only way I get a quiet time in is by forcing my children to have a quiet time at the same time. Oh, how I pray this doesn't make them hate reading God's word. I've done my best to make it exciting and fun for them, but for 30 minutes every morning we each go to our own rooms with our own Bibles and have quiet time. Until I started doing this there was no consistency at all with my quiet times. I hope to work up to a longer time at some point, but today, I am thankful for the 30 minutes it's giving me each day in the Word by doing things this way.

--I love to read. I love books. I have two children home with me all day and can hardly find 5 free minutes for reading. Enter read alone time for 30 minutes each afternoon. Each of us go to our own room and read, whatever we want, for 30 minutes. This is genius! Why didn't I think of this before! I look so forward to this time every day. Sometimes it doesn't happen until almost dinner time, but it's still one of my favorite parts of the day!

--One of the hardest things for me, though, has nothing to do with homeschooling. I am sure many of you out there have this trouble: putting your kids in God's hands and leaving them there, trusting that He loves them more than I do and wants only the best for them. Trusting that, as much I ache for their salvation, it doesn't compare to God's desire to see them come to Him. There's nothing better that I can do for them than teach them Jesus, live Jesus in front of them, make God and His Word as real as possible to them, and trust that God will do what only God can do, change their hearts and lives.

Father, help me to be the wife, mother, and teacher You would have me to be. Help me to point my children to You at all times. Give me wisdom and grace for each day. Remind me that there's no such thing as perfection, which means that I must trust in and lean on You alone. Father, help me to see the joy, laughter, and gift of each day You give me. Help me to breathe deeply of You love, mercy, and grace that I may then breathe that out into my house as I seek to serve my family and You. Oh, Father, do great things in my house, in our school, and in our lives!