This is our second year of homeschooling our boys. Prior to then, they attended a more traditional, Christian school that we loved. We weren’t one of those families who homeschooled form day one, although today I wish we were. Having your kids in traditional school places certain expectations in your mind that are hard to let go of. You see, kids go to school from 8 am to 3 pm most days, so when you first start schooling at home and you realize that you’re done by noon you assume “I must not be doing enough!” You’ve spent weeks over the summer preparing your perfect schedule. You’ve picked the best curriculum, scheduled field trips and days off… You’ve looked into library programs for homeschool families and maybe even sports for your kids, and of course you’ve found the best co-op around and you joined… and agreed to teach… and suddenly you’ve lost complete control of your sweet little schedule.
I had the best plan for this year. We decided to try a year round approach to school. We basically work six weeks on and then take one week off. This gives us less time off in the summer but here in Florida we really appreciate the time off in the fall and winter when it’s beautiful outside. My year-at-a-glance schedule is printed out and posted on the wall over my desk, color coordinated and lovely.
I have weekly and daily schedules as well. Those are also color coordinated but they are anything but lovely at this point. We have almost zero blank space. Blank space is so important to a homeschool family, you need time to do experiments or art projects, to go outside and explore or maybe just to take an afternoon off to ride bikes or play outside. Our calendar had a ton of white space in June and July… then August came.
In August, our church lost our fabulous Mini Zone teacher. She took care of our 2-4 year-olds and they adored her. Every week she had special crafts, lessons and snacks for them, she put a ton of effort into planning and making sure they had something fun to do! Then she got a new job, and had to move to Nebraska… and guess who was asked to take her place? Yep, this over booked homeschool mom right here… Our church is currently a little short staffed on the nursery front, it’s a good problem to have really. We are growing and we’re gaining new families and lots of new little ones. Anyway, I was reluctant to take on the Wednesday night teaching position but I figured “How bad can it be? They’re toddlers…”
Wrong. It’s a ton of extra planning, supply gathering and studying which wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t already doing lesson plans for fourteen 2nd and 3rd graders every week for co-op as well as those that I do for my own students weekly here at home. Add into that planning field trips, housework, dinner, taking care of a two-year-old, and all those other mom-duties we all have. It can get overwhelming.
The other project I’ve taken upon myself is our weekly Cross Trainers group. My kiddos and I decided to start this a couple of months ago. It’s basically a group of homeschool kids who enjoy running together. We’ve been training for an upcoming 5K together. This has been a lot of fun but it takes up a big block on our calendar. Thankfully, it requires very little planning on my part, we just show up and run, then the kids play for a bit. But it delays our school by about 2 hours every Wednesday.
I also have a personal direct sales business that I try to put a little time into every day. I have this blog that I love to write, I’m the team mom for our boys’ baseball team (2 games per week and practice on Saturday)
So enough about how busy I am, because seriously, every homeschool mom, or just mom for that matter, is busy. How do you make it stop? That’s the question right? Here’s the answer…
Stop. Saying. Yes.
It’s that simple. Why is it so hard for us? I think it’s because we sincerely don’t want to let people down. We also all have this tiny desire to be super mom. I think most of us genuinely want to serve, but when we are stretched so thin how effective is our service? If I run out of time to plan during the week and I have to wing the Mini Zone lesson I’m doing those kids, as well as our church, a disservice. If I take that time away from my co-op planning then those kids miss out. I’m at a point where I have too many people depending on me. I don’t want to let any of them down but we don’t have any margin. We don’t have any spare time. Here’s my basic week… You’ll see a lot of “chores,” Friday is my deep cleaning day, we don’t do school on Friday’s so I sweep, mop, dust, clean the appliances, bathrooms and put away all the laundry. The other days’ “chores” are maintenance, wiping counters, doing dishes, preparing dinner, general clean up. I left my personal free time in white… but quite often this isn’t actually “free” it’s a cup of coffee between demands to “play with me,” “read to me,” “Mom, can you get me…” I also use my free time to catch up on my lesson plans, Jamberry stuff and blog posts…
^^^^ This is what will burn you out on homeschooling your kids. Not your kids themselves. This crazy packed schedule isn’t necessary for my kids to get an education. It’s not filled so that they can be more well rounded, it’s filled because I have a need to do it all. We can’t do it all, we really can’t. Something is going to suffer, more often than not, it’s school that gets cut when we are overbooked, not the activity that over booked us in the first place. This schedule is why I snap at my husband and my kids. It’s why I’m on my phone more than I should be. It’s the exact thing we wanted to avoid, the hurry up’s of school life. Granted, it’s much better with homeschool because we still have the power to manipulate this schedule when we need to, but still, something gets less attention than it should…
So what is this rambling post about? What’s the moral? Slow down moms, don’t over book. Co-op is fun, but it’s not necessary. If you really want to do it, don’t teach. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, leave some white blocks in your calendar to enjoy this little journey. This years will go by quickly, you want to remember spending time with your kids, not how stressed out you were all the time.