Homeschooling: 10 tips to get past the mid-year slump
Christmas is over, the holiday cheer is gone. Winter has settled in by showing off her bare branches, grey clouds and cold air.
It gets me every year. Not in the, "Oh Winter, I love you so much, you just GET me" kind of way. Every year the anxiety sets in. As the countdown to Christmas rolls on, a subconscious countdown to the end of excitement and anticipation and the beginning of long cold days looms in the back of my mind.
This last Christmas, I decided to take the entire month of December off from homeschool. We still had plenty of hours to log with reading, advent activities and the random events that go into the season. At first I was worried that I was really breaking the rules, until I listened to a podcast from Sally Clarkson where she confessed that she always did the same thing with her kids when they were growing up, so if Sally did it, I am completely justified. ;)
In efforts to be fully present and to truly focus on the gift of Jesus and what that looks like in our lives, I will say that it was probably our best December yet and the most satisfied I have ever felt with our choices in time management.
Last Fall was full of changes, interruptions and life. All good things, but I had soon felt like I had hopped on a hamster wheel and did not know how to get off without getting hurt. This Christmas break was vital. Seeking the face of Jesus was my lifeline. As I began to think about adding everything back in to our schedule and being the Mom that I needed to be to shoulder the responsibility of my children's education, it just seemed like too much. I did not feel strong enough, nice enough, patient enough or loving enough to lead or guide my children.
Homeschooling moms, this IS the hardest part of the year. Every year. Routine has become boring and somewhat sub par, lack of routine has turned our brains into a spiral of survival. Not to mention the WEATHER that keeps us inside with kids all day long with all that built up energy we wish would rub off on us just for a bit.
So what now? This is when that yellow bus starts to sound like a really, really good idea.
Before you let your brain camp out in that space too long, let me help you with some tips to get you through these next few months until you can see the light at the end of the tunnel again.
- Mentally prepare- Fill your heart and mind with words of life so that you can speak and pour out Jesus onto your kids. After all, isn't that the point? More reading, less social media. More uplifting podcasts, less time-killing tv shows. Spend more time in the Bible and you will notice a difference in your demeanor.
- Physically prepare- Our bodies are very intricately created. Mind, body and soul work together and each part affects the other. Health matters in every aspect. Take care of yourself! Carve out time to get your body moving and you will have more energy and feel better. I know you have heard it before, so try it!
- Be vocal- Pray throughout your day. Speak words of thankfulness and talk about things to be thankful for in front of your kids and with your kids throughout your day.
- Put a system in place- I did not think this was a vital aspect until recently. More to come on this process and what it looks like for me, but find a system that works for your day.
- Evaluate- Quit checking off the boxes! If something does not work, change it. If you are doing too much, do less. We tend to try to make homeschooling a way more complicated equation than it is. Read to your kids, be knowledgeable, and most importantly lead them in learning and the love of learning.
- Surround (engulf) yourself with like-minded Mom's- We are created for community. I am convinced that when we try to do it all on our own, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
- Check the negativity- (umph. yep, I am talking to myself here) An accountability partner is a great way to keep this in check. Whether it be your husband or your best friend who is always ready to say what you need to hear, be accountable. Just being around others who choose to see the jar half full will be a game changer.
- Get out once a day- Find ways to get out of the house and have things to look forward to, and stick to it! Most days it seems like a giant chore, however, you will ALWAYS feel better when you get out of the house at least once a day.
- Ask yourself this question: What are your hopes for your children in homeschooling?- Why did you decide to homeschool in the first place and have you prayed about these very questions? What is your "end goal" in mind?
This may be the most important tip, but it is usually, at least for me, one that is not easily attainable unless I have followed through with steps 1-9.
Dig deep down and find what motivates you. What encourages you. Sometimes, a lot of times, you can not rely on friends, your sister, mom, or the friend you thought was your source of encouragement, to help you out.
Sometimes, you have to be the overcomer. You have to be your biggest encourager.
As a generation we have learned to depend on other people and even social media to pick us up and cure all our ails. The only source of encouragement you need, is from God. God has equipped you and He has given you specific instruction. He will not make you love Him, listen to him or read His word. You have to open the word and ask God to penetrate your heart. Tell him that you can not do it on your own and you need him to revive you!
I can so easily turn to self destruction mode when I focus on the situation or circumstance instead of immediately turning to focus on God in prayer and asking for help from the Holy Spirit who is always on stand-by. (My mother-in-law has been speaking of the Holy Spirit as our stand-by and it really resonates with me!)
Homeschooling is not a little thing. It is also not something you are expected to do on your own. You are expected to turn to God every day, all year long as you lean into Him to hear what he has in store for the day. That is it. One day at a time, and I promise He will give you the strength, confidence, courage and motivation you need to make it through that one day. Day after day.
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." — 1 Corinthians 15:58
Raising kids and choosing to homeschool is something that you take one day at a time. Always trying your best, and always asking God for help, because most days can seem insurmountable. If you have not heard it before, YOU are enough. In fact, you are more than enough, you are fearfully and wonderfully created for this job. Stay encouraged, find your passion if you lost it in all the math struggles and the tears over reading. You can do it!
I am going to continue to share more on what God has worked in my heart over this season, so stay tuned. I am fine tuning a "schedule" for myself and my kids so I will be sharing with you all how that has transformed our days.
I hope you feel encouraged in this journey and that you are reminded that you are not alone in your struggles. I am praying for you and cheering you on!