It Takes A Village To Raise A Homeschool Mom

There are two dangerous times of the year for homeschoolers. The first is two to four weeks into a new school year. Your enthusiasm flies out the window as you realize all of your carefully plotted lessons need to be scrapped because:

  1. The curriculum your friend raves about, that you spent an embarrassing amount of money on, might as well be written in Greek for all the sense it makes to you.
  2. Your kids are struck with a terminal case of Leaky Brain Syndrome and forgot everything from the last school year.
  3. And my personal favorite; you find out that you are pregnant. Again.

The second perilous time for the homeschool mom’s sanity is somewhere in the vast, yawning wasteland of weeks between Christmas break and summer. Your joy in homeschooling is leached away because:

  1. Between shopping, wrapping, baking and entertaining, you never got a ‘break’ for Christmas. (Holiday break really should last more like 30 weeks or so, yes?)
  2. As you reassess your children, you find that in the too-short Christmas break they had an LBS relapse and forgot everything again.
  3. State testing is looming, so any fun you had planned for your school will have to take the back burner as you all prepare to prove to ‘The Man’ that you are indeed educating your kids.
  4. Your toddler has discovered his sacred calling in life is to disrupt your homeschool as often as is humanly possible. You find that he has super-human abilities.

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I spent literally years of my homeschool journey stuck in this hamster wheel cycle. Excitement and planning, followed by the letdown of reality-crushed expectations. The insanity of trying to pull off the perfect holidays followed by an intense need to hibernate. The brain-sucking void of winter that made me feel isolated and lifeless.

It was always in this place that my inner critic began to hiss discouraging lies in my head. “You’re not doing enough. You’re going to ruin your kids. Who do you think you are to try to take this on?”

Then my eyes would turn to the homeschooler next to me and I’d think, “I need to do more crafts, more science, more fun learning. Her kids are perfectly behaved, and mine…not so much. I’ll bet her house doesn’t look like a tornado ran through it. She bakes her own bread? And we’ve had fast food how many times this week?”

I can’t tell you how many times I seriously contemplated quitting. I envisioned myself chasing the big yellow bus that passed by our house, bathrobe flapping, babbling incoherent pleas for the driver to stop and take my children with him. I could see them happily boarding the bus, lunch bags in hand, while I waved from the window of my quiet, clean house.

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Frustration, doubt, and the inner critic made me lose sight of why I was homeschooling in the first place. Looking at the woman next to me and comparing her best with my worst only served to make me feel more alone in my obvious failings.

Then one day, a woman whom I admire greatly shared that she was struggling. Now understand that this was no ordinary woman. This was Mrs. Homeschooler Extraordinaire. The one who has it all together and then some. As she told me of her feelings of despair, I was shocked to realize that she understood what I had thought was my own private angst.

I was no longer alone!

I began to speak to other women in our homeschool group. I found that these feelings of failure and isolation were virtually universal. Here we were, meeting each week, smiling and making pleasantries, while inside we were drowning and dreaming of sending our children away. Our time together was so focused on the kids, we moms were not really connecting ourselves.

So we started a mom’s group as part of our weekly co-op. We’ve gone through books, discussed a variety of topics, and even played games together because we all know homeschool moms don’t have nearly enough just-for-fun time.

We’ve built a community.

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Now when I feel battle weary, I can look to the women in the trenches with me and know I am not alone. I no longer want to give up. I no longer feel like I’m drowning. Lifting my coffee mug in silent salute to the big, yellow bus passing by, I gratefully turn back to my children and enjoy the fact that I have the privilege of hanging out and learning with them.

Find community. Find women who have forged the way ahead who can give their wisdom and support. Women who will lift you up and pray with you. And remember that there are women who need your knowledge and experience. Cheer them on. Live in a new cycle of soaking in encouragement and pouring it back out. Even when you feel as though you have nothing to give, try it. It’s like magic. You’ll find new strength, and clarity of purpose.

From me to you, my friends: “You can do this. You’re not ruining your kids. You’re not alone.”

Now go out and repeat those words to another homeschool mom who needs to hear them.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT

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19 thoughts on “It Takes A Village To Raise A Homeschool Mom

  1. Excellent advice! So glad you found support and encouragement and some sympathizing ears. And that verse could not be more perfect!
    (I had to laugh at your description of flapping down the road after the school bus 🙂

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  2. What an excellent post for me to read. Two years of home school and great expectations. Only to feel disappointed when things don’t go the way I hope. It’s not easy. And the inner critic is not helping.
    I really like how you encourage us to be in community. Yes we do need each other. Words of wisdom and prayers really help.

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    • Hi Lisa! I have to admit that community is difficult for me. I am naturally reserved and introverted, but the Lord put me in charge of the mom’s group at our co-op and it transformed my homeschool. (It forced me to fellowship!) I am now a huge advocate for building your support group, tribe, community, whatever you wish to call it. It is so important!

      I really do understand your feelings of disappointment, and you are right; it’s not easy. Tell that inner critic to take a hike, and come over here anytime (or email me) and I will cheer you on. 🙂

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  3. Thank you for this post. Although I am not home schooling yet, I am having a lot of angst. Mt boys are in PS kindergarten, twins. I am feeling overwhelmed with the fact that I myself was an average student with two failed attempts of community college. I will look for a Community of mom’s ASAP, I will definitely need guidance and encouragement ! 🙂

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    • Oh, friend, I could write a book back to you! It’s okay (normal) to feel overwhelmed, but don’t let it deter you from your course. Statistically, the education level of the parent has absolutely NO bearing on how well the homeschooled kid does. I have personally known many, many moms who struggled in school themselves. Many of them have learning disabilities. And yet they are able to educate their children just fine.

      In fact, the moms I know who hold actual teaching degrees are often the ones who have the hardest time homeschooling. Teaching your own children, at home, with varying levels, etc. is very different than what they are trained for. So don’t be discouraged by your lack of formal education. Many of us (myself included) don’t hold degrees. A willingness to learn and a fierce devotion to your kids is all you need. 🙂

      Do find a tribe of women who will help you. Obviously it is best to find a personal support group, but don’t forget the blogging community. There are many of us who are happy to share our experiences, expertise, or just cheer you on. Feel free to message me here any time for a personal word of encouragement or prayer. I will always respond!

      Grace and peace to you as you get ready to venture into this journey. It is not easy, but is SO worth it!

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      • I look forward to getting to know you! I remember how I felt when the Lord impressed on me to homeschool. I argued with Him for a couple of months. Guess who won? 🙂 Looking back, I can honestly say it has been the greatest thing for our family. (Like I said before, I could write you a book here!) Feel free to throw out any questions, comments, worries, etc. I won’t have all the answers, but I might have some! Blessings to you–

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  4. I always tell other homeschooling moms to NEVER make decisions in February. For such a short month, it can be such a long month. Usually by mid-March, you can see that winter is almost over and gain a new strength to push through till the end.

    We all need to find a group with whom we can be completely honest. Once you take away the polite masks, and facades, you find that there are many who are struggling in the same areas that you are. We’re all something of a hot mess, and it’s okay. That’s why we need one another and God’s grace to get us through.

    Blessings!

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    • Sound advice, to not make decisions in February. I love how you put it, “We’re all something of a hot mess, and it’s okay.” You are so right! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom!

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  5. My kids are all grown not but I still enjoyed your post, I always envied the Home school Moms, because I was never quite brave enough to take that on. I think what you are doing is really great and so glad you found other moms to share with. What you said about chasing the bus, with bathrobe flapping, I had to laugh because I was a school bus driver for many years and I saw that scene often but it was from the moms who’s kids rode the bus to school. When kids were running late they would not be out at their stop, I would always stop an look and see no kids in sight but usually just as I would pull away sure enough I would notice in my mirror a mom flying out the door usually in pajamas or a robe trying to wave me down. There was no way they were going to let me miss picking up their kids..

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    • Oh, that’s too funny, Terri! I’m not quite sure where my vision came from, but I’m glad to hear it has some accuracy to it! 😉 Thanks for your encouragement. We homeschoolers don’t often get much affirmation outside of our own little communities, so I appreciate your kind words more than you know. I hope you have a blessed weekend!

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  6. I, too, admire homeschool moms, after spending twenty-six years in the elementary classroom. It’s one thing to teach the children of others; it would be another thing altogether to spend 24/7 with our three at home. Your experience of making dreamy plans as the school year begins describes EXACTLY my own experience every August. And the need for a 30-week holiday break? Oh, yes. Between holiday prep, holiday clean-up, church activities, thank-you note writing, paper-grading, and lesson plans, the two weeks flew by in a hurry. But at least I had a change of scenery when the “vacation” ended. GOD BLESS THE HOMESCHOOL MOMS!!

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    • It’s interesting to hear you say that you experienced the same cycles as we homeschoolers do, but it makes perfect sense. I had simply never thought about it. I greatly admire public/private school teachers. Personally, I’d rather herd cats than try to control a class of 25-30 wiggly kids! And the difficulties of discipline make me shudder…at home, I can send the unruly ones to their rooms or assign them extra chores. Then again, my pupils totally know how to work me! I guess every form of educating has its unique challenges. Thanks for stopping by and offering your insight, Nancy. Blessings to you!

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  7. This is really beautiful Rebeca! You write so well such wonderfully encouraging words. Though I’m a mum of 4 who all went to mainstream school, your words are really touching and can apply to other situations in life too!

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    • Hi Christine! Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you found value in this. I think most life lessons fit multiple situations, don’t you? It matters little how we choose to live the small things…moral and spiritual truth applies to us all. Thank you so much for stopping! 😃

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