Welcome to January, 2013!!
Now, unlike homeschooling moms in the southern hemisphere (who are just getting ready to start school — it is mid-summer there!), you are probably facing a wall of inertia at the moment. I mean, didn’t you just give every ounce of energy into creating a fabulous Christmas experience for your family?? Not only that, only a few months ago you launched a new school year for your kids! Whew!! No wonder an insurmountable Wall of Inertia—sort of like the Great Wall of China—is looming over you.
So, what’s a mom to do? Here are three suggestions that come from my own struggles to get through that wall, particularly when January can be so grey and tedious. Here’s the list:
First of all, Inspire. When facing obstacles of any sort, it has been remarkably helpful to read someone else’s story about how they overcame the odds, broke through the wall, and achieved their goals. Inspiration provides that first step of getting our hearts to believe that it is possible to keep going. That is why we love stories of people like Joni Eareckson Tada and Corrie ten Boom, because they remind us that there is incredible blessing on the other side of our pain. So, I want to encourage you to read or reread another family’s story of homeschooling, one that will inspire you! (If you aren’t sure what to read, check out my Once Upon A Time ebook, part of our downloadable collection.)
One inspirational story that I think of often is the story of Gladys Aylward. Gladys was convinced she was supposed to go to China to serve as a missionary. Unfortunately, her lack of academic ability—they told her she was too dumb—caused her to be dismissed from missionary school and rejected as a candidate for missions. This setback, however, did not change Gladys' determination to do what she felt God had called her to do. In 1930, after saving up her wages as a servant, she bought a ticket to travel to China by train—across Russia! What was she going to do in China? It didn’t sound profound, because her opportunity was to become a servant, a helper, to an aging missionary, Agnes Lawson. But in this position, Gladys learned to speak Chinese and to love the Chinese. In 1932, after Mrs. Lawson’s death, Gladys was appointed "foot inspector" for the Chinese government, as a new imperial law was decreed to eliminate the practice of foot binding—and no one else in this region was as suited as Gladys to radically break with cultural tradition. This amazing job gave her an opportunity to share about Jesus with villagers all over this province, something no one else had been able to accomplish. Later, when the region was invaded by Japanese forces, she led one hundred hungry, tired, and frightened orphans across the mountains to safety. Gladys did many other amazing things that you can read about in Geoff and Janet Benge’s biography of her, part of the YWAM Publishing Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. Her story is just one among many that remind us that God never calls us without providing the strength and resources we need to accomplish that call—including homeschooling!
The second step is Analyze. Take some time—alone, with your spouse or with an encouraging friend—to ask yourself specifically what factors are weighing you down. Are you the Type-A driven homeschool mom who can never say “no,” and who thinks that if maxing out is good, then adding a few more pieces would be even better? (I can speak from experience on that one: simplify, simplify, simplify!) Do you have a child who is not thriving on that expensive curriculum, but you are determined to wring every bit of value you can out of it? (Simply put, which is more valuable, your child or the money you spent on the curriculum?) Are you suffering the exhaustion of trying to keep up with the the Joneses — homeschooling style? (Ah, dear one, NO ONE keeps up with those guys. Did you know they don’t really exist?) Write down the specific issues and then prayerfully and carefully consider your options. What can go out with the trash????
After you've decided what to toss, take some time to map out the rest of your school year. I'm not talking about a rigid schedule, just a framework to help you captain the ship more effectively. (After all, your homeschool may look a little different without that curriculum that takes 5 arguments and 6 hours to finish every day!) I find routines with flexibility are incredibly helpful to enable kids and moms to relax. Somehow, knowing generally what is happening next, gives a family a sense of stability and comfort. If you are already a schedule type and your family is overwhelmed by your military-like transitions, you can map things out too–just remember your challenge is to schedule time for fun and relaxation!
Last, but not least, Energize. As a Homeschool Practitioner, I am going to write you a prescription for beating the winter blues. If you are not someone who typically exercises, insert a 15-minute walk into your day. This will actually release endorphins that help improve your mood and clear your mind! Read a chapter of Proverbs every day. I believe that there are thirty-one chapters for a reason! Proverbs will give you the wisdom you need in the moment that you need it.
Finally, make lots of room in your heart, your mind and your schedule to add in great doses of humor, fun and games! It will provide an energizing zest for both you and your children, making each day easier and more profitable for all. Some games that promote logic and strategic thinking are "The Settlers of Catan", "Risk" and "Monopoly". Some fun word games are "Boggle" and "Scrabble" (check out a variation of Scrabble called "Take 2" that is faster paced.) For younger kids, an interesting game that isn't too tedious for parents is, "Snorta" and little children can usually play "Toss Up" if they have good counting skills. With the possible exception of "Snorta" these games can be integrated into your school day without guilt because of the skills they teach and your kids will love it!
I hope these ideas will encourage you, and don’t forget, you can get a HUGE dose of encouragement from my “Encouragement for Homeschool Moms” collection, which is 100% downloadable and is on sale for the next 5 days!
Remember, stay relational.