How do you do the next right thing?

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Mamas of grown-up kids, I would just like to say: I don’t understand how you did that.

I mean, I understand the growing part. I understand how they start out like squishy little peaches, and you feed and water them, and then one day they’re taller than you are and are “borrowing” your shoes.

That part I understand.

But the part where they turn into thoughtful, fun, endlessly interesting young adults who you could spend hours talking with, and then we’re supposed to send them out into the world? That part is terrible.

In related news, college acceptance letters have begun arriving for my oldest daughter.

My self-directed, witty and sparkling, creative and brave oldest daughter. It’s like these colleges think that just because they have “really cool writing programs” and “a great design department” they’re allowed to steal her away. (Yes, okay, she did apply. I did sign the forms. I don’t see how this is relevant to my angst.)

It’s just awful, this growing-up thing. [Read more…]

Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)

Melissa's Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

I want to tell you about a typical day at our house, but… that’s harder than it sounds. The first thing I should tell you is that the kids are 17, 14, 11, 10, 7, and 4, and they’re all busy, all the time.

But you probably would have guessed that, wouldn’t you?

A usual day looks like this:

Everyone starts the day with morning routines and chores.

Once that’s done, we ask the older four kids to spend time doing five things: being outside, moving their bodies, reading, creating, and working on their learning activities. (We plan the learning activities together periodically.) They decide how and when to do those things.

[Read more…]

For a happier homeschool, stop saying these 7 things


Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Right now, I am staring at my computer screen, thinking about all the reasons I can’t write these words to you. I’m too tired. My thoughts won’t come together, they keep shimmying away when I’m not looking (not unlike my preschooler at bedtime).

My ideas might not even be important enough to share with you. I just can’t do it.

That is what I am thinking. I just can’t. That’s my story.

But some stories are true, and others are just stories.

We read a lot of Mo Willems books around here, and lately Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs has been on read-and-repeat mode.

Do you know what the moral of that story is? The marvelous Mo writes: “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

That story about me not being able to write to you right now? That is the wrong story.

Are you living in the wrong story?

[Read more…]

4 questions that will simplify your homeschool this fall

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

September always makes me think two things.

One, I really should have bought more markers while they were on sale for forty-seven cents a box. (Back-to-school sales are the best.)

And two, How can I make things simpler around here?

I actually ask that second question every few months, because last season’s rhythms and routines might not be the best choices for this season’s. (Though my kids would be happy to turn our summer routine of hanging out at the pool into a year-round habit, please and thank you.)

Let’s clear something up real quick, though: SIMPLE does not mean EASY. Simple means not complicated, or at least less complicated.

To me, making things simpler means living more in alignment with who we are and what we’re about. That’s much less complicated than doing things because this is the way they’ve always been done, or because we think we “should,” or because we’re afraid of missing out.

Making things simpler means letting go of ideas that aren’t working, and finding practices that do work for our families. It means making changes so your life fits you (or anyway, fits you better than it did before).

I have a few questions I come back to when I’m ready to make things simpler. These are the questions I’ve been asking to simplify my September.

[Read more…]

One simple trick for dealing with homeschool doubts

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

You know how we homeschool mamas are full of wisdom and confidence at all times? How we always know the best path, and always have a plan, and always know where this thing is headed? You know?

Hold on, I’m sorry, I have to get back up. I just fell off my chair laughing.

Right. So… I am just like that confident mama except not like that at all.

I am pretty sure that we are doing the best we can, most of the time. But then one of my kids will ask, “What are times tables again?” or “I’ll never have to get a grown-up job and buy my own groceries, right?”

At those times, the critic in my head has some things to say, things like: “You’re not doing this right. You’re not doing enough.”

Here’s how to get back on track when your inner critic starts chatting:

[Read more…]

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