The fear and the funk of homeschooling

the fear and the funk of homeschooling ~SimpleHomeschool.net

If there’s one thing I’ve realized about homeschooling over the past few years, it’s that fear rears its ugly head in starts and stops along the way.

Like when it hits you that you’ve taken on the full responsibility of your child’s education, in the midst of a culture that believes experts are required to teach little ones what they need to know in life.

Or when you’re exhausted and would give anything for a sick day–only to hear little footsteps, giggles, shouts and/or bickering coming down the hallway.

Like when a child finds a nickel on the floor, holds it up with excitement, and shouts proudly:

“Look, Mommy, a silver penny!”

And you wonder if they have, in fact, learned anything. (Yes, this happened last week.)

On top of the fear, there’s also the funk. The funk refers to a period of burnout–when you’d give anything for a change.

Funk might be caused by spring (or summer!) fever–the hot weather beckoning you outdoors while you still have work to do indoors.

Or it might be ushered in by a baby on the way, a life or job change, family stress or an illness.

In my own case the funk came to visit alongside an upcoming move and the housing search process, new writing projects, and unexpected travel opportunities coming our family’s way. These good and exciting things have disrupted our family’s routine–pushing us toward the edge of our margins and limits.

Humans cycle through seasons and phases. We cannot create a schedule to order our days for efficiency and uniformity without allowing for variety as well. And can you imagine how boring it would be if we could?

Instead we will have moments of confidence and moments of insecurity. Moments of brilliance and moments of doubt. Moments of clarity and moments of confusion. We must learn to deal successfully with the fear and the funk, so we won’t end up a homeschooling casualty and throw in the towel prematurely.

Dealing with the fear

funk2Have a vision…

When it comes to combating fear and its lies, the vision you ultimately have for your family serves as the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. For many of us, homeschooling our children has become a God-sized dream–a task so out of our reach to control and complete that we rest solely in the arms of the Almighty Himself to guide us along the way.

I recently finished Holley Gerth’s excellent book You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, which reminded me yet again that when we dare to step out of the ordinary we can expect fear as a part-time companion. It just goes with the territory.

In Holley’s words:

“Fear camps out right next to whatever it is you’re most called to do. That means the closer you get to your calling, the louder fear sounds.”
~ You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, Chapter 5

The biggest successes I have in battling fear come when my vision remains right in front of me: Why are we doing this again? What results do we hope to see? What motivates us?

This helps tremendously when the mental comparisons come. After all, if we’re aiming for a different end goal entirely in our kids’ education, our steps along the way will look radically different as well.

When we remember the vision–and the One who gave it to us–the fears slink back, lifeless and exposed.

Dealing with the funk

funk3Shake things up…

Funk is another word for burnout–it happens, people. It isn’t only traditional schooling moms who crawl to the finish line this time of year–homeschooling mamas feel it too. Even those of us who school year-round have seasons where we’re desperate for a change.

The best way to deal with periods of burnout is to shake things up. But why do we hesitate to do so? I know I find that my default behavior leans more toward pushing through than taking a break.

And yet one of the most amazing aspects of the homeschooling lifestyle is that we get to set the schedule! We don’t have to plod through to some artificial, arbitrarily-set ending date. We need to take advantage of this flexibility.

Our family schools year-round, taking breaks when we need them, but keeping our routine more or less in place. In the summer we switch things around so that our play time begins in the morning, and we have our school time in the afternoon. I made that change last week, and it was an immediate relief to the funk I had been experiencing.

Sometimes we just need to shake things up.

We don’t get through the fear and the funk by avoiding them–or by quitting.

Anyone who has ever attempted (and accomplished) something great has gotten there by noticing their fears, then marching straight ahead anyway.

Let’s do the same–keeping the vision for our family front and center and moving forward one step at a time.

Further reading:

How do you conquer the fear and the funk of homeschooling?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.

Comments

  1. Aimee L. says:

    Thank you so much, Jamie! As I prepare to begin homeschooling our 3-1/2-year-old son, fear frequently rears its ugly head in my mind, especially on those days when I barely feel qualified to parent him, let alone become his teacher. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you for your encouragement.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Jamie. My great dream right now is to have another child even though we are far past the baby stage and into the “happy golden years” stage and even though we barely have enough money for it (or maybe we don’t?). I know that this is a gift God wants to give me, but it’s so easy to let fear discourage me from even trying. Yes, everything will be harder – work, homeschooling, finances – but nothing could be better! At least for us and for me. Nothing could be better than another child.
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: a crafty book review… by Aria!

  3. We have been fighting the funk for the last few weeks, so we take a few weeks off when we need to. We used to be really rigid about the schedule but now we adjust based on the learning process. We do school all year round, so we escape the “have to finish before Memorial Day” cram. Good article.

  4. Thank you for the post. I suffered a major case of burnout this spring. Things are better now, but it took a good month for me to feel that way. It is always helpful to read or hear about other’s experience with burnout – what they do, how they overcome.

    • It really can take quite a while to bounce back from burnout. I think if we expect and understand that it might actually help us to not pressure ourselves. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Thank you so very much for this post. It was exactly what I needed to see and reaffirm in my heart. Homeschool is neither my mission nor vision, it is from God. He guides, leads, directs and yes – He redirects. What a blessing it is to homeschool. When I let me fears and worries get in the way, I lose sight of the goal He has set before me – before our family. Thanks for being a willing vessel for God to use to remind homeschool parents of God’s mission. God bless you. 🙂 🙂

  6. We experienced that funk the last 3 weeks, I finally set a summer starts date and this week was wonderful, filled with fun learning. The kids put their money toward a small aquarium, bought two fish only for the fish to have babies! I was not crazy about getting another pet but I let them anyway. So glad I did, we all have learned so much watching these little things grow and the kids are caring so well for them.
    Oh and my kindergartner’s response to who is the first president, “George Lucas!” Oops.
    Thank you for your honesty and sharing!

  7. I am printing this and sticking it in my inspiration folder – where I go when I’m in a funk. Thank you so much for sharing this, I needed to hear it!

  8. I was at the beach when this post came to my inbox but I remember catching the title so I searched my email to find it this morning. I love it! So helpful – not only in regards to homeschooling, but other areas of my life as well! I will be bookmarking this one for sure!

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