Insecurity, Comparison and Fear: Slaying the Giants of Homeschooling

Written by Misha Thompson of The Offense of Joy

Anyone who has taken on, or is considering, the unique role of home educator knows all too well the giants of homeschooling.

Insecurity. Comparison. Fear.

Have you ever felt discouraged by one of those?  Have you ever laid awake and worried about who is doing what in their homeschool and if you should or shouldn’t be, too?

All of us have. It’s human nature.

But there is an effective response to criticism and fears, however.

Joy.

Not grit-your-teeth-and-fake-it smiles, but “real” knowing who you are and who your family is–and living in the enjoyment of that.

Confidence and joy are easier said than done, though.

So what creates them? And how do we get them?

Here is a hands-on list of seven everyday ways to slay those inner giants and embrace contagious enjoyment.

Photo by James Taylor Photography

1. Community

Reaction and isolation may tempt us whenever we encounter any (inner or outer) criticism. But a defensive posture only leaves us lonely and unsupported.

You cannot do this job alone. Having community is vital. Make cultivating friends to support you a top priority if you are homeschooling.

2. Loving Ourselves

Give up the battle of self-criticism. Choose to take care of you–because love for others flows out of love for yourself.

Most of us don’t have a “pedicure and spa budget,” but finding what refreshes you makes a world of difference. (Here are some ideas that I enjoy.)

3. Exercise and Sleep

I have found that, without exception, every parent who emanates confidence and joy takes the time to exercise and sleep well.

Tsh wrote an excellent article on incorporating these into our daily lives.

For me, the tug of war between sleep and getting up early to run may never be won permanently before my kids go to college. But I believe it’s worth fighting for. I am a completely different person when I take care of my body.

Photo by James Taylor Photography

4. Marriage

I have a good friend who says that she never takes for granted that her marriage will last.

At first this sounded horrifying to me. But then I realized that the parents I admire cultivate friendship with their partners and treat those relationships as a valuable investment.

A quality marriage is part of our children’s education, too.

5. Spiritual Time

Taking the time to invest in our own spirits is vital.

For me that overlaps with running. This is when I connect to my spiritual side and to the God I believe in. Being outdoors, silence, beauty–they all renew my spirit.

Whatever connects you to the bigger picture–to truth, to worship, to transcending the bickering babies and temporary stages–that is worth investing in.

On difficult and dreary days, I may just light a candle and choose uplifting music–but being intentional about my spiritual life makes all the difference.

6. Good Food

What I teach my kids has less to do with what we do together and more to do with who I am as their mama.

That is hard for me to face. It’s easier to teach than to be.

So we can teach less sugar, more broccoli–but unless we are personally reaping the rewards of it, too, it won’t help.

Water, greens and less sugar are daily (ugh) choices for me, but ones that I see almost instant rewards from in patience, energy and enjoyment.

7. Knowing Ourselves

And as they say in the business world–“Staff your weaknesses.”

Know your own personality type.

We spend countless hours as home educators trying to know and understand our children, but knowing how we are wired is also pretty crucial.

Any employer worth their salt expects you to be aware of your strengths and weakness. Finding those out and prioritizing our contributions will be catalytic in our children knowing themselves, too. (Check out this great article for further information.)

Insecurity, comparison and fear may be common emotions that we experience while homeschooling.

But confident daily, practical choices will slay them every time.

Which items on this list resonate with you? What daily choices help you embrace confidence and enjoyment as a homeschooler?

“We should all do in the long run what gives us joy. Even if it is only picking grapes or sorting laundry.” ~ EB White

About Misha

Misha is a writer and teacher on the subjects of pain and joy. She loves paddle boarding, dutch salty licorice, and she really, really loves sunshine. (She lives in the Pacific Northwest.) She also loves her kids who still give her grace after all her screw ups as a mom. She writes at The Offense of Joy.

Comments

  1. Sleep… I never get enough! Having a group of homeschooling families we hang out with several times a month has made a huge difference for me. Our first few months, we were kind of isolated and it wasn’t fun. These are all stellar tips :)
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s last blog: I Wasn’t Always… Part 3 =-.

  2. I find this list to be both equally encouraging and motivational as I want nothing more than to parent and homeschool not out of duty, guilt or competition but out of nothing short of JOY!!!
    .-= Chelle’s last blog: { sweet serendipity } =-.

  3. It is so nice to see a homeschool list that encourages us to take good care of ourselves, strengthen our marriage, eat healthy, and build a support group rather than dealing with curriculum or how many hours a day we “have” to spend in textbooks. And though they do have their place, it’s hard to teach even the best of text books for the minimal amount of time if you are isolated, sleep deprived, sick, and your marriage is non-existent.
    I wholeheartedly second what Chelle said. Here’s to parenting and homeschooling with joy!

  4. Misha, I’ve experienced all of those three.

    I like your remedy for combatting those ugly feelings. Joy is something we choose and have to actively cultivate. I am successful at this to varying degrees.

    I have found knowing who I am and who my kids are and who our family is helps me the most. This helps me win the comparison battle the most.

  5. Thank you for the most encouraging post. I have had second thoughts recently about home schooling next year as my daughter will be in kindergarten and my son in preschool. My son receives speech therapy through the school district and they were making me feel incapable of giving him what he needed. I needed to read this-today of all days. God is good!
    .-= Keilah’s last blog: Miss Victoria’s Scarf =-.

  6. This is a great list of tips. Right now I am working on eating healthy and cutting out the sugar. Also trying to get more sleep. Which means getting off the computer and making a better routine of getting to bed earlier. It’s funny how we have a schedule or routine that we make for our kids to make sure they are eating well and getting enough sleep. How much more so we need to do this for ourselves and set the example for our children. Great post!
    .-= Rana’s last blog: It’s inventory time! =-.

  7. Thank you, ladies! It is so encouraging to me to hear back from others who have found this to work and are pursuing it themselves!

    I know it sounds cliche’ but I take it one day at a time, one night of sleep at a time. There is one point we edited out on this article, too, that I have found so helpful, and that is letting go of mistakes and failures. The days our routine gets shot – for whatever reason – I go to sleep telling myself that I am only one day away from being back on track. It takes a lot of pressure off.

    Thank you for all your comments. It’s wonderful to read your thoughts.
    .-= Misha’s last blog: New Post Up At Simple Homeschool! =-.

  8. So well presented. Wise words from a wise lady. Keep it up Misha. You’re encouraging others in the pursuit of things that they may feel in adequate to achieve, but can with a little empathy and understanding and exhortation!
    .-= Kirsty’s last blog: Simmering Pot =-.

  9. Wow what a great post to read today. I just found your blog. I am a homeschooling/ Unschooling Momma just starting out and these are all great things to keep in mind as I begin our journey of learning as a family. It sounds like you have a lot of wisdom, and I look forward to reading more. I am trying to compile a list of homeschooling mommas out there in blogland as a resource, because I beleive we can all learn a little something from eachother, even if it’s just encouragement to get through the day. Each family is unique and I think if get caught up in comparing ourselves to others instead of learning from eachother, we end up losing out in the end. What a shame that would be.
    Many Blessings,
    Molly
    .-= Molly @ Star Cottage’s last blog: Homeschooling / Unschooling =-.

  10. You’ve done it again, Mish! I’m inspired, motivated, and humbled by your words. You speak from the heart. There’s always a marked difference when what’s being said has really been/is lived out in the author’s life. That is what shines through your writing…you LIVE these words. Thank you.

    Ginger

  11. Great article! I love that you tackled this tough topic. For me, I think community makes the most visible difference. Recently I’d had a rough day with the kids and commented to another homeschooling mom that evening that it seemed like everyone else had these days filled with endless experiences of joyful learning with their kids. She looked at me like I had two heads, which made me feel loads better!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: The Four Cups =-.

  12. Hannah – I could NOT agree more! It is truly the world to me to have my friends tell me when I am crazy (taking on way too much) or when I am not (it’s normal for your kids to drive you bananas some days.) :) I cannot do life without truth telling, truly commited girlfriends and our community around us.

  13. What a beautiful article. The two I’ve been contemplating on the most lately are community and marriage. Meanwhile, I’m eating horribly, not getting enough sleep, not exercising and have absolutely zero “me-time” (not even sure what that would mean anymore?) So you’ve given me some great things to think on, that I had not even connected with homeschooling before.
    .-= Leslie’s last blog: not enough time or energy… =-.

  14. That’s cool that we are able to take the personal loans and that opens up completely new opportunities.

  15. As a new homeschooling mom, I need to work on knowing myself. great point about a quality marriage being part of education too..
    Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site’s latest post: How To Parent The “Right” Way and Baby Sleep Tips by Brenda Nixon

  16. This is my fifth year of homeschooling. Finding community has been the most difficult thing. We’re in a couple of very large, active homeschool groups (one that has a co-op). But finding friends within that group has not been easy at all. The parents I’ve met so far parent very differently (we are trying to do grace based parenting, whereas punitive parenting and corporal punishment are very popular around here). I know there has to be some out there that I have more in common with.
    I’m trying to work on the other aspects, and I hope that will help me to find a couple of local friends and community.
    Grace’s latest post: sunbutter and chocolate chip no-bake cookies

  17. Crafty Mama says:

    Pretty good article! The only thing I found discouraging was that she said “love for others flows out of love for yourself.” That’s not true at all. Love for others, even love for ourselves, flows out of love for GOD.

    • One interesting thing to consider, Crafty Mama, is why the Bible says that we have to love our neighbour the way we love ourselves? I love your comment!

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