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:
Remind yourself what you really believe
On a good day, I don’t even believe in “not enough,” and I certainly don’t believe in listening to that inner critic. But it’s hard to remember to believe what you believe, sometimes.
I believe in helping my kids know themselves and be themselves, so they can find their own right path. (I believe in knowing who I am, too.) I believe in inspiring curiosity in myself and my kids. I believe in teaching my kids how to find good resources, and giving them tools so they can learn anything they want to learn, forever.
I do not believe we need to be perfect to be enough.
Know your strengths
I do believe in playing to our strengths, and we homeschooling mamas are good at so many things. Owning all the manipulatives, for example. We could manipulative the crud out of your kindergarten math any day of the week.
We are amazing at seeing the field trip potential in any outing, and finding the right book for every occasion, and taking vacations on random days in March or October.
We are also super skilled at comparing what we’re doing to what everyone else is doing. (This is where I get into trouble.)
Everyone else is playing games I do not own and reading books I haven’t read. Everyone else is at a conference I did not attend. Everyone else knows what they’re doing! It’s not even hard for everyone else! I can tell because I follow them on Instagram.
Everyone else might be painting RIGHT NOW.
The critic in my head gets a little bit louder: I’m not doing this right. I’m not doing enough.
I don’t even believe in comparing, because we’re individuals with different needs and strengths and personalities and we all know what we’re supposed to think about comparing. But here we are.
Summer helps, unless it doesn’t
Summer is alternately the best and the worst for all of this.
It’s the best, because everyone’s taking a break. You might as well go ahead and take a break from the worrying, too.
And it’s the worst, because there’s that one mom in a Facebook group whose preschooler is spending the summer learning Greek and Calculus for fun. She probably never worries that she might not be doing things right.
(That’s how comparing works: we compare everything we know about our own lives to the tiny little bits and pieces we can see of everyone else’s. Oddly enough, this hardly ever leaves us feeling affirmed at the core of our being.)
One simple trick for dealing with doubts
I have one tool I use when it’s hard to remember to believe what I believe: I ask myself what I would do if I didn’t feel that twinge of doubt. If today was a day that I woke up confident and sure of myself—what would I do?
Then I practice doing that. (Practice is another thing I believe in.)
If I did not believe in comparing (and I don’t!)—would I be scrolling through Instagram right now? If I believed I was enough (and I do!)—would I be bothered by the ways I don’t measure up? Would I even notice?
I don’t even need this phone! Wait, yes I do. But maybe not for scrolling.
I practice acting as if I was already my very best homeschooling mama self.
(I might also practice sending that inner critic on a summer vacation. It’s worth a try.)
If you are comparing and trying not to, if you are trying so hard to believe what you believe—solidarity, my friend. I am with you.
And in the meantime: we will practice.
What are you practicing today, friends?
P.S. – If you want to practice making things simpler this summer, I’d love to send you a free copy of my Simpler Summer Guide. You’ll get three questions and fifty ideas for making life simpler, all summer long.