Written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things
As if I hadn’t procrastinated starting our homeschool year until the latest possible moment anyway… we had a doozy of a first day back this year.
It’s almost like the new school year set out to mock me right from the get-go. It’s a year I’ve entered into with much trepidation (in an nutshell: an eighth grader, sixth grader, fifth grader, potty-training 3-year old, twin two-year olds… and a partridge in a pear tree).
It was 8:30am on our first day of the new year. I was pulling the twins out of the dishwasher, scolding a child for a sassy attitude, and barking orders at my kids to finish their chores and get to the table- STAT- so we could get going with our day.
(Right, so… it was not my best parenting moment. Ahem.)
Then I heard him yell.
He doesn’t usually yell- and certainly not like that, so it caught me off guard. I high-tailed it up to my bedroom to find my husband on the floor, stiff as a board, face contorted in pain.
“I…. can’t….. I can’t….. move,” he said between strained breaths, “…at all.”
And things more or less unravelled from there. My husband spent the rest of the morning on the floor and the entire afternoon at the ER.
He’s better now, thankfully, but as for my vision for our homeschool on the first day back?
It isn’t the first time I’ve had a homeschooling day fall apart on me, of course. We’ve had lots of crummy days over the years, but something about this being the FIRST day back for the year? It seemed symbolic.
I really, really hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come.
So far, it hasn’t been. Our last little string of homeschooling days have gone rather well, actually. But I know another hard day is right around the corner. I know it because I’ve been at this long enough to know that they aren’t rare.
Hard days are both reliable and unpredictable, which makes them unbelievably maddening.
So what is a harried homeschooling mama to do when the day starts to fall apart?
If we know these kinds of days are going to barge in and unsettle our best-laid plans, is there anything we can do to temper them when we seem them coming? To save a homeschooling day before it goes completely and utterly to pot?
I’ve asked a whole lot of experienced homeschooling moms that very question over the years, and for the most part, they all say a variation of the same thing:
When the waters get rough, focus on what matters most, and just do that.
Just do more of the best things in your homeschool while simultaneously decreasing (or eliminating) the busywork and fluff.
Well doesn’t that just sound splendid.
I can practically hear you through the screen: Ummmm….. Sarah? I don’t need trite advice. I need to know what the best time and energy investments in my homeschool actually are!
I know. 🙂
If you’re anything like me, on some of your worst days, you’ve wished you could ask your favorite homeschooling experts what exactly they mean by “what matters most.”
You wish you could call up Andrew Pudewa, Susan Wise Bauer, Andrew Kern, Sonja Shafer, Julie Bogart, or Rea Berg, and beg them to tell you just ONE thing to help you get clear on what’s most important— to give you just one little nugget that would help you simplify your homeschool day.
So. I asked them for you.
(I asked some of my other favorites, too.)
I collected all of their answers into this handy little free download for you, so you could print it out and put it in your notebook. You can look at it every day and know that you aren’t crazy, you aren’t failing, and you don’t need to overcomplicate this homeschooling gig.
You just need to focus on what matters most. And while each of these experts say that, they also tell you what they think those bare essentials are. They tell you what, as far as they can see, matters most.
Go ahead, download it real quick. I’ll wait. 🙂
Because in order to be a peaceful homeschooling mom- one who has razor sharp focus on what matters most in her own family’s homeschool- your actual day (even your worst one!) needs to be in alignment with your deeply held values. That’s going to look a little different for each of us, but the important thing to remember is this:
You are enough. You, with all your flaws, shortcomings, worries and doubts. You’ve got everything you need to be the kind of homeschooling mama you were meant to be.
So am I.
So I’m thinking we should spend a wee bit of time here at the beginning of the school year getting crystal clear on what we’re going to do when the day starts to unravel.
And we should remember that if you don’t check all the boxes on those pretty lesson plans… if we can’t manage to make our real homeschool look remotely as delightful and lovely as it does inside our head…
It will be okay.
We can do this.
Focus on what matters most… and just do that.
What would you say matters most in your homeschool?