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
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
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.
- On developing a vision: 10 questions to ask & answer about your family
- On year-round schooling: Why we school year round
- On burnout: Signs of mommy burnout & tips to help you avoid it
- On learning to dream: You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You by Holley Gerth
How do you conquer the fear and the funk of homeschooling?