Intentional Mediocrity: A Homeschool Not To Do List ~
Written by Kari Patterson
“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” -GK Chesterton
Okay, this quote doesn’t top the charts of most-inspiring, but this idea has helped me immensely through the last 15 years of motherhood, homeschooling, and juggling the never-ending demands of ministry life.
Like you, I’ve been asked many times: “How do you do it all?”
And my answer is always: “I don’t.”
On those glass-is-half-empty days, when I’m discouraged and my perspective is skewed, I feel as though I don’t do anything well.
Dinner’s made, but it’s chicken and rice again. Laundry’s done, because I no longer fold. Kids finished school because I told Heidi to skip the Base 2 math problems (again). The house is tidied but the sliding glass door has so many smeared handprints I can barely see through it.
But eventually I remind myself of Chesterton’s wisdom and the power of intentional mediocrity.
Truth: We can’t be awesome everywhere.
I remember reading Michael Hyatt’s book Platform years ago, where he teaches the importance of exceeding customer’s expectations, of “baking in the Wow” to every aspect of your business. And I remember writing this realization in my journal that day:
“I can’t be awesome everywhere. I can’t ‘bake in the Wow’ in every area of life.”
Truth: Some things have to be neglected.
Sadly, many people only “bake in the Wow” in the business world, or in the areas of life that are visible to others, but neglect the hidden places, the small people, or the health of their souls. We’re all in danger of mis-prioritizing which areas are worthy of Wow.
We’re wise to give it some consideration so we don’t drop the ball on what really matters.
Our task as parents and home-educators is to thoughtfully and intentionally choose where we will “bake in the Wow” (i.e. focus our attention) and where we will deliberately and confidently choose mediocrity.
If we don’t do this we’ll be enslaved to perfectionism, or convinced we must be failing since not everything is awesome.
One simple exercise that can help: A well-chosen Homeschool Not To Do list.
Of course my priorities will likely be different from yours. There’s freedom, friends! But as a friend sharing with a friend, here’s a bit of what this looks like for me.
Creating a Homeschool Not To Do List
- I don’t extra-clean before company comes over. I keep our house medium. Clean enough that you feel welcome (and aren’t grossed out!) but not so perfect that you’re impressed. My goal is to welcome, not impress.
- I don’t fold laundry, except Jeff’s.
- I don’t work out. Prayer walks alone, hikes with the kids, and house-cleaning have to suffice.
- I don’t make elaborate meals. Simple and healthy, that’s it.
- I don’t try to keep up with fashion, for myself or my house. I try to keep myself and home looking nice with tasteful choices, that’s it. (Side note: I switched to Stitch Fix for this very reason. No more shopping, ever!)
- I don’t cook breakfast or lunch. I keep simple items on hand, and the kids can take care of this themselves.
- I don’t worry a lot about school subjects outside the 3 R’s. Other subjects are electives.
- I don’t watch TV or keep up on news and media much.
Hopefully, this Homeschool Not To Do list helps me focus more on what matters to me most:
- I will listen to my children and others as much as I can, truly seeking to understand them as much as possible.
- I will read, to myself and to my children, excellent books that draw my mind to beauty, courage, and truth.
- I will sleep eight hours a night and observe a 24-hour restful day each week.
- I will spend the extra time and money to create nutritious meals that strengthen our bodies and immune systems.
- I will discipline and train my children to be a blessing to our family and others.
- I will seek to love and serve the people in my immediate sphere — friends, neighbors, church family.
- I will respond to immediate, pressing needs when I’m made aware of them.
- I will follow the FlyLady and clean what she tells me to clean. 😉
Every single one of the things on this latter list is really time-consuming. Listening and seeking to understand others is time-consuming. Taking time to sleep and rest is time-consuming. Cooking nutritious meals is time-consuming. But worth it. Why?
Because it’s also life-giving.
Again, your list will look different from mine, but it can help to actually sit down and figure it out: Where do I want to be intentionally mediocre so I can give myself fully to “bake in the Wow” where it counts?
Perhaps being present with others and listening to them doesn’t seem like a “Wow” thing to do, but you know what? In a world that’s hurting and divided and discouraged, isn’t that what most people, including our children, are longing for?
Let’s bake in the Wow where it matters most.
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