Written by Sheila Petruccelli of Sure as the World
The last time I wrote a guest post for Simple Homeschool, I wrote about setting an intention to start the new year. I touched on our current year’s theme of “setting sail” and briefly mentioned our arrival in “unchartered waters.”
Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of the story. Shortly after that post was published, we found ourselves completely shipwrecked.
I have homeschooled my boys from the beginning, and I am very well acquainted with the ups and downs of living and learning under the same roof — all day, every day. I know there are good years and not-so-good years.
But this … this was different. Nothing was working.
When I could catch my breath, get quiet and be honest with myself, I had to acknowledge the dread I felt in the pit of my stomach every morning.
Somewhere along the line, I had lost my joy.
There was yelling – crazy yelling. There were mid-morning phone calls to my husband that became so frequent, he admitted to watching the clock and gritting his teeth around 11 a.m. everyday.
It was not pretty. Not pretty at all. I’m embarrassed to say this went on for much too long. I was stuck in a downward spiral that seemed to have no end.
Until, one day it stopped. Or to be more accurate, I stopped. Right in the middle of our semester, I stopped teaching. I knew I needed to recapture (and maybe? perhaps? even refine and redefine) the reasons we started homeschooling in the first place.
It wasn’t a question of stopping homeschooling all together. Sending them to school never entered the equation. (Well except for that Tuesday morning in October. LOL)
I wanted my boys home with me. I wanted to homeschool.
But I also wanted a sense of joy to permeate our days. I knew things had to change. And more than that, I knew I had to change.
I ate more than my share of humble pie last year. Things I said I would never do? I did. Things that I thought would never happen? They happened.
As I began to let go what didn’t serve me or my boys, my joy began to come back with the tiniest of baby steps.
I am just starting to put words around the lessons learned from this “grace year” – which actually, as I look ahead, is turning into “grace years.”
Ahem. Humble pie? Yes, I would love another slice.
Here is what I can tell you:
1. Be the change you want to see.
At one particular low point, I asked myself the deceptively simple question, “What do you want?”
I was surprised by the answer I wrote down in my journal:
“I want to create an environment of creative, intentional learning between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon.”
Wow! Looking at that statement I realized two things:
#1 Creativity and intentionality were paramount.
#2 I wanted some boundaries.
For these things to take hold, I knew I had to do more than want them. I had to own them.
Before I could bring these qualities to my boys and to our homeschooling in any real and meaningful way, I needed to bring them to myself. This was going to take awhile …
2. Be honest. Brutally honest. Especially with yourself.
Admitting I wanted more from my days than solely homeschooling initially felt like abject failure. This was not logical, but it was true.
Once I could voice this need, I had a place to channel that angsty energy. Turns out, I wanted to go back to school myself. (Oh, the irony.)
3. Be a curious observer in your own home.
When I could begin to let go of a little bit of the blame I was piling on myself, I could finally begin to ask the question: “What is working?”
Two things: Friday Filmstrip (Basically, Netflix and You Tube documentaries that we watched on Friday mornings.)
And afternoon Story Time (Audio books from the library or Audible.)
So for a good three months, we scrapped everything else I had planned.
I quelled the trepidation by telling myself that my relationship with my boys was more important than anything else.
4. Be where you are.
This was perhaps the hardest lesson – because, honestly, I wanted to be anywhere else than where I was. At one point, I defined this period as “treading water.”
A reader on my blog, kindly reframed this as “floating.” Floating felt much better.
5. Be brave.
Have you ever found yourself at this sort of desperate point with homeschooling? What steps did you take to bring back joy?