Written by Kara Anderson.
I am not the first, nor will I be the last homeschooler with a few years of experience to say that February can be a really hard month.
A lot of us tend to get off track. As parents we doubt ourselves. Our kids seem extra stir-crazy.
But this February, my family got waaaay off track.
Like miles and miles off track.
Like if it were on an actual train that had been headed to say, Alaska, we instead rode it to Maine and then crashed into the ocean.
Surrounded by ice and confused lobsters, I wanted to give up.
That’s just silliness, but here’s what really happened:
First, we took a trip. Which was supposed to be a good thing. And it was!
But we returned on a Sunday, and I had surgery that Wednesday.
I’m pretty sure I still had sand on my feet and saltwater in my hair when they wheeled me into the OR.
(Also, I was hyperventilating.)
I thought it would take me a few days to bounce back from my procedure, but by the second week, I could feel myself fighting a dark cloud. Everything was a mess – the house, laundry, meal planning…
School was a disaster, unless you count lots of hours of Minecraft and Harvest Moon.
I still felt crummy.
(Some surgery complications …)
I wondered briefly if I would get back to myself at all.
One day, I got so frustrated that I decided to clean our school shelf and I ended up in bed for three hours in intense pain.
It was probably the lowest point we’ve had in a really long time school-wise, and if I am being honest, no magical switch has clicked yet. We’re still fighting our way back from it.
Here’s what that looks like right now:
- We are just moving slowly. Sloooowly. Like snail parade … or a sloth conga line. The house is still kind of a mess. We aren’t doing a ton of schoolwork each day. We have cut back on everything but the absolute necessities.
- We bought some new stuff. I have heard, and you probably have too, that this is never a good solution to homeschool overwhelm. But we didn’t spend a lot. We didn’t throw out a whole curriculum and start a new one. We just bought a couple of new things to make school sort of different and novel and interesting again and to allow my kids to work a little more independently for a bit.
- I am trying very, very hard to take my own advice and not try to fix it all at once. Meal planning is still a mess. A lot of people still haven’t gotten their Girl Scout cookies. It’s amazing how little clean laundry you really need to get by. Turns out they sell underwear everywhere.
- I’ve switched my perspective. Ready for this? We “took February off.” We will homeschool into the summer. Or maybe we’ll start back a month early. I am giving myself permission to write off February and instead focus on the future.
- My kids were still learning, by the way. In fact, all of our “time off” gave my kids a chance to discover and pursue some new passions – Alcatraz! Cake Decorating classes! Free, unstructured time will do that.
- I’m also focusing on getting better before I try to do more. Good idea, right? It took me a whole month to think of it, but after a Mommy Meltdown it became really clear – school is not going to go well or be successful if I am doubled over in pain. It just doesn’t work.
- As we begin again, I am finding so much wonderful inspiration out there – this scope from Julie Bogart. Jamie’s recommendation to buy this planner. Good books. More time for art. The chance to get outside again.
And every day, we get a little closer to where I wish we were. It isn’t perfect, but it’s real life, and my kids have become very skilled at making tea, plumping pillows and telling me again and again that it’s going to be okay, and that I should take my time and take care of myself.
So I guess this month I’ve learned a lot too, which proves that even in challenging circumstance, we really just can’t stop learning.
Have you ever had a season when your homeschool got way off track? How did you deal with it?