More importantly don’t look back or at least try not to look back too often, with too critical an eye. And please don’t compare yourself with others, or even with yourself, if you can resist the temptation.
They say that February is Homeschool Burnout Month. I know for a fact that most years I would come to a point where the keep on keeping on would become more challenging. Some years were worse than others, but I think for most of my homeschooling years I would arrive at a point, always in the dead of winter, where I struggled to some extent with discouragement and feeling overwhelmed with what I’d set my hand to. Homeschooling. It sure does take a big chunk of life doesn’t it? Imagine what you could be doing if the little ones were in school? No, on second thought, better not go there!
Remember those nicely laid out plans that you hovered over for weeks last summer, crossing every t and dotting every i? It’s now February. How many of your plans are still intact? If you are anything at all like I was then a whole bunch of the original plans were laid aside thanks to life. Children were born (or grandchildren!) sickness struck child or mother, books were more difficult than expected, too many books were scheduled than were realistic to include, too many interruptions occurred, etc and etc, and it threw off those best laid plans of yours.
It’s February and you’re on week such and such in history, but 2 weeks behind in literature or geography. So what week are you on?? You’ve only read through half of the Shakespeare play and not a single word of the current life of Plutarch has been read by or to anyone. Math is going slower than you expected since those pesky concepts are struggling to be understood … and the children are having trouble with them too! The narrations haven’t been as consistent as you would have liked. And the science experiments? They were scheduled but they just weren’t done! And nature study? It’s so cold! You have trouble getting out regularly in September, let alone in February.
Everywhere you turn you see defeat. And that can be discouraging! And that contributes to burnout. Am I doing a good enough job, you ask yourself? Will I ever really get a handle on this? Will a year ever go exactly as I planned, or a term, or a week, or even a day?
If you are at all introspective you have asked yourself questions like these. You want to do the best job ever and you know you fall short. Ask me how I know this!
Homeschool mother, I want to encourage you. I want to come along beside you and encourage you to keep on keeping on. Please don’t judge your success as a homeschool mother by what’s been accomplished … or not … so far this year. Don’t even look back to last year, especially if you’re feeling discouraged, if you’re remembering all that you wanted to do but didn’t! We are so unrelentingly hard on ourselves. Please resist that urge to find fault.
You need to see the Big Picture. But while you’re homeschooling the Big Picture is often not very clear. You may need to see the Big Picture with the eyes of faith.
You will make mistakes. You will drop the ball. You will get sick and tired (both literally and figuratively) of homeschooling. You will feel like a failure at times.
The good news, that I’m here to tell you, is your perception of how things are going is not always accurate. And while you may not see “proof” of a job well done by the end of the week I am pretty sure you will see it down the road! I certainly did!
So many times I didn’t follow through as I should have, allowed narrations to be lost in the shuffle, skipped books that later I wished I hadn’t, missed opportunities that didn’t come again. But you know what? It all turned out in the end! God, in His mercy, worked out the finer details in my children’s education.
Today I look at the end product, after years of homeschooling using Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online as my guides … never perfectly implementing either the method or the curriculum. And still it all turned out.
Both of my daughters love history, love to read, appreciate beauty and nature, talk fondly of books we shared together. There is a depth to them, a thought-fullness about them. The rich Charlotte Mason education they received shows, even if it wasn’t implemented 100% perfectly!
The thing is we can’t always see all the learning that’s happening and if we judge our success or failure only by what we can see today we’re doing ourselves a great disservice.
So try, if you can, to remember there’s a much bigger picture going on than what you can see in front of you at this moment.
Do the best you can, forgive yourself when you fail, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Keep on keeping on!