It's a beautiful spring day here in the Midwest. The windows are open, and the coffee is hot. The newly installed bird feeders are full of life and color. Life free from thinking (as much) about school for a few weeks has done my heart a lot of good. Last year was a year of a lot of lessons learned the hard way, so I thought I'd share some of my experience.
This summer my goal is to slow down. A friend recently sent me a blog post about wanting to have a summer from the 50's. I grew up in the 80's, and I'm pretty sure it was just as good. I remember being outside with friends until the streetlights went on, and my dad would whistle for us to come back home. There were long days swimming in the lake. There were mud pies and baseball games. I want to slow down like that. I want enough room to breathe. I want to remember why we homeschool. I want to be true to our family's mission to nurture relationships with God and one another. I want long and lazy days filled with warmth. I want fresh food from the farmer's market and to share my table and couch with good friends.
Last summer I was in a flurry of re-planning. It was honestly a royal waste of time. I went into this past year harried, worn out, and that was the furthest thing from my goal. I've thought about last year a lot over the past few weeks. If any of you want to know what not to do, ditch all your plans and start over. I think I may have lost my mind temporarily. I had planned all of our school year, and then I completely ditched all of my plans for both boys. I mean...Can someone say midlife crisis? I finally re-found my way about halfway through the year, but please don't be me. Just don't.
Sometimes we homeschoolers are guilty of doing too much research (I am probably more guilty than most.) We check out all the options - There are far too many these days. While having options is a wonderful thing it can often lead to becoming easily discontented. If we have a bad day we blame the curriculum when sometimes it's as simple as the hormones having had their way, too little sleep, or even low blood sugar. Last year I stepped away from something familiar to try my hand at planning everything. At first it was a lot of fun, but as the year rolled on I realized I had worn myself out with all the decisions and that we weren't having as much fun as in years' past.
None of how I was feeling had anything to do with the curriculum I chose or the one I didn't choose. It had all to do with my heart. I listened to too many voices. If you are looking for critics you will find them. If you look for the positive voices, you will find those too. I made the mistake of listening to the critics instead of listening to my own family's personal experience. Often times we are reading reviews from families we will never meet, who have children that are not anything like ours, and they are nothing like us as moms. Listening to too many voices is confusing. They cause you to question everything and you then forget the reason you are doing this whole homeschool gig to begin with.
By the way, you don't have to live exactly according to the homeschool philosophy you love. You may not look like the perfect Charlotte Mason homeschooler. I know, I know. They take beautiful pictures of nature romps through mashes and forest. Who doesn't want all those beautiful experiences for their kids? I know I do. I'll tell you a secret though: The pictures we bloggers take are just snapshots of events that may have taken 30 seconds. You have the same snapshots written on your heart even if you don't have the digital file. You may not look like the perfect classical homeschooler either. You might never fit in every Shakespeare tragedy and comedy (though I absolutely adore Shakespeare.) That's ok. Live according to your season and your family. To thine own self be true. None of us have to look the same, and no way is the "right" way.
And guess what? God cares. He knows that you won't settle for less than the best for the kids you love so dearly. He knows you and them better than you can even know yourselves. I was truly feeling myself going into the same crazy mode for the coming year. I took a different approach and really prayed. He was gracious. He listened, and He guided me. Take a deep breath sister. There is someone on your side, and He will walk you through all of this if you ask.
So for the record, I know you are doing the best you can. I know it because most homeschoolers I meet are all-in kind of gals (and guys.) You didn't get into this thinking "Oh let me just be mediocre and do a half apple job." No. I know you love your kids as much as I do. So here's a pat on the back. Job well done. Can I just give you permission to take it easy for a while? Take some time to rest. Really. Pray for guidance. Stop searching for the perfect fit. There isn't one by the way. Make everything your own. Adjust where necessary. Let go of perfection. There really is no such thing (just in case you didn't already know.)
Love and peace to you from my corner of the woods <3