It’s no secret that comparison is a thief of joy. That’s true in all of areas of life, including homeschooling. We all know that nothing good comes from comparing our homeschools, yet too often we spend our days drowning in homeschool comparison and looking for that next surefire thing that will magically bring us up to some self-imposed standard.
I’m not a “fun” homeschool mom. You’d come to that realization pretty quickly after scrolling through my Instagram feed. Sure, you’ll see lots of books, art, and scenes from our time outside, but you won’t find a lot of jazzy activities and “magical” experiences in our day-to-day homeschool life. I’m not that mom and that’s not our homeschool.
Embracing My Homeschool Reality
We read poetry, but rarely with a cup of tea in hand, much less a table full of treats and candles. If I had to buy baked goods or make a cake in order to create the right atmosphere for poetry reading, we’d NEVER do it.If I had to buy baked goods or make a cake in order to create the right atmosphere for poetry reading, we'd NEVER do it.
We do a project here and there, but usually a week or two after they show up in the curriculum. I’d cry if I had to facilitate a science experiment every day. Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for a co-op that handles all of this for me?
And games? We have learning games, but they don’t show up too often in the course of a typical homeschool day. They’re not my Plan A or really even my Plan B. They’re more likely to show up on a sick day or a day when we’ve got lots of non-homeschool stuff happening.
Then there’s reading. I love reading aloud and do it daily, but I’ve already got a hundred podcast episodes waiting in my queue at any given time. As much as I’d like to, I can’t rely on a podcast — even a fantastic one — to tell me which books are the must-reads. If I did, I’d never read aloud because it would take me forever to listen to the podcasts, sift through the suggestions, obtain the books, and then do whatever fun activity is included to go along with it.
Letting Go of Homeschool Comparison
Y’all, I can’t set the table for tea, conduct an experiment in the kitchen, have a craft project going on in the living room, all while preparing to work through our next math lesson. I can’t pencil all of that in over the course of a week, much less a day. I’m not wired that way and I’m okay with that now that we’re nine years into our homeschool journey.
I’m not saying that any of these aren’t worth my time or yours. They’re wonderful things to do. What I am saying here is that all of these wonderful things shouldn’t be pursued simply because you’ve been scrolling and get the feeling you’re doing it all wrong because these aren’t a part of your homeschool life. These things are solutions and suggestions, but not a bar that’s been set for you and me. That’s why there’s no reason to feel less than for not utilizing them in your homeschool.
You see, I’ve seen the good and bad that happens while keeping up with the Joneses and their amazing Instagram feeds. I’ve also learned how to shut down all the homeschool FOMO (fear of missing out) that often comes when friends are talking about the latest and greatest things they’re using and doing in their homeschools.
Most importantly, I’ve learned the value of saying goodbye to homeschool comparison and the joy that comes through loving the homeschool I have.
When comparison tries to sneak in and derail my homeschool days, I remind myself of the following:
Being different is normal
When I start to feel a little overwhelmed by the homeschool hype, I remind myself that it’s okay to be different. We’ve all had conversations with our kids to help them understand how their differences make them special and wonderful; maybe it’s time for us to let those words sink in to our own hearts.
I enjoy homeschooling my kids and sincerely treasure this time we have together. There are some incredible things that happen around my table and in my floor each day. But here’s the thing: you’ve got incredible things happening in your homeschool each day also. Your awesome things don’t have to look like my awesome things.
It’s okay that we all have different homeschools and it makes perfect sense that we would. After all, we’re all different people with different backgrounds in different situations homeschooling different children with different needs. Why on earth would we stress out if our homeschools aren’t the same?
Good isn’t always good enough
STEM activities, read-alouds, morning baskets, art projects, poetry teatime, and learning games: all of these are good things. In fact, they can be great things that help you accomplish all the things you’d like to do. While I believe wholeheartedly that you can and should make room for the things that resonate with your homeschool goals, I also know that you can’t do everything all the time.
Not only can you not do it all, you can’t say yes to all the things. With every yes you give, you also say no. There’s always a cost because, like it or not, we only have so many hours each day and all 24 of them can’t be spent homeschooling.
When we say yes to the good things, we often do so at the expense of our educational goals, our homes, our non-homeschool family life, and even our personal downtime. If we’re not careful, we can say yes to so many good things that we work ourselves ragged and exhaust our kids in the name of learning.
That’s why we spread the feast of learning thoughtfully and intentionally. We all have to make decisions about what matters most for our families, our children, and our homeschools. And sometimes that means that we have to say no to the good things so we can savor what’s great.
Be a cheerleader
Love what’s happening in someone else’s homeschool? Celebrate it with them! It’s awesome to celebrate with your homeschooling friends and be happy for the success they’re having.
Better still, there’s nothing wrong with being excited about new curriculum options or a swoon-worthy homeschool room makeover. I’m definitely thankful for this because I like learning of and sharing information about homeschool resources.
And homeschool rooms? I don’t have one right now, but you better believe I’ve got all kinds of lovely ideas stashed on Pinterest for our next one.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind: you can be happy for someone and excited about what they’re doing without second guessing what’s happening in your own homeschool. Leave yourself out of the equation and cheer them on from the sidelines! A cheerleader mindset allows you to encourage and lift up a friend without making it about yourself or questioning what’s working for you.
Celebrate YOUR wins
Lastly, when homeschool comparison starts to creep in, I look for the wins. I’m not suggesting that all of our homeschool moments are made up of sunshine and rainbows, but the simple act of celebrating goes a long way in reminding me of why we love homeschooling.
There’s lots of good happening, but sometimes it takes this intentional reflection to see it all. It reminds me that all the small moments, — the great books, the conversations about history, the watercolor projects, the nature walks, interest-led learning, and all the rest — these all add up to something big and beautiful.
When I look back at the last week or month and celebrate all we’ve accomplished, I’m reminded to stay in my lane and appreciate my kids for all that they contribute to our homeschool life. What’s more is that I’m reminded of why I love the homeschool I have and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What about you? What helps you to love your actual homeschool and let go of homeschool comparison?