I came across a podcast yesterday that encouraged listeners to think back to three years ago and imagine what it would be like to have a meaty conversation with themselves.
I briefly imagined the conversation with myself, but I didn’t put too much thought into it while I was sauteing onions and loading the dishwasher. It wasn’t until bedtime that I was flooded with thoughts on what I’d say to the homeschool mom I was three years ago.
I don’t know where all of it came from, but I found myself quickly reaching for my phone and capturing the following in Evernote.
Dear Me: An Open Letter to the Homeschool Mom I Used to Be
You are making some amazing things happen around the table each day. Seriously, you’ve settled into your groove when it comes to routines, curriculum choices, educational philosophy, and all the things that go along with homeschooling. I know you thought you’d never get to this point, but you’re there!
Since you’ve worked so hard to make it to a good place, I want to remind you to keep your eyes on the prize.
Some distractions are around the corner and, while they’re not bad things, they’ll jeopardize that sweet progress you’ve made. Consider this your friendly heads up on a few things that are coming your way.
The Kids Will Grow Up
The kids are growing up. I know you’re expecting it to happen, but you may feel blindsided when it becomes more obvious. You see, although it’s a gradual process for the kids, you may not notice it while you’re working through your day-to-day routine.
That kid needing your help to make it through every. little. thing. on your homeschool planner isn’t always going to need you for all the things. Enjoy it while it lasts, be present in the moment, and prepare your heart for the shifting. You’ll always play a crucial part in all of this home education, but it’s not always going to look the same.
Oh, and all that growing up may also involve outgrowing some beloved curriculum. It may be surprisingly devastating, but there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about that favorite science curriculum ending in 6th grade.
You’ll be forced to try new things and it’s going to be tough to find something to fill that void. Prepare yourself (and your kid who dislikes change) in advance. Sometimes changes can’t be avoided and you’ve got to be ready to roll with them when they show up.
Stick with What Works
Speaking of curriculum and changes, some incredible new choices will show up and they’ll even arrive with a hashtag. Hashtag or not, there’s no reason to feel pressured to make a switch when your current curriculum works well.
You tell the kids frequently that we don’t buy things because they exist; we buy things that meet a need. Don’t forget your own words when you start hearing your friends and mentors singing the praises of the latest thing.
There will be no doubt that the latest thing is good — a few minutes looking through hashtag results will confirm its merits — but learning of a good curriculum will never be reason enough to leave what’s tried and true. (Note: that statement works outside the homeschool realm also.)
Think about it: if you get sucked in and buy the latest thing, you’re taking a risk that could negatively impact the kids. If you don’t need to change courses, don’t. That latest thing is a be-all, end-all solution for a problem you don’t have.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying the solution to someone else’s problems. Stick with what’s working in your homeschool and leave the hashtag alone.
You’ve Got to Have Community
Keep going to the homeschool co-op. I know it’s exhausting and doesn’t always feel like it’s worthy of the time you sacrifice to participate, but you need it more than you realize.
Church friends and neighbors aren’t enough. That co-op is your opportunity to look across the table at other parents who truly understand the joys and challenges of homeschooling. It’s also where you’ll make some of your best friends.
Speaking of friends, your kids need to be with others that know what it’s like to not “go” to school. Books, TV, neighbors, and strangers will (sometimes stupidly) imply that they’re missing something important by being homeschooled.
They need other homeschoolers in their lives just as much, if not more, than you do as a homeschooling parent. I’ve seen what it’s like for you and the kids when there’s no homeschool community and it’s no good.
The kids will smile and say they’re okay without the added effort needed for maintaining homeschool community, but they crave solid relationships with others who get them. For you, that’s nurtured through the homeschool co-op. Do whatever you need to do to make it happen.
Stay the Course
You’ve got this. Really, you’re doing so much better than you think you are. Sure, you’re a generally confident, efficient, and capable person, but even you have moments of doubt. Even you have those times when you think you can’t possibly be doing enough.
Hear me loud and clear on this one: it’s absolutely enough. What you’re doing from day to day may seem so small, but it adds up to a pretty spectacular big picture. I can’t wait for you to see it yourself. Until then, stay the course and stay in your lane.
What about you? What would you write if you were doing this exercise? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.