You think that in two decades I would make exponential progress in the area of giving myself grace when it comes to schedules and school. You’d think I would have pushed those ideals off of their pedestal. Some days I leapfrog forward and sail through with God’s peace and joy as my companions. Other days,
When I began my homeschool journey, I didn’t know anyone who homeschooled. I was alone and frantic. I wasn’t sure what I should or shouldn’t do when it came to doing school at home. Should we have a schoolroom? Should we sit at desks? Where those important parts of education? Was it okay to accomplish everything one day and not the next?
I met a few families during the first year and that just seemed to put more pressure on me. These families were clean and well coordinated. The kids wore khakis and polos. My youngest son wore the same shirt with a _____ on it, all the time. My eldest daughter preferred boy’s tennis shoes to girls and liked her hair kept short. My middle daughter wore dresses all the time and thought she lived in a musical production, all the time. She had breakdowns if her hair-bows and socks didn’t coordinate.
When these other moms talked about schedule, the importance of this textbook, that curriculum, I just wanted to hide under a table. Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know who Charlotte Mason was or Kathy Duffy, Sally Clarkson or fill in the blank.
I went home from events with other homeschooling moms determined to schedule better, to get it all done and find out who they were talking about. I began a round of re-educating myself. Most of the process was great, except for one thing. I put my schedule, my schooling on a pedestal. I thought if I did all the right things, at all the right times and read the right books, my kids would be well educated. I could pat myself on the back.
It backfired. When I had my schedule on the altar, when I worshiped it, checking the time, plowing through when the kids were frustrated, when I was tired and no one was learning anything, my sticky-noted schedule became my frenemy. It could have been my friend, but I let it push me around, just like those feelings of inferiority I got when I listened to those more seasoned homeschoolers talk. They weren’t trying to make me feel badly, I did that all by myself.
I am waking up in a panic.
After all these years? My baseboards have to be clean to start school?
I was working on my schedule for school today and I told myself, after I started getting worried about whether I could do it every day or not, if I can do it all two days, three days, a week…isn’t that better than not doing it at all? When I say “it all” I mean everything on my schedule, all the school subjects, perfectly completed by joyful, compliant children. All the chores accomplished. Baseboards sparkling. Kitchen shiny. Errands run. Pantry full. Doctors appointments, meetings and practiced attended with nary a whine by child or parent. Check. Check. Check. Check.
In my dreams. Reality is more like chores somewhat finished most days. Load of towels in the washer too long. Run it again. Clean up the kitchen most of the time. School subjects worked through completely some days, other days we chuck it and go for a real life field trip.
I’ve studied some of the works of the names mentioned above. I’ve changed my philosophy of education. It’s been tweaked, but I am the same person who wants to do everything, every day, perfectly.
So, give yourself some grace. You may hit some weeks where you do all the stuff every day and then you have that under your belt for when you can only hit two good days one week.
It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence to keep going. It’s about what you have under your belt, not what you don’t. It’s about grace in the journey, educating your child and enjoying the trip.