Imagine a bear trap closing on a human leg, bone crunching, blood spurting, immeasurable pain. Not to mention being stuck. Stuck in pain. Stuck in one place until someone comes and releases you from the trap.
What does a bear trap have to do with homeschooling? What doesn’t work for me is the comparison trap. It’s a lot like a bear trap. It’s buried, you don’t see it, but once you get caught in it, you are stuck and in immeasurable pain.
Four of my children are adopted and had traumatic beginnings. When they came home, their emotional ages and physical ages didn’t match up. Their development was delayed and each of them had some learning challenges, all of that topped with learning a new language. On a scholastic number line, they were in the negative.
Comparing a kid to a standard one size fits all is like walking around with a bear trap attached to your calf. It drains the lifeblood right out of you.
I Was a Late bloomer
One night at the dinner table, Rafal shared that a boy in his Royal Ranger troop isn’t athletic and the commander encourages him along.
“I wasn’t that athletic as a child,” I replied.
“You weren’t?” he asked incredulously.
He was surprised. I roller blade, ice skate, swim, climb around on rocks with my kids. I’m still not coordinated, but don’t tell him.
I was a late bloomer. While my sister was ready to train for the Olympics in gymnastics, I was doing what I did best at the time- stumbling and falling on my face a lot!
“What did you do back then?” he asked.
“Well, I was little and skinny. So I RAN. AWAY, mostly from other kids.” Laughter.
AGes and Stages
Kids are growing through ages and stages at different rates. Who they are or what they are doing now does not determine who they will become unless we compare and verbally point out what we see as delays. Get help for your special needs child if you need to. Talk to experienced moms, but don’t rehearse the delays in front of him. I have taken classes, attended workshops on speech therapy and various seminars to help me teach my children. I want my children to reach their potential. I am saying CELEBRATE their victories.
If Susie next door wins the regional spelling bee and your child through equal time and effort can spell ten words, then don’t compare. CELEBRATE!
If your child participates in the Social Studies Fair and speaks in front of the judges with tears streaming down her face because of social anxiety. She did it afraid. CELEBRATE!
If all the high schoolers at Co-op are taking A.P. courses and your child took two years to complete Algebra I, but he conquered it. CELEBRATE!
Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap. It’s a painful place to be, instead enjoy each age and stage your children are in!
Thinking about homeschooling? Or maybe you started homeschooling recently after pulling your kids out of public/private school. Maybe you are wondering if your transition is natural or you feel alone? Lori and Kathleen talk about their experience with the transition, such as leaving behind old ideas about what education really is. Grab a cup of coffee and join us for this episode that was listener requested!
I met Lori at the Mom’s Tea I hosted once a week where we drank coffee and cried. This was a place where Moms could talk about what was going on in their lives. We mostly said, “me too”.We did studies together, but often went off on tangents.
The lessons: Everyone needs a support system.
It’s okay to cry.
Find someone who has been homeschooling for a while.
Your ideas about what education looks like may change.
One of the myths about homeschooling is that your kids will always love it.
Summer is winding down. Many of our kids have already started school. On our Whole House lives, we have been talking a lot about back to school. We long for schedule after the lack of it all summer. Some of us love the boundaries of schedule, we leap in with planners in hand ready to feel in control of our lives again. School begins. Activities and sports pick back up. Our volunteer positions need us again. We begin the year with anticipation and excitement for new beginnings like a fresh, blank sheet of paper to write on. So, why do we feel so exhausted?
The season is changing meaning our lives are changing. Even when there are good changes, it can bring on exhaustion. Good excitatory stress can cause exhaustion just as well as what we consider bad stress. The beginning of the school year or new season in our lives is a bit of both. How do we combat this exhaustion? How can we keep it from ruling our lives and ruining our days?
Keep some in the tank. This is one I struggle with daily. I would rather ignore the daily stress and my body’s signals and keep going. How about you? When I have energy, I spend it three times over, overextending what my body can handle. When I do this, my tank is empty when I quit working for the day. The better thing to do (which I am practicing) is keeping some in the tank. You know the old saying “stop while you’re ahead’? Apply that here. Don’t stay up until 11pm reading just because you can when you have to get up at 5:30am. You don’t have to be falling asleep on the couch in order for it to be time for you to go to bed. Some nights I get in bed at 8:30 *Gasp*. I may read for an hour and then go to sleep. Maybe you can’t go to bed early, but you can keep some in the tank. You can take little breaks throughout the day to access how you are doing. Take fifteen minutes and just sit (maybe while your kiddos watch a show or play with play doh or nap) and just relax. Don’t pick your phone up, that’s a stressor in itself. Listen to your body. Breathe. Relax.
Is it physical or mental exhaustion? When starting the school year or getting back into a writing schedule, there is a different kind of exhaustion. It’s mental. It’s worse than physical in some ways because I feel like I can’t do anything. The best cure for mental exhaustion? Some good old fashioned physical exercise. It’s tempting not to exercise because of exhaustion. I’ve fallen into that trap a time or two, then my body demands a long nap every day. That just makes me feel more exhausted. It’s wise to get to know our own bodies and what kind of exhaustion we are feeling so we can treat it properly. The remedy for mental exhaustion is a break from thinking and some exercise. Try a short walk around your house if you can’t work out for an hour. I take mini treadmill breaks through out the day or just walk around the yard, weather permitting. You don’t have to have hours to do a workout to move. Just move and give your brain a break.
Give yourself time to adjust to the new schedule. If you are reading this and exhaustion is ruling your live and you think you will never adjust, give yourself some grace. It’s tough to adjust to new mental and physical activity. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your family. Some things can be set aside for a season. If you are trying to adjust to doing school with your kids or their new activities, it’s okay if you don’t vacuum up all those grass clippings around your front door right away (true story). It’s okay if some things are put on the back burner for a while. Friend, we can’t do everything perfectly, so let’s pick the most important things and to them well.
I hope these little tips have helped you today adjust to a new season. Do you have a good tip to stave off exhaustion? Please share it! We’d love to hear it.
This time of year is stressful enough. Kids are starting back to school. Families resume their homeschooling schedule. But how do you handle the beginning of the school year when your kid is out adulting?
Maybe you graduated your child and he is off to college or starting a new job. Whatever the case, when a child is leaving the nest, it is stressful. We are proud of our kiddos, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grieve. After my eldest went off to college, I had a reprieve of four years before I graduated five in a row!
So here are my tips on handling your kids adulting. I don’t know it all, and you may have some great tips too!
It’s okay to cry. Better to do this alone, though. We don’t want our kids to get entangled in our feelings. It’s better if they see us rejoicing with them over this next stage.
Make sure you have something meaningful to do. We moms put our kids first. Often, we are so consumed with raising them that we forget to be a person. Invest time in other pursuits now, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. When your kids grow up, you can expand your purpose. Maybe you start writing a few paragraphs a day or dabbling in photography or [you fill in the blank].
Invest in other women. When your kiddos are mostly grown, you have some time to follow the Biblical instruction for the older women:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
We don’t like to use the word “old” or “older.” How about “more mature” and “with more life experience?” Whatever you want to call yourself, now is your chance to say, “I get it. Me too!” to those younger moms.
4. Invest in others, period. I remember the days when I walked around in a stupor. I changed one diaper after another. I read stories, made meals, and cleaned up afterwards. Then one evening, I sat on the couch and realized that all my kids were off doing other things, from part-time jobs to extracurricular activities. I could breathe. I could think. This also began the season of being able to invest in others. My niche is the foster/adoptive world. Yours may be different. Find out what your outreach is and invest in it.
5. Go to your child. Don’t expect them to come to you. When your child is out in the world adulting, whether they’re in college or married with kiddos, this is the time to go to them. Don’t sit on your couch wondering where everyone has gone. Instead, take them out for lunch or coffee. Drive to their home. Make an effort to keep the connection. It’s difficult enough for them to manage this new life. Make it a bit easier by going to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
6. Expect your relationship to change. We spend so many years disciplining our children. We give them advice. We make sure they do their chores. We keep them on track. As they grow into adults, we will be tempted to keep telling our kids what to do and when to do it. We have the best intentions, but it’s not going to work. It’s okay to give advice when they ask for it, but otherwise, take a step back. Your child will move into a new role: friend and, sometimes, advisor. It’s a great new phase of life!
7. Pray. Place your child’s name in these scriptures and pray them aloud:
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great mightthat he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
8. Don’t give up on them. Even if they wound you emotionally over and over again, be on their side. Forgive and move on. Go back to #7 and pray!
9. Be ready to go to battle spiritually for them. Who else is going to do this for them? This is our job no matter how old they are! See #7.
10. Keep living and enjoying your life. If your kids are wounding you emotionally on a regular basis, this is a toughie, but hang in there. It’ll be well worth it. Jesus came so we could have an abundant life. It’s important to Him, so it should be important to us!
Want more tips and encouragement for navigating this season of life? At The Gathering on September 7th, I’ll be presenting a workshop titled “Transitioning Into the Teen Years and Beyond.” Grab your ticket here.