Homeschooling Mom, Are You Stuck in the Comparison Trap?

A Bear Trap

 
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.
 
#Comparisontrap
 

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!
 
 

School, Schedules, and Grace

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?

Pressure

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 hippo on it, all the time. My eldest daughter preferred boy’s tennis shoes and liked her hair kept short. My middle daughter wore dresses all the time and thought she lived in a musical production. She had breakdowns if her hair-bows and socks didn’t coordinate.   When these other moms talked about the 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.

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I put my schedule and my schooling on a pedestal.

I came 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 and 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 bad, I did that all by myself.  

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 would leapfrog forward and sail through with God’s peace and joy as my companions. Other days, I woke up in a panic. And why? After all these years?  Do my baseboards have to be clean to start school? Once,  I was working on my schedule and I told myself –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 Check

Reality is more like chores somewhat finished most days. A 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’d chuck it and go for a real-life field trip.   I’ve studied many 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.

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.2 Corinthians 12: 9

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.

Stay in Your Lane to Fulfill Your God-sized Dream

Have you ever sat back at the end of a day, a month and year and felt unsatisfied or fulfilled with your life? It’s not that you don’t have blessings, or some good things coming your way, there is just something inside that says, I would really love to fill in the blank.

Maybe you have a God-sized dream and you don’t want to say it out loud because someone might hear you and hold you to it or worse, laugh at you. But your dream is there, deep inside just waiting to be birthed.

May I tell you a few things that help us live out the vision God has placed within us?

1. Define your dream.

Often we don’t live out our God-sized dream because we don’t define it.

We might say some vague things such as:

  • I would like to help people.
  • I enjoy being a servant.
  • I love encouraging other people.

Those are great things to do. We should all aspire to do those. What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? You lose track of time. You are so energized and engaged that you have no idea that four hours have passed. For me, it’s writing, research and teaching.

Once you answer that question-

What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? 

Then you can define your dream by writing it down into something measurable.

I’m going to encourage women through teaching a Bible study.

I’m going to serve by opening up a food pantry for the community.

I’m going to practice hospitality by hosting a monthly coffee in my home.

Now, take your statement and break it down into steps that you can walk through and check off your list. Don’t be intimidated by this part. We often skip this step because for some reason we just think they will magically happen for us because we want it to.

God can open doors for us, it’s true.  In order for God to open a door, you have to drive to the building, so to speak.

God may redirect you a few times during the defining phase. It’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Taking the step to define your dream/vision is one step closer to doing something. Do something, lest you do nothing. Stay in your lane.png

2. Stay in your lane.

I think many of us (myself included) would sometimes rather coast in someone else’s lane and watch their God-sized dream come to fruition. It’s fun to be the helper and cheer someone else on until you reach the top of the mountain peak and realize your mountain is on the other side of the valley. All of the accolades for your friend will not fulfill your purpose. I get it. It’s scary putting ourselves out there and saying, “I want to write the book, not be on the launch team for the 100th time.” It sounds selfish to say we have dreams (I’ll get to that in a minute).

I would never say don’t help your friends. That’s a great investment of your time. Just make sure you drive in your own lane more than your friends’, neighbors’ and everyone shouting at you to join their cause. There’s a reason.

God gives you sufficient energy to do what He has called YOU to do, not what every lady in your church is doing.

God is not responsible for the physical and emotional consequences when you drive out of your lane. You will never arrive at the destination of your God-sized dream if you are driving aimlessly.

I’m preaching to the Guire here. For years my life was ordered by what all the other church ladies and my friends were doing. We were doing great stuff, guys! Serving and encouraging. Blessing others. My problem? I used my energy envelope on that good stuff and then was too exhausted to do my real job well. For awhile that job was exclusively mothering, homeschooling and running a co-op. When my kids got a little older, God directed me to start writing. After doing all the other good stuff, I had nothing left. No energy to write. Nothing. And that was not God’s fault. Or the other ladies. Or the church’s. It was mine. All mine.

3. Your dream isn’t selfish. It’s not about you at all.

Read that one more time. Often we don’t pursue our God-sized dream because we think it is selfish. If your God-sized dream is to run away to a tropical island and sip fruity drinks all day, then maybe it is. The truth is, I have never met a woman who hasn’t had a big dream. It takes time for us to own up to this because we don’t want to seem as if we want to make a name for ourselves. That’s not what God-sized dreams are about. They are about taking something that you can’t possibly do on your own, and giving God the glory every step of the way.

Your God-sized dream is about other people. It’s about God’s plan being lived out on this earth because you are obedient.

Years ago I was taking an online memoir writing class. Things were going great. I felt as if my writing was getting better. The teacher seemed to think so. She wrote me some encouraging words. I was feeling pretty comfortable with her…so, I told her my God-sized dream of helping a million orphans and of a vision I had. She told me I seemed unhinged and not to put that in my memoir. (*Just a note- don’t tell everyone your God-sized dream, not everyone gets it). If my God-sized dream includes helping orphans, is it really about me? Nope. Just like your dream. It’s about the people on the receiving end.

I’m sure you have a God-sized dream. It may be staying home and raising kiddos (that was mine for a season and then they grew up). It may be hosting a Bible study, writing a book, serving at an outreach, or fill in the blank. Take some time today and write down your dream. Make some measurable objectives so you can start driving in the right direction. If you, like me, know what your dream is and you need to get back in your lane, start putting up some boundaries. Many times, saying “NO” is the best thing you can do. A “Yes” that is accompanied by frustration, whining, complaining and dragging your feet the whole way is not producing any good fruit. And remember, your God-sized dream is not about you.

  • Thanks to Amy Breitmann for the “stay in your lane” idea!

 

Whose job is it anyway?- The Modern Women’s Guide to Housewifery

The expectations of a stay at home Mom are often high. Add homeschooling to the mix and often the bar is raised instead of lowered.

  • Your schoolroom/area should be perfect
  • Your kids should be well dressed and clean all the time
  • Your home should be sparkly clean and farmhouse perfectly decorated (or whatever your style is) at all times.

Like in the fifties television shows, Dad comes home from work, sits in his easy chair and reads the newspaper. Mom, wearing her string of pearls and a dress covered by an apron finishes preparing a lovely home cooked meal.

Unfortunately, as beautiful as this picture may be, or maybe this picture makes you downright angry. It’s just not reality.

This series was sparked by some recent conversations with friend and Whole House peeps who need some help, clarity and wisdom (myself included). Some of us gals have hired outside help to clean our homes *GASP*. Yep. Me. I did that. This triggered a text conversation between hubby and I which we accidentally had on a group text with male church friend (YIKES) who finally joined the conversation with:

I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, but I’m praying for you.

Hubby relented to my plea to have some outside help with:

You’ve got a lot on your plate right now, so if it is going to help you- go for it.

It was true. I had a lot on my plate with preparing a workshop, podcasts, writing deadlines, etc… But, here’s the real question- Whose job is it anyway? To clean the house? To manage the house? Whose job is it anyway_Times have changed. It’s not the fifties anymore. Society has changed. One thing that won’t change is stuff has to get done. Houses have to get cleaned ish. Laundry won’t do itself. Meals have to be prepared. So, again, whose job is it anyway?

The truth is – you and your hubby need to have this conversation. If jobs are divided verbally or on paper, it makes it easier to know what your responsibilities are. It’s unrealistic to think that the woman must do everything.

“One way the modern conservative movement has hurt the family is by regarding the man as the head in all decisions, rather than the overall leader of the home and family. Men have been taught they should have control over every decision and aspect of homelife, often requiring their wives to seek their final say on every decision about money and home care. This isn’t true to the Biblical model of servant/servant relationship, or the man as the spiritual and directional head of the home. We don’t see the Proverbs 31 woman seeking permission to buy a field, care for servants, and prepare the house for difficult seasons. The erosion of trust in the ability of Christian women to act like rational, intelligent adults is hurting the family and creating constant stress— men are asked for permission that they decline because they can’t see the need in the same way, and women feel frustrated because the head of the home has essentially forbidden her from caring for the home in a way that benefits everyone.”- Audrey Simmons

Maybe you have never actually had a conversation about who should do what in the household. Here are some questions to ask your hubby to get you started:

1.What jobs do you expect me to do?

 2.What is your definition of a well run, successful home? Is it a perfectly clean home? Happy, well rounded kids?

3.What’s most important to you in how the household looks and runs, and what are you willing to do to help make that possible?

Tomorrow I’ll be continuing the series with some home and work scenarios!

Episode 35- Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

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!

Episode 35 (2)

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Show notes:

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.

You don’t have to replicate the public school.

What’s your Homeschool Style?

Don’t go to a curriculum fair alone! Go with a seasoned homeschooler!

Find out what your child needs and then base your choices on him, not what everyone tells you is the best.

It’s okay to go back to the beginning and teach foundational things that your kids missed.

Find your own family style and personality.

Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap!

Get your kids asking questions!