We just finished our second incomplete week of school. That is, we had 3 days of school last week and 4 days of school this week. I've shared here that school didn't start off the way I'd hoped. This week had more lessons for me.
Wednesday was filled with unexpected procrastination by my daughters and by me. It was also filled with commitments and hospitality--both of which were important. At the end of the day, though, I lost it. I gave my children and myself not grace, but expectations that weren't met.
When I met with my homeschool reviewer on Wednesday, we talked about many things. The first things she wanted to do was talk about what I expected to tackle this year and what I desired prayer for. I told her about how I've always gotten stressed getting to places on time. It began years ago when family members would get upset with me verbally and nonverbally when everything wasn't ready on time when expected. I sought perfection in the hope of pleasing these people in my life. What I have sought remains beyond my reach since perfection simply isn't possible. I found last year that I got upset repeatedly with my children when we weren't on time. The problem was we were all the problem. They were dilly dallying and I was trying to squeeze "one more thing" in. I recognized this in the spring and started trying to trust the Lord more with my time and discipline myself to set things down that I was doing when it was time to go. I also started working, with the help of the Holy Spirit, on holding my tongue in those stressful moments of getting out the door. Things are better, but not perfect as I try to cope with this struggle of mine.
But, that same expectation of perfection pervades my homeschool day with the kids in other ways. She asked me who I was trying to be perfect for. I know who I'm trying to be perfect for. But, knowing that doesn't change that it's wrong to begin with. My beliefs that spur me on to attempt perfection are wrong.
So, my expectations need to change and be replaced with right ones. There are certain things about my life and how I structure it that foster these expectations that the kids and I can do things right. I realized on Wednesday as I talked to my friend that one is how I plan. As a teacher, I planned a certain amount of work for a day.
Many homeschoolers plan instead for a certain amount of time to do work in a given subject, rather than a quantity of work. My friend plans this way. She explained to me that she would quickly be overwhelmed by the idea of an amount of work per day planning.
After Wednesday and Thursday, I realized that a few changes need to be made in my planning.
1) When I know I'm going to have a social commitment--I need to allow extra time. I always end up talking more than I expect to!
2) On such days, plan less--whether it's spelling or skipping Explode the Code. I need to prioritize what I think it is most important for my girls to do those days and what can be set aside for the next day.
3) I need to plan less extra activities and meetings into our days. Our schedule can handle maybe one a week, but I had several this week... one on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, and one on Thursday.
4) I need to check my heart. When I'm seeking perfection, I need to remind myself of the gospel and my goals for my day and our homeschooling. Last spring, I wrote about a book titled When Homeschooling Gets Tough. I had checked it out of the library. I ordered a copy today because there were several great chapters in it that I need to keep handy for reference--one was titled "looking towards eternity" and another was "trusting God for who we are". I need to get in the habit of preaching the Gospel to myself daily and I'm just not that good at it.
The kids and I needed a day off today. My husband took the day off and was supposed to be home part of the day. Autumn had writing to finish up from this week, but it went well because she enjoys her new writing curriculum and completed it thoroughly and quickly. I had another appointment, so it also worked out well not to have to school today.
After Labor Day, we'll start school back up. I am reminded daily that the lessons in homeschooling are as much for the kids as they are for me. As my friend Jenny said to me on Wednesday, homeschooling just isn't easy. It's hard. It just is. So, we have to be prepared for the challenge and expect it not to be easy. It's worth it and it's a worthy job, but it's definitely a challenging one to be a homeschooling mom!
I like this picture because of how my daughter's hand deflects the water. It goes down in a different way than it is designed to. But, it is still beautiful. It is still enjoyed, and it still ends up reaching the bottom of the fountain.
PS Dear Friends, if you are reading this, please know that I have my feet on the ground and am okay. I'm just puzzling through these things! :) I hope that if anyone's in the same boat, you'll be encouraged to know you're not alone in this boat!