Encouragement for Homeschooling Mothers - Overwhelmed

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Coming soon...

Being overwhelmed is something every homeschooling mother has battled with at some point.  It may be due to a new season in life & the adjustments required during that time.  It may be at the beginning of their homeschooling journey when they first look at all they want to achieve and can't possibly fit it all into the school time.  It may be due to illness or exhaustion.  Dear Mother, if you are overwhelmed please don't feel alone in your journey. The first step is to take everything to the Lord ~ He's waiting to hear from you!

My Journey so far...
There are many times in my life I've felt as if I can't handle everything in my life.  Surprisingly it wasn't that  year when I had all 4 kiddos 3 & under (although with nursing twins I had lots of happy hormones rushing through my body ~ I'm sure I could have handled anything without loosing my smile :) Instead it was as I added job upon job in the coming years.  My inability to say 'no' or put boundaries upon my time resulted in a mother that felt as if the weight was too heavy that she was bearing.  Those first years of learning how to live on this farm, away from all our family & friend support was very difficult and even though we had a wonderful church family we still didn't know them well enough to call on them should we have needed to.  However it was when we chose to remove the older two children from school & begin homeschooling them that I really found myself overwhelmed with all I had to try to achieve in one day. From the general schooling to teaching a very young kindergartner how to read to the housework to the farmwork  to keeping the 3 year old twins occupied ~ the list seemed endless and I was only one Mum with a too busy husband.  After searching desperately for a solution & the missing joy that is so very quickly sapped from the overwhelmed life,  I found the following things useful:    

Help with being Overwhelmed:

1.  Schedule:
The very thought of scheduling my time at first seemed entirely too rigid & horrible for me to consider, but as I researched it further I realised that a schedule is in fact freeing.  I would say that we are a "loosely scheduled" or "tightly routined" family.   I like to have a plan for our days written down, but I don't stress if the day doesn't go to plan.  I absolutely hate living by the clock, but there are some important times of the day that I do clock-watch for such a mealtimes, the start of the school day & the children's bedtime.  HERE & HERE are some previous posts on our schedules. I will post our current schedule in the near future. 

Some resources I have found useful  include:
Large Families on Purpose 
( This is helpful no matter what size your family is)
Large Family Logistics (the book)
(Again for all sized families)

2. Support:
If you are blessed enough to live near supportive family or friends then use them (but don't abuse their help ~ finding balance is important).  There is no shame in asking your parents if they would like to spend a few hours with their grandchildren each week (generally this is not a  chore for grandparents) to allow you some time to do those jobs that are so much easier to finish without little hands around. Even if you are away from everyone who can help, share with friends how you are feeling and ask them to pray for you (even if they are online friends).  Finding a homeschooling support group is a great way to meet other mothers.  I have a couple of very experienced homeschooling friends who I initally met through our group.  They are wonderful to call for advice or encouragement.  

3. Involve the kiddos  
This really seems like a catch twenty two because to involve the kiddos initially means more work for you with instructing them. Let me encourage you that taking the time to train your children ultimately pays off.  Not only are you training them in lessons that they need to learn at some time, but you are also lessening your own load as they are able to take over the various jobs. A bonus is that as they are busy during that time of learning with you they aren't making a mess elsewhere!  Look for a list of age appropriate jobs for your children (one list is found HERE). Don't be afraid to give them a go at whatever you feel the most pressing need is that you can't get to.  Children love to mop floors, do laundry & feed pets.  Anything they can do means one less thing for you to do!

4. Change Homeschooling Methods:
If you are like me then you have huge plans for your homeschool & you want to be right in the middle of them yourself!  The reason there are so many homeschooling methods is that each family is unique & what works for one family won't necessarily work for another.  Families also change as they grow.  Just because something has worked for you in the past doesn't mean it will continue to work for your whole homeschooling journey. A change in homeschooling method can be the very thing that brings peace to your household & takes away that heavy burden you are bearing.  We are personally experiencing this right now as we recently changed methods!

5. Pace Yourself:
No one can do everything.  If you are like me & are a classic type A personality ( first born child as well) then this is a hard one to actually believe.
Repeat: NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING ( yes, that's for me :)  
Prioritise what you would like to achieve & go with your highest priorities.  Talk to your husband.  I have always found my husband is so full of wisdom & generally has well-thought-out ideas.  It's always important to ask him what he would prioritise ~ his answer may surprise you!!
If you are overwhelmed by the numerous educational boxes to be ticked, choose some to focus on now & choose others to focus on in the future.  You can even plan when to change your focus ( & the relief you will feel with a plan in place is felt by the whole family).

Dear Mother,
Please don't feel alone in this homeschooling journey.  Please don't feel it is too hard.  Rest assured that God will always equip those He calls to His work & isn't raising these precious little ones for Him the highest calling any woman can have? 

Please feel free to comment or EMAIL ME with any prayer requests, questions or to just chat.

God bless you on this most important job you are doing!

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