Before I write this let me preface it by saying: I am not an expert on this thing. I do not have it all figured out. I started my third year of homeschooling my kiddos just last week. I am writing this letter to myself before my first year of homeschooling. If I could by some means go back and give myself some advice here is what I would say. And I am writing this to myself today as well. Some days I just need to hear this!
Dear Homeschool Momma,
1. Way to go.
This homeschool thing is scary and hardly anyone understands why you would choose to do this. You will have a lot of nay sayers and people who think you are making the wrong decision. Do it anyway! Do what you think is right because in the end you are the only person responsible for your life! And way to go! This is a hard choice to make and I am proud of you for having the guts to do it even though you are mostly scared to death.
2. This will be hard.
You know how you envision other homeschool families as having children who wake up, come downstairs well groomed and ready to begin reading. It doesn't work like that. You will struggle a lot to come up with ways to motivate yourself and these little people to do the tasks assigned to them. You will get behind on math. You will skip pages. You will have some days when at the end you are all crying. Because this is hard!
3. Just because it is hard does not mean you have failed.
The first day when things are really hard you may think, "Thats it, I have failed. I cannot do this." Keep going. Find new ideas, new curriculum, new incentives or maybe just take a break for the day and have fun with your kids. You will not see the evidence of your kids learning right away. It may take weeks, or even months for some children to grasp new concepts. Stick with it. And you will see progress.
4. Connect with other Homeschool Mommas.
You need a community of moms that you can run to when you have questions. Moms you can ask for advice. Moms you can just cry with when things are hard. Those moms will keep you sane and make you realize just how normal you are.
5. Take care of yourself.
You need to make sure you get enough sleep. You need to eat healthy meals, regularly. You need to make time to get exercise. (Even if it is just a walk.) You need to make time to get together with your friends. You need to make time for you to spend with your husband. You need to do these things. Do not wait for someone to make you. Do it now. You husband genuinely wants you to be happy and will gladly help you to take better care of yourself, if it is within his means. Ask him.
6. Make time for your husband.
This deserves two mentions. Remember that handsome, fun, loving guy you were madly in love with and could not wait to marry. He is now yours. So take advantage of that. Make time for him. Plan date nights. Put the kids to bed early sometimes. Or just put the kids in front of a movie in their room and spend time alone together. Be intentional about this. He really is a great guy! And it will benefit you as well.
7. Relax and give yourself some grace.
You will not spontaneously combust if your child does not know how to read by the end of 1st grade. It will happen. Just keep doing the right things and she will catch on. Its ok if you eat macaroni and cheese for dinner again. Its ok if your house is less clean than you want it to be. Relax and give yourself some grace. You are doing a good job. But you are not perfect. And your desire for perfectionism will only eat away at your relationships. You are going to fail a lot. And you may as well own up to that fact now. Rest in the grace and mercy God gives to you and allow Him to make something beautiful from your mistakes.
8. You are discipling!
You are the keeper of a lot of things. You are the teacher, chef, housekeeper, boo-boo kisser, back scratcher, bad dream rescuer and lots of other titles. But the important one is you are teaching a generation of young people what it means to live as followers of Christ. That is your goal. To raise them to Love the Lord their God with all their hearts and to love their neighbor as themselves. They could be rocket scientists but if they fail to grasp that area their life will be miserable!
9. Have Fun.
It will be so tempting to cut out the extra fun stuff. It is messy and takes extra work. Do it anyway. The 20 minutes they spend making play-dough trees will be one of their favorite things they did all year. Enjoy them. It will go by in the blink of an eye.
10. Abide in Christ.
It is not enough to just say you believe in Him or to just say you trust Him. You need to daily live and move in Him.
John 15:4-5 (ESV) "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
Without Him working in you and your children none of the good things you are seeking will come to pass!
Now Go sister and Take a Nap!
Your slightly older and slightly wiser self
* As an addendum I would like to add this is by no means me saying if you send your kids to school you are not doing these things or do not need these things. I know that for some families homeschooling is not the best or even a viable option and to those mommas I applaud you. Some of my favorite mommies are PTO presidents and hard at work and involved in their kiddos schools. They bust their butts and are working just as hard at abiding in Christ. I think you are doing awesome work momma. I just have no experience in that area so I cannot speak to it. But please feel free to write your own blog post about that. I just may need it some day!