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A Realistic Mother

One of the hardest parts of homeschooling for me is having unrealistic expectations of what I should and should not be doing as a homeschooling mom. At least once each year, I feel myself running after this fad or that, copying this friend or that, seeking approval of this person or the other. When this happens, I need to go back to my goals for the year and remember why I’m homeschooling in the first place.

For instance, when should a homeschooling mother wake up in the morning? Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman was an early riser, but I need to remember the principle she illustrates, that I am to be industrious rather than lazy. I do not have to copy her life verbatim. You see, I’m not a public school teacher who shows up at school at 7:30 a.m. with an ample amount of time to prepare my brain, my room, and my supplies. Nor do I get a planning period during the day or quiet, uninterrupted time for planning and grading in the evening. No, I’m a mom to seven children, a wife, an author, and a pastor’s wife involved in my church — in addition to my “side job” of teaching for five hours a day. Oh, and did I mention that I’m currently teaching five grades simultaneously, as well as watching over an infant and a two-year-old? Yikes!

I need to learn to be realistic in my expectations. I need to learn to stick to the priorities God gave to my husband and me, instead of chasing after a homeschooling fantasy.

A realistic morning at my house begins with an alarm clock that isn’t always welcome. Yes, it’s 7:00 a.m. I’m aware that many homeschooling mothers are up much earlier than this, but if I want to spend some quality time with my husband in the evening, and still get enough sleep, this is the earliest I can get up and still stay awake during math class. 🙂

A realistic morning at my house means that I’d like to serve a nutritious breakfast to my husband and children. One of my priorities is to feed my children nutrient-rich food for breakfast. It would be faster and easier (although not cheaper) to buy cereal, orange juice, or Pop-Tarts. It’s a royal pain making omelets and porridge instead. But it’s a priority to me. The downside of this priority is that making a big breakfast is time consuming. Other moms might not make the same choices I make, but that’s okay. By the time we’ve made breakfast, eaten, and cleaned up the kitchen, it’s nearing 9:30. If someone were to visit my home this late, they might think I’m neglecting our schooling. But in my heart, I know that I’m not. Breakfast is part of our curriculum! I don’t need to please anyone else.

A realistic morning at my house means that I also need some time to grow as a mother. I need time to clean my own bedroom, to make my bed, and to start the laundry. I need a shower and some fresh lipstick! 🙂 I need time to get with the Lord and read His Word and pray. I might even need to talk with my mother on the phone. These things keep me sweet and loving and gracious to my children. Of course, on some mornings, the clock might be reading 10:30.

A realistic morning at my house means that we start our homeschooling day with Scripture reading, prayer, stories out of picture books for the little ones, songs with clapping or reverent singing, and maybe a discussion of proper manners. We do some memory work and read aloud out of chapter books. These things keep us remembering that we are a family with common goals and love for the Lord, with compassion for young children, and with a joy for music and good literature.

A realistic morning at my house means that some mornings I don’t have enough energy for all the things in the last paragraph. Sometimes so much talking gives me a sore throat or a headache. Sometimes I fall asleep while reading out loud! Realistically, I know that I can’t do everything and be everything for my children. Only God can do that.

A realistic morning at my house means that while I love to discuss learning and to discover new methods, I also value having a teacher’s manual. I prefer having a teacher’s manual that I can open up each morning. Are we on Day 97 of our school year? What a relief to know that my day is planned for me. I can always change, delete, or add to the plans, based on the needs of my own children, but I enjoy have a basic framework from which to work. A Beka fills this need in our home, and we use workbooks and textbooks for several subjects over the next few hours of school.

A realistic morning at my house means that we won’t get all of our schoolwork done in the morning. We’ll take a restful lunch break. We’ll change the laundry, change lots of diapers, tuck little ones in for naps, and do work in preparation for supper. I’ll often stop to write on the computer (as I am right now) or to pay a bill. Sometimes I’m just pooped by now and need a nap myself. The day continues, naturally, not always predictably, but usually pleasantly.

Realistically, I don’t usually have a lot of extra time for myself, for hobbies or getting together often with friends. I can’t make a lot of trips to town for shopping or even field trips. But I’m slowly learning to be content as a stay-at-home mom. I’m certainly not a perfect mom, but if I learn to be content with a realistic life instead of a pretend, super-mom ideal, my children get a better education and a happier home.

This is good enough for me.

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  1. Linda Larson says:

    Thanks for reminding us that we need to follow our own ideas for our school at home, and work things around our own family. It is so easy to forget these things. We moms must make time for God, ourselves, our husbands as well as our children’s schooling, and that will look different in every home, depending a lot sometimes on the hours the husband works. It is refreshing to see this written, that we don’t all have to be the same.

  2. I just found your blog and love it! Especially this post. Thank you so much for this reminder. I too often find myself trying to implement every idea I have heard and get completely overwhelmed. I’m trying now to just listen to God’s voice as He guides my home and how I spend my time. I look forward to reading more.

  3. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I love this article. This sounds a lot like me. And here I thought I wasn’t normal and have to push myself to do more. Thanks for writing this!

  5. Anne Elliott says:

    Hey, everyone, I’m a little amazed at how many comments have come in just this morning! I wrote this last night, a little frazzled myself over everything in my life. I guess this struck a chord! Thank you SO much for commenting! 🙂

  6. Each family is different, each situation is different, each individual child is different so when we compare our homeschool family to another homeschool family it is really ridiculous.

    I’m beyond busy (there needs to be a busier word than “busy”, just short of overwhelmed!) now with young children in the house (and just having 2 parents in hospice–the sandwich generation they call it.) But I know when the kids grow up and move on, it will be these years that I will cherish in my heart. I won’t be able to get these years back, so I try also to be content even when I don’t have time to sneeze these days : )

    Anne, mornings at your house sound delightful : )

  7. Michaela says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!! This is almost identical to my mornings!! (though my girls are a bit younger – 5,4,3,1, and baby girl due next month). I can’t tell you how encouraging and peace-giving your article is. Thank you for everything you do 🙂

  8. I wanted to thank you co much for your ezine and blog. You give me so much encouragement and inspiration.

  9. Wow! I have never met anyone who is so close to how our home school used to operate. I say “used to” because our youngest of four will be graduating next month, and we’re done. It’s a little bitter sweet.

    Our oldest is married and expecting our first grandchild (Yipee!), the second is back home and going to college after serving four years in the Air Force, the next is a work-at-home daughter, and the youngest will be leaving for the Marines in the fall. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    The rewards are even greater at the end, my friend. Keep on keeping.

    Your new friend,

    Marcia Wilwerding

  10. Kimberly says:

    What a blessing to read this post! We are just learning new ways of eating and much of it requires cooking from scratch, which can be more time consuming. But yet, I feel healthier and feel that I am teaching my children to be healthier, so I have been willing to spend the extra time. Yet, nagging in the back of my mind is the fact that most days I am not officially “schooling” until 10:30 or 11:00! I tell myself that teaching children to prepare healthy meals is part of education, but I frequently have to encourage myself even in the midst of doing what I think is the right thing. The more I learn, the quicker I am at preparing new recipes, so I feel this is temporary. Reading your post made me cry! I think I put so much stress on myself trying to do it all and conform to standards set by others.

    Thank you for putting your thoughts down for me to read. It is so very much appreciated. In fact, your websites are what started me on my road to health recovery!

    Many blessings,

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