You’ve gone over long division with decimals umpteen times. You’ve explained fractions a thousand times. If you had a nickel for every time you reviewed proper punctuation, you’d be sailing the seven seas right now headed for a tropical vacation.
But you aren’t headed for any type of vacation, and honestly, you’re about to lose it.
Losing our cool. Blowing our top. It’s not easy to talk about this issue as it relates to homeschooling. After all, doesn’t everybody always say, “Oh I could never homeschool, I just don’t have the patience for it.” Yeah well, maybe we don’t either. Maybe some days we question our sanity.
Even for those of us who may adopt a more laid-back approach through self-directed learning, or even un-schooling, there are still dozens of opportunities each day for our children to learn from us, and let’s face it, some of those interactions are going to be more frustrating than others.
I don’t use the word “failure” lightly, and let me be very clear–I am not talking about failing our kids because we neglected to teach them their times tables until they were ten. I’m talking about the kind of failure that happens when we put our own insecurities and fears above the needs and sensitivities of our children.
How does this manifest itself? It can be in obvious ways–screaming, raising your voice, slamming a door–or more subtle–a comment meant to motivate when all it really does is wound the soul and destroy confidence. “Your brother could do this at your age, why can’t you?”
These are things that happen to many, if not all parents, but it becomes more amplified in a homeschool environment. If we lose our cool, maybe we shouldn’t be homeschooling. When we make a mistake, we doubt ourselves and the guilt eats away at us until we are questioning everything we thought we knew to be true.
Here are a few things you can do immediately after saying or doing something you regret:
- Ask for forgiveness–on the spot. Don’t wait until later, or until tomorrow. The seeds of resentment will have already taken root. Admit that you are not a perfect person and that you also have feelings of frustration and anger sometimes. Express that you always strive to be the best person you can be and that you love your child(ren) unconditionally and only want what’s best for them. Give hugs freely. Shed tears.
- Examine any underlying stresses that may be present. Problems with finances, a spouse, family member, sibling, or another child, can bring out the worst in us at the most unexpected moments. Get to the bottom of it, especially if you are feeling “short” with your children more than usual.
- Play some music and b r e a t h e. This one sounds weird, but I swear it works. That saying about “music soothing the savage beast” is true. Play something that makes you feel happy, light, and centered. It might be Tchaikovsky, Kenny Chesney, or Fleetwood Mac–it doesn’t matter, put it on.
- Talk to another homeschool mom (or dad!). It’s ok to talk to a spouse, but chances are they will just try to offer helpful advice, when all you really need is a shoulder to cry on.
We are all hard on ourselves. We want to be the perfect homeschooling mom with sparkling Pinterest boards and neatly lined bookshelves. We want to appear cool, calm, collected, and capable. We know we can do a better job of teaching our kids–that’s why we keep them at home with us. In the shuffle and chaos of your life, please remember that some days we will fail–or feel like a failure. I think I failed just the other day and I’ve been homeschooling for eight years.
Failing doesn’t mean we have forever failed and aren’t worthy of redemption. Ask for forgiveness. You will receive it, and then, don’t forget to forgive yourself.