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Homeschooling is not for the faint at heart. You have to be strong, self-motivated, hard-working, consistent and patient. This post is about the days (or weeks, or months) when those characteristics just don’t seem to be coming through. This is for the times when you feel like you are failing at homeschooling. You know what I mean. We all have these times, right? I had a baby this year, so the homeschool days really have not always gone as planned. Last year the excuse was pregnancy and this year the excuse was the baby. 😉 The reality is, there are always things that come along in life that make it HARD to feel motivated to homeschool. There are days I wish I was normal like the rest of the world and sent my kids off all day. My house would be clean and quiet. I would be able to go to lunch with my friends. I could maybe get a book read, or paint my toenails. My hair and make-up would always be done and I wouldn’t have so many lunch dishes.I would have less clutter and I might not always feel so tired.
But… then what would I have to blog about? Seriously, though, what would fill my life with the purpose and meaning that I have now? I think about my days without my children around al of the time and they would look and feel somewhat empty and a little meaningless. Right now my life literally revolves around those four munchkins that pester me to death sometimes, but also shower me with so much affection and joy at other times. They make ginormous messes, but they do it with such vigor and excitement. They want to eat constantly, but mealtime brings such fun conversations and together time.
There are so many days that I feel like I am not doing enough for my kids. There are days when I wonder if I am giving them enough, teaching them well enough, making things enjoyable enough, doing enough variety, etc. There are days where I do more shouting than reading and teaching. There are days when everyone ends up in a fight or in tears. These days are the ones when I want to go back to bed and hide from the messy noisy kids. These days I feel like leaving them behind and going somewhere far away ALL ALONE!
How do I get through the days when I feel like I am failing at homeschooling?
I have to do things that help me gain back my sanity. I have to do things that inspire and uplift my spirit. Each of us has different things that do that for us, and you need to find those things and make sure they are a regular part of your life. For me my motivation comes in different ways. I have daily things that I need to keep up my motivation. I also have things that happen less regularly that help me. The interesting thing is that most of these things are not related to homeschooling. Mostly they are things that heal me in my own way. If you are not in a place where you feel like a whole person, then you are not going to be capable of inspiring and mentoring someone else. You need to come first in your life.
- Daily I need to pray and study scripture. If you are a religious person, make sure to make religious study a daily part of your life!! This is where I find the greatest joy. This also brings peace to my soul. It is because of prayer that I came to the decision to homeschool my kids. If I am feeling doubts, I go to God to make sure that is still the right path for our family.
- Also on a daily basis, I need to have time to myself. This is not easy to come by, so I get up early. If I have at least an hour of alone time in the morning I feel like I am ready to go when the kids are up.
- I need to keep some order in my home. It seems that as a homeschool mom (and a blogger) the house seems to be what suffers most. If I make sure to keep order and not let the mess get too out of hand, I feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
- My husband and I try to have regular date nights on the weekends. We get a babysitter and go out alone. We both need that time so we can keep our marriage connected and discuss things going on in the family. The week days always seem so busy and our deeper communication gets pushed aside for other evening activities that get in the way. So when we feel out of touch with each other, we make sure to carve out that time. I need adult conversation!! I am home all day with kids and do not always get the amount of stimulating conversations that I need. This time helps fill that void.
- While I don’t have time to see friends regularly, I do usually take time to make a phone call or visit to sisters or friends when I can. Keeping these connections gives me a lot of joy!
- ALONE TIME~ on the weekend when my husband is home I love getting the chance to run to the store all alone without somebody asking me to buy this or that. I like to drive somewhere with nobody in the back seat talking my ear off. These moments are pretty precious to me!
- Keep up with personal hobbies. I try to have something that matters to me that I can do a little of each week. I am a singer. I am part of a couple of a local choir and get o practice with them regularly. I love this time!! Find your “thing” and carve out some me-time for yourself. You need to feel like you are still your own person.
Monthly (or less often):
- Attend Mom’s Night meetings or other motivational outings. We are a part of a great homeschool co-op in our area. I have made some wonderful friends there. These friends inspire and uplift me when I spend time with them. We have a monthly mom’s Night Out meeting that is always something to help us be better homeschool moms. I go to these meetings as often as I am able because they really do lift my spirits. They give me new fresh ideas and help me to feel ready to go again in my homeschool.
- Book club meetings are a great way to get out and have a great meaningful, intelligent discussions. I have been a part of a few different ones over the years. I love the motivation to keep reading and growing my mind. I love reading and am always looking for great books that stretch my mind in some way.
- Time off! If you are truly feeling like life is falling apart, take time off! You deserve it. Your kids will survive, I promise.
- Change up our school routine: when days are really hard, we go on a field trip, have a game day where we play some of our educational board games, or watch some learning movies. These days are needed from time to time in our routine for my sanity and for the sanity of my kids. We all appreciate them! Make learning really fun instead of monotonous.
Now it’s your turn. What keeps you motivated? If you feel like you are failing at homeschooling, you are not alone. All of us go through those feelings. Find what brings you joy and focus on that.
Do you need more homeschool encouragement? Bloggers from the iHomeschool Network are sharing their imperfect homeschool posts today. Stop by to see even more!
What keeps me motivated? I think the knowledge that I really am doing my best. God has placed me in our home as a homeschool mom, and he will equip me. I struggle with all the things you shared. I think most do 🙂 Great post!
Ashley Metzger says
Love the advice you gave. I always think if I just sent the kids off to school, everything would be easier. In reality though, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I’d be up earlier, I’d have to get everyone dressed earlier, make breakfasts and get them to somehow eat them in reasonable time, packing lunches and school snacks, drop off, pick up, volunteering in the class room, be on-call for one reason or another. All that without the benefit of seeing those “aha” moments where all your hard work and all their hard work finally seems to click or pay off. I currently teach preschool and kindergarten to my boys at home. I plan to homeschool indefinitely and to my surprise, I have felt like a failure at least half the time. I thought kindergarten would be a breeze. Turns out, it’s not. My son is intellectually advanced, and while that’s nice for some things, it sure brings major challenges with schooling (and life). The thing that helps me the most is taking it one lesson at a time. When I don’t feel like doing school, I plan one lesson that I know will go over well with my son. It usually goes so well we keep going. It’s the days when I plan 5 different lessons in one day that my son will have none of it. Then I see all the things we have to make up and it drives my check list-centered mind crazy. So I plan one lesson or unit study and we expand off it into different subjects as much as he can.
Another problem that leads to my feeling like a failure is that fine line between getting inspired by or ideas from other homeschool moms and feeling like they’re teaching way more than I am. I’m around amazing homeschool moms who seem to teach advanced lessons, do in-depth experiments or unit studies, have way better reward incentives etc. It makes me feel like I’m just scraping by with my kids. I feel like I’m failing them and not pushing them to reach their potential. That’s when I evaluate how I really feel we’re doing with our school and am willing to apply some other methods in my teaching if there are areas that need work. Some work for my son, some don’t. It’s great to get ideas from other moms, whether you try them or not. Whether they work well for your family or not. But it’s never great to just let yourself feel not good enough for your own children.
I also don’t beat myself up if we take a day off here or there. We don’t take holiday breaks like brick and mortar schools, but we get our breaks when we need (or want) them. I’m also like you and take weekly alone time, occasional date nights and/or ladies night out. I decorate as a hobby and again, like you, I need to not feel like we live in a pig sty to keep a sane mind. Glad to know we all feel like homeschool failures now and then. I’m grateful for this life challenge and so grateful to know I’m not doing it alone!