So, hey sometimes this homeschooling gig is TOUGH, mamas.
We’ve all been there.
That moment when you look around and take a deep breath and say “Wow. I have totally dropped the ball here.”
So what do you do? How do you deal with dropped balls in this homeschool life?
Well. The short answer is – – – just get the ball back into play. Just pick it up and go. Back in the game.
But we all know we don’t read blogs to get the SHORT answer to things, so here’s my take on what to do when things have gotten overwhelming, and exhausting, and maybe you’ve been distracted and let something fall to the wayside.
This current school year has definitely been one I’ll never forget. It started out TERRIBLY. And when I say terribly, I really mean horrible, no good, very bad. In fact, by lunchtime on the “first day of public school” (which is normally a day of jubilation and gratitude in this house, as we don’t have to rush to school buses or pack lunches – and we normally go to the beach for the day) – I found myself sitting in my locked bathroom, on the floor, sobbing those messy heartwrenching sobs. I had just totally lost it, the kids and I had been fighting all morning, and I was sobbing because I felt like I had failed them already on this ‘first day of school’.
Looking back, I’m not entirely sure what all transpired that day. But I will never forget the heartache. Nor will I forget the looks on my kids’ faces when our arguing hit the peak of its ‘terribleness’.
SO from that day on, it was just…tense…in our home. We had some good days, but we had far more days where I thought “Holy moly, we are going way off the rails here”. And a few where I thought “Why am I doing this homeschooling thing?!”. I got to a point by around mid-November where I stopped, looked around at the apocalyptic scene that was my homeschool and family life, and thought “WHOA. I’ve lost control here, dropped the ball, and I gotta get this fixed double-stat”.
I truly thought that I was at the end of our homeschooling journey at that point – I felt like a failure, like a terrible mother, and the worst feeling was that I had totally lost the connection to my children that we had worked so hard to achieve when we started home educating. I felt like I was drowning in regrets and sadness and overwhelm.
So, I did what any good parent does in that situation. I set up a parent-teacher conference. Yes – with myself. I spent a LOT of time up in my head, trying to really tease out whether I truly wanted to keep going with this thing. It was around the same time that I signed up for a Periscope account (I had initially done so to utilize it for my direct sales business I had started) – and stumbled upon Julie Bogart’s scopes (the creator of the Bravewriter language arts curriculum, and a longtime source of encouragement and inspiration to me as a homeschool mom).
I don’t remember the scope… I don’t remember the topic. I just remember feeling that little spark starting to ignite in my heart. And I will never forget the moment where I thought to myself, very clearly, “I’m in. I’m recommitting to this and putting my relationship with my kids first again – where it belongs”.
That was the day I said “I’m done sitting beside this dropped ball and lamenting – I’m picking up this ball and just throwing it back into play. One step at a time.”
Here’s how I managed:
- I found my tribe. I made more effort to reconnect with my local homeschool mama friends. In addition to that, through Julie’s Bravewriter-centered community (on Facebook, Periscope, and through her Homeschool Alliance), I also found an incredible online community. Women who inspire me, make me laugh, and even bring me to tears sometimes. Feeling like I was part of a group of people who, although we were not always doing things the same way, we always had the same founding beliefs in our lives – which is that our relationships with our children and families are what matter most. It’s more than a curriculum, it’s about living life with our relationship at the topmost priority. This tribe has been a KEY factor in my ability to just keep going.
- I just picked one thing. I thought about what one thing we had done in the past, or wanted to try that was new, and I instituted ONE THING. For us, it was our Morning Basket time (more details on that in a future post). If we did nothing else in that homeschool day, then we had at least come together for 1-2 hrs in the first part of the day and we read great books, had fun conversations, and just connected. It has become the very glue that is holding this homeschool together, even to this day. And you know what? Even on days when we don’t feel like doing lessons, once we’ve done our Morning Basket – we’re all much more likely to just continue on with our studies. Because we’ve had that time to come together and share time reading and talking.
- Talk to your children. Let them know that YOU are feeling like things are going off the rails – obviously in age appropriate ways. But tell them and let them have safe space to tell YOU what they’ve been feeling also. Because I can guarantee if YOU are feeling these feelings, they are also.
- Talk to your spouse. If you’re rolling solo, then talk to whoever is your primary source of emotional support. It’s okay to be honest with that person and say “I’m screwing this up, and I need to get back on track”. I remember looking at my partner and saying “I’ve been escaping into my side business, I’ve been really overwhelmed and I have totally let this homeschooling thing go off the rails and I am putting my kids and our homeschool life back at the top of the priority list”. And somehow hearing that come out of my mouth (and heart) and putting the words out into the universe, seemed to solidify that I did indeed mean this, that I wanted this to get back on track.
- Give yourself grace. Let yourself feel however you need to feel, but don’t sit in those negative feelings. Just be kind to yourself and say “Okay, self, things aren’t great right now but that’s okay. We got this.” Know that hard times happen to us all, and give yourself a lot of grace and a lot of safe space to renew your commitment to this thing.
There you have it. My long answer to the question “What do I do when this is too hard, when I’ve dropped the ball, when things are bad?” Take a deep breath, know you’re absolutely not alone, and then just get back in the game. Take the first small step – whatever that needs to be for you – and the rest will follow. I promise.