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Tuesday
Aug072012

Do Not Be Discouraged

 

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

It takes a lot of HARD WORK to just care for children, let alone be responsible for their entire education.   

We're living in a society that has led us to believe that someone else  is more qualified to teach children than the actual parents.  We readily admit that "my children won't listen to me... I could never homeschool."

Friends, this is SAD.   It is a sad commentary on our society and the value we place on our children;  our confidence in our own roles as parents has SUNK.   

We're living in a society that separates children from adults. We put them in their place often times from shortly after birth until they graduate from college.  

Why are we surprised when our children turn to their peers instead of their parents in times of difficulty?   Why do we wonder how our children drift away from their faith in their teenage years?    

It's hard for me to write this, because I have MANY dear friends who do NOT homeschool.  They love their children every bit as much as I do - they have their welfare and best interests at heart.    We all do what we feel is best for our own families.     

I know in my heart of hearts that homeschooling is what is best for my family.   I see the benefits it has for our entire family, not just my children.   I see two children that are very close to each other, kind and generous with others, and eager to learn.   

Why then do I get discouraged?  

Why do I feel (especially at this time of year, when other parents are sending their children back to school) like I'm swimming upstream.

I'll tell you why... 

  • Because sometimes homeschooling is lonely, especially during those months when we don't have our homeschool co-op

 

  • We are the only people in our church family that homeschool.   I LOVE my church.   It is a huge part of our life.   I just wish we had some other homeschooling families!

 

  • Because I listen too much to the "outside world".   We homeschool because we don't want to be entirely of the world.  We homeschool because it works for US.  I understand that it does not work for all.   Sometimes I believe that many parents WANT to homeschool but just haven't gotten the encouragement or really seen the success stories.   

 

  • Because I have known a different life than this... I know what it's like to have my children in school and gone all day, and I'll tell you -- my house was clean, the laundry was done, dinner was cooked, and I spent a lot of time at TJ Maxx and Marshalls!  I won't lie - I sometimes yearn for all of those things, but NOT more than I yearn time with my family.   I can shop and clean and cook when my children are grown.

 

I'm ashamed sharing the above points.   

I want to keep this blog, however, real.  This is my REAL LIFE as a homeschooling mom.   I have doubts and low days.  It's not all happy times and smiles.  

It took a bit of a breakdown earlier this week, a few great texting conversations with two good friends (who ironically do NOT homeschool but understand my heart and commitment and have always supported me), and a wonderful day with my children to knock some sense into me.

 

There are some steps I can take to combat the discouragement:

  • Rely on God's word.  I especially like the verse above from Joshua... Do Not Be Discouraged!  Take time each day to soak in God's promises for me.   I love the above picture - I took it while my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary - I was so peaceful then... it was easy to be positive and happy on such a beautiful weekend.

 

  •  Realize I don't have to be EVERYONE'S FRIEND!   I love to be friends with everyone... to encourage and support people.  It is a disappointment to me when my expectations of others (which are pretty high) aren't met.   There are a few people in my life that are very critical of homeschooling in general.   This is HUGE part of my life and I cannot invest time in those who openly criticize.  My time is too valuable.  

 

  • Be sure to stay involved with my homeschool friends - Co-op starts soon and I can't wait!

 

  • Only surround myself with positive people - I am pretty good at letting people's rudeness bounce off of me, but that does NOT mean I need to subject myself to it voluntarily! 

 

  • Be more intentional about taking time for myself... doing what I love and getting enough time alone is so important.  I homeschool, give private piano lessons, and am a freelance writer {oh, and I author a blog!}.   These three things alone keep me busy, not to mention the other duties of being a wife and mother.   I am involved in my church, teach at co-op, and other little things along the way.  It is hard to find time for myself, but it MUST BE DONE.

 

 

At this time of the year, when it's supposed to a "fresh start" and so full of promise, I still get discouraged.   I am thankful, however, for a God that leads me through the discouraging times, a husband that supports me 110% each and every day, supportive friends, and two precious children that make teaching and learning a joy.

What helps you combat discouragement?

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (15)

This is such a great post Mary! It's important to be real as homeschooling moms. Plenty of public school teachers complain from time to time (or more often, LOL) and receive sympathy. I think we worry as homeschool moms that if we express frustration or discouragement, someone will say (as was said to me on a number of occasions), "Then why do it?"

I personally combat discouragement by talking with my husband, getting some journaling or art time in, and recharging alone. I have learned how important it is for me to not be around people, including my family, all of the time or I will explode! LOL

Thanks for this wonderful REAL post! You're going to have a great year. You're prepared and relying on the Lord to bless and strengthen you!

Thank you for your transparency. It is encouraging to know I'm not the only one who struggles with discouragement in our homeschooling journey.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterb

My best friend, whom I have been friends with for over 15 years, is who I can turn to when I need to vent. She will always give me her honest opinion, which has been more than once that school may be a viable option for us. I then lay my cards on the table, and look at what is in my heart and in the hearts of my children. We move through whatever it is at the moment and emerge on the other side stronger and more committed to our choice.

Your post is excellent. I have learned that positivity goes a long way. Build a strong tribe of families, whether they homeschool or not. Reach out to the homeschool community - they are usually spot on with advice since they have walked in your shoes. And for me, my blog has connected me to a huge support system of women whom I admire and respect. I can't imagine not having it since not only is my writing my therapy, it is my way of maintaining these relationships.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Yes! We are the only ones who homeschool in our church and my daughter is one of only 57 students who are homeschooled in our county, none of which who share our philosophy in homeschooling, so it does get lonely! My momma's heart aches at the thought of the things that my daughter will miss out on because she doesn't go to a brick & mortar school (our county is not very homeschool friendly).

I have to remind myself why we are doing this and the fact that my daughter loves it helps a lot. Other than what you have already listed, whenever I get discouraged I try to remind myself of all the good and not get so caught up in the negative side.

Great post, thanks for sharing it!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

Paige... I can imagine that must be very hard. We are blessed with a co op of 212 children!! Plus, we have hundreds of families in our county that homeschool - so that is a huge plus for us with activities, field trips, etc... I'll pray that more people in your area start to "see the light"!!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Oh my it's so easy to get discouraged! This week we have been reviewing math and the first day it's like they had never done math before. I felt like all of last year was a failure. Thankfully, everyday has gotten better and they are remembering more and just getting back into the swing of it. I tend to get discouraged about the never ending messes and the piles of laundry and clutter that never go away and feeling like do any of the millions of little things on my to do list really matter? I know they do but we all lose sight of the big picture from time to time. You are a wonderful and dedicated mom!!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

NAIL ON HEAD! Love this Mary - you encourage me to be a better mom, homeschooling mom and Godly Woman! I love this post so much! I am sharing!

I get discouraged when it seems I have lost control over the children....I have to learn to "let go" - regroup and start over sometimes...God's Plans are not always mine 8)

XOXO

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermelissa newell

Mary, Wonderfully said. Thank you for sharing this, it encouraged me today. I agree that home schooling is not just about the education...and yes it is sad that society has us think this is too hard. satan wants us to think that it's too hard!! 1 Peter 5:8 says "your enemy the devil pworls around like a roaring lion looking fo someone to devour". Keeping in mind, the lion devours the gazelle that is frequently weak and alone. satan wants us to feel that way, so we will succumb to him. Society wants us to think we can't do this, we are weak, we are alone. You are right, co op is awesome, being in the word and being in commune with homeschoolers is the way to combat the spiritual battle we are all in. Pick up your armor Mary and be encouraged in heart. You are running the race well!!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Owenby

I remember after first deciding to homeschool wondering how I would ever be able to stand having both my boys home all day. Well I guess I handled it OK because 28 years and 7 more kids later we are still homeschooling! I think your tips of relying on God and His Word and surrounding yourself with only positive people are very important! Thanks for sharing.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia Phillips

Amen! Homeschooling is the hardest job next to parenting in general and Satan is great at discouraging us.

Ways I combat discouragement include:
- prayer
- talking with my sister, who homeschools on the other side of the country, and gets that when I struggle with the day to day homeschool or one particular child I don't want to be told "then send them to public school", I just want understanding and encouragement.
- Rereading favorite homeschool books to get my head on straight again. What methods do I ascribe to? Read the books that encourage me and remind me why that's our plan.
- Choosing a fun book to read aloud as a family just to reconnect and find that common ground and enjoyment.
- Getting outside in nature with or without the kids.
- exercising. Even just walking - it boosts my mood and gets endorphins going.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

Thanks for this post. I'm in my 2nd year of homeschooling. We started last year as a surprise, meaning we'd never planned to be homeschoolers, but my oldest hated K so after 2 weeks, we pulled him out. And I love it. But it is very lonely. Where do you live with all those kids in a co-op? I'm jealous!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Thank you! I needed to read this today!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

What works- prayer.
Your chair outside looks like a peaceful place.

August 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Thanks for sharing this, Mary! I bet most of us can say that we've felt this way before. I hope you are feeling more encouraged today...it sounds like you are:) Just take one look at your previous posts and your beautiful children...that's usually enough to change my frame of mind from negative to positive!!

August 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Except for your excellent writing skills, I seriously could have been the one writing this post! I'm RIGHT there with you!!! These are great ideas for battling that discouragement!

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

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