Over at Simple Homeschool, parents are writing about the hardest thing about homeschooling their child(ren). As I think about this topic I realize my answers to that question have changed over the years.
Once, the hardest thing was coordinating nap times so that I could grab uninterrupted reading time with an older child.
Later it was dealing with constant distractions and short attention spans.
Then it was homeschooling in a foreign country and having everything I relied on for routine and structure stand on its head for months at a time.
Now, with so many of those little kid (and traveling-while-homeschooling) scenarios becoming increasingly distant memories, I’m in a different place.
The hardest thing about homeschooling is dealing with my own self–my lack of motivation and my general sense of fatigue. It’s not my kids’ squirming or attitudes or sleepless nights due to power outages that give me pause.
It’s me. I’m tired, and sometimes–can I be honest?–a little bored.
This isn’t what I expected five years ago. I thought that after ten years of teaching my kids, of having endless conversations about ideas and the world around us, after years of browsing through museums, of setting timers for wayward math-sheet-fillers, I’d get to a place where everything fell into place and we breezed through the years.
But it turns out that just when this path gets easier in one way, it gets harder in another.
I’m not sure how to the solve the problem of my own self. I know that this educational choice is still the one that works best for us, so I want to get out of my own way so that we can go the distance. So far, I’m trying to help this mother out by
- spending extra time in the morning reading, praying, writing, and thinking.
- working on a few personal projects that are mine alone, ones that have nothing to do with my kids and everything to do with the person I am outside of Mother.
- spending time with women friends when those moments present themselves. (I need to be encouraged and refreshed by other people, though of course there are times when they drain the life out of me, too).
- doing the types of “educational” things with my kids that make all of us happy, like re-reading favorite books together.
- exercising with the door shut while listening to my favorite music.
One thing I know is that this season will pass, too, and with it a host of good and some not-so-good memories. But that would be the case no matter how we managed our educations. I’m not as naive anymore when it comes to thinking through what I want my kids to have gleaned from this homeschooling lifestyle. But I’m not a cynic, either.
This journey, like all journeys, is a patchwork quilt of moments, and some squares are more tattered than others. Still, I’m trying to remember the big picture, the warmth of the whole, rather than picking at flaws in the fabric.