How often have you heard a homeschool mom comment that it (homeschooling) was too much. She is going crazy, she can’t take anymore, something has to give, maybe she’ll put the kids in school. It seems that every time I turn around, someone in our town, in my life, on a message board, or somewhere is burned out and needing a rest.
Generally, the first response that comes to my mind or that I hear others state is, “Take a (fill in the blank amount of time) off and just regroup.” This is a valid answer some of the time. Especially back when I first heard it. Ten years ago, if a mom was strugglign with the house, homeschooling, and child training, you could generally bet, that she’d been overdoing in all departments, while pregnant, and caring for an aged parent with some medical condition. Today, however, it seems that if you get a hangnail someone will suggest that you take a week off and recouperate.
What are we teaching our children when we make something as important as their education ‘optional’? What are they learning when all they have to do is give us trouble, we fall apart, and someone says… “Take two weeks off, you need a break.” What was once a reminder that we can burn ourselves out trying to do too much, is now a license for laziness.
Our children need to learn to persevere through difficult problems in their school work. They won’t learn to do that if mom dumps the school program everytime the laundry gets piled to the ceiling, the toddler throws a tantrum, or there is a really great sale at Mervyns.
I hesitated to write this because I know people in my life who DO need to be less overly concerned with each nuance of overscheduling and to see anyone question taking a day or two off when things are overwhelming is likely to encourage them to do the opposite of what they need to do.
I think that homeschoolers, myself included, tend to be extremists. We are either trying to outdo the best school we’ve ever heard of… or we’re too lacksadaisacal to put the serious effort into this endeavor that we should. This is a serious work we’ve taken upon ourselves. While I don’t believe we need to try to create academic geniuses in order to prove ourselves, I do believe we need to be very vigilant to do the job our Lord has entrusted us to do.
Now don’t get me wrong. When someone tells a new homeschooler with out of control kids, that she needs to put the books away for a couple of weeks and focus on child training, I’m 100% behind them. You can’t effectively teach your children if they do not obey or listen to you. When someone tells a mother with a new baby to take a few weeks off of hitting the books hard and focus on historical books, movies, and lots of read alouds… I’m all for it. BUT… I hear it too often now.
Our children will be the first to suffer. The character training that comes with doing an unpleasant task, doing it well, and doing it repeatedly because it’s the right thing to do, cannot be replaced by anything. Some things you have to just do, and do correctly. It’s called self-discipline. It is called diligence. It is called self- RESPECT.
I actually began thinking along this line as I thought of how I would do things if I was paid to do this. It’s the old Havig Haven Inn thing. If this was my JOB/Career… that I needed for survival, (to eat and have a roof over my head) would I treat it as lightly as I can on ‘tough days’? If I was being paid to do this, I’d do a better job. I would do a more consistant job, and I would certainly be able to keep a cheerful face on days when I just did NOT want to do it.
Wow. I didn’t realize how many areas my little mind game permeates. It works though. I really do live more joyfully, I do serve more willingly, and I am more fully reliant upon the Lord when I remind myself that this life I am living takes WORK, and it is my job to do that work heartily and as unto the Lord. When I focus upon what *I* need, I forget that there is a world out there that is much bigger than I am. I am much happier when my focus is off of self and onto others.