Dear Homeschool Mom,
As school begins and summer ends how are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Under prepared? Tired? Scared? Eager? Excited? Full of promise with schedules and systems ready implement on the “first day of school” at your house?
Are you new to this? Or are you like me and have you been down the “new school year” road over and over and over again?
For 17 years of my life, Homeschool Mom has been and still is my title, my job, sometimes my burden, always my honor.
I will only have 5 more “first day of school” days around here. When I put it like that my heart aches a little but not because of the “Homeschool” part, it aches a little because of the “Mom” part. You are still “mom” after they begin their departure from the nest but it changes, in many good ways, but still your mom heart will ache (more on that another time, this dear mom letter is about now! First day of school!).
So as we prepare for a new school year I wanted to share a few thoughts from my heart to yours. Hopefully it will be encouraging for you newbies and for those of you who have been around the block a while.
Here are 4 things near and dear to my heart after all these years:
1. Keeping up with the Joneses is NOT worth it.
What? Yes parent peer pressure exists. Spoken and unspoken.
From social media, to movies, to curriculum and sports. From extracurricular activities, to mission trips, to music and books. I am sure you have been tempted to keep up with the Joneses at some point, on some issue. Just stop.
Be encouraged and know YOU (not your BFF, not the family that looks like they have it all together, not the families that are reading Shakespeare and building rockets) YOU are responsible for your kids, your family and the heart of your home.
Do what is right for your family and don’t feel like you have to hide it, explain it, or apologize for it.
How do you know what is “right”? You know mom, you really do. Stop doubting yourself. Be confident. No, you won’t get everything “right” but what is right is YOU leading and loving your children. You’ve got this! I believe in you.
2. Have a schedule but be flexible.
Be wiling to flow with life and not force it with your kids.
Yes, we need to teach responsibility and consistency. Consistency is very important with school but don’t forget you have a unique opportunity as a homeschool mom to be physically present in the lives of your children. Pay attention.
No matter how young they are they are little humans (or tween-size or teen-size humans) with feelings and moods and hearts that are ready and wanting to be molded. As they grow older and hit those tween and teen years, its even more important because time is limited. If you aren’t there yet with the tweens and teens, it’s coming for you at break neck speed...
Keeping up with your schedule and plan is important but it isn’t more important than connecting with the hearts of these precious souls we have been blessed with. Sometimes learning the importance of a “mental health” day is a more valuable lesson than struggling through a spelling or math lesson. Even in high school!
Remember the more you connect with their hearts the more they will be willing to do for you as far as schoolwork goes in the long run. More importantly the more you connect with their hearts the more they will come to you with the important life things as life marches on.
Speaking of that, I am not living in the land of unicorns and marshmallows. I am more than well aware its not always easy to get our kids to do what they need to do, and they actually do need to do school work. On that note I have a book I highly recommend:
It’s a lifesaver and a contention destroyer...I can’t recommend it enough! There are also Love and Logic resources for parenting younger children – I discovered this series later in my mom years so I didn’t read these resources. I still highly recommend them though, if they are anything like Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, they will offer some extremely good parenting thoughts and tips.
3. Do more listening than talking.
I should call this “confessions of a reformed lecturer”.
If you don’t know anything about my story and want to know what I am referring to reading Rules vs. Reason may help. In the meantime, as a reformed lecturer I am thankful to have the relationship I do with my first girl but it has come after a lot of healing, some outside help and graciousness on her part.
Not to scare you but if you are “that” parent, full of lectures and lessons, here is a heads up….any kid can become an expert at the “smile and nod” the "give them enough to be satisfied" approach. If you are thinking "not my kid" that's a red flag. That's what I used to think too (Rules vs. Reason).
Learning to listen is one of the most important lessons I have learned in my years as a mom and a homeschool mom. Even when you are cringing, even when you disagree, even when your head is screaming “DANGER!! NO!!!” Think about it this way, they are talking to you!
If your child is gushing with details and feelings and thoughts no matter what they are, no matter what the topic is, let them talk! Be their safe place, their judgment free zone. It is in your listening you will gain the ability to speak in to their lives.
You’ll be surprised, if you do enough listening they may even start to ask for your advice, and then apply it, one day. Be patient.
4. Go easy on yourself. Make sure your internal dialogue is kind and loving.
Seriously sweet moms, in this Pinterest Perfect world it is so easy to put too much pressure on yourself to be an expert in every area from housekeeping to entertaining, from baking to fashion, from delicious dinners to fabulous friend time.
You cannot be perfect in every area so stop it!
Just as much as you need to speak kindly to your children, your spouse, your friends and family you need to speak kindly to yourself. Your internal dialogue is important. Celebrate your wins, tell yourself you will try again when you fail (and you will fail some days) but stop beating yourself up. I know you do it, we all do or have at some point.
I’ll help you with a few things I already know you can say to yourself:
Here is the thing sweet mom, I am sure you’ve heard this before but I will say it again, talk to yourself like you do someone you love. If you have a habit of talking to yourself in a hateful, demeaning way then force yourself to do the hard heart work and change your internal dialogue. If you need help with that, I’m here for you, I am just an email away!
So that’s it, I am wishing you the very best school year yet. I hope these few tips will encourage you and you will know you are beautiful, you are loved, you are amazing, you are the best mom for your kiddos, you have been chosen for this task and you can do this!
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