“Just one more…”
Do these words ever go through your mind when planning out your homeschool schedule for the upcoming year? They do with mine! And I’m not referring to just one more year; I’m referring to just one more OPPORTUNITY.
“I know we’ve already signed up for a few things, but my kids just can’t possibly miss this opportunity!”
Before the year begins, everything seems to become the next “ultimate opportunity.” I totally understand (and agree) that there are some phenomenal opportunities out there for our children. The issue is that we somehow think we can, or need, to participate in each one. We stretch ourselves so thin that by the end of the year we’re like an over-stretched rubber band; it only takes a little extra tension and we snap. I’ve seen this play out time and time again.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
For those of us who plan late, I’m familiar with the drill. It actually starts at the end of the previous year. The summer comes, we are ecstatic for a break. We don’t want anything to do with books, co-ops, curriculum. We simply want our long break. Then, ever so slowly, the excitement of planning the homeschool schedule for the new school year starts to set in. Planning next year’s homeschool schedule becomes exciting. It’s almost like having babies — you forget the painful labor after a few short months, and before you know it, you’re ready to do it again!
For some odd reason, sometime during the summer, we start to have this vague sense of superwoman creep in. Maybe it’s the blissful summer heat, maybe it’s the lack of book-strewn tables, maybe it’s the fact that we aren’t driving all over the state each week for lessons, co-ops, or leagues. Whatever it is, it somehow produces homeschool amnesia in our brains and we start to imagine this picture perfect upcoming homeschool year where we happily sign up for every new opportunity that pops up. Although we’ve just walked through the strain of the previous year, we’re somehow able to quickly forget about the stress.
Instead of analyzing our previous year, taking time to carefully consider ways we could gain a little more sanity, we sign up for an extra co-op, a field trip group, and piano lessons. We purchase mounds of extra curriculum. Fall volleyball sounds great, as does speech & debate, and a couple random field trips. Maybe we feel a sense of vindication, making up for all the things we missed last year. Or maybe, just maybe, all of us late planners need to start planning in the spring when there’s still a residual speck of realism since we’d still be in the thick of it then.
It always amazes me that I can still fall into this trap! I’ve been homeschooling so long now that I can look back over my oldest children’s journey and see how each year had unique benefits, whether that came from a specific curriculum I used, a co-op we joined, or music lessons we endured. I only say “endured” because 6 out of our 7 children took piano lessons last year which was no small task driving back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, repeat, repeat, repeat.
In reality, I can see how each year’s opportunities were perfect for that year. Whether it was a year where we did more with friends or a year where we put our nose to the grind, whatever path God led us on for that year was exactly what we needed. And why would we doubt? God knows what we need, right? But so often, we fall into the trap of thinking that we need to “better” the year next year, so much so that if we wrote it all out, our homeschool schedule would look insane.
Well, I have come to realize that it’s OKAY to not do everything in one year. Our children will not suffer. In fact, one could argue the opposite. Just because we CAN do something doesn’t necessarily mean that we SHOULD do something. What about doing less, but doing it with excellence? Wouldn’t we be teaching our children some valuable life skills in that decision? Diligence, carefulness, and excellence. I don’t know about you, but those are three words that I definitely want my children to learn. And not just the word, but the actual skill.
Why shouldn’t we require slow, careful work? After all, the Bible tells us in Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
I want my children to know this verse. Really know it. Inside of them. (By the way, I know that was terrible grammar, but it drove the point home!) How can we train that into them? The answer is…by requiring it of them. They need time in order to perform tasks with excellence. And moms, we need time to homeschool with excellence. It takes time to do our job well. And by signing up for too many things, we may unknowingly rob ourselves of the opportunity to train diligence, carefulness, and excellence in our children. These virtues are important!
Not only will we be training important character virtues into our children, but they’ll also recognize what a sane mother looks like. When we don’t put too many requirements on ourselves, we’re able to be better moms. Our patience grows, our ability to listen grows, our gas savings grow. Ok, I know that last one didn’t really fit, but hey, it’s true!
So the next time you start to hear yourself say, “Just one more…,” remember Colossians 3:23. I’m not saying don’t sign up for the incredible, too-good-to-be-true opportunity, I’m just saying make sure you have enough time to do your job well because, at the end of the day, that’s what is going to make you happy. Knowing you did your best to train your children, and you did it with excellence because you carved out enough time for training, will be truly satisfying. Now, if I can just remember to take a dose of my own medicine while planning my own homeschool schedule!