Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Ten Habits of Happy Homeschooling Moms

Mothering Magazine recently mentioned “The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity,” by Meg Meeker, MD on their Facebook page. I haven’t read it, but it got me thinking about the things I did as a new mom and the things I’ve learned as a more experienced mom.

I’ve been a reader of Mothering since 1998ish – I was a nanny, and the mom’s sister sent a gift subscription to the mom one year for Christmas. She was a more mainstream type, but I fell in love and have been a fan ever since. The first issue I read was about cow’s milk and another one was on toys made with PVC plastics, I think. Reading about their recent changes makes me so sad that Mothering will no longer be a resource for new moms – at least not in the magazine form. I understand the need for the changes; I just hate that we’ll lose this wonderful asset.

Motheirng was such a validating resource for me when my kids were small. I could (and still can) pick up any issue and read about families who do things like we do, or read articles about things that are important to me. I learned a lot about things I probably wouldn’t have heard about otherwise and many of my preconceived notions on things like healthcare (Western medicine vs. naturalistic/homeopathic remedies), discipline, communication and more have been challenged by reading what Peggy O’Mara and her staff have written. How unfortunate that those topics will no longer be addressed on mainstream magazine racks. Print media is so non-confrontational; you have to look for things online but a magazine might turn up in a doctor’s office or something and plant an idea or piqué your interest about a topic you might not have thought about before.

In any case, I’m a fan of ‘top ten’ lists, so I thought I would make my own top ten list of habits that make for Happy Homeschooling Moms. Your mileage may vary, so feel free to comment with your own additions or a link to your blog with your own list. I’m especially curious how homeschooling dads might write this list.

10. HHM’s have let go of the notion of Getting it RightTM . If there’s one thing I know for certain, it is that there is no one right way to homeschool. The variations on normal are myriad and ever-changing. Even within one family, what works for one child may not for the others. Embracing the diversity within your family (and the homeschooling community at large) and making alterations that fit your own family’s style are essential to homeschooling harmony.

9. HHM’s don’t compare. Whether its one child with another within your own family, your family to another homeschooling family, or your kids to kids in public school – happiness is wholeheartedly appreciating your own unique strengths when it comes to homeschooling style and accomplishments. Contrary to popular belief, there is no Queen of Homeschooling (though if there were, I would certainly be She {wink and nod to those who get this}). Every style of homeschooling has strengths and weaknesses and every homeschooling mom’s personality and personal style will flavor her efforts with tweaks and kinks that may intrigue or irritate onlookers. Draw inspiration from things you like and ignore things that don’t blow your skirt up.

8. HHM’s take time to appreciate the beauty of where they are right now. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, there is always a very interesting and totally awesome project on the horizon… if only they were a little bit older/knew their times tables/had a physics degree. The temptation to push gently nudge and encourage those little fingers to move faster or that energetic body to sit still for five more minutes is profound. In most families, if the kids turn out badly, then the schools can blame the parents and the parents can blame the schools – when you’re homeschooling, it’s ALL on your shoulders. The pressure to turn out prodigies is lessening as homeschooling gains popularity among the normal population, but it’s still there. Sane homeschooling parents know that each place on this academic journey has lovely sights to see and aren’t afraid to bookmark the cool stuff while focusing on the here and now.

7. HHM’s have a safe and supportive place to vent. Homeschooling is hard. It’s stressful and there are days when you really want to (say that you want to) throw in the towel. Having a safe place to say that, out loud (or type it in bold caps) and know that not once will you hear a comment to the effect of “well, why don’t you just put them in public school?!” is genuinely priceless. Whether that’s your mom, your BFF or an online forum, having a place that you can say things you don’t really mean and get commiseration rather than condemnation is something that every homeschooling parent should have at his or her fingertips.

6. HHM’s pace themselves. You have PLENTY of time to educate your child ‘properly’. If a homeschooled child can accomplish 8 hours worth of daily work in half the time, then you could complete a full 12 years worth of education inside of 6 years. While I’m not necessarily advocating that, I’m just sayin’… you’ve got time. Without having to deal with the needs of 20+ children, line up and change classes, the amount of time you’re spending each day on lessons is usually significantly less than your child’s institutionally educated brethren.  With all that extra time on your hands you can take a walk or do an awesome art project with the kids, or you can send them outside to play and curl up with a cup of coffee while reading your favorite trashy romance novel instead (with a nod in J.R. Ward‘s general direction).

5. HHM’s foster a daily personal connect with each child, individually. One of the absolute best things about homeschooling is the sheer amount of face time that you get, one on one, with your kids. Not just academically, though seeing them grasp new concepts and watching their creativity bloom is fulfilling, but being a constant presence in their lives and seeing them grow into the people they will become is incredible.

4. HHM’s get out of the house! Just because it’s called ‘home’ schooling doesn’t mean that you should ever be stuck at home. When you’re homeschooling, school is portable. That means that if you have to go out, or if you want to go out, you absolutely can. Whether to the yard or to the park (city, state or national), getting out-of-doors and into the sun can play a big role in reviving your spirit. A change of scenery and fresh air can pull you out of a slump, get you out a funk or make a static lesson lively and enthralling.

3. HHM’s take the time to plan for lessons or activities and set up in advance. Dedicating a portion of your personal down time to planning and preparing for activities or lessons isn’t the most fun thing for a weary mom to do, but it’s a sacrifice that pays off in the long run. There’s nothing more frustrating or time-consuming than having to stop in the middle of a groove to find a key component to what project you’re doing and good planning can make for smooth days, which is always a plus in the happiness column.

2. HHM’s take regular breaks away from the kids. Homeschooling is a 24/7 gig. Even when you’re not actively schooling, homeschooling means that in the back of your mind, there’s a chick in librarian’s glasses sitting at a desk with a clipboard calculating the educational value of any given activity. To get her to shut up, the children must either be asleep or away from you. Regular breaks to refill your Cup O’ Patience is essential – and you’re not allowed to feel guilty about it either. Unlike a ‘real’ job, work can never be left at home (unless you go out, without them), so taking breaks is vital to maintaining balance on the Tilt-A-Whirl that is the life of a homeschooling super-parent.

1. HHM’s remember that this is supposed to be fun! Homeschooling is one of those areas where mom’s attitude really can set the tone. Keeping all the above in check goes a long way towards keeping you on an even keel, but the heart of the matter is always going to be in your hands. If you’re not having fun, or your kids are not having fun, then it’s time to have a look-see and make some tweaks. Even if that means taking a week (or a month, or a year) off to re-group, see point number 6 and then DO IT.

So, that’s my list. What would go on yours?

Warmly,

~h

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10 responses

  1. I need to do more of number 2 take breaks away from the kids. Hard to do with my husband traveling so much.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:23 am

    • I have found that if I take regular, small breaks then I stay more balanced. If I start neglecting them, I need a true break – like a weekend away or something. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a single parent or be in a sitch like that, where you’re shouldering the majority of the load the majority of the time.

      Do you have close-by homeschooling families that you can co-op with? Some friends and I had a co-op babysitting arrangement once a week when my boys were little. Between the 3 of us, we each had kids one week, then 2 weeks where we had a four-hour, kid-free block to run errands or just relax. It was awesome.
      ~h

      February 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

  2. Ha! I second number 10! I lost my mind recently, and I have a post all about that one. I really need to carve out more time for individual time with each kid. We have the time, but I can’t seem to carve out time for each of them separately during the day . . . the other child can’t stand it and always sneaks in to join us. If I use my mom to watch one while I spend time with the other, that cuts into my mom breaks. The husband and I are trying to work out some kind of system for the weekend, so I can get a break and we can still have time all together.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

  3. We used to have a ‘date’ with Mom or Dad on our rewards chart. We haven’t done that in a while, and I’d like to get back to it. Be sure to post about what you guys end up doing!
    ~h

    February 23, 2011 at 9:03 am

  4. I posted on this on my blog. I hope you like my post and THANK YOU for the idea! I love it!

    http://taytayhser.blogspot.com/2011/02/top-ten-habits-of-happy-homeschool-mom.html

    February 25, 2011 at 1:04 am

    • Hi Karen!
      I commented at your site – thanks for reading 🙂
      ~h

      February 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm

  5. Ok this is great just about share on FB and would love to blog about it…do you mind if I share a snippet (1 – 2) points and then link to the rest of the post here?

    February 26, 2011 at 6:28 am

    • Thanks Kylie! I would love for you to share 🙂 Feel free to add your own points, too. I’d love to know what you find essential to homeschooling happiness – I need all the help I can get, lol.
      ~h

      February 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm

  6. This is a great list. I’m always working on #8 since my boys are so young. With a 17 month old who accidentally destroys everything his older brother is working on (because he wants to be a part of it so badly) things can be…exhausting. Which is where #7 (having a place to vent) helps out a lot. Thanks for this list, it makes me think of things I can work on to improve.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

  7. I think we need to put on a great deal of time and effort on number 5. We as homeschool moms need to continously build a relationship with each child and connect with them each and every day so we can work well together.

    Great relationship will surely give us a positive outcome.

    Anne
    http://HomeschoolingOption.com/

    November 24, 2014 at 7:57 am

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