Wondering how you can find balance with co-op, and gym class, and clubs, oh my! And piano lessons, and Awana, and all of the sports! The list of things to sign up for each fall is never-ending. It seems like as soon as you determine your homeschool schedule, you’re bombarded with a million activities happening in your church, co-op, and community.
Sorting out what to sign up for is one of the most difficult areas of homeschooling. Because you are responsible for every aspect of your child’s education and social development, it is tempting to join every club, go on every field trip, and take every homeschool class at your local library or YMCA. After all, they are great things, full of wonderful opportunities for kids to learn and grow, and you want to support organizations that support homeschooling.
The problem is that a homeschool mom who overcommits herself eventually hits a wall. Homeschool veterans fondly refer to that wall as “February”.
Homeschool moms are some of the most independent and high capacity women I’ve met.
They can get more done with a baby on their hip than most people can accomplish with a full-time assistant. They can educate six kids, make bread from scratch, invent a unit study on a whim, and keep their cool under extreme pressure…and that’s on a bad day.
When faced with the many options available at the beginning of the school year, they honestly assess their schedules and choose sparingly. The problem is, there’s just so much to choose from, and adding even one regular out-of-the-house activity can mean an entire day of no school.
So how do you find balance? In my years of homeschooling, I always came back to three principles that kept me grounded: margin, support, and temperance.
You Can Find Balance !
I have a tendency to see an empty space in my schedule and see it as a slot to be filled. As a young homeschool mom, I learned from a wise friend that I should never look at my calendar in public and answer requests for my time on the spot. Deciding whether or not to commit to something needs to be considered more thoughtfully, because once I sign up for something…I’m all in.
The pressure of pleasing someone while they can see an open day on my calendar was too much for me. I needed to have space and freedom to see that the empty spot on my calendar was there for a reason and not have to make excuses for declining an invitation simply because I needed downtime. The days and hours on your calendar that are “open” create margin in your life for rest, leisure, and recovery. Allowing margin in your schedule for those important elements will nourish you in a way that pleasing others cannot.
None of us are capable of discerning what’s best on our own. We need our spouses, family, and friends to help sort things out. We need counsel from those who have gone before us, advice from people who are wiser, and constructive inquiry from people we trust. If you’re acting as a lone wolf deciding every aspect of your homeschool life independently from the support of others, you are in danger of leading yourself and your family into a dangerous place.
We were made for community, and consulting with others will keep us grounded and offer insight that we cannot conjure up on our own. A homeschool support group, a small group of ladies from church, and family members who are included in your decision-making process will keep you grounded and accountable with your schedule. It’s also a lot easier to ask for help getting kids to lessons, sharing household tasks, and having a night out to yourself for a Bible Study or support group meeting when your helpers have been part of the process.
The word “temperance” is usually associated with alcohol, but I find it pertains to anything in our lives that we are inclined to overindulge in. For many moms, overindulging in activity is a legitimate threat to our household and internal peace. Temperance refers to the practice of habitual moderation of a particular desire, and it requires the act of self-control. Reigning in your schedule and refraining from over-commitment is an act of the will.
It takes effort and practice to maintain margin in your life, say “no” to good things, and intentionally include others in your life. Like any good virtue, it has to be valued, prioritized, and initiated; it won’t just happen. To prevent becoming the person who always complains about being over-committed, exhausted, and busy, but who is perpetually the first person to sign up for the next cool thing, you simply have to stop.
If you want to avoid hitting February like it’s a brick wall, it’s important to start now and process each opportunity you have to add something to your schedule. It’s about more than just how fun or educational things are. It’s really about the sustainability of the pace you set for yourself and your family. If you’re not sure how much you can handle, take a break from saying “yes” for a bit, and don’t begin saying it again until you understand what a healthy margin looks like for your family.
When you dedicate your time to developing supportive relationships with your spouse and friends, they can help you decide what to add and when. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it all alone. Those lessons, field trips, and clubs will all be there next month or next year, and you’ll enjoy them much more when you are participating from a place of peace, self-control, and support.
Homeschool Made Simple
Author, Jessie Wiegand
Jessie is a mom of five who has been homeschooling since 2000. She loves serving the homeschool community and has been active as a support group leader and co-op teacher in southeast Michigan for over 15 years.