Do you ever hit those points where you feel like you just can’t do it?
Everything you try, every effort you make seem to fall flat or – worse yet! – turns into a miserable failure?
You try so hard to find that pattern, to keep everyone moving in the right direction, but you just can’t seem to make it happen…
Life feels like it’s dissolving into utter chaos all around you…
Situations come up that threaten to derail and overwhelm you…
And you’re still trying to homeschool your children through all of this! But it leaves you wondering…am I enough?
Can I really do this?
This seems too hard! I just can’t see a way to go on!
Or maybe it’s not quite that drastic for you. Maybe it’s just a season where everything needs to happen and you feel like you’re running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done on time without letting anything fall through the cracks….or maybe you’re just running around after your kids trying to keep up with all the messes they create!
No matter where you are…
No matter what season of life you’re in…
No matter if you’re dealing with the chaos of running after little ones while trying to keep bigger ones on track with their school or if you’re running all over town trying to keep up with all your – and your families’ – responsibilities. No matter if you’re in a season where sickness has taken over your family and your priority shifted to making sure everyone is on the mend. No matter if you’re in a season where your health has taken a crazy curve ball and you need to figure out how to take care of yourself while still taking care of your kids…
All of us have hit this point at one time or another. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t hit one of these points, it’ll come!)
And (not to be a downer, but I have to state the obvious) it’s not like we can avoid these times!
So what do you do? How do you homeschool when the chaos of life overwhelms you?
Face the Facts
Before you can do anything else, before you can even start to formulate a plan to walk through – or even just survive! – the season you’re in, you need to stop for a moment and face the facts. What’s really going on?
Is this a short season where everyone got walloped by their allergies because of the change of seasons?
Is this a time of helping others by providing meals, watching someone else’s children, or simply being there for your own extended family as challenging situations are unfolding?
Are there larger health issues going on in your immediate family or maybe even with you?
Or is this just an incredibly busy season where you need to take a step back and see all the things you committed to?
Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t want to face the facts square in the face, right? It can be scary! It can be downright terrifying in many cases!
But here’s the truth of the matter: If you don’t face the facts, if you don’t acknowledge what’s going on in your life, it will always feel bigger, more menacing, and more overwhelming than it actually is.
By facing the facts and defining what is happening in your life right now. By putting into words the struggles you are facing, you take the chaotic and overwhelming situation that you’re facing and you start to define it. You start to see it for what it is, not for this ambiguous, overwhelming shadow.
Think of it like this: When you were a kid, were you ever scared of a shadow in your room? I’m guessing we’ve all had a moment (or a few thousand) like that. And if you stayed cowering in your bed, the shadow only seems to grow bigger and more scary. But when you called for your mom or your dad, when they took the time to figure out which shadow was bothering you, all of a sudden you realize that it was your silly stuffed moose casting a weird shadow thanks to the nightlight. Or maybe it was the shadow cast by those clothes you threw over the back of the chair that was messing with your head.
Whatever it was, when you did nothing, the shadows seemed to grow larger. They seemed to take over and become even more overwhelming. When you stopped to see what was causing the shadows, you ended up smiling because a stuffed moose is not all that threatening.
It’s the same concept here. Take some time and identify those things in your life right now that are causing you to feel overwhelmed. What’s creating that feeling of chaos?
Control What You Can Control
Now, before we get too far into this, take a look at this statement again:
Control what you can control.
Notice that it doesn’t say ‘Control everything within in inch of its life’ or ‘Control everyone around you.’ No, it says ‘control what you can control.’
I’ll be perfectly honest here, this one is really hard for me. I fall into the category of wanting to control every aspect of my life and even controlling things that I have absolutely no control over! Through the years, I’ve been learning that there are so many things that I have absolutely no control over whatsoever! (Having 5 kids in less than 8 years will teach you that pretty quick!)
And yet, there are things you can control. There are things you should control.
How’s that for a contradiction?
Let me see if I can explain this a bit….
If you’re recovering from getting sick, make sure you get enough rest by controlling what time you go to bed.
If you’re going crazy thinking of all the places you have to be today, control the chaos a bit by taking 5 minutes to sit down and list out where you need to be at what time. And if you’re gas tank is low, leave 5 minutes early to fill your tank! It seems like such a little thing, but it’s one that really matters!
If you’re feeling like you have no time for your homeschool lessons, block out a few hours where you can simply focus on getting those lessons done.
The trick is to identify those things you know you can control – and that you should control! – and then follow through with them.
Now, if you’re a control-freak like me, this suggestion might be hard to swallow, but here it is: Talk this through with someone else! (I know, tough, right?)
Sit down and talk to your husband or your best friend about what you should be controlling and what you shouldn’t be trying to control. I know when my husband and I sat down and talked about this, he pointed out a few areas I was trying to control that I really needed to let go of. When you talk it through with someone who knows you and will be honest with you, it might not be the answer you want, but it will be helpful in the long run.
Let Go Of the Uncontrollable
Now that you have those pieces that you can – and should – control, it’s time to let go of the things you can’t control.
Yeah, this one is really hard!
Maybe that means accepting the fact that the house won’t be picked up perfectly…
Maybe that means accepting help making meals…
Maybe that means letting go of that strict schedule and taking things one step at a time…
Maybe it means letting go of unreasonable expectations – expectation that you have of yourself or someone else…
It looks different for everyone, so I can’t sit here and tell you what you need to let go of. But one thing I do know, when the chaos of life starts to overwhelm you – particularly when you’re homeschooling – it’s time to take a step back and see where you can find space to breathe in letting go of some things you can’t control.
One Step At A Time
You may have noticed that there is a big question – the preverbal elephant in the room – that I haven’t really talked about yet.
Oh, we’ve talked about accepting where you’re at, controlling the things you can and letting go of the things you can’t, but where does homeschooling fit into all this?
Let’s face it, when you’re walking through a chaotic season of life – no matter the reason – it can feel far more chaotic when your kids are with you all day every day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having my kids with me every day! I love the opportunity I have to teach them and guide them on their learning journey. But let’s face the facts here: When there are 6 people in a house constantly, it’s a lot louder and more chaotic than when there’s only 1!
So, how do you do it? How do you keep homeschooling through the chaos?
One step at a time.
One week at a time…
One day at a time…
One lesson at a time…
One step at a time…
Yeah, okay, that sounds like a cop-out answer doesn’t it? Well, it kind of does sound like that, but it’s so true! Sometimes you have to step back and simply look at the next task you need to get done – and that’s it! No further!
But, on a real and practical level, what do you do?
The Real and Practical Steps
In over a decade of homeschooling, I’ve run into many chaotic seasons. We’ve been through sickness, cross-country moves, losing grandparents, long-term sickness, life chaos of so many varieties that it would bore you to read all about them.
But one thing I’ve learned through the years is that the only way to get where you want to go is to take a step in the right direction. Remember that quote,
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. (Lao Tzu)
It’s profoundly true! And when you homeschool your children, it is a journey of a thousand miles! So what steps do you take?
Here are a few steps that I always seem to fall back on when the journey gets hard:
- Plan Ahead :: Not in a crazy way, but when you take 10 minutes in the evening to set up your school lessons for the next day, to copy worksheets and make sure you know where your lesson books are, the next day goes so much smoother!
- Set Expectations :: Tell your children what to expect when you start the school day. If you expect them to get all their lessons done before they go outside to play or before they get screen time, tell them. Set their expectations right up front so everyone starts out on the same page.
- Take a Lunch Break :: This one is easy to say, but hard to do. It’s easy to remember to feed your children lunch, but it’s hard to remember to stop and have your own! Take a break with your kids. Set a timer if you don’t want to spend too much time at lunch, but don’t forget to have some!
- Give Yourself Grace :: Don’t worry if your school day is taking longer than it usually is! Focus on the big picture: Are you getting done what needs to be done? Are you making progress? If so, it’s a win!
Remember, the size of the step you take doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you’re moving in the right direction. So go ahead and take that tiny step – and congratulate yourself for taking it!
Don’t Give Up
More than anything, don’t give up.
I know I say this a lot, but as homeschooling mommas, I truly believe that we need to hear it a lot!
It’s so easy to get bogged down in life. To get lost in the weeds, overcome by the details, overwhelmed by all the chaos.
But it’s in these moments – the moments where you just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head, and ignore the world and all your responsibilities – that you need to pause…
Take a deep breath…
And remind yourself why you chose to homeschool in the first place…
Remind yourself that life will not always be like this. Seasons come and seasons go. And, yes, each season has its own particular brand and level of craziness, but that doesn’t mean it’s all for nothing.
You can do this. You can homeschool your children.
Did you hear that?
You can do this!
And you want to know something else? As your children watch you walk through the craziness of life, they are learning more than you could ever realize.
Don’t forget: Homeschooling is more than reading books and lessons. Homeschooling is what happens in the simple moments in life. Teaching and learning isn’t just confined to the school room table. It happens all the time and everywhere.
Don’t give up, my Friend! You’re doing so much better than you’ll ever know!
- What To Do When You Crave Balance as You Homeschool: Harmony verses balance
- The Importance of Knowing Your Homeschooling Motivation
- Simple Ways to Overcome Frustration and Enjoy Your Homeschool Day
- What Do You Do When the Chaos of Life Surrounds You?
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.