I sat there on the floor. Putty knife in one hand, a small plastic container in the other. As I methodically scooped out the spackle and painstakingly filled every tiny hole I saw, all I could think of was, “Man, I just want to start painting!”
Okay, okay, I know not many people can relate to this desire to pick up a paintbrush and just start painting the walls of your house, but….
You know what? Let me back up.
This story makes a lot more sense when you hear it from the beginning!
You see, my family and I recently moved. And I’m not talking about moving down the block or to a neighboring city. I mean we packed up everything and moved cross-country!
Now, let me tell you, it is no easy task to pack everything up and move cross-country with 5 kids while still homeschooling through all the transitions! (If you want to hear more about the nuts and bolts of how we took our homeschooling on the road in this transition, check out this post.)
A Brand New School Room
Part of getting settled in our new place involved creating a new school room. Oh, don’t get me wrong, before we even put an offer in on what is now our house, we all knew which room would turn into our school room!
The challenge was, there were no bookshelves in this room.
And you have to understand, in the school room at our old house, my husband had created a built-in bookshelf wall that stretched 7.5 feet wide by 8 feet tall. Going from that huge amount of bookshelf space to none at all is a bit of a difference…
So, my husband and I set to work redesigning the new school room to fit our needs.
First up, we cleared everything out. Who wants to paint the walls when there’s stuff all in the way, right?
But as we started washing the walls, we started seeing things…
In years past, there had been some water damage on the ceiling and the drywall needed a smoother coat…
There was dust everywhere that would interfere with the paint…
There were holes all over the walls from where pictures had hung before…
Not to be deterred, we got to work.
And we kept working…
And we found stickers on the window that needed to be fixed…
And baseboards that needed to be reattached…
Let the Pondering Begin
And suddenly, I found myself sitting on the floor with a plastic bucket of wall spackle in one hand and a putty knife in the other wanting to skip all this prep work and just get to the painting! Because, let’s face it, when you compare it to the drywalling and hole-filling, putting color on the walls is the fun part, right?
But then it hit me:
Fixing up, preparing, and painting a school room is like homeschooling and raising children.
Think about that for a second…
When you start getting a room ready to paint it, there’s all the prep work to be done: The cleaning, the hole-filling, the drywall-fixing, the baseboard attaching.
And then comes the taping so you get that nice, clean paint line without painting the ceiling (unless, of course, you’re painting the ceiling!).
Then, and only then, can you even consider picking up a paintbrush to put the first bit of paint on the wall – and sometimes you’re not even at a point where you can add the color! Sometimes (like in my school room), you have to start with a full coat of primer because the walls are in such bad shape.
Let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of painting a room and you can’t wait to see the pretty color on the wall and get to the decorating part, you just want to skip ahead, right?
You want to forget all the prep work and just start making it look the way you envision it in your head!
But here’s the thing: You can skip all the prep work and just start painting. No one’s going to stop you. And your walls might look pretty for a little while, but slowly, surely, those imperfections that you simply painted over will start to show through your lovely coat of paint.
Or, you can take the time to do the things that feel tedious right now: The sanding, the drywalling, the hole-filling, the cleaning, the priming… Knowing that when you do get to that final coat of paint, your walls will be beautiful and will stand the test of time because you took the time to get the foundational pieces right.
So What’s This Got To Do With My Kids?
Now, you may be thinking that all this makes a great case for taking the time to make sure you do your painting prep work, but what does this have to do with homeschooling and raising kids?
Well, just like painting takes a LOT of prep work and behind the scenes work, homeschooling takes a lot of prep work and behind the scenes work.
It takes a lot of courage to get up each and every day and lead your children through your homeschooling day.
It takes prep work to know what lessons you’re going to cover today and tomorrow and the next day.
It takes time and patience to sit down with each child and help them sound out the letters so they can feel the freedom of being able to read on their own.
It takes patience to answer the million questions that come flying at you from every direction from the moment your children wake up until the moment you softly close their door after tucking them in at night.
It feels long and tedious…
No one appreciates it…
No one notices it…
No one knows it’s happening…
Until it doesn’t happen.
The Proof Shows Through the Paint
You see, when you paint a room, it can look great at first. But in time, the true colors will show through.
Now, if you took the time to prep your walls correctly, fix all the issues, and apply the primer before adding that final coat of color… Well, honestly, you might not notice anything except the walls look good for a long time!
And let’s face it, have you ever had a friend come over, look at a room you just finished painting and decorating and say, “Wow! Look at that spackle job! You never would have known there were holes everywhere on these walls when you first started!”
It just doesn’t happen, right? People are much more apt to compliment you on the color you chose, how you decorated the room, the furniture you chose for the room or how you arranged the furniture. Complimenting people on the drywalling and hole-filling just isn’t on the top of most people’s go-to compliments!
But at the same time, when you skip all those prep work steps and jump straight to painting, your room might look good for a little while, but in time, all those imperfections will start to show through. All those holes that you didn’t fill will show up. All those uneven areas you should have sanded down will become obvious. All those baseboards that were coming loose are now falling off.
My friend, no amount of paint can cover that up!
The Crux of the Matter
You see, it’s the hidden work, the behind the scenes work, the silent work that makes the most impact in the long run.
It’s the little things that no one bothers to mention.
The hidden work carries the most weight.
Sitting and reading with your children, letting them know that they are loved…
Encouraging your child to work through the tough stuff, teaching them that they have the determination and the strength to get through it…
Fielding question after question and fueling your child’s curiosity as they discover the world around them…
Making the 800th peanut butter and jelly sandwich this week to feel those children who seem to grow at an astonishing rate and pack away food at an even more astonishing rate!
Working with them, teaching them how to learn and grow and discover things for themselves.
This is the work that makes the most difference in the long run.
These are the things that carry the most weight.
And make no mistake, as time goes on, this work will show through – whether for good or for bad.
So don’t give up.
Oh, you don’t have to be perfect! Trust me, all of us are human – there’s no way we can be perfect! But in the imperfections and the striving to serve and love your family better and better each day by the grace of God, you are teaching your children!
You are teaching and modeling for them what it looks like to live a life of integrity – to be the same person with your children as you are when you’re out with friends or covered in drywall dust and primer painting a school room!
So don’t give up the silent work.
Don’t give up on the hidden things.
Keep going. Keep trying. Keep making a difference.
Because you know what, my Friend? You are making a difference each and every day in the lives of your children. And that, right there, is some pretty incredible work!
- How to Homeschool on the Road
- 3 Paralyzing Myths and How To Overcome Them
- 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.