The Homeschool Mom's Biggest Fear (and what to do about it)

We’ve all felt it.  Whether you are a brand new homeschool mom or a veteran, you know the feeling.  Your stomach turns when you try to go to sleep at night.  You see all the cool things other families are doing that you’re not.  Curriculum catalogs full of shiny new packages promising to revolutionize your homeschool.  Snapshots on Instagram of beautifully dressed children (and mamas) taking a nature walk, smiling leisurely as if they had all the time in the world to bask in the endless sunshine of an endless autumn day.  And despite your best-laid plans that you have spent hour upon hour, day after day creating, losing sleep over, that little voice creeps in saying…

“You’re not doing enough.  You’re not doing the right things.  Your children aren’t going to get everything they need.”  

And if we’re not careful, it’s just a small step to the next level: “YOU are not enough."

Believe me, I have been there.  And after talking to many other homeschooling parents, I know that many others have been there too.  In fact, I believe this is the biggest fear of homeschooling moms.

Unlike traditional teachers, parents who homeschool have the added weight of being just that: parents of their students.  We feel ultimately responsible for the fates of our children, and by choosing to home educate, we shoulder the entire weight of that “burden” rather than “outsourcing” a portion of it elsewhere.  I’m not saying that one way or another is necessarily better; just stating what is probably obvious: the education of our children is a big responsibility;  so big that most parents choose to “hire” someone else to do it for them as their full time job.

 

Do you feel the weight?

 

Are you struggling to manage a household while juggling the complete education of a child--or many children?

 

Does your fear that you are not enough keep you awake at night?

 

Because sometimes I do.

But thankfully, there is a Remedy.  His name is Jesus.

This is what He is saying to you:

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Rest for the heavy laden.  Gentle.  Humble.  A light burden.  This is what our hearts yearn for.  And you have most likely read that verse a hundred times.  You might even have it memorized.  Why, then, is it so hard to believe it, to live it?

Because we also have an enemy.  And he knows that what you are attempting is hard, and glorious, and that the children you are raising have the potential to shake the very foundations of the world that he is trying so hard to deceive.  He will do everything in his power to stop you.   And do you know what is possibly his most effective tactic?  Overwhelming, debilitating fear.

We are afraid we aren’t teaching our children the right things, or enough things, or the right things at the right time.  We are afraid they won’t know how to “socialize” or that we are overlooking some major aspect of their childhood years.  So, we start to say “yes”.  To everything.  Homeschool co-op?  Yes.  Latin?  Yup.  Soccer?  Of course!  Piano lessons?  That too.  Robotics club, dance, basketball, drama, art lessons...the list could go on and on, and I didn’t even get into the curriculum catalogs!  

So what are we to do?  How do we overcome this seemingly insurmountable fear of “not ever being enough”?  I’d like to humbly suggest just a few steps you can take to regain your sanity, contentment, and, most of all, sense of rest in your homeschool.

  1. Allow yourself a time out.  Get away for a day, or at least a couple hours, to take a good long look at your situation.  Go somewhere peaceful that you enjoy.  Spend some time prayerfully considering some basic questions...What are your core values?  What ideals are you striving for?  What would your ideal homeschool day look like?  Write all these things down so that you can revisit them when you need to be reminded of what really matters to you and your family.
  2. Evaluate your current curriculum and activity choices.  Are there things you’ve added in on a whim just because you saw it at a curriculum fair and thought it sounded great at the moment?  Have more and more things slowly crept into your school day because someone else was doing it, so you thought you should too?  Make a list of everything you do on a daily basis, as well as everything you feel like you should be doing.  And I mean everything.  Get it all out there.  On paper.  I’m guessing the list will be about three times longer than what is physically possible for anyone...even that imaginary homeschool supermom you’ve been comparing yourself to!
  3. Now go back to your answers to the questions in step one.  Start going through your massive list of “things-I-must-do” and honestly evaluate your family’s activities in light of your responses.  You might be surprised by how many things can automatically get crossed off the list.  On the flip side, there may be items you would like to cross off the list, but are valuable for your family and are worth your sacrifice.  For this reason, it’s probably a good idea to include your husband in this process, or someone who can “talk you down” if necessary.  Left to my own devices, I can tend to get a little carried away with my activity-slashing when I’m feeling stressed out!  
  4. Are there areas in your school day where you could combine activities or subjects for all your kids?  Are you doing four different science curricula for four different ages when you could really just use one and tweak it for all your kids’ ages?  Are there a bunch of little things you want to do every day that you could put into a “Morning Time” practice?  I will be writing more on this concept in the future, but for now you can read more about it here.  Incorporating Morning Time into our daily life has really renovated our days.

Remember that there are only so many hours in a day, and you still need time for meals, cleaning up, household chores, grocery shopping, relaxing, etc.  For a time you might need to become a little bit ferocious in guarding your family’s schedule, especially if you have gotten used to saying “yes” to everything.  Give yourself a week or two to try out a new schedule.  Stick to it religiously and see how everyone feels.  After that you can tweak it or even cautiously add things.

These steps are just a start.  I find that I need to revisit these questions very frequently--even on a weekly basis to some degree.  At the bottom of this post you can find links to several other resources that I have found to be very helpful!


Of course, none of this will be effective in transforming your attitude if you are not convinced of your value as a person made in the image of God.  What I have offered here are some really practical steps to get focused on what it is that you really want to be doing in your family.  But it might be helpful--or even critical--for you to spend some time reflecting daily on the person that God created you to be.  There is a reason He made you the way that you are.  You are the mom your kids need.  You are the wife your husband needs.  That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of room for improvement...after all, sanctification is a lifelong process!  You might not feel like a saint just yet, but the truth is, God created you to be exactly who He wants you to be.  Here are some familiar verses to meditate on as you work through this process:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He has loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:3-10

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“For you formed my inmost parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.”
Psalm 139:13-16

So go ahead, step out into your life without fear.  You are enough.  With the Holy Spirit’s help you can do this.  Embrace each moment and enjoy it!  And when things don’t go according to your plan, allow yourself the freedom to roll with it, make the best of it, and pick it up again tomorrow.  After all, as Anne Shirley would say, “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”

How about you?  Have you been in this place of fear?  Overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy?  What did you do to get past it?  

Some excellent resources for you to consider:

Sacred Ordinary Days planner - this is the planner I currently use, and I love it.  The facebook community is great as well.  I love that the planner incorporates weekly evaluation of your life in key areas such as spiritual, physical, and relationship health.

The Mason Jar Podcast from the Circe Institute.  Cindy Rollins always makes me feel better.

Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie.  An encouraging, quick read!

Focus and Align Masterclass with Sarah Mackenzie.  This is part of her paid subscription site, but it’s well worth the cost!

You can also find this post at Hip Homeschool Moms!