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Let’s chat the three things I wish I knew before homeschooling…
And these three things weren’t about child development, personality differences, learning that homeschooling isn’t schooling, or all the stuff I def do think is necessary to understand if we want to capture charmed homeschools.
Here are the three things I wish I knew before I homeschool…
I didn’t have my own sense of self. I most definitely didn’t have boundaries: where do I end and someone else start? If someone needed me and had the compelling to tell me they needed me…well, I started with their needs. I was on it. By the time I was nineteen, I had to decide if I was going to sink or swim in life. I didn’t start with security and equilibrium.Teresa Wiedrick, author of Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
What I’m going to share is a whole lot more personal. You might have heard me share that I came into this homeschool thing without an awareness of who I was and what I was all about.
I didn’t have a vision for my life.
Except to be kind and to do stuff for other people (because that is what a good mother should do, right?)
I didn’t have my own sense of self.
You can guess, I most definitely didn’t have boundaries: where do I end and someone else starts?
If someone needed me and had the compelling to tell me they needed me…well, I started with their needs.
I was on it.
By the time I was nineteen, I had to decide if I was going to sink or swim in life.
I didn’t start out with security and equilibrium.
(As I begin to share my story, I always slow down at this point, trying to think how to share what my childhood was like without using the cliche words: dysfunctional, abusive, violent, and undiagnosed mental health issues reigning my family atmosphere…but really, these descriptors accurately reflect the atmosphere of my childhood reality).
Rather, I’m more likely to say (because it seems more socially acceptable) that my childhood experience felt like the movie themes from Sleeping with the Enemy with a strong dose of The Firm and a smidgeon of Schindler’s List.
Or if it was described in book themes, I’d suggest the energy of these two books: Educated by Tara Westover and Man’s Search for Meaning by Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankly.
(And one of the reasons I don’t like sharing any of this publicly is because, as you can imagine, it opens the potential for a lot of shame and judgment and critique…and having to deal with the actual childhood is enough, thank you very much.)
However, if you’ve been regularly a part of my world, you would be benefited by knowing WHY one of the modules in my Capturing the Charmed Homeschool mentoring group is so relevant to me and why (& how) I’ve learned it.
Because I grew up in the atmosphere I did, I was mentally locked into attending to other people’s needs.
It’s the way I survived. Kept me safe. Made other people like me.
(Cause someone had to like me, right? And it wasn’t me.)
And guess what? I most definitely brought that approach into my family life.
Yikes, but accurate.
And in my striving to make the most perfect, most CHARMED life ever, I introduced homeschooling into my life where I worked even harder to make it even more perfect.
Anywho, reality check times a bajillion turns out I’m not God, I can’t do what I set out to do.
I can’t make perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Nor can I do all things for all people. Nor should I search for other people’s validation.
And with that “hitting the wall” experience (that fateful day four years into homeschool when I wanted to send the kids on the yellow bus to a school, any school), and an encouragement to watch a Brene Brown YouTube video, I discovered, I hadn’t included ME in my homeschool, my family, or my LIFE at ALL! (Whew, legit, I’m palm-sweating, butterflies in my stomach over here).
I have a long story about how I came back to me.
It’s why I know that you have to have a strong sense of yourself to capture your homeschool life. You need to know yourself. And you need to care about yourself. You need to nurture the nurturer.
The second thing I wish I knew BEFORE I began homeschooling (but def didn’t).
As you can likely guess, my goal in “showing up” for my homeschool family was to do everything that anyone wanted me to do all the time.
Naturally, this is fraught with trouble.
Up, down, left, right: any way you look at it, there are problems with this approach to womanhood/parenting/homeschooling.
In a nutshell, I wish I knew that I needed to determine how I wanted to SHOW UP for my homeschool family & MY LIFE.
Um, what? Isn’t this discussion kind of self-absorbed and self-centered?
Yes, it totally would be if the reality of this “selfless” approach didn’t bear out in exhaustion/depletion/confusion/unhappiness. (Which actually doesn’t help the homeschool family at all.)
And it totally would be self-absorbed if it actually worked. (Which it doesn’t.)
And it totally would be self-centered except that it is actually very self-centered to think that I can do ALL THINGS FOR ALL PEOPLE and they will, in turn, be grateful for my “all things” and grant me the perfect life I desperately wanted (in counterbalance to the not-so-perfect 😉 childhood I alluded to yesterday).
I wish I knew, before homeschooling, that I could decide HOW I wanted to SHOW UP for my homeschool family & MYSELF on purpose.
And that when I was intentional about it, I actually brought the BEST of me, that they could then benefit from the BEST of me, and that I would most closely address what they actually needed because I knew how to address what they needed (as I was simultaneously addressing what I needed).
(Ya feel me?)
Just in case you think I’m going to tell you the ten-step plan to SHOWING UP in your life on purpose, know that I am not.
But I do have routine practices that have a powerful impact on clarifying how I want to show up. (And they most definitely benefit everyone: me, my partner, and my homeschool family.)
(Also, this process is a hella lotta work, so if you’re joining me for the Capturing the Charmed Homeschool mentoring group, don’t think the Charmed life comes for free. It requires honest internal work that requires a lot of reframing to turn those challenges into charms).
You can see why I believe we have to show up in our lives on purpose, right? Because you need to care for yourself.
You need to nurture the nurturer.
The third thing I wish I knew before homeschooling (but totally didn’t).
I wish I knew I had to build a strong sense of self-confidence to counteract doubt, create routines to address a million reasons I might feel overwhelmed, and reimagine what an education was anyway (so the education was child-intended, not private-school approved).
Cause all of the above would be stuff I would have to address for the rest of my homeschool life.
There’s a whole lot of busy work we create for ourselves when we’re not clear on what an education is anyway.
We fill our days, and our kids’ days, with a whole lotta activity. But is it useful activity serving the education (the “raising up”) of our child(ren)?
Sometimes. Sometimes not.
Except, how would we know that lots of the stuff we do are not necessary when most of us were conventionally educated and taught to think it is necessary?
Confessional: I tried to create a private school at home.
Do you know how?
- French, Italian, Swahili, Spanish (depended on our present travel adventures)
- Math workbooks, of course
- Economics, current affairs, politics
- Chemistry, geology, astronomy, biology, botany, microbiology, human physiology, animal husbandry…
- Nature study, with drawing pencils on a picnic blanket (thank you, Charlotte Mason!)
- Violin lessons, piano lessons, theatre programs, choir, ballet, contemporary dance, jazz dance, etc etc etc…(thank you Mr. Suzuki & our local symphony concertmaster)
- History readalouds, accompanied by history summaries (thank you, Marie Wise Bauer)
- Expository essay writing, research writing, magazine article writing, NaNoWriMo every November, etc etc etc…
- Drawing, design, painting, impressionism, classical music, etc etc etc…
- Reading reading reading LISTS (of all genres, and always classics, Shakespeare, and anything I should have read in high school but didn’t)
I could go on and on and on here…
And I got a GREAT education!
Oh, and the kids probably learned some cool stuff too.
And though I think we homeschool mamas should incorporate our interests into our homeschools, my goal in homeschool was to give them a private school experience, NOT look into their eyes and listen to who THEY were and what THEY needed or consider where they were going.
(In other words, their home education wasn’t always about THEM).
It’s why I know that you need to be really clear on what an education is anyway, so you can create an individualized education that will raise your children up to do what they were meant to do.
So, there you have it: three things I wish I knew before I homeschooled.
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Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod