Homeschool Worries, Wendy’s Nuggets, and the Search for Balance.

I really love homeschooling my son. We’re doing it for a variety of reasons, the chief of which being that I don’t want his childhood to be consumed by the drudgery of school/homework/weekend cycles. I want him to be able to live real life, read in the outside air, learn in practical situations, and have the freedom to do “school” outside of the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. block. I want learning to be an enjoyable, natural thing that we pursue together. I want him to have an individualized education and freedom- and this homeschool newbie totally believes that it’s possible.

Searching for Homeschool BalanceBut the problem is that our homeschool doesn’t always actually look like that.  Sometimes school activities turn into more of a fight than a creative exploration. Sometimes I’m lacking that curiosity and passion that I so long to instill in him. Sibling arguments steal time and energy from our efforts. I get stressed out about what needs doing and I’m often far from joyful.

How can I give a zeal for learning if I don’t model it myself? How can I expect my children to be cheerful when I am so often a grump? How can I give them lots of outdoors time and freedom when I’m too much of a control freak?

It’s real life, folks. I get that these struggles are normal. But they breed nagging worries in the back of my mind. Do they like it at home? Do they feel cooped up? Would my J do better with another teacher? Will my kids resent me for not letting them go to a normal school? 

And then there’s the “homestead” life- stuff that I have often hoped will help to teach my children responsibility, work ethic, and how to take pleasure in the world we live in. I have idyllic visions of bread-baking together, caring for the animals, canning peaches in the summer and whittling walking sticks in winter. I want to give them a good childhood full of hard work and healthy habits that will give them a strong foundation for their adult life.

Yet, as I urged my children out to the barn yesterday morning, this homesteading-together-thing didn’t look so picturesque. My son drug his feet behind me, screaming, “I can’t do this!!!” as I asked him to follow me. My daughter wailed and whined, planting her feet in the cold ground in protest. The baby fussed in the carrier, and I struggled along to get the feed to the rabbits. It wasn’t exactly what I’ve hoped for.

When we had to go out later, the lunch I had packed for us was already eaten when J began complaining of starvation. I despaired- We didn’t have time for the store, I had no more food with me, and we were going to be out for at least another two hours. So I did the deed that no frugal, natural health foodies are supposed to do for their children and that I already do more often than I care to admit: I went to Wendy’s drive-through.

And in the purchase of those chicken nuggets, I found great freedom.

I don’t have to be perfect all the time.

I can compromise sometimes to save our sanity.

I can decide to focus on what’s going right instead of on what’s going wrong.

I’m reminding myself of the truth that I can’t always do everything exactly how I would like it to be done. And if I need to take a break sometimes, that’s okay. I’m not a bad mother for sending my child to a class so I can have some breathing room, or for stopping for fast food on a rough day (even when I know I really shouldn’t!).

I don’t know exactly what the balance should be yet, but I know I’m looking for a better one. And whatever it is, I’m giving myself permission to accept it.

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