The Big Secret to Homeschool Peace (Do You Know It?)

Homeschool peace is something I really need (I'm guessing you're a fan too).

The problem is that I seem to be my own worst enemy in this area.

You've met homeschool moms like this. Moms who seem to have it all together. Although NO ONE has a perfect life or a perfect homeschool, these women know (and practice) this ONE SECRET. It's a homeschool secret that changes EVERYTHING. Do you know it?

It's like there’s a tiny little Napoleon living inside of me: an obnoxious, perfectionist, driven beast pushing me to do the best, be the best and conquer the world (one dinner meal at a time).

But there are days when it seems all that “pushing” comes at a cost. And that cost often is my sanity. My sense of peace.

And a terrible place that many of us get tangled up in.

So it’s no wonder that we are drawn to women who exude homeschooling peace in the midst of their (seemingly crazy) circumstances. We marvel at them and tell ourselves that if we only did such-and-such we could be there too.

Which is just more guilt. More self-abuse. More traps.

Me: “What Is Your Secret to Homeschool Peace?”

A few months back, on a particularly exasperating day, I asked a homeschooling friend with six kids how she did it all. She chuckled and very quietly said, “I don’t.”

Those words have been echoing in my heart since then.

I have no quick fixes (I’m guessing you haven’t found any either). But here are the specific things I notice about those “peace-filled” women I mentioned above.

The biggest secret? They live on purpose for some things, and not for others.

These women seem to have chosen what they will fight to include in their lives, and what they will fight to leave out. For some, that might be homeschooling five kids. Others focus on making gourmet, made-from scratch family meals. Some choose a heavy schedule of extracurricular sports. But the point is I’ve noticed they don’t choose all of these at the same time.

“What will I have to give up to fit this new thing in my life?” is a question to continually consider.

One of my homeschool mentors shares that, for her, time is the most precious commodity, trumping even money. So over the years she’s shared about how she’s chosen this curriculum, that activity, or this eating lifestyle (even if it is more expensive) because it requires less time demands. That extra margin of time in her day gives her the ability to have a more relaxed lifestyle (as long as she doesn’t fill it up with other things, which would be my temptation!) which in turn leads to more homeschool peace.

Another mom I know homeschools five of her kids, runs a blog and still finds time to craft. But her kids have very few extracurricular activities; she has a loose, unplanned homeschooling style; and she describes her meals as “very simple.” She’s said no to some things so that she can say yes to others (I know she has other reasons too why she chooses to unschool versus have a structured, scheduled curriculum, and why her family overall has a less-activity-ridden lifestyle, but alas that is another post).

So this begs the question…  what do I want to live on purpose for, and what activities fall in line with those goals?

These are the things I don’t want to compromise on. This allows me to naturally filter what I will and will not add in my day.

The right priorities dictate the right direction for a life.

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I think I’m (finally) getting the concept of my life as having “seasons.” I see my older kids becoming more independent and not needing me as much physically, and so I can say yes to some things that I couldn’t say yes to before (like blogging). But there are still things I can’t do in this season (like scrapbooking, photography, crafting and even some church commitments) because of my other priority commitments for this season, and so for now, I’ve let them go. It’s not a “forever” goodbye… just a “not-right-now-but-I’ll-be-back” sort of goodbye.

It has been so hard to let go of things I want to do (because they are often really, really great things), but I’ve decided that my sanity and my health are worth it.


Living with Margin and Being Content with Enough

Margin is a beautiful word that brings so much clarity and peace. Here's three ways I see these moms living out margin in an effort for homeschool peace:

1) They live a self-care lifestyle (that doesn’t compromise core goals). These women take naps. Sleep late some days. Some make pedicures or a once-a-month massage a part of their routine. They regularly take time for tea. They call in a babysitter when needed. A few of them have older children that can babysit the younger ones. All of them have kids that they’ve trained to be household helpers (wow, now that’s a whole other post). They’ve instituted regular “quiet times” in their days for all family members. All of these tiny things add up to the regular maintenance of mom’s spirit and to a more peaceful home setting.

2) They fiercely protect their family’s time. These moms (and their kids) have simple lives overall, especially in the area of extracurricular activities. Even if an activity is “good,” if it causes too much stress and running around these moms choose to not involve their family in it.  Quality time together (not time spent rushing to and fro) is a huge priority for them.

3) They are willing to choose imperfection for sanity and peace. These ladies seem to be truly, honestly, alright with the messes (I’m sure not every day, but most days). They actually believe that it’s OK to not finish every part of the homeschool lesson. They trust that, yes, they will survive (and so will the organization) if they don’t volunteer for a season.

They have come to grips with the fact that they are giving their best, trying their hardest and that it is enough.

Do you and I give ourselves enough credit and actually believe that?

Really, it comes down to what do we want “more” of? Do we want more activities? More stuff to fill our lives?

If we do, that’s fine. There’s nothing inherently wrong with all that this life offers.

We just need to know it will come at a cost. And if we aren’t careful, that cost might be the family relationships and peaceful life we’re ultimately looking for in the first place (supposedly found in all the activities).

Something’s gotta give. We can’t have it all. But that’s OK. It really, really is.

Dr. Richard A. Swenson has some great things to say about margin in these books:

The book Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson has great wisdom on this topic too and is one of my favorite mothering books:

You've met homeschool moms like this. Moms who seem to have it all together. Although NO ONE has a perfect life or a perfect homeschool, these women know (and practice) this ONE SECRET. It's a homeschool secret that changes EVERYTHING. Do you know it?


Your Turn:

As we begin another school year and our schedules become this year’s daily routines, I challenge you to deeply examine what you will leave in, and what you will leave out.  What is your heart’s intention for this year? Do you truly want more homeschool peace and freedom? Don’t be afraid to sacrifice even those “good” things in order to gain them.  

Set your core intentions and stick to them.  Be ready to adopt a new attitude—it is enough­­—and seek contentment.

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