Homeschooling is a lifestyle not just a plan for education. It affects your whole life. Suddenly your life can change. In September, just as we were kicking off our homeschooling for the new school year, we found our needle in a haystack house. We had been talking about moving for six years and all of a sudden life was changing. For the next five months I would be packing, organizing, staging our home for photos, selling furniture, throwing away furniture, packing, organizing, cleaning, packing, organizing, and cleaning. Did I say packing yet? Boxing up our home of fifteen years was not what I had in mind for a peaceful school year. Hosting twenty showings was not what I had in mind for less stress in my homeschooling. Yet, there we were. Life was definitely happening. So, how do you homeschool when Life happens?
If you have a goal to accomplish doing something is always better than doing nothing. Is your house a disaster? Clean the kitchen. Do you want to get fit? Go for a ten-minute walk. Do you need to get out of debt? Pay five dollars extra on your latest credit card bill. Doing a little something is better than doing nothing at all. The same principle works in homeschooling. Several friends of mine suggested I should take a month off or more of homeschooling to get things done around the house. I knew that was not going to be in the best interest of our family as we prepared to move. The kids would get restless and feel behind in their studies. Our routine, which really anchors us during the school year, would fly out the window and life would become even more chaotic. I chose to keep our routine but modified it when interruptions popped up, like cleaning the house again for a showing. It worked well. We didn’t get behind as much as we would have if we had dropped everything for two months and the kids and I still felt somewhat stable during a time of lots of extra work and relative instability.
Involve Your Kids
Homeschooling is teaching your kids not just Math, English, and Science. It’s teaching them life skills as they learn right alongside of you. Not every life change is going to be easy to draw your kids into but for us, the change of moving provided opportunities for my kids to learn how to organize better, develop teamwork, and understand the process of selling and buying a house. They learned the valuable lesson of helping instead of sitting and watching Mommy do every single thing when work needed to be done. Do we want to raise kids who help or kids who expect others to do everything for them? If kids are helping a lot, a few treats along the way will help the overall morale among your troops. Extra screen time as a thank you or dinner out here and there really eased the burden of all the unexpected cleaning and showings we endured.
Schoolwork Keeps Life Normal
While it’s important to teach kids to help, there is a balance to that. Kids are kids and need to feel like the grownups are handling life. Doing our homeschooling reminded my kids that their job was still to do their school work. That’s a normal thing for a child, whether six years old or sixteen years old to expect and what will help them feel like they are still a kid when various grownup issues are more obvious to them. I think this is especially important if a life change is more serious such as a health diagnosis or a death in the family. Grownups handle these big problems and kids do their homework. Doing schoolwork can help bring normalcy to a very abnormal situation in your everyday life.
Let It Go
While it’s important to do some homeschooling during a big change, some can mean thirty minutes every day, one regular day a week, two hours a day, or one week on and one week off. One of the big perks of homeschooling is making your own plan. If you need to let things go, that’s ok. Do you need a pajama day or a day when you get a sitter for a few hours so you as a parent can re-group? Letting things go for a time is key to survival when you start to feel like you just can’t homeschool while life is becoming something totally different for your family. The trick is to remember to come back to homeschooling. Educating your children is essential and you can make it work.
One thing I will always come back to is support, which is invaluable during big changes. Reaching out to friends and family who could pray for me, and sympathize with my ups and downs made homeschooling feel less impossible.
Homeschooling is an ever-changing lifestyle. Whether you are moving like us, welcoming a new baby, or caring for an elderly parent, you can still homeschool. Come up with a plan. Find friends who can support you along the way. Do what you can, let things go when you must. Homeschooling isn’t just school; it’s experiencing life together through the everyday-ness and when Life happens.
Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog sarahswritingcafe.blogspot.com and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.