The ability to travel has always been at the top of our list of reasons for wanting to homeschool. So much so, that the pictures of homeschooling I have created in my head have as much to do with the road trips we would take to visit all the places we’ve learned about as the actual lesson plans themselves. As new homeschoolers, we didn’t waste much time before hitting the road. Loving our new freedom, we took three trips in four weeks. Our plans were coming together, and my homeschooling dreams were coming true. This is what this new life is all about!
Or is it?
There’s an old saying, “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.” The truth of this hit me hard as we were eating lunch at a restaurant in Arkansas on our way home from our last trip. I was so tired, and a bit frazzled, knowing the fun was over and work awaited us at home. Our toddler was very restless at the table since he had been in the car all day. I don’t really remember how we kept him quiet during the meal, but this sweet old lady eating next to us thought we were cool as cucumbers when it came to parenting. As she and her husband got up from their meal, they stopped at our table to tell us how they were so impressed with our gentle parenting. I didn’t know what to say, but I think my jaw hit the floor. Us? Gentle parents?
If only they had seen the real us, our boys’ real parents, on this last trip. I had raised my voice more times than I would like to admit and manipulated my boys’ behavior by reminding them how happy they should be to be able to go on fun trips. Though that sweet old lady thought she was giving us a compliment, she was actually giving me a reality check. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this, and it was time to quit.
As I sorted through piles of laundry and got our house back in order after our travels, I cried a lot and wrestled with my thoughts for several days. I chose to homeschool because I see so many great things about it, and I wanted to give it a real shot. My son was enjoying it. We were getting to do so many fun things and had a full curriculum that was teaching us so much. So why was I so frustrated?
Then it hit me. We were doing too much . . .
I was too focused on cramming in all the good and fun things. Things my son never asked for. Sure, he loves an adventure, but he loves a happy mommy so much more. I can take him to see all the places we read about in books, but at what cost to our relationship if I’m stressed out?
I also began to strip away some of our curriculum for now, which is very difficult for me. When there’s so much beauty in learning, it’s hard to choose what to leave out. My son is only in first grade, so we are sticking to the three Rs and adding in some great books, a little beauty, and lots of nature. Since making this switch, our days have gone so much more smoothly.
My husband and I also made the decision to stay at home for a while and find a family rhythm that works. We will travel more in the near future, but it can wait. I realized I have needs too and was feeling resentful with all that was on my plate. We worked out a plan that helps me find time to get out of the house and to take a daily walk.
I admit I was ready to call it quits on our way home that day. I am learning it’s normal to feel that way, but it’s what we do with those feelings that matters. Right now, I don’t want to quit. I want to set priorities, simplify our schedule, and focus most on relationships.