7 Things I Wish I Could Tell My New Homeschooling Mama Self

I’ve been very reflective as I’ve gotten things underway for this new homeschooling year. I have a senior in high school- a senior! And, for the first time in thirteen years of homeschooling, I don’t have any elementary aged students. My youngest child is in middle school this year.

There are some things I really wish I could go back and tell my new homeschooling mama self. #homeschooling #AsWeWalk

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Things have changed much since our early years of “gather at the table time” where I taught my two and three-year-old letters and numbers and read Before Five in a Row books with them and did the simple and fun activities. Homeschooling in our house looks much different now. The older two are mostly independent and work alone in their rooms. The younger two aren’t far behind now, becoming more and more independent in their schoolwork.
I’ve learned lots over the last thirteen years. My view of homeschooling has changed and become a little more realistic, just as my view of parenting has changed as my kids get older. I know that some things just have to be learned through experience. But if I could go back in time, there are a few things that I would tell my new homeschooling mama self.
Dear new homeschooling mama,

There are days that you’ll love and days that you’ll just…not.

Some homeschooling days are wonderful- a field trip to the museum when everyone else is in school and we have the place to ourselves; the day that one child finally grasped that math concept that has been so, so hard to learn; the time we had that really good discussion over Bible in the morning and I felt like some of the things we were learning were really starting to sink in.
But, oh, mama, there are other days- the day that you’ll have a forty-five minute showdown with a kindergartner who is looking you in the eye and refusing to do what she’s told; the day that all of the kids are bickering and arguing over lunchtime, and you don’t even get to do the regular reading aloud; the day that one child is laid out in your room at the back of the house, sick, and you’re still trying to homeschool the other three while running back and forth to check on that one.
Mama, every day won’t be sunshine and roses. But that’s okay. In the end, the good days outweigh the bad. And, over time, you’ll forget the hour long fit that child pitched when he didn’t want to read one little chapter of the book by himself. Or…you’ll mostly forget. The fun days really will win out. And the time that you’ve spent with your kids- on the good days and the bad- is priceless.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Some things in homeschooling are important, really important. Heart attitudes are really important. Dealing with a child’s heart and behavior can matter more than any academic lessons you’ll ever impart. Critical thinking skills are really important. Knowing how to think and be discerning is a valuable skill that kids will need throughout life.
But some things really aren’t that important. If you don’t manage to teach Latin and Greek to your first grader like that awesome homeschool mom in your co-op, it’s not really important. If every one of your children can’t play a musical instrument, it’s not really something to worry about. If you didn’t get school started until 11am today because it was a late night last night, and all the kids- and you- slept late, the world won’t come to an end.
It’s kind of cliche, Mama, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

Grades aren’t all important.

Some kids just love schoolwork. They do well academically. They read well. They comprehend. They write well. And, when you have to record a grade, they usually do well on tests and other assignments.
But some kids just aren’t academically gifted. They’d much rather be running and playing and doing. And if you give them graded tests and assignments, they probably don’t do well.
That’s okay, Mama. God gifts us all differently. And just because you heard that mom in the co-op talking about how far advanced her child was on the standardized tests she took last spring, that doesn’t mean that your child is any less because he’d rather be playing with Legos than doing math worksheets.

Learn when to listen.

This is an important one, Mama. It’s very easy to get in “teacher mode” and spend all day talking at your people instead of talking to them. And it’s easy to get caught up and realize that instead of asking your son why he was struggling with the science curriculum, you’ve spent thirty minutes lecturing about how he could do better.
 Remember to be quiet and listen.
And don’t just listen to your kids, Mama. Listen to your husband. It’s very easy to get carried away and start talking to him like you’re teaching the kids when he comes home from work. He will not appreciate your lecture on how he could find his tools more easily if he would just keep them picked up and organized. Trust me on this.
Learn to listen to your family. If you need some help with starting conversations and listening to your kids, you can get a free printable conversation starters chart here.

Heart attitudes are more important than academics any day.

Oh, Mama, there are some days when academic lessons need to take a back seat to working on heart attitudes. There are days when kids get up and get started with the morning and that sin nature is working overtime. He’s mean to his siblings. She’s disrespectful to you. She’s disobedient and defiant.
On those days, academic learning needs to take a back seat. Dealing with heart attitudes is much more important than math. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time to deal with attitudes. In the long run, your child’s heart and relationship with God is much more important than finishing that literature book.

It will all be over too soon.

This is one you might not believe, Mama. Right now you’ve got two children who are school-aged. You have a wild and rambunctious toddler. And you have a baby that you’re wearing in a sling as you try to teach the older kids. Your days are filled with feeding children, wiping noses, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, buckling people into car seats.  And when you turn around from reading with your six-year-old to discover that the one-year-old has drawn on the wall with marker…again, you think this stage will never end.
But it will. There will come a time when these kids can fix their own meals. They can wipe their own noses. They can even have a job and drive themselves. And I’m not going to lie and say you’ll miss that baby, toddler, and elementary stage. But sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll wish you were teaching reading, wearing the baby, and wrangling the toddler again.

You’ll never, ever, ever regret the time you’ve spent with your kids.

There will be times, Mama, when all you want is a little bit of alone time. You’ll think, “At least if I put my kids on the magic yellow bus in the morning, I might have a trip to the bathroom alone.” You’ll be tired of little hands holding on to you all day every day. You’ll be tired of constant chatter and endless questions. You might even feel a little resentful of your husband who gets to go to work and be with adults during the day. That’s okay.
But I’ll tell you, Mama, that, when it’s all said and done, you aren’t going to regret one second of the time you’ve spent with your kids. When you’re facing your oldest child’s senior year and watching your son drive off to work and letting go of your middle schoolers more and more so that they can learn to work independently, you won’t say, “Boy, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time with these kids as they grew up.” Instead you’ll be thankful for the privilege and blessing of being able to homeschool and every moment together.
I know it’s true, Mama. Because I’m at that moment now.
There are some things I really wish I could go back and tell my new homeschooling mama self. #homeschooling #AsWeWalk
Are you a new homeschooling mama? You can pick up my ebook- So You Want to Be a Homeschooler- in my shop for free here.

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