The last few months, we’ve been having a local moms get-together at a coffee shop called The Fish Bowl. The get-together is being casually called, The Fish Bowl. I’m going to add to that. “Homeschool moms at the Fish Bowl.”
Because aren’t we all, to one degree or another, living in a fish bowl?
But anyway, our topic was gearing up for the school year. We talked about a hella lotta stuff, but I’d like to share some of that in a couple of blog posts.
If you think I’m going to make recommendations to your schedule, or how to choose a math program, you will be disappointed in this post. Read no further. I would far rather use my time to encourage you to be awesome. I would rather use my time to encourage you to have joy.
If I were going to give advice on how to be awesome and have joy in one sentence I would say this:
Own less, do less and get along with all the people.
Of course, what we really need to know though, is HOW to do those things and perhaps even WHY. It made me ponder what it is that gets in the way of joy, particularly as it pertains to homeschooling our kids. Here’s a partial list of the murderers of joy –
- checking off boxes
- forgetting why we’re doing this
- squeezing kids into ill-fitting curricula
- clutter in all its forms: stuff, busy-ness, worry
- getting all the other stuff done
- discipline and relationships
I think it’s easier to work on an appropriate solution than try to simply stop doing the thing that’s causing the problem. We are human beings, people of action. Doing something is easier than stopping doing a thing. Such as using poor grammar.
I’ll examine a couple of the things on this list, from the top. Of course, there is lots of overlap in this list. Some of this is my own, and some is from the input of moms as we discussed the things that get in the way of joy.
Checking off boxes. Is this really what you signed up for? “I hope that homeschooling is a list of things we must tick off.” I doubt it. It’s very easy to move from our idyllic world of snuggling, reading together, opening the doors to wonder and awe to “you can’t play until your science and piano are done.” This movement can be both swift and subtle. We need to be able to remind ourselves of the reasons why education isn’t a check list. Maybe one thing we can do is to consider the process of education. It never stops. We never stop learning. We need to think about WHY checking the boxes has taken the place of the process. Has someone or something made us start to worry that we aren’t “getting it all done?” Whatever that means.
Remind yourself every day why you’re doing this. Start the day that way. Use this fabulous resource to determine your family’s ideals. Know what you want for your family. Reflect every evening on ways that you have moved closer to that ideal. Post little notes of encouragement in places you hang out regularly (kitchen sink, laundry room, change table, bathroom mirror, dashboard of your car…). Take time to remind those around you why you are doing what you’re doing. Lifting up another is a great way to remind yourself.
Comparing. This is a bad idea, a bad game, a bad thing to practice. Just uggh. Our perception, from time to time, or sometimes or always is basically that everybody on the planet is happier/prettier/skinnier/has a nicer house/got nicer kids/got harder working kids/ got smarter kids/has a better husband/looks like they have their act together/more fit/has better hair/has less stressors/is a better person – than me.
The key idea in all of this: perception. It’s a perception. You aren’t in their life, you’re in yours. You can perceive that the life of the other is better than yours. Grass. Greener. Or, you can just fertilize your own damn grass. And choose not to care what the life of another is or appears to be.
If we want to get better at something, you have to practice. Again, it’s easier to practice DOING something than NOT doing something. So instead of thinking in terms of NOT comparing, we could start appreciating. Wow, she dresses so nicely. Pay an earnest compliment. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” And most of us can. Compliments and red wine for me. Instead of wallowing in the blessings (perceived or otherwise…) we can appreciate what the other is or has. When we lift up another, we raise up ourselves. This is not uggh. It’s awesome.