It never fails. At some point during the school year, as I'm grading or checking assignments, it occurs to me that there is NO WAY we are going to complete everything I thought we'd do during the year. Not only that, but I look at the calendar and see precious little white space that can be used to catch up either. I've talked with enough other homeschool moms that I know it's not just me. I'm getting much better at this, but it doesn't come naturally. How about you? Are you overbooked and overwhelmed by all you've still got on the homeschool to-do list? Sit down with me for a cup of coffee and a reality check.
I love this Tinkerbell coffee mug, but I also need to be reminded that pixie dust only gets stuff done in fairy tales, not in the real world. In the real world, it takes time and effort to get stuff done, and if I don't take that into account, things may not go well. In other words, we need to know our limits and try to set goals that are achievable.
There are only so many hours in a day. You can (and should) use your time efficiently, but the reality is that it may still not be possible for you to do everything that you think you should, or everything that someone else thinks you should. That includes all the housework and cooking and outside-the-home activities. Sometimes you'll have to decide whether it's more important to sit with your struggling reader and encourage and help them all morning long, or to wash all your walls and floors on the same day. Or maybe you'll need to put off the time-consuming science experiment for another day, because a friend is recovering from an operation and you are helping her out with housework and childcare. There will be days when you can't get ALL the laundry done, or clean the ENTIRE house top to bottom. Be realistic about your expectations for yourself and what you can accomplish in your homeschool and in running your household. Enlist help from your family whenever possible. It's a very good thing for kids to learn how to do all kinds of household chores.
Realistically, you'll need to leave some margin.
This is is so that you'll have room to be flexible, like we talked about yesterday! Allow time and space in your schedule for those unexpected things that will come up. Don't over-schedule and overbook yourself or your kids, or you will risk burnout. Too much pressure do get too much done to an impossibly high standard will kill the joy of learning and set you up for failure and exhaustion. Count up the empty squares on your monthly calendar, and the unscheduled hours on your daily agenda. If there aren't any, or there are very few, take a look at that schedule and decide what you can cut in order to allow for downtime and breathing room.
Prepare and plan in a realistic way.
As you put together lesson plans, and four-year plans for high school, and even your family's calendar, recognize that there are limits on what you and your kids can accomplish. Plan a course of study or a daily routine realizing that your kid won't grasp every concept and complete every assignment within the shortest possible time frame. By leaving some wiggle room in your agenda and having a couple of options already penciled in just in case Plan A doesn't work, you give yourself permission to be flexible.
Realistically, you know you're not perfect.
Neither are your kids. We all know that in our heads, but still we compare ourselves and our homeschools to others and to some rather unrealistic standards. Do what is best and what works for your family, and resist the temptation to copy someone else who seems to have it all together.
How do you set goals for your homeschool that are a challenge, but still realistic? Leave a comment and let me know!
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