Back to School

NO PLEASE, do not run and hide, I KNOW back to school time is scary, that is exactly why I need to talk about it!  EEK!  Because it is that time…and I’m scared!  No, really, it is super scary, I mean, I home school my kids.  If they completely bomb anything in the education category, that is all on me.  I cannot blame teachers for their lack of concern, I cannot blame the system for the common core crud, I can’t even blame the text books for being in a different language because I choose those books!  Seriously, it’s some pressure you guys!  AND, I bet even if you don’t happen to home educate your kiddos like I do, it is still a scary undertaking!

Here is how our school year usually begins:  I spend about a month before school begins planning the next year out to the letter.  I plan the year, then the months, then the weeks, then the day by hour.  BOOM!  I am SUPER AWESOME ORGANIZED MOM and I am totally going to ROCK THIS SCHEDULE FOR THE ENTIRE…first six weeks.  Yes, friends, you read that correctly.  That is IF I keep on track for that long HA!  (In my defense, I was much better at the scheduling BEFORE the baby decided to grow into a toddler!)

Do you know what happens after those first few weeks when I start falling behind or things come up or life happens?  I beat myself up.  No, really, I barely sleep at night, I give myself the hardest time, and I give myself even bigger and more unattainable goals to fail at. I mom-shame myself. Do you mom’s realize we are harder on ourselves than anyone in the world?  Do you know that we criticize ourselves about things that other people have no earthly idea even exist in our minds!?  Let’s call this a kind of follow-up to the mom-shaming post, except that we are shaming ourselves.  We have let the world get to us so very much that we can’t even give ourselves a break!

SO, this year I came to a realization—I home school.  For me, that actually means I have freedom.  In the beginning of our home school journey I used to try to look very much like a public school—desks and TONS of work sheets and busy work and…you get the idea.  NOW, there is NOTHING wrong with how you choose to school your children; for many, public school is the only feasible option, and I in NO WAY criticize you for that!  BUT, since I am not using that option, I realized our school does not have to look like that!  (The realization only took me FOUR or so years!).  SO, what exactly does freedom look like?

Well, glad you asked.  This year I still planned out our year.  BUT, I didn’t plan it to the letter like I usually do (which is how I usually set myself up for failure).  I plan our schedule based on a year round school schedule of 36 weeks and/or 180 days.  This is pretty much the only “law” Oklahoma has regarding home school (along with subjects that need to be taught, which in my opinion is kind of common sense, but I digress).  So I plan our schedule with four weeks on and one week off, we take off weeks of the children’s birthdays which may mean that we get two weeks off in a row or have school five weeks in a row.  We take off the entire week of Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas.  Two weeks in the spring, which we actually take later than most schools do their break, and 3-5 weeks for summer depending on how the year goes.  In Oklahoma, I would rather school through the summer because the summer here is a bit miserable, but that did not happen this year.  SO, that is my YEAR planned out…what I did not do that I usually do is pre-plan all of our field trips and such.  This is kind of a big deal because I LOVE to plan field trips, I mean, I go extravagant, I’ll have to share my friend’s blog post about our Route 66 trips sometime.  I like to plan field trips around what we are studying or make them relevant in some way, the problem is that once I got behind on my schedule, the field trips got scattered and then we would miss them an then I would feel bad and guilty and like a failure…see, you get the picture.

SO, I wrote in field trip IDEAS for the month and when that month comes, I can plan accordingly and care free!

While I have planned out basically the work needed to be done each day, I did NOT place specific month/dates on what had to be done and when.  SO, for example, instead of saying X needs to be done on August 12th, I instead have written “week one day 3”.  That means if we end up taking off a week unexpectedly because of an illness or some other reason, I am not going to be behind, I simply continue with the next week/day in order with no worries.  I am learning to be much easier on myself.  It is NOT an easy task.

Yes, we still do have a daily schedule, schedules are a part of life in the grown up world, and I do feel the need to set my children up for success in that way, but this is working for us, and I am NOT stressing or freaking out like I usually am about this time.  I feel pretty content with all this school stuff, as a matter of fact.

So moms, dads, caregivers of small people who are in desperate need of an education and also a sane parental figure, don’t stress.  If you public school, don’t worry too much, it’ll get done.  Make yourself a little daily schedule for things like homework and chores so you can stay on task and plan the rest of your day accordingly without feeling bogged down.  If you home school, do the same!  Make yourself a daily schedule, but don’t make your yearly schedule so rigid that you forget to live life.  Don’t make this journey stressful!  Our kids are only going to be this little once.  This day only comes once, this week will never come again, this month will fly by and be a memory by tomorrow.  Relish it.  I KNOW that is easier said than done, believe me, I know, but you can do it.  In all the scheduling and planning and striving for unattainable perfection, remember to enjoy what you have.  It is a blessing, my friend, a miracle.  You have today, school will happen, learning will happen, but more importantly, let love happen.

Take a breath, grab some coffee, get your calendar and use white out accordingly!

Remember this:
“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that people will fear him” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 NIV).
There is a time for everything, this is the time to heal, build, dance, laugh, gather, embrace, search, keep, mend, speak, and love.  We will have trials along the way, because there is a time for everything, but in those times, don’t forget these!

P.S. The photo is from one of our Route 66 field trips.  There was a huge map on the floor and we were each standing on a town we visited on our trip…SO FUN!!!

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