January is tough on every family with kids still in school. Getting back into the routine of school, homework, sports, and activities can be overwhelming, especially if you feel like you hardly got a break during the holidays. This week, one of our favorite homeschooling moms, Katie Hayes, shares advice and encouragement as we all jump back on the treadmill of the spring semester.
Most Christmas songs that we sing are pretty straightforward. Songs about the Babe in a manger and peace on earth are on repeat throughout the season. This year, as I was singing along to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” one line in the song stopped me cold. “Mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!” That hits you a little differently when you’re a homeschool parent. School. Ugh. I had enjoyed not thinking about fourth grade math for a few weeks. It was downright blissful to focus on the Christmas season with my kids. Who in the world cares about states and capitals or grammar assignments? But every year, without fail, January seems to come barreling at us like a freight train, dragging us back to our schedules and schoolwork.
Like many homeschool parents, I feel like we slid right into the Christmas season more than just a bit weary, in need of some of that “peace on earth” we all sing so freely about. I’ve listened to others complain about entertaining their kids for “two WHOLE WEEKS on Christmas break” and inwardly wanted to scream, “Welcome to my life!”
There are a few reasons I wasn’t fa-la-la-la-la-ing right into the spring semester. First, I barely feel like I got a breather after the fall semester. We are behind. We will never catch up. The school room looks like a pack of wolves has been living in there for weeks. We all know the loop of panic that constantly runs through the minds of homeschooling parents. We are not strangers to anxiety and alarm that we are messing it all up.
Second, I was just starting to “like” my kids again. It is no small magic act to switch back and forth between parent and teacher during the school year. The Christmas season was about having fun with our kids. No sentence diagrams. No tears over math homework. I would venture to guess I’m not the only one who stood back and looked at my kids thinking, “You really CAN be fun to be around!” I’m learning that this is a common difficulty among homeschool families. I am constantly stuck between wanting to be a nurturing mother, but also needing to be a strict teacher. Sometimes these roles switch back and forth in a matter of seconds.
Last, I’m jealous of the parents sending their kids “off to school.” There, I said it. It’s not a popular thing for homeschool parents to say out loud, but occasionally we wish we could flag down the yellow bus and PUT SOME PEOPLE ON IT, ALREADY.
I decided that I was not going to let January bully me with fear as I shuffled into the spring semester. God, help me. Give me perspective. Jesus, take the wheel, and please drive fast! As God always does, He lovingly reassured me to the call we have answered to homeschool our children. We are weary because we forget about grace! God showing up is not the miracle, it is the given! Why is it so easy for us to forget that He is faithful to lead us on this crazy journey?
I don’t need the answers to what school will always look like for our family. He has shown me our path for right now, and I can rest in following His lead. He has constantly reminded me lately of the positive reasons that my kids are always with me. What a precious gift we have during these impressionable years to be the overwhelming voice in our children’s ears! Remember, a peaceful and happy mother (or father) is the real key to successful homeschooling. Sure, we all feel like our hair is on fire most days. But thank God, I know the One who holds my fire extinguisher.
Here are a few verses that can help bring homeschool parents some perspective as we boldly head into the spring semester:
Matthew 11:28-30 tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It’s time that we focus on the one who can give us REST while we tackle the task at hand.
God has indeed prepared us for “such as time as this.” Esther 4:14
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Isaiah 41:13
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
A great resource that has personally helped me so much this year is “Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace” by Sarah Mackenzie.
Katie and her husband, Tom, have been attending Stonebriar since 2006. They have two energetic boys, Hudson and Jude. Katie has used her passion to love and minister to families through various roles in missions and children’s ministries, including family mission trips, international mission trips, assisting with child dedication, and serving children’s ministry volunteer workers. Katie has a degree in Public Relations and has worked in many various industries including government, non-profit, ministry, and corporate. Her days are kept very busy homeschooling their oldest son, Hudson. Tom and Katie are often found traveling the globe together and love to see God’s work among the nations.