First a little intro to this new series: I thought I would share with you some of the struggles I’ve experienced over the past 31 years of homeschooling. My hope is to encourage those who may be involved in struggles of your own to hang in there, realize that God has the answers we need, and that we, as parents, will be blessed by demonstrating persistence, commitment to our goals, and determination to trudge on even when the going gets tough. As our kids watch us learn to rely on God to change our character, they gain a vision of how to develop those same character qualities in their own lives. God knows what we need and what our kids need, and He is designing our life curriculum for us.
Struggle 1: Mom Can’t Do it All
As I think back, when I began homeschooling, I had 5 little ones ages 6 (soon to be 7) and under. I remember often feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tasks I needed to perform in the course of a day. We raised our family in Virginia. My family lived in Massachusetts and Rick’s in Kansas, so we didn’t have extra help from family. We also weren’t oversupplied with income for babysitters, so basically, whenever I went anywhere, my little ones had to go with me. As you can imagine- this is not always easy! It wasn’t long before I realized that I just kind of expected my kids to know how I expected them to act in different situations; but I had never actually taken the time to clearly communicate to them what I expected of them. I found that things that I found irritating were actually God’s direction for me to spend time finding a solution to them or training my kids how to act. Being a new Christian myself, I felt like I was learning alongside my children. I am thankful for a Sunday school teacher who taught us that character, in a nutshell, is just the characteristics of God. As I taught my children to learn how to apply character in their lives, I was learning along with them. The emphasis on character is what kept my focus where it should be.
With my oldest being almost 7, and no outside help, I guess it was desperation that led me to find ways to train my older children to be responsible and help with daily chores, as well as the care of their younger siblings. It definitely took longer to get something done and train the older ones at the same time, but that investment of time in their lives paid great dividends- not only in helping me get my own chores done, but in the habits it built into my children’s lives. It helps to make your directions clear when training your little ones, patiently showing them exactly what you expect when they do a task. I would show them how to do it, then do it with them for awhile, while they were still learning. Even when you are convinced they know what to do, ALWAYS check up on them and call them back if it’s not done right. I remember sometimes feeling guilty that I made my children work too much, but in retrospect, I see it was the very thing that shaped them into responsible, dependable people who learned to be sensitive to the needs of others instead of always putting their own needs first. My adult children have expressed being grateful that they learned to have a good work ethic from an early age.
There is no way Mom can do it all, but that’s not our job. Our job is raise kids who are primed to do what we do, thereby preparing them for being moms and dads someday. Sure, there were, and still are, MANY days I’ve felt like a rubber band, stretched in many directions; but remember God has decreed our days when as yet there were none of them. God cares about EVERY detail in our everyday lives and God is there waiting to pour out His grace upon us. After all, we are just the stewards of His children!