As a society, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. No matter where we go, we seem to have someone giving us another task to do. At the dentist’s office, we’re told we need to brush our teeth three times a day and floss. At the doctor’s office, we’re told we need to perform self-breast exams and have our yearly mammogram. At church, we’re told we need to do family devotions, personal devotions, pray, tithe, and volunteer our time.
We’re asked to volunteer at cub scouts, coach our child’s sports teams, attend board meetings, and sell various items to raise money. We know we’re supposed to eat supper as a family – and be sure that we prepare healthy, balanced meals. And our kids would prefer that we make foods that everyone likes. We’re supposed to exercise daily, plan date nights, keep the house clean, do laundry, and do the dishes. Oh, and we’re supposed to spring clean and keep our house clean and organized at the same time. Does anyone else feel tired, yet?
As homeschool moms, we place even more pressure on ourselves.
Not only are we responsible for all of the activities above; but, we are also in charge of creating fun, engaging lessons for each of our children, keeping up on our personal reading so that we are better able to teach, involving our kids in enough activities so that we won’t be accused of having unsocialized children, reminding our children to practice their instruments, helping them study for tests, and the list goes on and on.
There is no way we can do all of the tasks that are expected of us without going crazy.
No one can live up to that kind of pressure! If you have chosen to homeschool, you are entering a season of life where you learning to say no is extremely important. You will even need to learn to say “no” to some very good things without feeling guilty about it.
With so many good opportunities out there, how do we know when to say “no?”
1 – Is it a priority?
Some things like exercise and eating healthy are important, whenever possible, in order to keep up your strength and to have the energy to carry on with life. Try to prioritize these items. Also, prioritizing your spiritual life is very important – so finding time for prayer and devotions is also crucial. When you have young children, you may not be able to fit in family time, Bible time with your children, and personal time. Ask God to show you what He wants you to focus on during this phase of your life. Do your best to prioritize these important areas and God will be pleased with your efforts. You want to be sure to set as good of an example for your children as you can in this area.
2 – Will your family be there anyway?
If you are asked to volunteer as your child’s coach and you would be attending their games anyway, then it’s perfectly fine for you to accept. If you are asked to volunteer at church when the rest of your family will also be there, that’s fine, too. Just be sure you aren’t so busy volunteering that you never have any relaxation time for yourself. It’s great to give back but sometimes you are the one who needs to be fed.
If you can’t answer “yes” to both of the above questions, then you may want to reconsider being involved in that activity, at least at this time. This goes for dads as well as moms. The kids need you to be involved in their lives as well! Especially boys! Moms can raise boys but we can’t teach them how to be men.
None of us enjoys the feeling that we are being criticized or critiqued.
Many of us try to rise to the challenge when we are told about something else we “should” be doing. We need to try not to take these words personally, however. People are trained to believe that their career is the most important in the whole world – and if we don’t appear to agree with them, they will feel obligated to try to change our viewpoint.
If someone tells you how important it is for you to do “such and such”, learn to say something noncommittal like, “Oh, okay.” or “Good to know.” That type of answer is not argumentative and will allow you to continue on with your day without further lectures. Evaluate the advice later to determine whether it is something you should to add to your routine or if it’s something you can safely disregard during this season of your life.
If you are talking with a friend or family member who is telling you about all of the wonderful things their child is doing and then appears to be critiquing your children in comparison, try to be happy for them and let it go. Don’t accept the bait to compare your child to anyone else. Don’t feel like you have to try to keep up with anyone else.
Everyone’s homeschool experience is unique and you are undoubtedly doing something else more effectively than is your friend. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. When we compare ourselves to someone else, we are usually tempted to compare their strengths to our weaknesses. This is a great way to feel terrible about yourself or your family. Resist this temptation!
You need to put your family first during this busy time.
Your children and your husband are your most important ministry. People who choose to homeschool their children are often used to being involved in many different activities simultaneously. If you want to maintain your sanity, however, it’s important to realize that you aren’t going to be able to be on every committee at church for awhile. Once your children are grown, there will be plenty of time to jump in and get more involved again, if that’s what you decide to do.
For now, we need to learn to relax and focus on our priorities. As long as we don’t spread ourselves too thin, there really can be joy in the homeschool journey.
Question: Are you learning to say no? Do you still struggle in this area? Please leave a comment below.