Muddling Through

It’s that time of year.

The homeschool blogs are showcasing shiny new books and lovely projects. The writers are describing how they’ve printed all their materials, filled 36 folders (one for each week) with projects and worksheets, and gathered supplies for all of the crafts that they plan to do. The homeschool moms are discussing how they will best meet each child’s educational needs and tailor each lesson to the children’s learning styles. Goals are written down, schedules are made.

Me, I just can’t get into it this year.

Most years, while I don’t eagerly anticipate school time, I do look at “back to school” with a little enthusiasm. I like new materials and the energy of learning. I am always eager to get our slothful summer selves back to some semblance of a productive routine. I’ve always looked at it as “Well, we have to do it, so we may as well try to make some of it as fun as we can.”

This year, I am so not there.

This summer, a family member has been dreadfully ill. He won’t be with us much longer, so the last few weeks have been filled with out of town trips, nursing duties, worry, stress, and researching medical decisions. School has not been in the forefront of my mind, so I approached the first day of school on Monday with much trepidation.

I was disorganized and flustered. I did have the books ordered, but last year’s materials were still hanging around the house, I didn’t have a schedule figured out, and I had no idea about where we are going this year.

Today, on day three of school, it’s much the same. I’ve resigned myself that for the foreseeable future, this is how it will be.

My mind is muddled.

My house is incredibly cluttered.

My garden became a weed patch 3 weeks ago. I have to wade through the tall grass to pick tomatoes. Oh well.

Our vehicles keep on breaking down and I’ve had to make last minute dashes to Tractor Supply Company and the auto parts store too many times.

Looking at the other homeschool blogs, I can quickly be overcome with a sense that I am failing my kids. They do deserve more than this. Yet, I know, deep down, that this is the best that I can give them right now.

In over thirteen years of homeschooling, I’ve learned something.

Some years, you just don’t hit your stride right away. Some years, you just have to get started, even if it is far from the ideal. Sometimes, you just muddle through and wait for the sky to clear. You give the kids what you can give them and do the best that you can.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what you’re not doing.

But if you just keep plugging away, the joy of learning will return. One day, when we’ve gotten through this rough patch in our personal lives, that spark will come back. Currently, with the ages that my kids are, we can’t afford to take a month or two off of school. So we just keep plodding along.

So when you’re muddling through, how do you keep your momentum? Here are several things that I am trying to do to make this season go a little more smoothly.

  1. Make rest a priority. I can’t do well if I am overtired, so as much as possible, I make getting a good night’s sleep a priority.
  2. Streamline everything. I created a new chore chart to keep up with what all of us need to be doing.
  3. Checklists. Lists are my friend. I make a new one each morning and it’s divided into morning, afternoon and evening to help me keep from getting behind.
  4. Take time to breathe. No matter how hard I work, I’m doomed if I don’t take time each morning with Jesus, even on the busiest crazy days. This is my breathing time.
  5. Decompress. This time is really stressful, so decompression keeps me from biting people’s heads off. Running is my way of relaxing. Find your way to relax and make sure that you give it priority in the schedule.

How are you feeling this year about school? Are you excited? or are you like me, and just trying to get through one more day? Share how your school year is going in the comments below.

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