First of all, I am not an expert at this, and I most certainly do not have it all figured out. As I type this, I have not done a whole lot of homeschool today (and it’s lunchtime.) Also, my toddler is screaming, it sounds like my big boys just broke something, and I’m not even getting up to go check right now. So there’s that. I did want to share though what I have learned through this crazy, exhausting, and often difficult season of life.
My first tidbit is don’t compare yourself to other homeschool moms. Don’t do it. I find myself doing this and always fall short. Always. Why? Because I compare my worst to others’ best. Also, I tend to compare myself to other moms who have their husbands. Ones who have help from their families. I would never let a friend do this, but yet, I do it to myself.
The next thing God has taught me is that I have to let go of my previous standards and expectations. My homeschool is not nearly as structured as it used to be, but I’m also the only one who can run the errands, pay the bills, take kids to practice and appointments, and as if that weren’t enough, now grief counseling. As single moms, we must wear a lot more hats than previously, so it’s only natural that our schedules won’t look the same.
I have learned that I am not enough, but God is, and his grace is always sufficient. Paul begged God to remove his thorn three times. Have you begged God to fix your situation? I know I have, but yet, life continues to be difficult. I continue to be exhausted. I continue to lose my patience with my kids. I have prayed for three years for my youngest to sleep, and he still gets up in the night. Still. It’s a good thing God made him so darn cute. I have come to realize that as difficult as this is to swallow, this is God’s plan. He’s trying to teach me something. He’s making me more like him, even though it’s painful. Only when I’m weak can I truly experience the strength of God.
Another thing we must realize is that there are things more important in life than grammar and math. Those things are important, and don’t misunderstand me: your kids do need to learn them. However, the lessons of faith and trust and perseverance are far more important. Teach your kids the Bible. Teach them and show them how to rely on him, even when times are tough. Especially when times are tough. This lesson will serve them later in life far better than how to diagram a sentence. You can put off some things until tomorrow, but if there’s anything you teach your kids each day, let it be the word of God. Scripture tells me that if we put him first, he will help everything else fall into place. I also need to make sure that my soul is ok with God before I can start teaching my children, even if this means starting lessons later. My quiet time with the Lord is absolutely essential for my day. (This is also why we do homeschool year-round. It gives me more flexibility which is absolutely necessary as a single mom.) You can also change things in order to manage your homeschool workload. My big boys now do math online. It’s one less thing I have to grade. Both of them do science at our coop. It’s one more subject off my plate. (I still have to help one of them with lessons, but it’s easier than managing the entire curriculum on my own.) Also, I used to make sure that I didn’t do any school in the evenings because that was our family time. However, since my husband isn’t coming home any more in the evenings, it’s acceptable (when I have the patience and energy) to continue working with a child into the evening. For example, I might have a kid read to me while I cook dinner or I might help a child with a worksheet page while I fold laundry. In fact, this can sometimes be preferable because, if a kid or two are gone to practice, it gives me more ability to focus on the child I’m working with.
The final thing I’ll leave you with is a bit of encouragement. For all the reasons you chose to homeschool when your husband was alive, it’s still a good choice. In fact, it may be even better now, given what you have and your kids have been through. Children are still a blessing, not a burden. (It may not always feel like it as a weary, single mom, but those kids are what keep you going, whether you realize it now or not.) Spending time pouring into their hearts will have eternal value. Don’t give up, even when you’re tempted to. The greatest weapons we have against the attacks of Satan are trust and gratitude. We don’t have to understand what God is doing in our lives to thank him for what we still have and for what we can trust him to do in the future. High five, Mama. You’re doing an awesome job, and someday, those munchkins will thank you. In fact, Scripture says they will rise up and call you blessed. (Someday, that is. In the meantime, they don’t really hate you. They really won’t die when you take away their electronics. Not every other kid has a cell phone, and your dinner really does taste good.)