As I look back on my homeschool journey I am amazed at how it all worked out. I had three kids within seven years, so for me, my kid’s births were spaced out fairly nicely. However, for various reasons, I did not have help from family during my homeschooling journey. Most of my family lived on the other side of the United States and a lot of my husband’s family passed away at younger ages. To make it even harder, my husband worked long hours and frequently traveled internationally for weeks at a time when our children were younger. Luckily my husband made decent money during this time so we didn’t have to worry too much about financial matters. However, we were fairly frugal and didn’t spend money lavishly either. So, with that being said, I would like to discuss one of my early struggles in homeschooling. Support. For people whose kids go to public or private school, they get that daily break from their children. For those of us who homeschool, we need to plan accordingly and face the reality that we need to create a relationship with our kids that is respectful and functional for homeschooling to be effective and harmonious. Because I don’t want to make this post extremely long, I will do some follow up posts about frugal homeschooling and creating great relationships with your kids while homeschooling. In this post, however, I wanted to share with you some of the things that helped me out during my homeschooling journey when I didn’t have help from my family.
1. Join a local homeschool group – homeschooling groups are great at offering different field trips for kids to participate in. This allows your kids to get time with other children and burn off some of their energy. Homeschooling groups are also great sources of information. There are usually parents at different stages of homeschooling so you can get encouragement and resources from others going through their journeys as well.
2. Ask for help – this can be hard for some people. I can think of three particular times that I asked for help when I really needed it and someone came through for me. The first time was when I had my third child. I already had two young ones at the time. I knew it was going to be a struggle bringing my third child in and handling all three kids. So I decided to give myself a break. I asked around my homeschooling group for a teenage driver that would be interested in watching my two other kids during the summer while I bonded with my new baby. I found a wonderful girl that was a senior in high school. I paid her a weekly rate and paid for any activities they all did together. My kids enjoyed her company during the summer and I got time with my new child. The second time I asked for help was when my youngest started to get older. She was always very quiet and introverted and had trouble making friends in groups. So I sent out a request to my homeschool group to find other kids her age that would want to do one-on-one play dates so she could get to know some more kids on a personal level. This was great because she didn’t feel overwhelmed by the big groups and she made some good friends in the process. The last time I asked for help was a request to my husband. Because he traveled a lot and I didn’t have help from family, there would be times when my kids were young that I would really need some ‘me’ time. There were a handful of times where I would take one night on the weekend to go get a hotel room and just do things that made me happy and helped me reconnect with myself. It is very important to know how to speak up when we are in these situations and ask for what we need.
3. Use educational co-ops – these are great and vary in form. If you want the cheaper option and have a skill to teach, then the mom lead/involved groups are great. You get some time away from your kids, they get some time with other kids and you can connect with other parents. However, if you don’t want to be involved in the teaching and are willing to pay a little more, than you can join the groups where the parent’s don’t have to be involved and can drop the kids off or hang out while the kids do their classes. I did both of these and feel like they each served their purpose.
It is easy to get ‘burned out’ in the process of homeschooling. It is important to have some kind of support and encouragement along the way. For those without family to help, this is especially important. There are ways to do this even when your family is absent from your life. Everyone’s situation is different, but hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful and you can see that there is a solution for every obstacle we face. It is just a matter of finding the right resources. For example, if their isn’t a local homeschool group in your area, you can join an online group or start a small group of your own. Just know, you can do this.