When your kids are babies and toddlers life naturally adjusts to their schedule. You slow your pace because small children cannot be rushed. Projects and personal interests may be put on the back burner - waiting for a time when your kids are older. Somehow you just learn to be in the moment and enjoy the now.. When your kids are suddenly home all day after having once been in school, it is easy to become overwhelmed and wonder if there will ever be time for you again. You may wonder how you will ever get your errands done, clean your house, go for a walk alone, or sheez ...have coffee with a friend.
One day early in this journey, I remember thinking that it would be 17 years before all my kids would be off to college!! As excited as I was to start this new homeschooling adventure, I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Honestly, picking curriculum is the easy part-finding a new sense of identity and balance trumps that part any day.
I could post all the pretty pictures of our days , share the cool science experiments and show you all the learning that is going on around here. Make it look all easy and perfect. And I will, eventually. Promise. But for now, that would't be fair. You need me to tell the whole truth if you are going to be successful in this spacious living GIG. You need to see behind the curtains in all it's imperfection so you can learn from my mistakes..
The truth is, for a short time after brought my kids all home, I struggled to find my way, develop a routine, and feel balanced. I was lonely. I found it difficult to think because I could not get any space. At the time the kids ranged in age from 18 months to 12 and were with me the entire day from the moment I woke until practically the moment I went to bed. I would literally fall into bed each night wondering how I was going to survive and get these kids through high school.
I am not one to stay in a stuck place long. I am a professional coach afterall. So ...I started to think about what lessons I would give myself if I were my own coach. What would I tell my clients? How would I work with them to adjust to this new way of living so that they were not just surviving but actually felt alive and free?
Here's what I came up with-
1. Don't Be a Martyr:
Your kids need you to be rested, fulfilled and healthy. Realize that in order to do this job well, you have to take care of yourself first,
2. Hire Help:
This one is tough for me because I have a tendency to try and do everything myself. I couldn't. Not possible. I hired a mother's helper 10 hours a week so I could focus on the older kids and not go insane. It was only temporary until I got my feet under me but made all the difference.. If money is tight- consider swapping with a friend, finding a teen after school, or giving up something else while you work on getting into a groove.
3. Put the Big Rocks in First:
Have you ever heard the lesson about putting in the most important items in your schedule first? Look it up if you haven't as it is so powerful. Spend some time thinking about what you need to have in your days to feel inspired and alive. If you are like me, more than likely it looks something like this: exercise, time alone, quality time with your spouse, personal development, a peaceful/clean home. Next would come reading aloud with kids, crafting, baking and playing games, cultivating curiosity and learning, connecting with friends, having a sense of community, being in nature. etc, Then fill in with the smaller and less important items. If all else fails you will have gotten to what matters most.
4. Figure Out Your Homeschool Philospohy:
At the beginning don't worry so much about finding curriculum and buying a bunch of stuff. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Give yourself time to adjust and explore what your homeschool philosophy will be. Get a good book on homeschooling or research online. Take time to think about how your kids learn best without rushing the process even if this takes months.
5 Join a Community and Attend Regularly. :
I cannot emphasize this enough. There is no way I would have survived those early days if I didn't have other parents who walked this path ahead of me to lean on, ask questions of and commiserate with. There are awesome spaces online for gifted families who homeschool but nothing can replace a thriving in person community of like minded friends. Consider joining both. These groups abound on meet up, facebook and yahoo or consider starting your own like I did. Don't just drop in occasionally- commit to showing up every week no matter what.
6. Avoid Decision Making Out of Fear or Worry
Living life spaciously takes conscious effort and a clear decision to not act out of fear and worry by rushing into anything. Everything is done thoughtfully and only after careful consideration. In the early days, I see many new homeschool parents of gifted kiddos signing up for a bunch of classes at homeschool campuses, buying loads of curriculum, or sucking the joy right out of the homeschool by fighting with their kids over learning when they have not taken the time to do the above steps first. Lay the foundation first and the rest will follow.
7. Find Your Rythym and Have Fun!
Choose to fill your days with joy and laughter. Give yourself and your kids time to adjust to this new way of living. Allow them to rediscover a joy of learning. Stimulate their curiosity. Be engaged and present. Go on field trips, get out in nature, join a group of like minded friends, read books, watch educational television, visit a museum, explore life. Don't rush into doing school around the table. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. First find your way.
8. Still Overwhelmed, Hire a Coach or Mentor
I had no idea that there were homeschool coaches out there for parents of gifted kids when I started this crazy journey. Who knew that there was someone who understands that raising gifted kids is both a joy and an immense challenge? A parent who gets that our lives are filled with balancing our kids emotional intensity, asynchronous development, perfectionism, etc. . I wish I would have known when I started. If you read the above post and are feeling overwhelmed at going it alone, reach out, okay?
Sometimes the very best thing is to have the personal support of a professional that is focused solely on you and your unique situation. Message me if you want to set up a consultation, I would be delighted to help.