My first real, grown up, post-college, post-marriage job was working as an assistant manager at Walgreens. Retail management was another unexpected chapter in the little story of my life, but it was what the Lord had for me for a season. On one of my first days on the job I was amazed at how the employees knew exactly where all the items were in the store. Customers asking for the most obscure items were met with employees who could walk them right to what they were looking for.
I was amazed by this! But also, I was really overwhelmed by it.
How in the world was I supposed to learn where the thousands of items in the store were located? So many items, and so many shelves! To me, it seemed like an insurmountable task. But after working in the store a while I actually did learn! Eventually, I was able to help customers to those obscure items they were looking for. The insurmountable was attained.
Anything new and seemingly overwhelming can bring with it the temptation to fall into fear and doubt. Homeschooling was no different, but one aspect of this hit me hard last year and left me with that same exact feeling of an insurmountable task looming before me.
How on earth do I homeschool a 2nd grader and a kindergartner with a toddler who we lovingly called “destructor” running around the house!
Cue the doubts and fears!
I know I am not alone in these feelings, and I am sure that homeschooling multiple ages, while having babies and toddlers in the mix, can keep some families from deciding to homeschool. Just last night I was having a conversation with someone about this who asked me, “How do you do it? How do you homeschool with the different ages?” I could see the fear in his eyes when he asked. I could sense the “we could never do that” in his voice. I wish I could tell everyone who thinks like this and has these fears that you can do it! You absolutely can do it!
I didn’t sugar coat the conversation I had last night, and I won’t now. It’s tough and there is definitely a steep learning curve to figure out and grasp, but it is by no means impossible! Last year it took me a good while to get into a rhythm for our year with a 2nd grader, kindergartner, and destructor on the loose. But, eventually it happened, and the insurmountable was attained.
It took time to locate the natural rhythms to our days. It took creativity and tons of patience with the then toddler. It took dying to my perfectionistic ways of thinking that “our homeschool days must look like _________ to consider it a homeschool day.”
It took a lot of grace towards myself and my kids, and grace is always amazing.
I see the quote “do it afraid” around a lot lately, and I think it is definitely applicable here. Don’t not homeschool because you are afraid you won’t be able to figure out how to do it with lots of kids running around (or maybe just one who is the equivalent of lots of kids in your mind!). If you want to homeschool, but this aspect makes you fearful, then do it afraid!
You will find a rhythm.
You will figure it out.
You absolutely can do this.
Here’s what I got when I jumped in, in spite of the fears and doubts of homeschooling multiple kids at multiple age levels…
- I was able to share the gospel with my kids as I had to share the gospel with myself on hard days when I lost my patience. (Mommy needs Jesus.)
- I was able to give my older kids examples of how to respond with grace and patience to their little brother when he interrupted the lesson (again, and again…).
- I was able to see visible changes in the way that my daughter responded to her brothers. (Thank you Lord for fruit!)
- I was able to let go of perfectionism more and embrace sweet, sweet days with my kids, in spite of how the day went.
- I was able to give my kids opportunities to learn flexibility when things didn’t work out how we had planned, or how I had hoped.
- I got a whole lot of joy in spite of the craziness.
I know what it’s like to face something that seems impossible, even though compared to some things my impossible tasks seem really tiny. But, large or small seemingly impossible tasks all have one thing in common…
They happen one step at a time, one day at a time, one choice to keep going at a time.
Don’t be afraid to take a step. Don’t be afraid that you will never figure it out. Chances are you will figure it out and there will probably be a whole lot of great stuff that happens as you go. You can do this, and even if you are afraid, keep stepping anyway.
The journey is worth it, believe me!