Hello, 2021 – it’s a new year! And if you’re like me, you’re looking for ways to be a better homeschool mom in 2021. Or maybe you’re a new homeschool mom anxious to start on the right foot. Yet before jumping into how to be the best homeschool mom you can, I have one question for you. What do you think the one thing all homeschool moms do that they shouldn’t?
Trying to run a homeschool like a primary school classroom?
Expecting the same homeschool curriculum to work for ALL of your kids?
Or feeling anxious that your child isn’t at “grade level?”
The truth is, it’s none of these. And the answer might surprise you.
The sobering truth is that while no two homeschool mothers are identical in their life, home, work, and homeschooling situation, we all share one bad habit.
One Thing All Homeschool Moms Do
We compare ourselves to others. That’s right. Not only do we compare ourselves to other homeschool moms, but we also compare ourselves to NON-homeschooling moms. Especially those who seem to keep it all organized with picture-perfect living rooms, white stain-free carpets, and beautifully bare kitchen counters.
Yet when we learn about the dangers of falling into the comparison trap and how to handle it, we equip ourselves to be better at all of our life roles. Mom, wife, homeschooling parent, business owner, church member, and community member.
Why Comparison Can Become a Dangerous Game
It’s true that looking at other homeschooling moms for inspiration can help you find solutions and reassurance in your own homeschool life. Yet unhealthy mom comparison can lead to anxiety.
Comparing your homeschool, parenting style, meal prepping routine, homemaking abilities, financial situation, children’s grades, or anything else against anyone else’s accomplishments could lead to the following feelings:
And left unchecked, these emotions build negative stress, which in turn can lead to serious physical ailments.
The more roles you have in your life, the more you need to arm yourself against stress-related illnesses. After all, trying to homeschool through a sick day – especially if you also work from home or act as a caregiver to a family member, is just plain hard.
We are all in different seasons of life and motherhood
It’s tempting to look at moms in different seasons and think they have things figured out. Yet in reality, their struggles are simply different than ours, depending on their season of life
Which season are you in?
- You might be a mom that only has little ones. Your days are busy and a lot falls on your shoulders. It’s tough to keep your home clean. You’re also in a very sweet season of discovery, cuteness, and laughter. Don’t wish these days away.
- Perhaps you’re a mother of teenagers. Life is busy and seems to be speeding by. Your little child has grown into a young adult with ideas of their own and that can be scary and frustrating at times. On the other hand, you’re able to have much deeper conversations with your child now, you share inside jokes, and truly are becoming friends.
- You’re the mama with children somewhere in the middle. These are the years of so much character training. At the same time, these years are when you see your child really developing their personality and they are able to do more on their own.
- Of course, many moms have a mixture of various ages and are in many seasons at the same time.
- You might find yourself in a season of homeschooling your children while caring for an aging parent or grandparent.
- You could be a working homeschooling mother supporting your family through your work-from-home job. Or from your growing home-based business.
Remember that each child is different
Mothers of strong-willed children, can I get an amen? ? I’ll confess I used to be the mom that wondered how a child could be so unruly and chalked it up to parenting. Then God blessed me with not one, but two strong-willed children. Needless to say, I’ve been very humbled in the parenting department.
If you have more than one child you know it’s true that each child is different. Do yourself a favor. Don’t compare your children to each other. (And this is another thing that all homeschool moms do – as well as all non-homeschooling moms, despite best efforts!)
And don’t compare your kids to a fellow homeschooler’s children that “seem” perfect. Celebrate the differences in your children.
All Homeschool Moms Do NOT Have it All Figured Out
The truth is comparison can go both ways. Sometimes we compare ourselves to others that we think are less than perfect. Why? So we can feel better about ourselves.
This form of comparison is just as dangerous. Looking at and comparing yourself to someone else will not change you into the person you were created to be.
All Homeschool Moms Do Feel Overwhelmed – Sometimes
Most of us have gone through seasons of feeling completely overwhelmed.
Honestly, all homeschool moms do feel overwhelmed at some point. Maybe it was brought on by illness, a busy schedule, or a life-changing event.
During those seasons of seemingly overwhelming difficulties, it’s easy to look at others and feel inadequate because it looks like they have it all together. Aa perfectly clean home. Consistent, calm, and productive school days. And a loving marriage with a fully present and supportive spouse. Their children don’t argue and are kind to one another.
Yet remember, that’s only what you see now, and only what’s on the surface.
I’m not saying that their home isn’t clean, it might be.
They may even have productive and smooth school days.
Their marriage might be in a great season, but everyone has to work at having a healthy marriage.
Their children might get along well, but chances are they’ve had times of friction. After all, most children will argue with their siblings at some point. And they might not always tame their tongue or speak kind words.
How to Avoid The Comparison Trap
I’ve found one of the best ways to avoid comparing myself to others is to focus on improving myself. That’s right – I compete against my previous accomplishments to get better.
Remember, no one else has been through exactly what you have. No one else has the gifts God gave YOU.
When you compete against yourself, you become a better version of YOU. Use these ideas steps to get started.
Clarify Your Priority During This Season
Think hard about your main priority right now. Maybe it’s your children. Or maybe your spouse has lost his job and you need to focus on making money. Or maybe your own health means it is time for some serious mom self-care.
Once you identify your main priority, it’s easier to ignore how others are doing. After all, they likely have a different priority than you do in this season.
Make a Homeschooling Plan
Remember, there’s no need to compare your days against other homeschooling families. Instead, take responsibility to check out planners for homeschool moms, and plan a homeschool schedule that best fits your family, no one elses.
Get Homeschooling and Homemaking Systems in Place
Have your previous homeschooling mom comparisons left you feeling like the most disorganized and unproductive homeschool mom around? If so, shake it off. Then roll up your sleeves to find a homeschooling system, homemaking chore schedule, and a meal plan that gets other routines in place.
Include Some Self-Care Time Each Day
When you’re run-down, overtired, and overstressed, it’s easy to feel discouraged when you see other homeschool moms who seem to have it all together. Yet taking time for self-care can make you feel so much better about yourself that those same mothers become a source of inspiration instead of negative comparisons.
Some easy ways to fit self-care into your busy day could include
- taking 20 minutes in the morning or at afternoon nap time for a Bible study, prayer, or favorite devotion
- a teatime break with a favorite book
- fiber crafting such as knitting, crocheting or quilting
- getting outside for a walk
While homeschooling your children can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s also very challenging. And when your confidence falters, it can seem like every other homeschool mom is doing a better job than you are. That’s why it’s so important to become aware of the dangers of making comparisons, and finding the tools to equip yourself for success.
Sarita Harbour is a busy mom/step-mom, and grandmother blessed with seven kids ranging from age 32 down to seven. She lives off the grid with her family in a lakefront chalet in the beautiful wilderness of Canada’s far north. She spends her days teaching, writing, and learning the ropes of homesteading off the grid. Visit her site, Off Grid Life, for free printables and resources on homesteading, homeschooling, and self-reliance for the whole family.