Stressed and blessed?

Doesn’t it seem like those two words should  be considered antonyms?  I know when I am feeling stressed – I don’t feel very blessed… But sadly my stress is almost always – my fault.  I know – you are probably thinking – what in the world??  I have to admit, it isn’t the typical psychotherapeutic terminology.  But it really is true.   My children – each one – so different yet so wonderful, so intelligent, so special – – but in a heartbeat can turn me inside out.  They have demanded so much of us since the moment they arrived and naturally there is going to be a bit of stress involved with that.  I think we all know that having children is definitely hard work – I am not talking about that stress. I am talking about the unecessary stress that we put on ourselves through our perceptions or expectations.  The perceptions that I had about motherhood, being a wife, running a household, and even homeschooling  put alot of stress on myself.  I tried for a lot of years to live up to this standard of perfection that I had.  All the while making myself miserable.  Sound familiar?? Anyone else do this??  Now, I know having goals is a good thing even a necessary thing, but I had to get to the place that I saw those as just desires I had for my life – not the standard of my success or failure.  I think having six children made this a necessity – I came face to face with the fact that I could not do it all. 

I had to see where I was – stressed out with trying to be all that I “thought” I had to be – and to take a step back.  I had to do this in almost every area of my life. I wanted the “Better Homes and Gardens House”, the wonderful husband, the perfect marriage, behaved children, on and on it went.  Of course, the most important was my relationship with my family.  So, I made myself stop and examine what I was doing – to see how I was teaching them and training them.  At the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I had the idea that to be a success I had to teach them like I did in the classroom – spoon feed them EVERY tidbit of information that they would have gotten in a typical classroom.  There was just NO  WAY with six children, that  I could do that and do it successfully.  I had to realize that  “I” was stressing myself out. Who said I had to do it this way – who said that I would be a success if it all happened just as I “thought” it should?  I had to step back and see that not only was I stressed, but so were the children. They did not enjoy our days – they were bored and aggravated.  I really was so very blessed – God had given me a wonderful family – but I was the problem! 

There were many areas that I had to deal with this in –  but after I realized that our “stress” in the homeschool area was a product of my insane desire to be perfect…. 🙂  We were able to reevaluate what we were doing and change some things for the better.   We had always used the ABEKA curriculum, and to be honest that is what I had used throughout elementary and high school.  I understood it – I had taught it for 10 years – I believed it was the best for our family – but trying to teach it “classroom style” to 6 children was killing me … I had to make some changes. We took what we thought were  the most important elements of that curriculum, and then used some other types of curricula for reading – science and even history.  But then we added an “online program” to give the children some excitement.  I know every family is different, but in our house – if it has to do with the computer – it has to be fun!  This simple change – has been amazing!  But I didn’t stop there – I had to accept that my house was just not going to “beautiful” every moment (maybe not even clean most of the time).    BUT    I have 6 children – I am blessed!  I guess just applying the question – am I  making this stress?  Helped me to evaluate my life to see that there are so many beautiful, precious things in life  that merit our focus – not our misguided perceptions.

Do you have trouble with “stressing” your self out?  Take inventory – look at your life from a different perspective – it might make all the difference.

The New Year Review

Every January I usually set aside some time to take “inventory” of where our “little” home school is at.  I often start with examing if I am still meeting the codes or requirements for homeschooling in Georgia. There are several great web sites to help you with this.

I also use January as my month to determine what I will do for standardized testing. Our state requires testing at least every three years. I typically have them tested each year so that I can work on any deficiencies that the test may uncover. I also use the test to  help me make decisions about next year’s curriculum. I use the test as a tool in conjunction with what I see them doing daily. I try not to put too much emphasis on any one method of assessment. I know many homeschooling families that are very opposed to these tests, but I feel that I need this type of testing. At times, I am so close to “my situation” that I can’t see the “big picture” of my child’s education. The danger with standardized tests is the emphasis that is put on them and the fact that it is a measurement of a child during a very short period of time. This is exactly why the test should simply be used to give parents a better idea of the “big picture”, and not solely relied upon to make decisions.

Third, I usually try to “review” the curriculum that we are currently using. This kinda gives me a little January pick me up – if I hate the curriculum that we are using – I can decide to dump it for next year! This gives me consolation in finishing up the current year with something I dislike. I will typically ask myself these questions about the curriculum: Is it keeping the children interested? Is it meeting their educational needs? Is it too hard or too easy? Was I able to organize and manage it well? You can use these questions in conjunction with the results of their standardized tests to make decisions about the next year.

During this month – I try to get an idea of where I want to go with our curriculum for the next year – this allows me to keep my eye out for sales and discounts. Everyone loves to save money – especially me! But this also enables me to order or pick up what we need for next year a bit at a time – Definitely a budget saver!

Just remember – as a home educator you have the right to determine which curriculum you feel meets your child’s needs the best… and enjoy every precious minute you have with those children. They will be grown and gone before we know it!