Homeschooling From Rest

This year, I wanted to quit homeschooling. There was no more joy, I was inadequate and my son deserved more.
Yet, I didn’t want to enroll him in a brick-and-mortar school out of fear or as a way out of something.
I knew there was something amiss with the teacher and I wanted to get myself sorted out first before I wanted to make some serious decisions on my son’s schooling.
I got to the bottom of things and realized I was stressed because I was frustrated. I was frustrated because we couldn’t keep up with our routines. I envied the homeschooling families who started their morning routines at breakfast and by a certain hour in the morning, all kids are seated ready for some tablework. Meanwhile, I struggle to have us start on time all the time. Im constantly reminding for our son to finish his food, do bathroom routine and by the time he’s ready, his toddler sister needs to go to the bathroom and the baby needs to nap. We’re lucky if we could do four days of school work in a week. In fact, we are just at week 15 of 33 weeks of lessons in our curriculum and were already starting a new school year in a few weeks.
For someone who likes getting things done on time (I mean, that was my job as an editorial manager and a video producer!), I felt so helpless that what I knew I could easily do…I now couldn’t.
In my search for answers (mostly on homeschooling sites and books on the subject), I stumbled across Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie.
From the first page to the last, this book felt like a soothing balm whilst giving me the feeling that I was looking at a mirror. I could relate to practically every point and there were some truths that I needed to read.
As a homeschooling mom to a highly creative, intelligent boy (with two more students coming!), I felt like the task to keep him stimulated and interested was on my shoulders, that I had to keep up all the time with his inquisitive mind and that if his interest waned or if he failed at any point, it would be all on me.
Homeschooling became a task. An arduous task that I had to do and keep on doing for the years to come not only with our son, but with our girls too. I felt overwhelmed and I was ready to throw in the towel. I couldn’t see the blessing that it was. This book reminded me why we chose to homeschool in the first place.
“We must drop the self-inflated view that we are the end-all and be-all of whether the education we offer our children is going to work out…He asks us to faithfully commit every day to Him and then to do that day’s tasks well. He’s in charge of the results.” (page 10, Teaching From Rest)
This book drilled into me that the daily grind is holy ground. Faithfulness in the tasks are little seeds we plant everyday…every bit as important as the grand sunshine or the richness of the soil they grow from.
And that in this whole homeschooling enterprise, the most important aspect is not the curriculum, the timetable,  or the checkmarks in the to-do lists. It is, always have been, and always will be the children. I have lost sight of this. And I’ve only been homeschooling for three years!
“Put relationships above everything else.” (page 37, Teaching From Rest)
No wonder there was no more time to just cuddle up and read a book. Everyday was just nag-time to keep up with the schedule. No wonder there was no more joy and I couldn’t bring myself to get more creative in teaching. It was because I was teaching from a place of fear and frustration.
Besides the teaching perspective, this book also helped me realize another thing–that our feelings, though not to be used as basis of decisions, can be very good indicators of something amiss. I learned to listen to myself again and respect where I was and who I am. That translates well to teaching well.
It’s been about three weeks since I’ve started reading this and so far, I’ve been more at peace at home. Not just in homeschooling, but in parenting as a whole. I’ve learned to see the kids more than the tasks. To be quick to listen and to sit down with them to play. To prioritize reading books again and to not fret when things aren’t going as planned. More importantly, I have come to be thankful that I am here at home with them, to be the one to take care of them and to teach them.
I’m grateful for having stumbled across this book. I’m a fairly thrifty Momma but this book–I’m glad we bought this and this one is staying right on my work table. I know it’ll be handy for those moments when I’m way over my head again and need a good reminder of what teaching, and parenting from rest looks and feel like 🙂

Going For It = Letting Go

Have you ever wanted to do something but put it off until “everything is in place”? You know, you want to smooth out everything first, make sure all responsibilities are done before you indulge in the one thing that you want, or feel must do? Well, I’m THAT type of person by default. I don’t know what you’d call it, but I say it’s nuts.

Since last year, God has been teaching me to “go for it”. Go for what my heart really desires NOW. Be bolder. Less fearful. Do this more: pray and be lead by grace. For my faith is in grace and its giver.

Well, I’m now 37 years old and I just gave birth to my third child. Life is too short to wait for the “perfect moment”. You make the moment perfect as you go along.

That’s been the theme of our lives lately and through those newfound lenses, I’m learning to navigate motherhood and homeschooling in a different way.

As a stay-at-home mother, I’m learning time and again that I cannot wait for the baby to finish feeding before I can stand up and start feeding our two other children. Now is the time to start relearning my one-handed tricks I learned back when we had our firstborn.

In the same vein, I’m also learning to eat cookies when I want to (even if it’s early in the morning), buy that leather sandals I’ve finally found after months of searching, and read to my child even if it’s not “yet time for it” according to our homeschool schedule. Live life according to what NOW call for.

Nowhere has this new mindset been more utilized and helpful than in our homeschool.

Probably not surprising but I’m a schedule-maker and I’m a schedule-follower. But while making schedules used to bring me delight and “comfort”, my rigidity in following it has robbed me of joy in my tasks. So I’ve finally decided to pin a “loose” schedule on the fridge, but hardly have been glancing towards it. Throughout the day, I go by what “feels right” in our daily ride with the kids.

Being a homeschooling mom and our kids’ primary caregiver, I’m part of the daily grind with the kids. We get up and establish our own rhythm as the day wears on, and I have to respect that. Sometimes, there are moments where it just calls for them to sit together and enjoy making clay figures. Then, my son gets up to finish making his hand-drawn books and my daughter is left alone and suddenly invites me to dance with her. I have learned to oblige, regardless if I’m carrying an infant or not. Soon after, it’s naptime for the girls and that’s when I take advantage of reading to our son. That is the perfect time to get into our homeschool schedule as planned. But I no longer stress over what is done when. What is important is we jump on learning opportunities with gusto and enjoy ourselves.

The main reason for this major change is the book, “Teaching From Rest” by Sarah Mackenzie, which I haven’t finished yet but have brought such profound insights and have helped catapult me onto some conviction-led changes in our life and home. I love this book and when I am done with it, I will write a more comprehensive review on it.

For now, I leave this space with the most important thing I’ve begun to see in motherhood and homeschooling—our children see when we are anxious, when we are stressed out, or when we are enjoying them. They see truth in an instant and they react accordingly. What a curse it would be if all they see in us is that they are mere “tasks” to be done, and part of a list that should just be checked. What a waste it would be if we are to parent them but find no joy in it, to have an opportunity to educate them but have made them into chores instead. Even the blessing of parenthood can be made into a burden…if we let our focus wander elsewhere. Like a shot in the arm, I feel thankful for the jolt that brings me back to reality—I do not need to be in control of them, I just need to be present with them and let myself enjoy them.

Going for it and choosing to live in the present has meant taking daily miniature leaps of faith for me, and I will admit, relinquishing control is liberating as it is scary. I love this journey 🙂