Hi! Thanks for stopping by Desperate Homeschoolers! Our vision is to create a safe place where homeschooling families can come to share their questions, their victories, and their frustrations and benefit from others with different perspectives.
Our first question comes from Michelle: “Ok, I need some words of wisdom and/or advice…As a homeschool mom in another country…how do you do it? How do you find the time for so many different things? Are your kids involved in ministry? I am a bit overwhelmed… Homeschooling is rewarding. I’m just find it challenging to balance it all and the thought of trying to do everything that comes my way.”
I think every homeschool mom feels this way no matter where they live! Or at least I tell myself they must! 🙂 Seriously, though, I have never met a homeschooling mom who didn’t feel overwhelmed, at least some of the time. I’ve found this to be especially true of those moms who take seriously Jesus’ command to make disciples wherever they go!
While it does help to remember and remind yourself often that your kids are your most important disciples, realistically, we all want to have some ministry outside of our families. This is especially true if we’ve moved far away from family and friends for the express purpose of making disciples. Just focusing on your family, in that case, makes you regularly have the thought, “I could have stayed home and done this!”
Here are a few ideas that can help with this:
1) Set and regularly review realistic goals for each child and for yourself.
If you’re anything like me, the word “realistic” is the key here. It’s hard to know what is enough and what is too much to expect from yourself and from your children. Many homeschool curricula include a lot of extras that provide wonderful enrichment without really marking them as such. If you don’t realize that they are enrichment and think they are absolutely necessary, it’s easy to feel like you never measure up. I recommend you look at several curricula other than the one you’re using, talk to other families who are using different things including having their kids enrolled in traditional school settings, and even try to talk with a few teachers from traditional schools and get their perspective on what realistic goals are for your children’s age levels.
As for goals for yourself, that’s where other women come in. We have to help each other know if we are being realistic. I don’t mean that we need to compare ourselves or our children with others, but it’s really helpful to write down your goals and then have someone who knows you and your kids look at them and let you know if you’re setting yourself up for failure or perhaps not aiming high enough.
2) Encouraging learning anywhere and everywhere.
Make it a priority to teach your children to be learners wherever they are. One major downside of traditional school is the tendency to be “done” with learning when school or homework ends. As a former teacher, I was always searching for ways to help my students become lifelong learners and to see applications of what we were learning in the “real” world. Well, homeschoolers can be in the real world all day, but I find many homeschool families are trying really hard to recreate a school environment, complete with its artificial segmentations! I strongly encourage you to avoid communicating to your children that there are certain times and places for learning. Instead, encourage them to always be questioning and learning! Let them do math at the market while you talk with the sellers. Let them hear the history of the people as you learn it and encourage them to share some of your family and cultural history. Let them practice map skills when you’re lost and have to ask for directions over and over. Help them recognize that story-telling styles differ by culture as you all listen to stories from friends. The possibilities are endless!
3) Realize that you are modeling to the women you are discipling how they should be balancing family and ministry!
This one is really key for me when I am feeling discouraged. I have seen a number of really sad (to me) cases of amazingly godly local women, in the country we used to serve in, completely neglecting their children for the sake of ministry to the point of having aunts and uncles raise them in different cities so that they could focus on ministry. When I looked into this, I found that they were doing what they had seen modeled for them by those who had discipled them. They had seen disciple-makers sending their children away for months at a time to boarding school so they could focus on “real” ministry. I am not saying this to be harsh or judgmental as I do understand that those disciple-makers were often not given a choice about sending their children away and/or did so very prayerfully and were very intentional with their children when they were home on holiday. However, I don’t think the local people they were discipling saw that intentionality and so what they gleaned was that children got in the way of ministry, and they have acted accordingly. While we may not do anything quite so extreme, I believe, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that we do this on a small scale all the time. I find this tragic! We don’t want to win only one generation for the Kingdom, and if that’s the case, we must show our disciples not only how to disciple others but how to intentionally parent and include their children in ministry! Yes, this might mean we don’t get as much done in a day or in a meeting, but I believe wholeheartedly that it is right and that the results will be worth it. Not only will our children have been discipled and have been included in discipling others, but our disciples’ children will have been too! We must be careful to never communicate to our children or to our disciples that children get in the way of real ministry and that they need to be out of the way for the Holy Spirit to do any real work!
How about you? How would you answer this question? And what questions do you have that you’d like to see addressed here? Thanks again for stopping by!