Asalamu’alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies,
I hope you are all in the best of health and emaan. It’s been a while since I’ve managed to sit and write a blog post. Life has been busy as I’m sure it has been for you. You may have noticed that the blog has gone through a little revamp (I hope you like it!) since Ramadan. I feel it exhibits the season of homeschool I am in right now alhamdulillah.
So onto today’s topic. You may remember, I took a poll on Instagram recently where I asked mothers if they had encountered feelings of resentment during homeschooling. I wasn’t startled to find that 62% of sisters who responded admitted they did.
And before I go any further let me say that there is no shame in admitting so. I myself have felt this way, yet I’m still here encouraging myself and others about homeschooling.
Because feeling resentful doesn’t translate as resenting homeschool.
They are two different things, both starkly different.
Let’s start by reflecting what resentment actually is. Resentment is a feeling, usually built up over a period of time, comprised of a mix of emotions such as hurt, anger, and disappointment, where one often feels like they have been wronged by someone. It’s a complex emotion, and its something you can feel towards someone, or even something you have to do.
So how does a mother, who takes on the decision with a heart full of pleasure, eager to teach her children, begin to feel this way? There are several reasons why.
Perhaps she feels…
it wasn’t how she envisioned.
her children are not learning.
has other commitments.
she cannot cope.
These are just to name a few. A homeschooling mother takes on a tremendous load when she makes the commitment to teach her children. It is a decision that impacts all areas of her life, from her physical time, mental energy, social life to even her spirituality because it really is an act of devotion, a means to get closer to Allah and gain His pleasure. Home and school fuse together, and in many cases, she finds herself ‘going against the grain’ because family and friends around her aren’t homeschooling. Is it a wonder then why she can at some point begin to feel resentful?
But like I stated earlier, feeling resentful in your homeschool isn’t the same as resenting the notion of homeschooling. And often, its a mixture of things that creep up that lead to this eventual resentment. Yet all of these triggers are usually easily dealt with, and though you may have felt resentful, this doesn’t mean to say that you will always will.
It goes without saying, that du’a not only in this case but throughout life, in general, is paramount. A believers heart will always feel a sense of peace and tranquillity when we acknowledge that it is Allah alone who can change our situation. Put your full trust in Allah and then take steps forward. I have listed some tips below that have benefited me, and hope they are of use to you too.
Take a break
And by taking a break, I mean take a break from anything remotely related to homeschooling (though you’ll find learning won’t cease). Stay away from the blogs, the planners, the schedules, and even social media. Pause and just enjoy time with your children. In all honesty, the days will consist of a lot of things you do in a typical school week since homeschooling is beyond the books . The break is more of a mental one, for you as a mother. You may find that you were just exhausted, and all you needed was some good old rest for both mind and body.
Accept that there will be good days and bad days
Homeschooling is a blessing. Homeschooling is beautiful. Homeschooling is special. Yet, homeschooling is hard. But isn’t that parenting summed up? Just because something is joyful, it doesn’t mean to say its always plain sailing. Homeschooling isn’t so much a walk in the park as it is a walk through the jungle; exciting, new, endearing, yet tiring!
And bare in mind, this extends to your children too. Your child having a poor attitude towards Maths one day doesn’t mean your child is rebelling against homeschooling or intentionally undermining your efforts. Your child is being a child and like you will have ups and downs. Don’t take these moments so much to heart that it makes you feel that your efforts are futile. Because when we envision homeschooling with rose-coloured glasses it almost immediately sets us up for failure.
So resist magnifying the down days when they so crop up. Rather, take that difficult day or difficult week even for what it was. And move on.
Homeschooling is tough (but so are you!), yet more often than not we make it even harder upon ourselves by literally taking the ‘personalising’ our kids’ education as a reason not to choose a curriculum that is more open or go style, more ‘traditional’ or even online. Project-based hands-on learning is great, but sometimes you just need a subject or two to be laid out and ready to go. Remember, project-based learning at the expense of a mother’s sanity isn’t what we’re trying to achieve here!
Let go of the pressure to ‘beautify’, or make every single subject a jump into the artistic reservoir. Reserve your creativity and energy for the subjects you and your children love and don’t hold back into sticking a few subjects on autopilot. It won’t engulf the joy out of your child’s learning experience by any means, because a happy mother is what makes a homeschool happy.
And remember, help isn’t restricted to teaching though it is often narrowed down to that. Hence why it isn’t uncommon for fathers to hesitate from ‘helping with homeschooling’ as it can come across as ‘you teach Maths’ which after a long day’s work maybe won’t be something that a father can feel he can commit to or even be good at. Yet, that doesn’t mean to say you do it alone either. Facilitating online classes (to teach Arabic for example) collecting the kids from outdoor activities, grabbing a pizza on those busy evenings when you haven’t had time to cook, or taking the kids to the park while you get to have some downtime are also all ways of contributing to homeschooling. Discuss how your spouse or extended family members can play an active role in your homeschool. This is a collaborative effort remember!
Come to terms with the situation you are struggling with (that isn’t related to homeschooling)
Personally, I think this is one of the biggest factors as to why a mother may feel resentful during her homeschool journey. Because life brings up unexpected events all the time, from the minor such as relatives popping by in the middle of a Science lesson, to the much more difficult trials such as illness, bereavement, trauma or financial strains to name but a few.
And when we find ourselves in the midst of dealing with the intense situation, without the break of the children going to school, it can get too much especially if we don’t take time out to process those heavy emotions.
So, if you are facing something similar right now, take time to deal with your situation which insha’Allah will become easier with time. School can always resume, but burying our hands in the sand to something that deeply affected us will only transpire later on in life in other ways.
Acknowledge your daily milestones
So you begin homeschooling, and of course, you want to ‘get it right’. You want to make sure school work is done to a high standard every day, that the laundry basket is empty each night, there’s a different dish on the menu for dinner each night, and the house is picked up each night ready for lessons the next day. Now, there are some days you’ll achieve all of the above, and others where you’l have to shuffle Science to tomorrow, pop a pizza in the oven, and get a load of washing on only for it to have returned by the evening. These days are just as acceptable too (and more realistic!) but we as mothers have tendencies to look at our day with this ‘all or nothing’ approach, noticing what we didn’t get done as opposed to all the things we did. If this sounds familiar, try keeping a gratitude journal for a few days. At the end of the night, make a quick note of the things you were grateful for today. It’s amazing that such a simple exercise can really shed light on those things that really matter.
Replacing criticism with confidence (be it from yourself or others)
I’ll point out here, that the homeschooling journey, no matter how long you’ve been on it, is riddled with self-doubt (though it does ease over time), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, we took on the responsibility of our children’s education, it isn’t something we should take lightly.
But that doesn’t mean that we need to criticise ourselves for everything that goes a little pear-shaped. Homeschooling is just as much a learning curve for you as it is your children, have mercy on yourself!
And what about when others begin to question your decision, place doubts on your capability, or even compare your children to someone else’s (yes, this happens), it can really cause that-self-doubt to skyrocket (if you let it….). It can even cause tensions between spouses as it’s inevitable that you take your frustrations out on those around you.
But a mother who is fuelled by purpose will not fail her children. Let me say that again. A mother who is fuelled by purpose will not fail her children, insha’Allah.
WE ARE our children’s best educators, and it won’t take long for you to see the fruits of your labour. Be confident in your dedication to raising your children, Allah sees all your efforts, they are NOT in vain.
Pinpoint the things that make you feel overwhelmed
Be it a particular lesson, the laundry load or a number of outdoor activities you’ve crammed in, however mundane they may seem, highlight them. For me personally, this has been Maths (so I opted for an online curriculum), housework (so we simplified EVERYTHING), and cooking (hurray for batch cooking!!!!!). Literally, take a pen and paper and highlight all those areas and brainstorm solutions. It often is those little changes that make the BIGGEST difference.
And I think it’s a good point to pinpoint planning here too. Planning works differently for everyone. Some of us like pretty planners, others like me prefer online planning. You may prefer planning for the week, instead of for the quarter. There really isn’t a right way to plan, though having a plan is useful. Rather than choose a method of planning that ends up adding to your burden, find out what works for you and go with it. Planning should make our life easier, not put pressure upon us. It needn’t take up all of your weekend; you need to put your feet up just as much as the rest of your family.
Embrace the season of life you are in
It may seem ironic but in the pursuit of prioritising our children’s learning, it isn’t always easy to just sit back and relax the season of life because we’re constantly thinking ahead. And it’s only when that season subdues do we look back in hindsight and wished we had enjoyed that moment for what it was, especially when it comes to moments you can’t get back like those first few weeks with your newborn.
But enjoying those moments doesn’t mean that school has to stop in its entirety either, especially if its a long change. Though it may just look different and that’s ok. Enjoy those moments and the novelties that come with them. Be it road school, starting in the afternoon after mamas had a much-needed rest after a rocky night with the little un, or getting Maths done in an empty house after moving. You’ll look back at the more unconventional times with delight later on because you embraced them rather than trying to hurry them on.
Remember you are a mother first
This tip is particularly for Mamas who are early on their homeschool journies. Because much of what we see homeschooling looks like is what we see on social media, its no surprise that we feel this urge to change things, including our interactions with our children drastically. We replace slow mornings with circle time, free time with sensory bins, and convince ourselves that read alouds need to have some additional phonic recognition objective attached to them all the time. But remember, being a mother comes first. Don’t be in a rush to change things up as it might build up feelings of resentment about the whole experience later down the line. Take it slow, enjoy the process, and more importantly savor this time with your children. Formal learning will come, toddlerhood on the otherhand is shortlived.
Recognize that your social life will change
Socialisation is important for all humans, though how much, how often, and how we need to socialise varies from person to person, introvert to extrovert. And let’s be honest here, homeschooling is time-consuming, especially as children get older so where does the mother whose children are with her most of the time make time for this need?
Let’s start by mentioning the mindset here. Because viewing homeschooling as the reason for the end of something you enjoy will no doubt cause you to feel resentful. Rather than viewing change as negative, see it as you’re making room for something that is a priority right now.
At the same time, there’s no need why you can’t use evenings, weekends, time when family keep the kids, even playdates when the kids are with you to socialise. Make it work for you. Your social life may be different, but it needn’t stop.
And there you have it, ladies. I hope this post was useful.
If you have any tips feel free to comment with them below.
And if you know of another mama who could do with a little encouragement, please do share this post with her too.