As I travel to homeschool conventions across the US, I typically give workshops on planning, organizing, and parenting. Looking over the audiences, I remember being the gal in the seat, anticipating the information from the expert that would benefit me and my family. Pen and paper in hand, I was ready to write down the solutions and give it my all when implementing them. But I was missing a key ingredient.
solutions and formulas
These days, regardless of the topic, when I give a workshop I begin each session with the same slideshow. It’s simply two words: solutions and formulas. I explain that I’m not an expert, but rather an experienced mother. The information and stories I’m about to convey are not for the purpose of giving a one-size-fits-all formula. My hope is to share insights, practical ideas, and the adventures from my years of navigating homeschooling that will aid moms in exploring solutions for their family.
Next, I tell the story of how I was adopted out of a children’s home in my tween years. When I became a mother, I was clueless. In my naiveté, I watched “Leave it to Beaver” and found ideas from June Cleaver on running a home. Yes, I tried the vacuuming in heals along with a fresh baked dessert on the table each evening. It seemed idealistic, and it worked with my type-A, give-me-a-list-and-routine personality.
I also found a lady at church that seemed to have the ideal life. She was dressed to the nines, didn’t seem to have an ounce of body fat, had perfect makeup, and sported kids who seemed to never have a bad attitude. I began asking her questions about how to mother my five kiddos. I tried to copy her in many areas, but then realized I’m not her.
Her kids were all teens; mine were toddlers. She had the luxury of a shower each day; I just hoped no-one came close enough to smell the baby spit-up on me while brushing my matted hair back into my ponytail. Her children could fully understand each word she spoke, while my vocabulary was restricted to, “No,” “Don’t touch,” “Stop doing that,” “Get your hand out of your….” — you know the drill.
It finally dawned on me — because my personality is also “fail before you succeed” — that if I was going to be successful at parenting and homeschooling, I would need to recognize my own unique qualities and embrace them. This allowed me grace and the wisdom to find what worked for our family and to make it to the stage where I can now shower each day, wear makeup, and even fit in a workout now and then.
As you process through advice and input from friends and “experts,” remember that the first key is to embrace the reality of what makes you unique. Then let the advice you receive be a tool that helps you figure out what works for your family’s unique dynamics and season.
As for me, I’m off to get that shower and enjoy other things you get to do when your kids are almost all grown!