Everyone loves to scroll through Pinterest and Instagram and look at all the beautiful, angelic faces of children happily playing with some wooden blocks in the sunshine or digging in the mud peacefully with their siblings.
“They must play that way for hours! How simple and wonderful.”
“That Mom never runs out of ideas! She’s always ready with a new, amazing activity for her kids! They’re probably so smart.”
“I bet they eat themed Bento lunches every day!”
Sounds so great, right?
Except maybe you kinda want to punch them in the face. Maybe you kinda want to punch me in the face? Totally understandable…. keep reading anyway.
But can I tell you about the times when I’ve been MOST grateful for my simple, nature-inspired homeschooling life?
It wasn’t when I was traveling around Italy with my family, exploring ancient coliseums, snow-covered Alps, or learning a new language in the small towns.
It wasn’t when we made a decision to follow a dream, sell most of our belongings, and drive across the country to a new, exciting life in the Pacific Northwest.
It wasn’t when one day, just because, we hopped in the car, drove to the coast, and spent the day watching the gray whale migration. (I’ve never seen such amazement and wonder as the moment my four year old finally saw a whale breach. Tears, people. Tears.)
The times I have felt most grateful for our system and routine of this amazing life, and the freedom that it affords, have been those times of daily struggle (i.e. those NOT seen on your average Instagram feed).
Like last spring, when our finances were so tight that we could barely afford our living expenses. But I never had to worry if our children were eating healthy food, because they helped us grow it. And we never ran out of activities or “toys”, because we utilized Mother Nature, and the natural wonder around us.
Or in January, when I had an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage and was physically out of commission for weeks. Since we have goals and plans already in place, my husband was easily able to step in and keep the boys excited and entertained without missing a beat. And because we have interactive, child-focused spaces set up in our home, I could rest peacefully without having to plop the kids in front of a screen.
And after my youngest was born, and we had a huge fight with family members about their lack of support for the way we were raising our children. (Yes, they were actually upset that we let our children climb on dirt piles and play with sticks.) But now? They see the value of what we’ve been creating and building with our family over the years, and boy do they ever brag about how smart and funny and creative our children are!
And you bet your butt I’m thankful for this system every single day during your average pre-naptime, post-snacktime impending meltdown over who touched the red Lego car.
You see, it’s so easy to screenshot those moments of life where the children are happy and playing nicely together, and share it out to the social universe with a status that reads: “Look how much I’ve got my shit together today! #worldsbestmom”
But the truth is that oftentimes the next moment is filled with tears or fighting. Or there’s a TV on behind the camera filling the room with constant noise. Or the picture was taken seconds after Mom was in tears on the bathroom floor behind a locked door because she just. couldn’t. do it anymore.
Yeah, that last one was me.
Two years ago, I was trying to do it all. I was running my own business, homeschooling my preschooler, caring for a newborn, and taking care of our (very old, falling apart) home, while my husband worked full-time.
And one afternoon, I cracked. My son was having a typical 3-year old moment, and out of fear for what I might say or do, I locked myself in the bathroom sobbing, while he cried on the other side of the door. Something had to change… but what was it? Why was I so constantly stressed? And why did he *always* seem bored?!
Then it hit me. I didn’t have anything “in place.” I had no set goals or plans for the days and weeks or months ahead. Other than a playroom that looked like a Toy Story dumping ground, I didn’t have any place in my home where my son could learn and explore and investigate at his own leisure. Our backyard was unbelievably green…. and BORING.
You see, I was constantly stressed because I was forever trying to feel ahead of the game.
So, I unlocked the door, cuddled my teary 3-year old, and promised to figure out a system that would prevent this type of overwhelm from creeping in again – something that would help me see the cues and get ahead of the meltdowns, the boredom, and the overwhelm – to truly create an amazing holistic, natural learning environment for my children. And that’s what I did.
And honestly – on the days when I feel that overwhelming feeling starting to rise up, or I notice the same feeling stirring in my little ones – those are the days when I feel the most grateful.
Maybe you can relate?
If you’re like me and have all sorts of reasons for why you want to get organized and set up for success in growing your amazing little learner to be the most creative and unique person they can be, join me in the Plan. Create. Learn. FREE 5-Day Challenge. Sign up and join hundreds of other homeschooling parents as together we develop a child-led learning plan for your unique child.
And just know that no matter where you are or what you struggle with, whether it’s anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, boredom, stress, depression, medical, physical, whatever – you can do this. You really can. I’m proof.