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Thursday, February 11, 2010

How Do You Do It All?

A question I've been asked quite frequently as a blogger is, "How do you do it all?" While I'd love to live up to the image of being a supermom, the truth is - I can't do it all and doing it all is not the goal. Here's how I overcame supermom syndrome:

I learned to be really selective about how I spend my time.

I don't teach my children for 6 hours per day. We use a simple workbook curriculum and focus on reading, writing and arithmetic. We don't do any formal art, science or history at the moment, other than what we study for co-op. And since we're in a co-op, we're not doing play dates and park days and field trips and church activities.

Because I can't do it all, my children won't learn it all and they can't do it all. I prioritize and I make choices knowing that something, somewhere has to give.

I've learned that I don't have to do everything to the best of my ability.

Sometimes good enough is enough. All of my meals aren't made from scratch, but they're nutritious enough. My house isn't spotless, but it's clean enough. My kids aren't doing schoolwork all day, but they know enough.

I recently posted tips for homeschooling with a newborn, but I want to make it clear that if I am ever too tired or overwhelmed to teach, we take the day off. I'd rather skip a day of school then force myself to teach and yell at or frustrate my children.

As an aside, I am always shocked when I hear someone ask if it would be okay to take a birthday or holiday off from homeschooling.

I'm the teacher and my husband is the principal, and we take days off whenever we feel the need. One of the benefits of homeschooling is being in control of our schedule. I'm not afraid to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility it provides.

I've learned not to compare myself to others.

I love reading about what other families are doing, and I also love knowing that I don't have to do things the way other families do things. I love learning about fun projects, ideas and activities, and I also love knowing that I can choose to try them or not try them.

I know myself. There are things I'm not good at and things I don't enjoy, and that's okay. I focus on my strengths, and I teach my children from my areas of strength.

I probably won't ever teach my children to identify 20 different types of trees, leaves and flowers, and that's okay. They can learn it on their own if they find it to be something of value.

My mom didn't teach me to use the internet, but she always encouraged me to pursue my interests and try new things. Sometimes being a cheerleader is good enough.

In addition to what I've shared above, I've also learned quite a bit from the book, The 4-Hour Work Week. I know I've mentioned the book before, and on the surface it can appear to be about being lazy and getting rich. But the book was life-changing for me in terms of my approach to time management, and I plan to share more about how I use 4HWW principles in my home in coming weeks.

In the meantime, you can read more of my thoughts about doing it all and comparing ourselves to others in my article on homeschool encouragement.

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Carol J. Alexander said...

You are so right on with this, Carletta. I especially appreciate that we cannot do everything to the best of our ability. If I did that,I'd never get anything done. Keep on,

Sarah said...

Thank you, Carletta! I love how realistic (and therefore, encouraging!) you are about expectations.

I always find a good balance of challenge and encouragement here. Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration to me!

Tracey Phillips said...

Carletta, your blog is absolutely fabulous. It is a great resource for not only homeschool parents, but parents in general. Keep up the good work!

SmallWorld at Home said...

Great article. Thanks for submitting to this week's CoH.

Cookie said...

Great post. It took me a long time to learn to be OK with things being "good enough." I finally realized that being a perfectionist was making me and my family miserable. It has been liberating to let a lot of things go and get back to basics.

Dana said...

I think "it all" is highly overrated. Trying to do it stresses me to no end and we actually accomplish more when trying to do less.

Anonymous said...

I am struggling with this right now. I want to give my children every opportunity that I can. But there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the week to do everything. On top of that I am the leader of a small hs support group who is in charge of planning almost everything.

Sometimes I ask myself when will the ride end.