Dear Homeschool Mom Who Isn’t Ready to Go Back to School

Dear Homeschoo Mom Who Isn't Ready to Go Back to SchoolDear homeschool mom who isn’t ready—or can’t bring herself to think about school: In other words, a letter to myself.
I’m 187 years old in homeschooling this fall, I think. Maybe not. I’ve lost track. Truth be told, I haven’t thought much about what I’m doing for school this year. There’s a stack of books on my dining room table with a piece of paper on top that says, “TO REVIEW.” I need to place my usual online order for math. Reality?  I don’t even want to look at it.

I did catch the sale at Walmart on spiral notebooks. Got a whole box of those bad boys! Felt like a small victory.

Hey, I know you’re wondering what’s going on with me. I mean, I speak to thousands of homeschoolers every season. It’s my job to pump you guys up—but honestly, I’m a little depleted right now.  You should see the piles of books that I still have to sort through. Normally by this time of year I’m pretty well ahead of the game. Try not to think too much less of me.

Like I said, 187 years. That’s a long time. I’m tired.  I know, I know. “You chose this,” you say. Just like we chose to have a big family. I know, I know.

There was a time when comments like “Well you chose this” would have really hurt. I’m over it now, because I’m too busy being hard on myself. Your criticisms can’t compete with the voices in my head. Believe me.
Our kids are going to be in 1st, 6th, 8th and 10th grade this fall. Somehow, the three we graduated seem to be doing fine. I say it over and over.
Earlier today, the five and eleven year olds were “catching” slugs. You know, for the “habitats” they made out of my two best clear storage containers. They’re not my best containers anymore. They’re full of dirt—and slugs. One has a praying mantis in it. They were feeding it moths and spiders yesterday. Seems they’ve discovered what the word “carnivorous” means in the process.

“Hey, this is unschooling!” I laughed out loud. Fifteen years ago I would not have counted that. That was before I knew the value of letting my kids be bored.

They’ve been bored a lot this summer, because I’ve been writing a book… for a year. Today, I turned in the final manuscript. After I emailed it to my publisher and agent, I went downstairs to see how the kids were faring. Our thirteen year old was making her first ever batch of gluten-free pretzels. They were good—warm and salty and pull-apart soft.  I suggested she hide them—you know—from me. She’s getting really good at this baking thing.

“Maybe I’m not failing,”  I thought. “Looks like someone is figuring out ratios’n stuff.”

My son, now going into his junior year, is finishing up Biology after ditching it for my speaking season. Poor kid. Instead of finishing Biology with his class, he was with our family, lugging books around the country and helping us sell books while taking in cities like Dallas, New York, Chattanooga, Nashville, Orlando, Topeka and Denver.

“This is American History/Geography/Consumer Math/Psychology,” I mused. “I’m pretty sure I’ve read articles about unschoolers getting into Harvard.”

“Maybe I’m overthinking this again,” I thought.

Because in all my years of homeschooling, for every year of changing schedules, curriculum and stress levels, one thing has remained the same: the equipping grace of God. Really, it’s all Him. Even if I don’t start school for two more weeks (and we probably won’t, because sane mom is better than stressed mom) His grace is there.  I don’t have to do papier-mâché globes and salt-maps of the State of Washington by mid-October to find the grace I need.

Maybe, just maybe, God is reminding me that if I’ll do my part—He’ll do His.

So, if this is you tonight (and if it’s not, that’s okay too) I thought maybe, just maybe, you could use the same reminder that the Spirit spoke to my heart tonight.

It’s going to be okay.
You don’t have to start next week. (really!)

Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. <3

Pray. Ask God for His specific instructions. His yoke is easy.

Make a {simple} list.

Make a {simple} menu. Cereal can be a meal. You’re welcome.

Remember God’s faithfulness. God will finish what He has started.

Enjoy the kids. Enjoy them. Take walks. Take field trips.

You don’t have to be ready right now. You just have to be listening.
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Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John

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21 Responses to Dear Homeschool Mom Who Isn’t Ready to Go Back to School

  1. Katarina says:

    Gentleness is crucial…with ourselves and others. It comes from humility which is solid ground spiritually. Riding high is a delusion. This is a great post for homeschoolers at any point, beginners and “seasoned pros” alike. Have a blessed new year.

  2. Judy Hill says:

    Oh my gosh, Heidi, you are Your kids are, I would have to say, without a doubt, some of the most educated kids I’ve ever met. The convesations I’ve had with your 15 and 13 year old are more interesting those most I’ve had with people my own age….and your 11 year old knows so much about bugs and stuff than any peson I’ve ever met. And the 6 year old is curious and just fun to be around. Don’t hink for 1 minute that these kids are missing out on ‘education’. They are plenty ready for the world around them and you are doing a FANTASTIC job. GIve yourself a break. You and Jay are doing just fine!!!

  3. Heather F says:

    Heidi what a beautiful truth from a women of God who fears Him & cares about what He cares about! I am a Momma of 7 ages 12- twins that are 18 months…we just moved cross country from ID to MI to go into full time ministry with Revive Our Hearts. I am not ready at all and I have so much peace like you to give to the Lord my little mustard seed of faith and HE will multiply it! Thank you Mighty Lord! So blessed to be homeschooling (unschooling) these precious blessings for His Glory! So thankful for women like you that share encouragement with young Mommas like me!! Thank you! Heather

  4. Tara says:

    I am so with you, and this is only my fourth year homeschooling. We did decide to take a late summer vacation over Labor Day week and will then ease into school when we return. And I’m fine with that. Flexibility is one of the many blessings of homeschooling.

  5. Ann-Marie says:

    Heidi, I so love that over the years I have come to your blog sometimes anxious and worried and *always* leave feeling much better about things. We’ve been homeschooling since the beginning and this year my oldest will be in 9th grade. My plans are made and I am just about done with what I want to do, but, I am not ready to begin yet. We have never started this late, usually it is in mid August. This year there is a different feel though. I have had a very rough summer and I just need to breathe a bit before we launch back into the swing of things. Your words (and Durenda too) are always a breath of much need peace and fresh air! Thanks for that :)

  6. Carrie S says:

    Thank you for you honesty, as always, Heidi. I so appreciate you just talking to us like a friend and tearing down the facades and getting down and dirty and real. This week was terribly, achingly hard and, now that it’s almost over and I get to look back, it was also so beautiful and amazing. God was at work in ways I could not see through the pain I was in and He was so faithful! I’m pregnant with baby #7 (a total surprise) in a pregnant that went from my easiest ever, to really quite challenging. I’m in bed fighting off my second round of sinus infection, strep throat, and pneumonia. I just got through this 7 weeks ago and it’s laid me out again. So, I’m in bed “resting” trying not to pass on this mess to the rest of my family, peeing through everything as I cough up a lung, and struggle to breathe, and can’t speak to give any directions to anyone as my voice is gone. In the midst of this, my husband and kids decided that Monday was the day to start school because it’s just time and everyone needs a routine. So, he lovingly pulls together what he can (and does so much better than I anticipated) and we begin. So, my 6 amazing blessings ran the house, schooled themselves and one another, and took care of me for the past 4 days. No one died or even got hurt. The house is immaculate. Most of the school work I’ve looked at from bed is correct. They even started brand new science, art, and civics curriculums and are Instagraming about how much fun some of it is. Most of the meals have been made from scratch. I’m in awe! Of course, there’s been plenty of arguing and whining voices off and on during the days, but the good far outweighs the bad. Watching God work through them has been a joy and such an encouragement. Looks like the last 10 years of homeschooling investment is paying off; its working! So we’ll enjoy this long weekend with Daddy and I won’t have to start school until next Tuesday and, hopefully, by then I’ll have my voice back and not be contagious and I will keep reminding myself of what God let me witness and watch this week and try to remember to trust Him to work through me and through it all! He’s so good! (And, this week I was reminded that my kids are awesome, too! Another one of them might just be a good thing.)

  7. Mary says:

    Oh Heidi,
    Thank you so much for your transparency in this post! I needed every word you put into this. My oldest just graduated and is off to college, my youngest is now 3 months old. With 6 spread out over 18 years, our house feels pretty crazy and I am so not ready for this school year! Your words were like a healing balm to my stressed out soul. We started a math-only week as I stressed out for 3 days trying to figure out my book order. Felt like a failure on all levels after only 3 days of math! But, you are so right in the reminder that GOD IS FAITHFUL, and he will finish what he started. By His grace, we made it through 13 years with child #1 and 3 others at various stages. He will see us through this year to. Blessings!

  8. Traci says:

    I loved reading this because I can so relate! I’m starting over after 14 years of homeschooling and feel more relaxed!

  9. Amber says:

    This is 100% me. Except the 187 part. This is only my fifth year. I think that’s part of the problem- we’re not far enough in to have experienced any sort of downhill run, but we are deep enough in to be tired. The new has worn off in a few places. And I still love my babies and I still want to homeschool them. But making a system to make it happen every day with a 9, 7, 5, 3, and 1 year old is pretty daunting right now.

    • Amber says:

      Oh, and I meant to say, thank you for sharing! I’m sure your children are learning tons through their adventures and that you will be completely ready in a few weeks!

      • You’ve got this, Amber! If mine were your ages again, I’d focus on simple for the 9 & 7 yr old and not worry about formal schooling beyond that. It’s a marathon, not a sprint—and I promise, even though it’s hard, it’s worth it. ((hugs)) to you, sweet mama!

  10. I think this is something every homeschool mom needs to hear at some point or another on their homeschooling journey. I’m impressed it took you so many years to get to this point. You’re right that your kids are learning a wide range of skills just by living LIFE. It sounds like you’ve done a remarkable job!

    I have just found your blog tonight, but I’m confident I’ll be back again soon. I love what I’m seeing.

  11. Emily N says:

    Thank you so much! You don’t know how much I needed to hear that. I’ve felt that way the past two years at the beginning of our school year. What has made it even harder is that I have (conveniently) had job offers, for excellent paying jobs, at the beginning of each school year making me question whether I should continue homeschooling. Just more added stress. Then I listen to His voice, and He says to keep going. Keep my eyes on the goal. Don’t give up.

  12. Melinda Cassel says:

    Yes! We start later anyway because that works for us. I’m confident in that until I compare myself to others… 😉

  13. Kristen says:

    LOL!!! I totally did the whole Walmart spiral notebook thing weeks ago too, and that is how far I’ve gotten 😉 . Thanks for the reminder of God’s grace.

  14. Carmen says:

    God led us to homeschool our children back when homeschooling was “fringe.” I cried when we started and I cried when God directed us to put our children back in public school. It was a long five and one-half years that just flew by. I prayed every single day (and, truthfully, still do) for God to make up for whatever mess I was going to create. We did well and I’m even grateful (now) that we did it. It took faith both in and out and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

  15. Great read! You have made some really good points. As a parent, we have a big responsibility of our kids education. It is very hard to decide which is better but the truth is that we have to choose one. Sometime it works but sometimes not. At the end we are only responsible for any good or bad happened.

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