Comparison is the thief of joy

Have you ever found yourself looking at another family and feeling like you must be failing at this homeschooling thing because it looks nothing like what they are doing? As a single mom in a Christian Homeschooling community I have been there. I can lose myself in a rabbit hole of comparisons because my family is so very different then what I see. Our journey homeschooling has taken many detours and we have tried multiple different paths but the one thing they all had in common is that they did NOT look like what the families around us looked like.

When we first started homeschooling in preschool my comparison came from seeing friends making lap boards and felt boards, and creating sensory tables to learn shapes, letters, textures. At this time, I was working 50-60 hours a week as a nanny and my daughters homeschool preschool was playing at work, and learning in little pockets of time we were waiting on the kids I worked with to get out of school, or in a grocery cart while I did shopping for other families. I would point out colors/letters/shapes etc on the packages and make errands a time to seek whatever it was we were learning about that day. I would get home from work, exhausted, and sit down to scroll social media and see all my friends with their beautiful posts of craft projects, and sensory play and just “know” that I was robbing my child of the fun and beauty of what she could have if I wasn’t working.

After that we started K-4th grade in a Parent Partnership program at a local school. Parents were the primary educators but we had access to certified teachers to guide our curriculum choices, and we had access to classes in a variety of subjects to enrich our homeschool experience. Here we saw more diversity in family dynamic and other single moms finding a way to homeshcool. The drawback was that while other families were able to create friendships and have playdates after class I was racing out of class to get us to work. I “knew” that my sacrifice to get to the classes was just not enough and surely, my daughter was missing out on the social time her peers had.

Then we started attending a Classical Conversations Community in 5th grade and as a Christian homeschooling community we were the only family from a divorced/single parent home and I was the only mom in the community that worked full time. My heart broke for my daughter as we would see families give presentations week after week and hear about the hands on Dad’s that were actively engaged. Or when we had to turn down invite after invite for field trips or play days because taking the one day off work each week to attend community day was all I could afford to miss.

I could have given up so many times. I could have allowed the differences in what I thought homeschooling should look like stop us from doing what we were able to do in our situation. The comparisons were there every step of the way in big and small ways. I used to joke that we didn’t “homeschool” but rather we “car schooled” because the majority of my daughter schooling took place in the car as we commuted to and from work or ran errands for my job. 

When I stopped looking to the other homeschool families to define what worked for us in our family I felt a relief like you can’t believe. I prayed, and I paused and God showed me that where I felt things were lacking instead I was showing my daughter valuable lessons. Our homeschool journey taught her that when God calls you do do something he will make a way. It taught us that learning happens in every opportunity despite whether or not you have a pretty school room, a lap book or themed craft project. Seeing the different ways families choose to incorporate homeschooling into their lives started to inspire me to find what worked for us and unapologetically go after it! We thrived in our schooling in ways that others struggled. We were able to create a life of adventure and experiences and hands on learning that previously looked like a failure to me. 

Mommas, here me out! I beg you, if you are feeling called to homeschool don’t look at all the things you can’t do, or the time you don’t have. Look instead to what you COULD create and how you can make it work. Each child, each family is different and schooling will look different but when you embrace what makes it work for your family yo WILL find the joy! 

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