Dealing With the Inevitable Homeschool Panic

By Stephanie Elms, Annandale
Originally published in the November-December 2015 VaHomeschoolers Voice

Whether you are brand new to homeschooling or you have been at this for a little while, odds are that you have had plenty of experience with the dreaded “homeschool panic.” It is the fear that creeps up on you when you are at your most vulnerable. It is the doubt that you can’t quite push away … am I really doing enough? Am I preparing my kids adequately? Or even worse, am I completely screwing them up?

I have found that most of my homeschool-related anxiety comes from not being content with where my kids (or I) are at this particular moment—wanting things to be different. This happens for a number of reasons; see if any of these sound familiar:

Doubting my abilities: What if all these great theories and leaps of faith don’t work for us? What if I am, actually, not doing enough?

Projecting my fears into the future: My 8-year-old will never be self-disciplined.

Comparing what my kids are doing to what I think that kids in school are doing: Kids in school are writing book reports by now, my kid can barely write a paragraph.

Believing that everyone else knows what they are doing and I am the only one struggling: Look at all these creative moms writing homeschool blogs and posting cool things on Pinterest, look how much they are accomplishing. Why is it so hard for me?

Believing that everything—my kids’ successes, my family’s happiness—is up to me: If I don’t get my act together right now, everything will come crashing to the ground and it will be all my fault.

So what can you do?

Often it is as simple as identifying and naming the underlying fear.

Take a deep breath and repeat, “For right now, it is all good.”

Remember that no single decision you make is critical enough to be the determining factor in whether or not your kids are happy and successful.

Remind yourself that there are no “educational emergencies.”

Remind yourself that there is no magic wand to fix every concern and that is ok.

Find a supportive friend you can talk with—someone will help you not feel crazy about the leaps of faith that you make and who can reassure you.

Forgive yourself for feeling insecure and for not “dealing with things better.” This is the hardest one for me, but falls into the category of being ok with rather than wishing it were different.

Take time for self-care because the more you feel depleted, the less emotional energy you have, and the scarier these worries will appear. (Don’t discount this! )

Recognize that these are normal feelings, especially  for homeschoolers.

Doing these things won’t magically fix things overnight, but I have found that the more I do them, the more comforted I feel. I also start noticing that though the fears come, they also always go—without my necessarily having to “do” anything. Even if there is something that I can or should be doing, pausing to accept things as they are first helps me see beneath the fear and recognize what action I should take.

The scary truth of homeschooling is that there are no guarantees. There is no “right way” to homeschool that will absolutely result in well-adjusted, smart, motivated children. So we make the best decisions we can, we do our best to be present for our children, and we trust that this will truly be enough.

About the Author

Stephanie Elms is constantly trying to find that elusive state of balance in her life while enjoying her two teenage boys.You can read about their ongoing exploits on her blog, Throwing Marshmallows. Stephanie is currently serving in her 10th year as a member of the VaHomeschoolers Board of Directors.

Originally published in the November-December 2015 VaHomeschoolers Voice.

VaHomeschoolers Voice Publication Information

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