One of the most fun things I did when we began homeschooling was to sum up the cool parts of our family’s life as part of the iHomeschool Network’s 10 * in * 10 series, where we shared some top-10 lists each week in the spring. The things I’ve learned about myself since that time are huge, so I’m thrilled to be taking part again this year with some new topics and some changes in my own mindset and experiences to share!
This week, a bunch of us are talking about 10 things we’ve learned about ourselves through homeschooling.
What, you mean moms learn, too? 😉
1. I’m not as much of a plan-aheader as I thought I was.
In my “former life” as a full-time office employee, I was the person who knew the plan for six weeks down the road. That’s pretty funny, in a newspaper office. I was definitely that way in my personal life, too; organized and fairly sure of what was coming.
The universe has a good sense of humor. It said, “OK, Joan, that’s cute and all, but let’s look at who’s really in control here, shall we?” Our homeschooling journey has been a huge exercise in me letting go of the need to plan; even our decision to pull Ashar out of public school midyear, which I talked about here, was essentially a decision made over the course of only a day or two.
And then, when we realized almost immediately that we weren’t going to be the “buy the big box o’ learnin’ books” family, complete with matching lesson planner, but rather we were going to do this unschool thing, I got to have another minor freakout. And again, the universe put things together so they were even better than they’d have been if I planned them.
2. I LIKE learning.
Something funny had happened to me before we started homeschooling. I was so tied up with the mess that was our life – the 50- to 60-hour workweeks, the four hours of homework we were helping Ashar with, the occupational therapy appointments, the counseling, the fighting – that I wasn’t really being me. I was just being that person who did those things.
I know that probably doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it comes down to this: There are things about me that make me who I am. And one of the biggest, the fact that I’ve always loved to learn (anything, for any reason) had gotten lost in the shuffle.
As part of my quest to be interested and be interesting, I want to model for Ashar that Mom learns, too. And I’m having a TON of fun rediscovering that passion of mine.
3. I’m a gregarious introvert.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve been one of the rare people who has no problem with public speaking in the slightest. Give me an audience and I’ll give you a good time. (Does that sound wrong, or what?) I don’t need to prepare, I don’t use notes, I’m not nervous.
But I hate calling people on the phone. I get sick to my stomach when I’m stuck in a crowded room with a bunch of people I don’t know. When I’m tired, or sick, or unhappy, I just want to be left alone.
This never made sense to me. I loved being around people! (Except when I didn’t.) I loved talking and noise! (Except when I didn’t.)
But as I was talking to some friends, I realized that there is a valid personality type called the gregarious introvert – the person who is outgoing and comfortable with people, but who recharges best alone.
This isn’t so much directly related to homeschooling as it is to working from home, which I started at almost the same time we began homeschooling.
In a work sense, I definitely do better with some short, focused groupwork sessions, but then going it on my own for the rest of my time.
4. Working at home is hard work.
Ah, speaking of working from home: It’s hard. REALLY hard. There are a ton of distractions, and finding a balance between giving into the distractions and getting stuff done is a continual struggle. (Because, after all, if I wanted to lock myself in a private room all day, I could have stayed working in an office!)
And then there’s the fact that sometimes, people assume you’re not working. It’s taken Chris and I some time to get into a routine that doesn’t have me doing all the housework – because, after all, I’m home with it, so it tends to fall to me almost by proximity (more by my doing than his, too, I have to say in the spirit of honesty). We’re getting there, but it’s taken some time.
That said, I wouldn’t go back. For every time I throw my hands up at a loud movie in the background while I’m trying to take a call, there are five moments that I’d have missed if I wasn’t here. And I wouldn’t trade them.
5. I am not my job.
Ah. See, I was always that person who, when asked, “Tell me about yourself,” led with my career. Not because I loved it so much, but because it was what I spent the majority of my time and effort on.
That’s a priority problem, in my world. In my case, I truly believe that being Ashar’s parent is my highest calling. Doing stuff to make money is great – and can be a huge help to my family. But I’m not led to career-mindedness in the way that I always assumed I was, and in fact, I’m a lot more entrepreneurial and multi-skilled than any particular career would allow for!
That’s been a relief in a lot of ways – I always thought I was “doing it wrong” because I didn’t feel more dedicated or passionate about my job. Now I know that I’m passionate about what I should be, and good at lots of things that financially help the family out without taking away attention from what’s most important.
6. Massage therapy is amazeballs.
OK, this is kind of a silly one, but in the past year and a half, I’ve started getting regular massages, first to deal with some chronic pain issues and then simply to relax.
It has made a difference in my life that is hard to describe. I find I am more relaxed and pain-free, for sure, but I have become surprisingly more in tune with my own body. I know when something’s wrong – like the kidney infection I spent much of the winter battling – because I have a higher awareness of my physical state.
It’s also a great time to be quiet, to meditate, to doze, to shut off my mind – a time that’s just for me to be (almost) alone with my thoughts. Remember that introversion thing above? In a house with four people, five cats, a dog, a hamster and often various friends, it’s rare for me to be alone in a room with peaceful music playing. But for an hour every few weeks, I am! WELL worth the price.
7. “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is more than just a saying.
My mood definitely has the power to affect my whole family. I’m the person that comes into the most contact with each other person, and I’m also pretty much the strongest or most assertive personality in our family.
And that means that when I’m in a bad mood, it is awfully contagious. And if I’m in a good mood, and practicing patience and grace, that is contagious too.
I know which I’d prefer!
8. I am DEFINITELY a night person.
Remember me saying we’re night-owl homeschoolers? Well, I’d pretty much always thought I wasn’t a morning person, but in the couple of years before we began homeschooling and I began working at home, I had almost convinced myself I could manage as one.
I have quickly learned that I’m at my best between about 7 and 11 p.m. If I have something that has to be done, that’s when I should do it. Even while working at home, I’ve tried juggling different schedules to accommodate freelance clients across the country and around the world, and no matter how hard I try, I’m not nearly as effective until later in the day!
9. I can accomplish a lot in a day.
This was one of my biggest concerns about making my income primarily from freelancing – the number of balls I’d have to juggle over a short period of time. (Though I have to admit, working at a daily newspaper certainly did prepare me for that to a large extent!)
I’m a big fan of list-making, and I find that I get a big sense of accomplishment at how much I can check off my list in a day.
From working on six or seven different websites to getting the dishes and laundry done to practicing tae kwon do to juggling orthodontist appointments, I occasionally feel like Superman, and it feels pretty cool. (Most of the time!)
10. It’s OK when I accomplish “nothing,” too.
The very best days in our family usually aren’t the ones with the list. They’re the days where we’re all together, free to do whatever, whenever. And I’m learning, every day, to stop worrying about the things I “should get done” and to think about the people I love and how I can be in the moment with them!