Knowing when enough is enough is a familiar question for many homeschool mums. Most mums feel as if they are not doing enough and they feel pressured, guilty and condemned for not being up to a standard. A standard, I may add that is often self-imposed, and not realistic.
To answer this question you have to define ‘enough’. Enough is one of those words that means everything and yet means nothing either. What is enough for one child may not be enough for another – what is enough for one family may be too much for another. So how do we define ‘enough’?
Dictionary definition: adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire
The very definition infers we need to know what we want or need, to have a purpose or a desire. That is the bar.
The question then becomes – is your expectation, your want/need, purpose or desire appropriate for the child and the situation you are in. Are you working towards that end? Are you making progress? Often we set unrealistic expectations, or unattainable goals. In this situation we are never doing enough. If the truth be told, we can never do enough. I would believe that this covers most of the mums who feel they aren’t doing enough.
But there is a flip side – and to be honest this is where I am at the moment. We are not doing enough. Please hear me – this is a tricky thing to talk about because so many mums feel as if they are not doing enough and in reality they are doing more than plenty, but just because that is the case I cannot not ask the question – are you really doing enough – because that is the question I have had to ask myself, and the answer (for me) is no, we are not doing enough.
Not doing enough looks like wafting, being easily distracted, low energy or focus. There is no way you can do ‘enough’ when you or your children drag themselves through the day.
This is not an emotional, under pressure, judging myself assessment but rather it is a clinical look at my goals, at where the kids are at, at what happens in our day and the productivity at the end of the day. I know, in my heart, that we are not where we should be.
After I checked that my goals and objectives were appropriate I asked myself “Why” – why are we not achieving enough? Why are we not achieving our goals? Here are my answers (which once again may well be just applicable to my family – but I share in case it makes you think of something for your family):
- The kids have no ownership of most of our studies and therefore wait for me each step of the way – this opens everyone up for distraction
- There is an attitude of Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be.
- We are allowing other things to slip into our focus time (good things, but not the things we should be focusing on)
So after such reflection I have to find solutions to help us redirect.
- Give the kids more independent units. Give them a calendar indicating their study times, and when things are due. Creating a sense of responsibility for their learning and time management which will limit (hopefully) the freedoms they take
- Follow through on consequences – if they don’t study, or don’t complete due dates, then ….. what will be the consequences? Certainly one that comes to mind – there will be no social media or screen time till their daily responsibilities are done (chores, study etc).
- Get the kids to write a general to-do list that they need to consider for their free productive time – this would include the little things that interrupt our studies such as: buying iTunes music, stitching badges on uniforms, learning lines for drama, sending a thank you text message and drawing (examples from our last week). This way these little tasks won’t be forgotten. There is a right time for certain activities, just because it is a good activity doesn’t’ mean now is the right time to do it.
So are you doing enough? Do you know your goals and are you working towards them? Making progress, little by little? If not – then you may have to say, along with me, “No we are not doing enough” and then find a plan to help turn things around.
Some may think this is contrary to the lifestyle of learning that I promote, that I should be happy with whatever the kids are doing. Let me explain why I’m not. Though recognizing learning opportunities in family life brings much freedom to our homeschooling plans, with such freedom comes responsibility. I need to be responsible with my kids learning, they need to be responsible with their own learning as well, and as we drift, not doing our best, being distracted from valuable, settling for the okay, then we are not being responsible. There is a balance here. I’m not saying that I’m going to start running our family like an institution – but rather I am going to keep tabs on how we are managing our time, how focused we are with our focus time, how intentional we are with the things that we do.