Homeschooling changes through the years.
Once you find a groove, you ride it out as long as you can, but be prepared to change things up. You grow and change in your comfortability with homeschooling. Your kids grow and change in their abilities and needs.
Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365 has some great ways of grouping women’s life stages and organizational challenges. While listening to her podcast the other day, I was struck by the fact that homeschool moms go through several stages of life as well.
With my oldest now in high school, I am able to look back and see those stages in my own life.
It’s super helpful to know that these stages exist, so that you don’t go through the discouragement of comparing yourself to a mom in another stage.
Lisa groups these stages as Accumulation, Survival, Downsizing & Legacy.
Here’s what I think these Stages look like for a Homeschool Mom.
Stage 1: Accumulation
Accumulation is when you’re starting a family, buying a home, and generally accumulating things for your life. You don’t necessarily get rid of a lot of stuff, because you might need it for the next baby, or in the case of the homeschool mom, the next grade level.
If people give you free homeschool curriculum, you probably load your bookshelves with it just in case you need it. Get rid of extra art supplies? I wouldn’t even consider it because I still have at least 10 years left of homeschooling.
You look at older homeschool moms in the other stages and wonder what’s wrong with you. Why does it all seem so hard? It’s just the stage you’re in. You also love to go to homeschool conventions and buy curriculum in the vendor halls. It looks promising and with 4 kids in tow, you’ll probably use it… sometime… in the future.
The basic description of this stage can be overwhelm. Not everyday and not all the time necessarily, but you have to realize that it is completely normal at this point in life to feel a bit crazy. Especially if you’re homeschooling on top have having babies, keeping toddlers safe, and juggling multiple schedules. Some of you may even be working part time!
Bottom line: Give yourself grace at this stage.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone, but especially don’t compare yourself to homeschool moms in other stages. They’ve lived through this crazy stage and come out on the other side, hopefully in one piece! You will too.
Stage 2: Survival
You’re not necessarily accumulating anymore, but you’re in a good groove and you have more confidence in your style of homeschooling. Your kids are getting older and they know what to expect. Since you’ve been at this for several years now, you come across as a pro to the young homeschool moms in your circle.
However, you might be adding part-time work onto your plate, in addition to having older kids who have busier schedules. You might also need to help take care of your parents at this stage. So your time is very valuable and seems in short supply.
Bottom line: Create systems to organize your stuff and your schedule.
You need to be proactive in saying “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to what matters most to you. Use a zero-based schedule approach to organizing your time. Increasing productivity is important because you’re involved in helping so many people in your life.
Stage 3: Downsizing & Legacy
You can see the end in sight. You likely have someone in high school by now, or have graduated one or more kids from your homeschool. You are confident in your ability to choose the right path and curriculum for each child, so you are also okay with getting rid of excess books and supplies.
The younger kids might even have a more simplified homeschooling experience than you gave to your oldest kids. The older kids were your guinea pigs, but by now you’ve refined your philosophy and don’t suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when you come across millions of other great homeschool ideas on Pinterest.
You are at a great spot for giving back to others from the wisdom you’ve gained.
Bottom line: Give back & mentor.
Enjoy graduating the last of your kids from your homeschool! And look for moms in other stages to mentor. I remember being so encouraged when I was in the very first stage by a mom who was successfully homeschooling four teenagers. They have all since graduated from homeschool and are wonderful adults. Be that encourager to the young mom with four boys under five!
I’m sure these stages aren’t perfect, but I hope it’s helped you to acknowledge the unique stage you are in and embrace it.