When you find yourself pregnant, sick, moving to a new home, and homeschooling three children all within the winter months during a global pandemic, you face two options. One, you can cry, and or two you can activate one of the greatest blessings of homeschool: the power of the pause.
Many of us who have been homeschooling beyond that first year, finally realize we don’t have to recreate public school at home. We begin to understand that homeschooling is not just about the academic work that we assign to our children, it is about the lifestyle we live alongside our children. In a typical school system, there is little room for life. Most of us have been taught through our schooling experience to put life on the back burner and push through to get it done with no true regard for our mental, physical, and emotional health. However—what has been need not always be. As homeschoolers, we get the chance to teach our children in a holistic manner. As parents, we can demonstrate for them the wisdom of prioritizing and wisely navigating all areas of our lives in a way that promotes our overall health and well-being. Living holistically has been the gift of this season in our family.
I am a recovering perfectionist who graduated from public school as a national honor student who got all As no matter what. When I sent my daughter to kindergarten, she knew how to read and write because I expected her to be and do the same as I did. I served on the PTA with the goal of being president one day. When the Lord called me to homeschool my daughter as she was going into her fifth-grade year, I was ready to be homeschool mom of the year! I even spent a few weeks of the summer heading into that year writing out my entire plan for each of my children—the classes they would take, the curriculum they would use, etc. I planned everything from now to graduation and even included my baby who was still in utero! (Yes, I was that mom!) Since I was pregnant and experienced the pandemic during our first year of homeschooling, you would have thought I would have slowed down, but I am not easily swayed. I pressed forward and continued my plans. However, I was counseled along the way by great experienced moms who began to slowly show me the light. And then the end of 2021 came in glorious splendor.
I became pregnant with my fourth child at the time my husband and I were buying our first house, which was an hour away from all family and friends. We moved to this great home that came with the wonderful things one encounters when moving into an older home that no one has been in for months during winter, with no heat, no hot water for weeks, and swarms of ladybugs looking for a place to overwinter. The weather was cold and dreary. I was as sick as a dog with the energy of a stick. And to top it all off, we found out the hard way that the Chick-fil-A in our area takes no pleasure in serving us. With the little bit of strength I could muster, I finally raised my white flag and said “I yield, I yield.” It became clear that my energy needed to be prioritized and my values reexamined. What mattered most? If I had only two hours to give my children this day, how would that time be allotted? Should it be used for grading and critiquing or cuddling and reading Scripture? Should I use this time to teach them the value of wisely considering one’s steps and managing one’s health or would I work past the point of burnout? What mattered most? What actions of mine would make them the humans I am praying that, with the Lord’s help, this time at home would help them to become? Would they see me working myself to the bone, or taking a day off to rest and humbly acknowledge that I need help? Would I choose to take no days off from math or chores or choose to protect my peace of mind so they don’t have a mom who is experiencing breakdowns because she just won’t stop? After praying and wrestling with these questions and fighting back the voices of shame and mom guilt, I felt the answer come in a whisper. Use the power of pause.
I became aware of the truth. It’s okay to take a fall break, a long holiday, a winter break, or something similar. It’s okay to reorient the days and choose what will be prioritized in this season. It’s okay and honestly even better to use these moments to teach our children how to live a balance life, which will combat the actions that lead to anxiety and depression because we’re unwilling to stop and care for ourselves. It’s okay to utilize the power of pause that homeschooling allows for all members of the family. Whatever it takes to ensure the family is healthy and well is okay. We are slowly coming out of our pause to a new beautiful tempo of homeschooling. We are still getting what needs to be done done, but, man, has the spirit of our school changed. Some days are still hard and need a different pace. Some days are great, and we give it all we got. But we have been gifted something absolutely invaluable that will not again be taken for granted, and that is the key that has unlocked for our family the power of balance, the power of rest, the power of wisdom, the power of self-care: the power of pause.