Homeschooling

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The past several months have been an amazing journey for me. I've been navigating the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling and a new network marketing business. To say I've been stretched would be a gross understatement, but I'm not sure I have the words to describe it all either.

It probably seems like learning to work a direct selling business and learning to homeschool my children don't have much of anything in common. But the one thing they do have in common matters. And it matters deeply. Perseverance matters.

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When I started homeschooling I spent a lot of time worrying about which curriculum would be the best fit and working up a schedule that would fulfill all of our various needs. And I wouldn't go as far as to say that those things don't matter at all, but if you can't stick with it when all of your best laid plans are lying in a heap on the floor under 18 loads of unwashed laundry, then you're not going to make it.

I impulsively joined a network marketing company. Well, I shouldn't say impulsively because the reality was that I felt prompted to do so. I didn't know why then, but I understand it more now. The company I joined was a naturally-based, anti-aging hair care company called MONAT. I have struggled for years with hair loss and after my first wash I knew why I'd felt that prompting. My hair has done a complete turnaround. It's phenomenal really.

But it's not just my hair that's completely changed. When someone tells you that network marketing businesses are personal development businesses, they're telling you the truth. As an introvert who absolutely dreaded the idea of selling anything, I spent a lot of time worrying about what to say and how to "get comfortable" doing something that seemed so against my nature. And again, I wouldn't go as far as to say that those things don't matter at all, but if you can't stick with it when your excitement for a product leaves you throwing up ridiculous amounts of information all over unsuspecting friends and family, then you're not going to make it.

As I've stumbled further along the trail in both of these endeavors, my characteristic stubbornness has turned into perseverance. Suddenly my mindless inability to quit anything has taken on tremendous purpose. That, my friends, is perseverance. It is one of the lessons that has entered my soul with perfect clarity.

I screw up every, single day. I get frustrated with my kids' lack of cooperation and I respond poorly. I teach a lesson that totally rocked in my mind, but ends up being completely worthless. The routine slips and our day looks like an unmitigated disaster. I see a friend who could totally benefit from a MONAT business and I approach it all wrong. Sometimes I sample and sample and sample our products, but don't see equivalent results.

But here's the thing. The value I've found in both of these endeavors is perseverance. I've learned to just keep going because I see something in the future that is much greater than all of my mistakes. And guess what? Sometimes the brilliant lesson goes off just how I planned. And sometimes, others see the same value in my business or my products that I do. Sometimes I see MONAT change a life just like it changed mine. Sometimes all of the chores get done and the schoolwork gets done and everybody is still smiling.

We work for the sometimes because perfection isn't ours to own just yet. There is value in the doing and the believing. There is value in endurance and dedication. You don't have to have extraordinary talents to succeed in business or homeschooling or life. The only thing you need is perseverance. Loads and loads and loads of it. Commit and move your feet. You'll find happiness and success beyond your wildest dreams.

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I was warned by numerous people that at first homeschooling would be hard. Words like detox and chaos and exhausting were thrown around. I felt like maybe the struggles with the transition period were slightly exaggerated. I felt like I was prepared for it. I wasn't.

I have pretty good kids. They're not perfect. Some days their energy levels are through the roof and sometimes they choose poorly. Sometimes they stress me out, but mostly life is good. So I was emotionally unprepared for the detox and the chaos and the exhaustion. By day three I felt nearly comatose.

Everybody was right about what they said. The warnings were appropriate. The truth is, I just couldn't have imagined it or prepared for it. I was surprised by the level of bickering, the complete lack of cooperation, and the deep down in my bones tired that I would feel. I felt like I was broadsided . . . by a barn.

This past week has taught me two very important things about our family's new homeschooling adventure.

We're doing the right thing. I felt we were doing the right thing when this decision was finally made and I'm even more certain of it now. The greatest opposition always precedes the greatest joy. The hardest battles fought lead us to the sweetest victories. I've been forced to remember that difficulty doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. Difficulty teaches and it leads. Difficulty leads us to greater heights than where we originally stood.

We're going places. This family is on its way upward. I'm more certain than ever that this family will come through this more refined and more sacred. We'll swim through the chaos and the exhaustion, even if we just tread water for a while. We'll adjust and we'll change and we'll become better. We're on an uphill trek that will bless us on into the eternities.

So for those who have been asking how the first week went, the answer is probably hovering in the vicinity of awful and crazy. I will do things a little . . . or a lot . . . differently this week. My understanding of my purpose in all of this has deepened. My direction has shifted and my resolve has stiffened. Because even amidst the turmoil, I caught a glimpse of something that shows me exactly why I'm leading our family down this road.

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Onward and upward we go.

 

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It seems like everywhere we go the questions are the same. Kids are spoken to in terms of their grade level. People wonder if they're excited to go back to school. They always want to know which school they attend. Random strangers in public settings seem to always approach my children this way. I'm pretty sure it's always one of my first questions to new children I've met too. A child's education is such a huge part of their life that that's how we identify them and classify them. It's a conversation piece because they spend so much of their lives in an educational setting.

Lately we're fielding questions about who our kids' teachers are going to be this coming school year as well. Their friends want to know if they'll see them in class. I figured I should probably make some sort of formal announcement.

So the answer is me. This year, I'm their teacher.

I have enough reasons for this that I could write a novel. That list of reasons has grown and grown over the years. I've wanted to homeschool for a long time. Kyle hasn't had such a favorable opinion of the whole thing. Finally, he's agreed to let me go for it. He'd be the first to tell you that he's still not in love with the idea, but out of respect for me, he's letting my mom heart take a stab at it this year.

I know I don't owe anybody an explanation as to why we've chosen to educate our kids at home this year, but I also know that questions will still inevitably come. I'll spare you from the aforementioned novel's worth of reasons and just share with you my main one.

Every year when I would drive my kids to school on their first day, we would have a similar conversation. I would tell them that I didn't care what their grades were. As long as they did their best, that was enough for me. I cared about whether or not they were kind. Period. That's it. I never wanted to hear that they had made any other kid feel like less than they were. I never wanted them to participate in bullying another child or hurting another child. I never wanted to hear that they had been disrespectful to their teachers or anything less than polite. I wanted them to be honest, helpful, decent, and above all, kind. I care about my children's characters more than I care about calculus or reading fluency or social studies.

We are a busy family. We have five children with a broad range of interests. The majority of my children are gifted athletically. They love to play sports and I love to watch them to play. Because of those interests and talents, a typical day at our house looked exactly like this last year: bus ride, school, bus ride, sports, homework, and bedtime. That was it. No family dinner. No time to spend talking individually with my kids about their day. No time to build those characters I'm always so concerned about.

We've become a culture that worships busyness. We feel like the more activities we involve our kids in, the more opportunities they have for success. The time kids used to have to run wild and free, to explore, and to create are all but a memory.

We are also a family that believes in and worships a loving God. In this home we pray and read scriptures. In this home we learn about the character of the Savior of mankind and we try to instill those traits in our children and ourselves. We try to serve and to lift and to leave this world better than we found it.

So in a nutshell, we're homeschooling this year because I want our family life to look differently than it does. I want time to spend with my children teaching them about integrity, goodness, and kindness. I want to instill in them a love for God and the rest of humankind. I want them to have time to run around being silly and enjoying nature. I want baseball games that interrupt dinnertime to be irrelevant because we had breakfast and lunch together already. I want my kids to learn that when they encounter struggles academically or in any other way, that they have a family of supporters here to help and to lift.  I want my children to know that in their mother they will find someone in their corner who cares an infinite amount about who they are and what they choose to do with their lives.

Basically, this is me taking my family back.