So I’ve been struggling with Montessori lately.
Homeschooling during the early years was one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do. As a new Montessorian, having to figure out what activities to do, when to do it, how to observe my child’s interests — these were all foreign concepts to me. The learning curve was steep and brutal. And I often got stressed out because I gave myself imaginary deadlines on accomplishing everything. What if we haven’t covered [this subject] by the time he’s six years old? What if he hasn’t learned how to [insert developmental skill here] before he has to start elementary school?
I thought that once Zachary started Junior Kindergarten, once both boys were in full-day school and all I had to focus on is after-schooling, that this would all be over. After all, if I could manage homeschooling then after-schooling should just be a walk in the park, right?
Well it’s been almost five months since they started school and I still haven’t figured out after-schooling. It seems it’s a whole other ballgame and learning curve.
It takes so much time and patience to figure out not just the family’s new rhythms and needs, but my own as well. I have a lot less time with the kids now, yet the amount of stress I have placed on myself seems to have auto-magically bubbled up.
Ai-yai-yai! Why do I let this happen?
I’ve come to the realization lately that while our family dynamics have changed, my goals for my children haven’t. I haven’t truly left the homeschooling mindset behind. By this I mean that I still want to coach them 100% academically. I also want to incorporate long-term success habits such as mindfulness, organization, self-regulation, concentration and good habits. I dream about spending 100% of our time outdoors in nature, where my kids would lay on the grass talking to each other comparing leaf venations that they’ve collected instead of discussing Clash Royale, and would never get hungry whilst I get to sit back and sip premium coffee that never gets cold, all the while giving myself a proverbial pat in the back on the good job I’ve done.
The truth is that I don’t have all that time, energy or money to do everything that I have somehow dreamed up and planned in my head.
The other truth is that all this pressure is self-inflicted. It’s all in my mind. Both my children are not only fine but are thriving. Sure we haven’t arrived yet, but I don’t think we will ever “arrive”. What’s important is that we look forward to what lies ahead and we press on and hold on to the progress we have already made.
So here’s a few things I’m going to work on for how ever long it takes (because I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be an overnight change but rather a gradual and peaceful evolution.)
- The first thing I need to do is surrender. I don’t mean to give up or give in to these helpless feelings or stress. What I mean is to surrender everything to God, to fully trust that He will enable me to do what I can with the kids, and He will take care of those things which I can’t. I need to let go of my Type A personality, just embrace the grace that comes from God and work in partnership with Him rather than trying to fly solo with my children.
- The second thing I need to do is to pray and focus on a new set of priorities. I cannot accomplish everything, so I need to pick and choose the things that are most valuable and needed in our family and for each child. Firstly, what are the things I want to cultivate in my children, those that will develop long-term self-sufficiency and success? Are they going to be virtues, explorations or academics? Secondly, what are some things I can do to achieve these priorities? Do I have time to do them? If not, which ones do I have to let go of and entrust to God?
Raising children is no small feat. It can be so exhausting that just as we have “arrived” at our comfortable point, it’s time to change again as the needs of our children and family evolve and as we ourselves learn and grow. But I take comfort in knowing that the Lord Himself goes before me and will be with me; He will never leave me nor forsake me. So I refuse to be afraid or discourage.
I have just to suit up and get to work! *deep breath*