Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - July/August 1999

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Do You Sometimes Feel Like Giving Up?

by Dorothy Moore

Are you exhausted, harassed, stressed and discouraged? Do homeschool success stories depress you? Do you feel like a total failure? Are you having difficulties with organization or discipline? Do you wonder why you ever embarked on this experiment in the first place? These are only a few of the challenges faced by homeschooling moms. You are not alone. It happens to someone somewhere almost every day and is bound to happen to you once in a while. What causes this anyway? Why can't things just go smoothly every day? Almost every success story started this way, but moms just "hung in there" and found ways to resolve their problems.

In the first place, Satan and his helpers work very hard to create obstacles in anything that has the potential to unify families and build great character in your children as homeschooling does. So he uses every trick he can invent to destroy your motivation and success. And he has plenty.

A certain advertising flyer from a sewing machine company was mailed to everyone in the area. Its special offer stated "We will oil and adjust the tension in your home for one dollar." This would indeed be a bargain if the problems of the home could be worked out so easily. But how should one start to solve the everyday frustrations experienced by almost everyone?

SET PRIORITIES. Those of you who are Christians know you need God's help to bring up godly children in an ungodly world, so your first priority is to align yourself with God in the morning. Many Christians can testify of the importance of this first step. "Casting all your care upon Him" is a no-fail solution. It can help you eliminate fear of failure, financial troubles, sickness or death. Within that framework it will help you have respect for yourself as well as others.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You can't give to others if you yourself are worried, tired or not in good health. Dr. Hans Selje, the world's authority on stress, says that each person was born with a quota of life energy which is yours to spend at any rate you choose, sort of like a bank account. In fact, the inference is that if you deposit good health and exercise, it can help you to build a nice reserve in your "stress bank." But if you have to exert willpower to keep going, you are drawing from those reserves in your stress bank.

Don't schedule yourself or your children too tightly. Are you running a virtual taxi service meeting appointments?

Make some time each day for you to relax   perhaps after lunch when everyone, children included, have a quiet time where the little ones sleep and the older ones do something that is quiet but they do not talk to each other. Everyone needs some solitude. You might even have a nap. Exercise is a stress-relieving activity, whether just walking, swimming or doing some useful physical work, like gardening or stacking wood.

I don't know of anything which is more common for homeschooling moms than cutting sleep nor of anything which can cause more havoc. Sleeptime is the time to recharge your battery and you need a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. In fact, if you want to get the maximum energy, try to get three hours sleep before midnight which, according to the world's leading authority on circadian rhythms, is worth two to three times as much in quality sleep as the hours after midnight. Then, you can start the day, not with an alarm clock, but with your inner clock which you have programmed for 8 hours of sleep   5:00 a.m., plenty of time for your special time with the Lord, or whatever is on your agenda.

SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE. Adjust your expectations to reduce stress. Prepare easy meals, not with junk food, but with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Have the children help to prepare them. Children often like raw vegetables better than cooked and the latest nutrition information indicates that we need to eat a much larger percentage of our food raw. Tire out the children with work and exercise, so they will be ready for bed early. Then get to bed early yourself. Be sure you train your family team, so that the majority of the housework and home chores are done by them. Training means teaching, as well as following through to see they do it and do it well. If they are too young, just hit the high spots in house-cleaning, but take the time to teach them to work as soon as they can walk. When those bad times come, forget your regular routine and all of you go to the library for a couple of hours or sit on the floor with the children and read, read, read. Take a brisk walk with the kids, play in the yard with them or do calisthenics inside if the weather is bad. Take 10 deep breaths.

Track your monthly cycle and mood swings on a calendar to see if it has any significance in this problem. If these situations come on any regular basis, arrange to take a day off by trading off with another parent, send children to grandma's, get dad to take over or plan ahead for a relaxed day.

DETERMINE NOT TO COMPETE WITH ANYONE. Paul says that "comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise," but it's tempting to notice that Jennifer's son who is the same as age yours is reading third grade material with no problem and yours is not reading at all. Or your friends are all using formal school-type books and you're sure they're going to succeed better than you. Yet you know that your children do not respond to that method.

If that ugly test requirement of your state is hanging over your head, do as we counseled our daughter when their family was in Virginia. Their son was not ready for the test until age 10, but either a test or an evaluation was required after age 7. She was able to demonstrate through photos of field trips, a list of books read to the children, math papers done, stories that they had dictated to her, etc. that learning was taking place. She was able to postpone the test until he was 10, at which time the "reading-light" had come on. She used the Scoring High practice tests to get him used to the form and sent him to the school. We said, "If you don't worry, neither will he." He achieved a 98 percentile overall.

Or perhaps it is your own perfectionism   the urge to get "everything" done that should be done and not leaving anything undone. No time for yourself or your needs. If you must compete, compete with yourself by doing better than you did yesterday.

GET A GOOD BOOK ON DISCIPLINE AND ORGANIZATION. These are areas in which you can improve. We suggest Bonnie's Household Organizer and Home Built Discipline. Start with one thing at a time and be consistent.

RE-EVALUATE YOUR PHILOSOPHY. Is there anyone who loves or understands your children as much as you do? What about your values versus the ones they would learn from their peers at school? Have you thought about the alternatives and the effect on your children? Then thank God for giving you the challenge of bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

One day a homeschooling mom and her two young boys were shopping for groceries on their way home from a field trip. They were hot, tired and hungry and mom was having a hard time with their teasing each other and interfering rather than helping with her shopping. She had been a highly-paid attorney, but you could not tell by looking at her that she had been anything but a frustrated mom. As she was trying to cope with the situation, another shopper passed by. She was an attractive, well-dressed obviously professional woman. She smiled and asked, "Are you homeschoolers?" When they answered in the affirmative, she said, "That's great! My sister is homeschooling her children. You kids are very lucky boys."

Yes, your children are greatly blessed and you are, too, even though they do not realize it yet. Perhaps you do not either, but I can assure you that if you can hang in there, you will be glad you did.