Keeping up with the Joneses, Homeschool Style
Ever been to a homeschool group and overheard a mom share an award her child just earned? And you immediately felt a slight sinking feeling? Or, scrolled through social media and read about a homeschool family with three children winning first through third place in a competition? And, felt like maybe you weren’t doing enough so that your children won competitions too? It’s very easy, sometimes, to fall into the comparison trap and try to “keep up with the Joneses”, especially if we have recently faced challenges in our homeschool days. The grass seems to be greener as we try to remind ourselves “everyone has something they are dealing with that we don’t see”. But it can be hard to work on that proper perspective after days of tears from not understanding a new math concept, and I’m not just talking about those of your children. However, there are some things we can do and keep in mind to remember the next time we start to feel a longing for that grass that seems greener.
Make a Habit to Recognize your Child’s Unique Gifts
When things don’t seem to be going very smoothly in one area, complement your child (and even yourself) for remaining patient during a difficult learning process. A saying in our house when we have to work a little more or harder on something is “slow and steady wins the race!” This helps us focus on the fact that sometimes there are going to be challenges, but we can work through them a bit at a time and keep a steady and good outlook about it. We don’t feel the need to be the best or the fastest. We also explore with fun and excitement the areas that God has bestowed on us certain talents, skills, interests, or abilities. We are thankful for the specific unique qualities that we are given and able to use in this life.
We celebrate within our family individual accomplishments, successes, and achievements of each of our family members and are happy for one another’s moments. But, more than what the person “did”, we celebrate who they “are” as the most important part of them. On birthdays, we take the time to celebrate their lives and what their presence means to us.
Keep in Mind What You Don’t See
When we see a family of siblings winning competitions or awards, or posts on social media of extravagant projects, we may start to wonder if we aren’t doing enough in our own homeschools. What we need to keep in mind is what we don’t see.
What we don’t see is how much time and energy or effort is devoted to that activity for the competitions or the awards. And we don’t see all the time spent doing those projects. What we need to keep in mind is everybody does “homeschooling” differently and in their own way with their own priorities and what works for them. And that is the beauty of homeschooling. You may be spending more time and energy on other areas because that area is a priority for you and your family, while the competition or big project family may be spending less time on that area.
Everyone has their own interests, priorities, skills, and abilities the way God has made us. Keep on “being you.”
Take a Break from Social Media Once in a While
If you are going through a challenging time, find your inspiration and refreshment someplace else, other than scrolling through social media. It’s hard to not focus on something, sometimes, when it comes across your screen while you are trying to do something to relax.
Find something else to do with some free time other than looking to see what everyone else is sharing or doing. You might be surprised by the relief you may feel during that break and relaxing and spending your free time in another way. Going outdoors, reading, and even knitting (that’s the latest thing they recommend for relaxing and boosting your feel good chemicals) are known for bringing on the positive endorphins, besides exercise. But seriously, a healthy hobby or activity away from the internet or social media does benefit us.
Count your Blessings
You have probably heard this many times before – “count your blessings” and “be grateful”, or write in a “gratitude journal”. This may sound cliché, but these actually do work. Praise God for every blessing.
Look back at each day and write down three things that you are grateful for or that went well that day. The negative tends to stand out more strongly in our recent memories and affects our moods more than the positives. Sometimes it takes more positives to outweigh one negative.
If we make this a habit each day, we will notice that it becomes more natural to notice the positives; and the more positives we notice, the less the negative will affect us. No matter how small the accomplishment or success you celebrate for that day, it makes it easier to continue when you start again the next day. You will be approaching it from a winning point of view instead of one of frustration and defeat.
The more you make it a habit to notice the positives, the more you will notice the negatives don’t affect you like they were. We have control over how we want to look at things and the power to influence our thinking and perspective. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves.
Celebrate the Success of Others
In practicing to celebrate the successes within our family, we are also practicing the ability to step outside ourselves and celebrate the successes of others outside our family. So, the next time we hear a mom talk about an accomplishment of one of her children, we can be one of the first to say how wonderful that is and share in her happiness.
When we focus on others, we also tend to forget a negative we may be experiencing. We also stop looking at the green grass of that other mother as though we are standing on something less attractive and apart from her. When we celebrate with her, we are standing alongside her patch of green grass and on our own patch of green grass. Sharing positive feelings with other people helps us to experience positive feelings as well. It’s also a celebration for the homeschooling community and another success story of what homeschooling can accomplish!
As we become more focused on the positives and thankful for our own God-given gifts and uniqueness and celebrate alongside others for their God-given gifts, we lose the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses.” And we become quite satisfied with our patch of green grass.