Even though we had a wonderful curriculum, I began to add extras—a workbook here, a special project there. The problem was, I wasn’t eliminating anything to accommodate the new additions, and pretty soon I found our days on overload. I had to learn that if we were going to add a special display on Mexico for a geography fair or a unit study on the Iditarod, we had to scale back on something else. “A mile wide and an inch deep” was not my educational goal . . . so I needed to reevaluate my priorities once again.

One day in the middle of a month loaded with lots of running and outside commitments, my daughter said, “Do you realize that I have no time to play this week? By the time I’m done with chores, school, piano, and everything, it’s bedtime!”

I sighed. I’d done it again. Filled our schedule with so many good things that we were homeschoolers who weren’t home very much! The things were wonderful; we’d just said yes to too many of them. This explained the frustration I was feeling with our schoolwork—making slow progress and not getting done what I had hoped. So we trimmed what we could from our schedule, and I lightened our studies until some of the commitments had been met, determined that I would guard our energies and home life more carefully.

Sometimes a book or program just didn’t work, and we would have to drop it. My frugal side protested the waste of money, but the veterans were right—not everything is going to work, and that’s just a fact. Better to get the right materials that work for my student than push on with something problematic and make both of us suffer. I learned in practice the truth of the advice that there is no one-size-fits-all for every kid, and sometimes it takes trial and error to find what works.

One of the challenges that confronted me when we got into longer school days was housework. My Proverbs 31 woman standards for a sparkling clean home and creative, nutritious meals were just not realistic in our homeschooling lifestyle. That was a hard one! I learned to buy food in bulk, cook ahead, and freeze meals for my busier days. My crock-pot became my best kitchen friend. And creating a simpler menu eliminated a lot of planning time that I needed elsewhere. I found that a clean-as-you-go philosophy helped keep our week’s messes from demoralizing me completely by Saturday. While it was embarrassing to have guests see the dust and disorder sometimes, this freeing quote from another homeschooling mom put it all in perspective: “Did you come to see me or my house?”

I was learning one of the cardinal rules of homeschooling: Be adaptable. Life has a way of throwing us a curve sometimes that may require a fresh approach. I saw this in action when a friend lost her voice for six weeks due to strain, so she and her two daughters learned sign language. What seemed to be a huge roadblock to their school turned out to be a whole new learning adventure. As I’ve had my own share of curves to deal with along the way, I’ve laughingly adopted this proverb, passed on to me by another mom: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”

Trouble Spots and Detours

One day, on absolute overload with too little sleep, too much to do, and nothing going right, I assigned my daughter some seatwork and dragged off to my room. Throwing myself on the bed for a nap, I burst into exhausted, self-pitying tears. This is too much! I can’t do it! God, can’t you see? I’m at the end of my rope! I wanted to sleep for a year. I wanted to go away somewhere very far—alone. Then, as I lay there wallowing in my tears, a thought intruded. Wait a minute. I can’t do this—I don’t have time to cry!

While I can laugh now looking back on that rough day, it sure wasn’t funny at the time. Discouragement and exhaustion are two very real enemies we homeschooling moms face. The dozens of hats we wear, the 24/7 demands on our energy and resources, the unrelenting do-the-next-thing, and the fact that the dishes will be dirty again in a few hours can make you cry in despair, “Stop this merry-go-round! I want to get off!” I had to take a break and regroup, maybe load a picnic up for the two of us and head for the park. The Lord reminded me time and again that He did not call me to do something He hadn’t equipped me for! Each day I could learn afresh that my weakness was His opportunity to show Himself strong on my behalf.