We recently attended a social at the invitation of a homeschooling family we had just met. As my new friend introduced me to some of the other homeschooling families, one particular mom, whom I will call Amy, stood out to me. Amy seemed to have a peace and calmness about her. As we made our introductions, another mom entered the conversation and asked Amy if she was going to participate in the homeschooling activities this next year. They went on to discuss Amy's noticeable absence at the homeschool activities in the previous year. I sympathized with her as she seemed apologetic, almost fearful that the other mom would think less of her due to her lack of participation. However, her generally peaceful demeanor made an impression on me. Although it is possible that her calm manner may just be her personality, I also wonder if there just might be a correlation between her approach to homeschooling and her calm, peaceful attitude.

For the last six years, I have kept our children's social activities fairly minimal. Outside of church on Sundays and their two weekly Bible studies, we have only sporadically participated in group-oriented field trips, park days, classes, and play dates. I am not sure why I chose to homeschool this way. Maybe it's because we have a special needs child. But for whatever reasons, I am forever thankful to the Lord for the calmness this less active social life brought our family.

Last year, however, I thought about trying something more socially-minded, something different (that's just one of the freedoms of homeschooling). My children are getting older, and I reasoned that maybe it's time to look into enrolling them in more activities. So, a couple of weeks ago I found myself doing the exact opposite of what I had done for so long. I sought classes for my children: tennis, art, Spanish, Hebrew, guitar.

Quite frankly, I will not be surprised in the least if within the next two to three months I--and perhaps the children--are completely worn out. If it were only the class time involved, that would be one thing. But there is also getting all the children ready, travel time to and fro, practice, etc. I also imagine that my children will be somewhat less obedient because of the stress and lack of time spent on character training. Sure, Grandma and Grandpa, the neighbors, and even strangers will think we are the "Super-Family." But at what sacrifice?

The temptation to get overly involved in outside activities is one that many homeschoolers face, whether they're veterans or newcomers. In evaluating whether I had gone overboard, I made up a list of questions to ask myself. If you are feeling like me, these questions might help you, too!

  1. How are my days scheduled? If something diverts my attention, do I become impatient and stressed? Do I seem to be always in a rush, yelling "Hurry up, we're late" to my children?

If so, I remind myself to slow down and see what activities and social gatherings can be removed so that life and learning will return to being a joyful and calm experience.
 
2. Am I trying to fit my school time within a certain time frame? Will it mess up my schedule if something unexpected happens--good or not-so-good?

Early in my homeschooling journey, I learned a very valuable lesson about allowing myself the freedom to change my schedule at a moment's notice. I was doing math with my child, and at the top of her lesson was a Scripture that she had previously memorized to a melody. She stopped and sang this Scripture song, and we were all blessed by it. Allowing for change will help keep peace when my day's activities are delayed by unscheduled events.
 
 3. Are my emotions running from high to low?

Maybe it's because I am not taking the necessary time to read God's Word or pray because of an overcrowded schedule. A peaceful home can only be achieved with God's help. I have to continually check and make sure I am not leaving Him out of the picture. Also, making sure I get enough sleep is important in keeping a grouchy attitude at bay.