While cleaning my home office recently, I found a stack of papers I brought home with me after retiring from the workforce. Before pitching, I thumbed through them and had a great chuckle at one piece hidden away in that mess. It was a flyer titled How to Stay Stressed and it satirically proposed that we humans must really enjoy feeling at our wit’s end because we are really good at inviting stress into our homes. The “self-help” flyer’s author was even so kind to offer strategies for how to stay crazy stressed out.
It provided a much-needed laugh because, you see, I’ve done a fine, yes a very fine, job of welcoming stress into Das Schmidt Haus the past month. So I got to thinking about how I could stay stressed out as our family continues to dig in and pull up our homeschooling boot straps. In the event you, too, are looking for tips and strategies for how to lose your marbles, here are a few suggestions.
Because you have bought into society’s insistence that the proper and only way to socialize your children is by enrolling them in public school, search and search and search for the best enrichment courses offered throughout your entire greater metro region. Then promptly enroll the young’uns in all of them, every single last cotton-pickin’ extracurricular class.
- Homeschool co-op? Check.
- Dance class? Check.
- Art and piano lessons? Check and check.
- Supplemental catechesis at church? Check.
- P.E. at the YMCA? Check. (WHAT THE … you’re paying for recess?!)
Oh, and please don’t neglect the following important point: schedule in more activities than you can possibly manage. Even more, select classes offered at the most inconvenient times for your household schedule so that all order and balance you’ve worked so hard to establish the past year is thrown into a deep tizzy. Proper order and balance is so so so very … what’s the word … Benedictine. And aren’t we a more a free-spirited, wandering, willy-nilly Jesuit society now with Pope Francis in office? Get with the times.
2. Second-guess every decision that’s gotten you to this point.
The curriculum you bought that cost as much as a mortgage payment? Throw it out after Day 1 when it just doesn’t seem to jive with your children’s learning style. Then start over from scratch. In search of the perfect curriculum, read no less than 666 homeschooling mommy blogs by women who’ve been at this for at least a decade. Because you’ll be so confused after reading said 666 blogs, schedule coffee chats with several local homeschooling moms about the choices they’ve made for their family. Then kick yourself for not going with XYZ Home Study Curriculum — the one Mrs. Homeschooler of the Year has used successfully for all her children over the past 20 years. And most important: WORRY about it all. While you’re at it, worry about the stock market, world peace, global warming, and recent reports that Kerrygold butter does not actually come from 100% grass-fed dairy cows after all.
3. Take a prayer hiatus.
Prayer is for sissies, friends. Instead, rely on stimulants to get your high. Two pots of bold, dark roast coffee should do the job just fine.
Never exercise. Eat anything you want. Gain weight and work diligently to stay at least 25 pounds over your recommended weight. Carbo-load and double your daily sugar content.
… and decide to begin homeschooling at about the 33-week gestation mark.
Because readers of your popular blog (popular is such a relative term, isn’t it?) are anxious to hear about every mundane update in your life, put blogging before everything else. Be sure to use evenings and weekends not in quality time with your spouse but rather to catch up on your social media trolling. And this is critical: keep holy the Sabbath by blogging.
Wait until 7:30 a.m. on the first morning you plan to begin homeschooling to sketch out a lesson plan for
the week that day. All those storage boxes full of books, paperwork, and files you’ve been meaning to donate or shred for three years now? Head on over to Pinterest and find ways to creatively repurpose those boxes into desks and chairs for the kids.
No, I don’t mean with a label maker, but YES get one and then curse yourself when you don’t instantaneously become more organized simply by owing it. Instead, I’m referring to those simple, innocent questions that well-meaning friends and family ask about your homeschooling decisions. Take each one as a personal attack against you, your spouse and children, your parenting skills, your faith, your politics, and the increasing number of freckles on your beautiful face.
9. For pete’s sake, stop laughing already!
Homeschooling is no joking matter, people, and you shouldn’t just roll with the punches. Your children’s entire future hangs in the balance at the mercy of your hands. Say what? Only the truly holy people can laugh at themselves? Humbug. Damn lies and statistics right there.
The higher the better. For you, your spouse and children, shoot, even for your slobbering black lab. The serpent in your five-year-old’s Garden of Eden illustration looks more like a friendly cat? Time for a trip to the zoo and some hands-on training at the reptile exhibit. Sure, she might be freaked out, but SHE’S GOT TO LEARN! The 19-month-old isn’t talking much yet? Call a speech therapist. Wait, better yet, this is your opportunity to teach Latin before he gets hooked on English. Your husband can’t stay awake past 8:30 p.m. because he’s been up since 4:30 and has worked like a banshee the past month? Ladle up a bowl of guilt soup in the form of thinly veiled barbs that your children won’t understand but will be crystal clear to your husband. Make him feel terribly guilty for ignoring you and leaving you to hang high and dry with this whole homeschooling mess you’ve gotten yourself into. And woman, please, stop being so selfish and get up at 4:30 a.m. with your husband, take a shower, style your hair, put on your “face,” and for the love of all things feminine genius, wear more dresses.
* * *
There you have it, ten ways to stay stressed out during your first month of homeschooling. But hey, I’m no expert. What stress-producing or stress-sustaining strategies work for you? I would love to, ahem, learn from you. Combox is open!