Have you had to deal with joy suckers in your homeschool life?
Wonder why these joy suckers rob the joy and steal the delight in your homeschool day?
Find out more about joy suckers and their perceived power over your homeschooling plus how you can conquer homeschool joy suckers and get on with enjoying your homeschool!
What are Homeschool Joy Suckers?
Joy Suckers: people, places, or things that suck the joy out of your homeschool life; similar, in effect, to Dementors in the Harry Potter series
No matter where you are on your homeschool journey, chances are that you have encountered joy suckers. These negative influences on your homeschool thoughts and behaviors can be present if you are just considering homeschooling, deschooling, or have 15+ years of homeschool experience under your belt.
These joy suckers may be sneaky, subtle, or silent. You may have little to no awareness of their presence in your life.
And yet, these negative influences can create massive turbulence for your homeschool.
How to Detect Homeschool Joy Suckers
You may have a homeschool joy sucker in your life if any person, place, or thing leaves you feeling:
- physically, psychologically, & emotionally exhausted
- afraid that you aren’t enough to homeschool your kids
- worried that your kids are missing out (FOMO)
- worried that you’re missing out!
- bad about yourself or your homeschool
- angry that you must defend yourself once again to doubts and questions from “concerned” outsiders or loved ones
- embarrassed by your decision to homeschool
- afraid to be honest in how you respond to questions about your homeschool choices
- stressed about having to deal with that person, place, or thing again in the future
Homeschool joy suckers can be external or internal. Here are examples of homeschool joy suckers and with tips on how you can conquer these negative influences in your homeschool life.
Homeschool haters are those that are negative or highly critical of homeschooling. These haters are not open to learning more about the homeschool process. They have formed an opinion and are sticking to it like white on rice.
**Tips on How to Handle Haters: Agree to disagree. Move on. Let bygones be bygones.
In an assertive manner, tell the homeschool hater that the topic of homeschooling is no longer allowed to be discussed. Period. Don’t buy into baiting. Rise to the occasion, be an adult, and move on.
Hopefully, the homeschool hater will learn a lesson from you and do the same. If not, leave the area and use the time to decide how you will rationally deal with that individual in the future.
It can also be helpful to have a few neutral or assertive responses to use if the occasion should arise.
For example, if a negative individual starts grilling you about your qualifications to teach your kids at home, you could have a prepared response at the ready: “Thank you for your concern. I am, however, actually overqualified to teach my kids because _____. We are just so happy that are getting such an excellent, well-rounded education!”
Or if the “socialization” issue is brought up, you could have something like this in your arsenal of responses: “You know, I am amazed at all the wonderful interactions that my kids get with a variety of ages during the week. I’m so glad that they get to practice their manners and learn how to actually function in the real world!”.
2. Anxiety & Stress
When you are feeling overwhelmed or worried, the joy can be sucked right out of your homeschool. Anxiety is an internal response to feeling scared, overwhelmed, or not enough.
Anxiety, per se, is not all bad. Worry over a particular issue can prompt you to take action to eliminate the problem. Anxiety or stress, however, are homeschool joy suckers when they interfere with your level of functioning and ability to enjoy your homeschool experiences.
**Tips on How to Conquer Homeschool Anxiety & Stress: Acknowledge and accept your fears. No matter how silly or small they may seem. With greater awareness, you will be able to identify and deal with negative thoughts and feelings associated with the fears. Replace irrational thoughts like “should”, “must”, or “hate” with more rational thoughts like “I would prefer it if…”, “I would like it if…”, or “I strongly dislike when…” to help yourself develop positive thinking strategies
Do you feel like you are up to your eyeballs in chaos? Like your homeschool is spinning out of control?
Time management issues can suck the joy out of your homeschool. Examples of chaos due to time management issues include:
- wasting time on unnecessary activities
- over or underestimating how long an activity will take
- trying to cram too much into a homeschool day
- letting your homeschool plans control you instead of you controlling your homeschool plans
Chaos can also come in the form of clutter and disorganization. When you can’t find a homeschool resource that you need and are frantically dashing about like a chicken with its head cut off, there’s not much joy in that homeschool moment.
**Tips for Conquering Chaos: Take time to declutter and organize your homeschool area. Even if it takes you a week or more. It’ll be worth it to take back your homeschool area. Consider decluttering other areas of your home as well, if that chaos is interfering with your homeschool functioning.
Find a planning system that works for you. Paper or digital. Try different types and stick with what works. The time you spend planning will allow you to relax and enjoy your homeschool all the more.
Homeschool moms get mad. Kids get angry. Family members and friends have anger.
Anger is not a “bad” emotion. It’s a sign that you are unhappy or upset about a situation. Anger in your homeschool can be a joy sucker, however, when it prevents you or your kids from functioning in a healthy way. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other problems when left to spiral out of control.
**Tips for Conquering Anger: For yourself, take time when you are calm to acknowledge your anger. Look closely at the situation-the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Devise a plan to positively deal with the situation in the future. Remove any words like “should”, “must”, or “hate” (those pesky irrational thoughts!) from your language when speaking of the situation.
For your kids, help them find a safe spot where they can go to calm down. Consider adding soft music and calming pictures with cool colors to have them shift their focus to a more peaceful environment. When they are calm, talk with your kids about what they experienced prior to feeling angry, how their body felt, and what they can do in the future to appropriately deal with the situation.
5. Energy (or Lack Thereof)
When your energy supplies are sapped, homeschool joy evaporates. Lack of sleep is a major culprit. Some homeschool moms battle insomnia due to anxiety. Others have newborns to soothe. Many homeschool moms stay up way too late to enjoy some much needed quiet time all to themselves.
Other reasons for lack of energy can be poor nutrition (can anyone relate to shoveling down goldfish crackers for lunch because life is just so busy?), not enough physical exercise, and dehydration.
On the flip side, some homeschools must deal with one or more kids that have excess energy. The struggle is real for trying to keep kids engaged and focused on homeschool learning activities.
**Tips for Conquering Energy (or Lack Thereof): If you your energy tank is on empty, take some self-care measures. Go to sleep earlier. Find more time for self by asking a loved one to cover for you a few times a week (or whatever you can work out). Stock up on healthier meal and snack options. Take a realistic look at your schedule and determine when you can fit in exercise (or how you can add exercise to your homeschool day). Track your water intake.
6. Communication Issues
A very common issue for many homeschoolers is trouble with communication. Lack of clear communication can suck the joy out of your homeschool. Use of generalities and complicated terms above kids’ comprehension levels can create confusion and chaos.
Kids can also struggle with communication issues. You may have to roleplay to demonstrate clear communication. For example, if your child is struggling with math, help them break it down. Instead of using language like, “I hate math! I just can’t do this!” suggest something like, “I am not understanding the steps for long division. I need a different explanation and some more practice. Especially with problems like 2, 5, and 9.”
**Tips for Conquering Communication Issues: Use specific words that can be understood by all. Have your kids repeat your requests and expectations back to you to make sure everyone is on the same page. Roleplay different homeschool scenarios to practice clear communication for all.
7. Personality Clashes
Do you butt heads with any of your kids? I sure do! My oldest and I can be eerily alike yet vastly different. Our personalities clash on a daily basis.
These personality clashes may occur between parent and child or between siblings. And when the clashes happen, it can feel like WWIII has hit your home. Definitely not a scenario for homeschool joy!
**Tips for Conquering Personality Clashes: Build upon your similarities. Focus on the positives in the relationship. Clashes may be another instance where one must agree to disagree. Pick your battles. Provide enough time for introverts to refuel alone and for extroverts to have social time.
8. Rigidity of Thought
At times, we all can become too rigid in our thinking. We form an opinion and cling to it. Rigidity of thought becomes a homeschool joy sucker when it prevents us (or our kids) from seeing others’ points of views.
An example of rigidity of thought that most moms can understand is a toddler who is insistent on using only a blue crayon. Mom can coerce and cajole until her face is the color of her child’s beloved crayon, all to no avail. Toddler just isn’t budging!
Homeschool moms, for example, can become rigid in their thinking in terms of the order in which subjects must be worked on throughout the day. Does it really matter if your child does grammar before math?
**Tips for Conquering Rigidity of Thought: Take a deep, calming breath. And then another. Put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Or help your kids develop empathy.
Ask yourself, “How bad will it be if we try it their way? What is the worst thing that could happen?” Be brave and take a chance. Open yourself to new possibilities and developments in your homeschool.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
As a homeschool mom in today’s world, opportunities for comparison are rampant. Social media platforms, like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, are flooded with stories and pictures of carefully created scenes that make homeschooling look effortless.
Homeschool co-ops and other homeschool gatherings can turn into show-and-tell exhibits.
Then, there is the comparison to public school moms who lead almost completely different lifestyles.
**Tips for Conquering Comparison: Put on your blinders, baby. Take a social media break. Or block specific accounts. Stay away from other homeschool or public school moms who make you feel less than. Homeschooling is not a competition; it is meeting your kids where they are and providing them with a quality education in your home.
10. Lack of Fun
Homeschool fun and joy doesn’t always just happen. If you don’t plan for homeschool fun, there is a very good chance that all the lessons and items on your to-do list will overshadow opportunities to relax and create special moments with your kids.
**Tips for Conquering Lack of Fun: Your homeschool will not fall to pieces if you include fun. Add effective rules and expectations. You don’t have to stress about homeschool fun or even spend tons of money. Virtual field trips, educational games, and learning fun projects can boost your homeschool adventures.