This post on How To Stop The Homeschooler Comparison Game is part of a blog/Periscope series dedicated to helping homeschoolers overcome common struggles. For more information about related posts, please scroll down to bottom of this post.
“What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like other homeschoolers? Why do I struggle with this?”
Have you ever asked yourself these questions?
If so, how did you feel? What were the effects of these questions?
As I have heard numerous times and experienced myself, homeschooling is not for the weak of heart. Homeschoolers have been blessed many times over with opportunities to spend more time with their children and develop special lifelong relationships. We are mere mortals, however, despite the pressures we feel from others or ourselves.
We know that we “should” feel or think a certain way about homeschooling.
We tell ourselves that we “shouldn’t” worry about what others are doing.
We know that we “should” focus on our own family, on our self, on God and not concern ourselves with latest trends or curricula in homeschooling.
We know that we can’t possibly expect ourselves to replicate another’s homeschool.
We tell ourselves all of these things-and more-when it comes to how we are leading our homeschool. We chastise ourselves for letting something little get to us, like seeing another homeschooler’s perfectly organized bookshelves and craft cabinets while our own looks like an atomic bomb exploded right next to them. We get angry and depressed when we snap at our kids and tell ourselves things like “she (our idealized homeschooler) would never do that!”
You see, in spite of all these things that we know we “should” or “shouldn’t” think and feel, we do it anyways.
Why? The answer is simple-we get sucked into the homeschooler comparison game.
What Is The Homeschooler Comparison Game?
Oh, how I wish I could describe The Homeschooler Comparison Game as a fun and exciting trip down the aisle to hug your favorite game show host as you win glorious prize after prize! Or, better yet, a trip to a secluded tropical island where you get to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere as your kids frolic on the beach as they learn!
Nope. The Homeschool Comparison Game is pretty much the opposite of all that joy.
The Homeschool Comparison Game is when a homeschooler thinks their own approach, teaching style, mode of life, (fill-in-the-blank) lacks in comparison to other homeschoolers. It is when a homeschooler in any way, shape, or form feels less of themselves because they feel that they aren’t good enough.
As much as we may know that The Homeschool Comparison Game is not healthy or beneficial to our overall well-being, it still affects all of us at some point in our homeschool journey. And we often feel guilty and then even more terrible because we know that it is silly/ridiculous/unnecessary to compare.
How To Stop The Homeschooler Comparison Game
When you take a closer look at these descriptions, examine the words. Two words stand out-thinks and feels.
The first step that we need to take in order to overcome The Homeschool Comparison Game (and all of its negative effects) is to recognize that we are creating our own problem. It does not matter if Sally down the block has the shiniest new curricula or Jane in co-op is the sweetest homeschooler ever. As hard as it may be to admit, we are the causes of this homeschool struggle.
How are we creating our own struggle with homeschooler comparison? Through the words that we are choosing to tell ourselves and how they affect our overall functioning.
Understandably, the next step is to stop our negative self-talk whenever it happens. Just put up that stop sign and put the brakes on! Play statue (a game I have my boys or soccer players play when I need them to stop on a dime) with your thoughts.
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Once you have stopped bashing yourself with negative words or phrases, you need to replace those thoughts with positive, healthy ideas. Take the time now (or at least the next time you have a few spare moments) and jot down specific words that you can tell yourself to pick yourself up from the homeschooler comparison game doldrums. Use those positive phrases to remind yourself that you are your own homeschooler and, by golly, good enough!
To cultivate a more positive approach to your thinking, begin a homeschooler journal. It does not need to be elaborate. Make it your own-whatever you need to do to make sure that you will use it.
This personal journal can be your co-pilot, your wing man, your elixir (or some other fun nickname that boosts your spirits!) to elevate you above your homeschool struggles. Your homeschooler journal is for your personal thoughts and feelings (and remember there are no wrong thoughts or feelings!). It is your place to feel safe to admit your weaknesses, your fears, and your anger.
If you are not a pencil and paper type of gal, that is okey dokey! Sit at your computer and type what is going on inside of you into a Google doc. Or, grab your phone or other recording device and let it all out.
Remember to go back and examine what you have written, typed, or said after you have gotten it out. Replace the negative and unhealthy with positive and true. Practice those uplifting statements to access when necessary during your next homeschooler comparison (or other struggle) situation.
I will be looking more at how homeschoolers can boost their confidence as a tool against homeschool struggles in the next post in this series. Until then, please consider joining me on Periscope @AmyMilcic Tuesday and Thursday afternoons around 3pm ET. I will chat about homeschool struggles with other homeschoolers about how we can support each other in transforming struggles into serenity. Homeschool struggles are total bummers but they don’t have to keep you down!
Has The Homeschooler Comparison Game reared its ugly head in your life? How do you overcome it?
I pray that this series on overcoming common homeschool struggles is helpful. Find out more in these posts: