This post is primarily for a few dear sisters who are struggling right now and I ask Allah from the depths of my heart to ease your circumstances, to grant you sabr and to guide you to the right decision. Ameen.
I think all of us go through any of the following in the duration of our home ed:
1. Thoughts of ‘Am I doing enough?’
2. Wouldn’t they learn more at school – wouldn’t they be better off at school?
3. I’m tired
4. I just can’t do it anymore – I need space to breathe!
I myself, tend to go through some of the above when a) I’m in the early stages of pregnancy or b) when I’ve given birth. Hormones get the better of me and I feel like I’m failing my children and I feel this immense sense of guilt. It is at this point that all the names of the Islamic schools start swimming around in my mind as I weigh up which one would be better!
Why am I saying all of this? Most of my close friends are home educators and after spending years knowing them – I can honestly say that the above is absolutely NORMAL.
Now throw in the mix that Allah decides to test you with health problems, or health problems with family members, tests of wealth etc etc. It isn’t easy and I am amazed at how much some dear beloved sisters beat themselves up thinking that a) they are rubbish home edders and b) terrible Mums.
In my humble opinion, the very fact that we sacrifice our time and energy to home educate our children is proof that we love them, want the best for them and enjoy having them around (warts and all).
So, here are my tips for all my dear sisters who have undertaken this path. I’m sure you all have some of your own which you are free to share in the comments insha’Allah so we can help each other.
1. Take a breather – when it all feels too much – just STOP! But I’m hardly doing anything anyway, you may be telling yourself. Doesn’t matter. Just stop and either go out for the day as a family or try and do something for you. You’ll feel much better insha’Allah. For me, being surrounded by greenery really helps.
2. Are you looking after you? Wallahi, I’m the worst culprit here – I put myself last for everything – which Mum doesn’t?! But I am beginning to learn that if I don’t look after myself, then I won’t be able to do a good job for my children – this includes eating healthily, spoiling myself to an indulgent bath or shower (not that quick 2 minute job whilst the little ones are banging on the door to the chorus of UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMI)
3. Make dua – ask Allah to help you. Talk to Allah about why you are doing this – beseech Him for His help.
4. Call a home educating sister (NOT a sister whose kids go to school – lets face it – they don’t understand and 9/10 they tell you to put your kids in school which is NOT what you want to hear). Talk to her, tell her how you feel, ask for advice – oh, and make sure you speak to someone who isn’t going through what you are right now.
5. Keep a log of all the things your children learn INFORMALLY. During those days where you feel like ‘My kids aren’t learning anything’, you will be amazed at the amazing things that your children learn without the lesson plans and structure – so smile that they are STILL definitely learning.
6. Analyze your reasons for home educating – sometimes the feeling of burnout lies in possible unrealistic and wrong reasons.
7. Always have something that you do for you – it could be studying, engaged in some sort of project, sewing or baking. Whatever it is do something you enjoy regularly.
8. Be spontaneous and do something in your home ed that you have never done before that will make the kids go ‘SUBHANA’ALLAH, UMMI THAT WAS COOL!’ Build a volcano at home, make some homemade playdough, do some painting, build a fortress, do an experiment – just something out of the ordinary.
9. Stop reading unrealistic blogs! (Hope mine is realistic lol!) Seriously, there are too many blogs out there that paint home ed life as something picture perfect. It isn’t – its hard – its wonderful – its a mix of everything – its life with all its ups and downs.
10. Talk to your children about what they would like to learn, how is home ed going for them – would they like anything to change, talk to them about your expectations too.
11. Finally, if times are really tough – there is nothing wrong with deciding to put your kids in school. Only Allah knows your situation and no one has the right to make you feel bad. Maybe right now, thats what everyone needs and alhamdulilah, if you want you can pull them out again.
Remember, its your family’s journey – and just as each family is unique so is everyone’s home ed – so do it your way and remember to constantly renew your intention so that there is ajr along the way!