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Homeschool Encouragement: When the Reward Seems Distant

Feeling like the road is long? Here is some homeschool encouragement to help you regain perspective.

These days we live in a world of instant gratification. If I think of something I want to buy, I can look it up online and purchase it in less than five minutes – or I can hop in the car and get to the store in ten. I can heat up my food in a microwave in two minutes or less. The time between noticing hunger and plowing the food into my mouth is negligible, especially compared to days gone by. (Does anyone besides me even remember heating up leftovers on the stovetop or in the oven?? Don’t answer that.)

Read this homeschool encouragement for when you feel like you'll never arrive at the destination of your journey.We also live in a world of ease. I can order food in a restaurant and have it served to me; I can pick up my phone and talk to someone far away. If I’m cold I can turn on the heat and get warm—if I’m hot I can turn on the air-conditioning and cool off. No work involved.

This is not so true of homeschooling.

Homeschooling definitely does not provide instant gratification. It takes YEARS, sometimes, to teach your child to read. It can take days to get through a lesson and weeks to get through a chapter… and until JULY to decide to give up on finishing finish the book…

Nor does homeschooling come easy. Can we be real, here, people? There have been so many times I have felt like I was banging my head against a wall of ineptitude—either mine or my kids’, lol. Personality conflicts, lost assignments (or entire books), bad attitudes, challenging curriculum—all conspire to make the job frustrating and cause us to feel overwhelmed.

And because our culture is constantly bombarding us with the joys of instant gratification (it’s called “advertising,” hello), we begin to feel like homeschooling is not worth the effort. We are not experiencing gratification of any kind, much less instantly. We are slogging through the mud day after day, while moms with their kids in public or private school can go out to lunch, get manicures, even clean their homes (what a concept)…  

When, we wonder, will we ever get there? When will we ARRIVE? Where is that magical place where lesson planning is streamlined and the kids work independently to get their work done on time and everyone is smiling all day? Because things will definitely be more gratifying and easier then.

The problem with this mindset is that we are constantly waiting and working for that wonderful end result – rather than enjoying the time DURING the waiting and working. The waiting and working seems difficult, and wearying, when we have the idea that only the end result will provide the gratification we crave.

I have developed a catchphrase for myself about this very thing.

It is this: ENJOY THE PROCESS.

I must strive to enjoy the time NOW, rather than constantly looking ahead to my desired result. I must remind myself that the waiting and working is rewarding in and of itself. I must find the little gratifications that occur within the midst of the waiting and working. Because they ARE there, but I often miss them in my push towards the goal.

Let me explain it another way:

I started to knit an afghan recently. Now, this afghan has 157 stitches per row, and because of the complicated pattern — and my middle-aged brain, lol — it takes me 20 minutes (give or take) to finish one row. Each row accounts for about one-fourth of an inch of the afghan, and I have to keep knitting until that puppy is SIXTY INCHES long. I haven’t even tried to do the math on that one; all I know is that getting to the end of the project will take a LONG TIME.

If all I care about is the end result, I am going to be an unhappy camper for quite some time to come. I will be frustrated as I knit, because I will constantly be thinking about how much more I have to do and how slow it is going; and great, now I’ve made a mistake and have to rip out three rows to fix it, so now it’s going to take that much LONGER… Instead, I need to remind myself that I LIKE TO KNIT. The act of knitting, itself, is enjoyable to me. The afghan will get made, eventually; but in the meantime, I can have fun doing the knitting.

When homeschooling, we need to remember to ENJOY THE PROCESS.

We need to see the moments of our homeschool day as rewarding in and of themselves, apart from any results that we are hoping to achieve.

We need to remind ourselves that setbacks are opportunities to go back and fix mistakes, to solidify the foundation, to rework the plan—and that these are good things.

We need to find our gratification in the smiles and the hugs and the 2 plus 2’s making 4’s—the little things that make up each day.

Let the results come as they may.

Of course I believe in planning and goal-setting, but it’s important not to start thinking that the accomplishment of the plans or goals will be when life finally gets good. Life is good NOW, even with all the messes and mistakes. Let’s embrace it and enjoy the process of homeschooling as its own reward.

I’m thinking that as we do, everyone will find it much easier to smile at least part of the day! 🙂

Related Reading: Dear Homeschool Mom Who Feels Like a Failure

Shared with Hip Homeschool Moms and the Laugh & Learn Linkup

About the author

Ann Karako

Ann has been homeschooling for 20+ years and has graduated four children (one more to go). She believes that EVERY mom can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY -- and even CONTENTEDLY -- provide the COMPLETE high school education that her teen needs. Ann's website, AnnieandEverything.com, offers information, resources, and virtual hugs to help homeschool moms do just that. 

Ann has written Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Manual for Research & Planning and Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School: Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation. She also founded the popular Facebook group called It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, which now has over 27K members; and recently she started the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Podcast.

She and her family, including two dogs and three cats, live in rural Missouri.

8 Comments

  • Excellent subject and reminder! I have always felt like I am “behind” in everything in life. I hardly ever think to enjoy the journey. But life passes you by too easy that way.
    We ARE alive! These ARE the days!

    • Well said, LindseyLoo. I’m a fair piece down the road, and I can say truly that I’ve let too much of it pass me by… Thanks for visiting! 🙂

  • This is so true. Our culture really makes it hard for us to remember to be patient in this process. Some days I’m going crazy over things that feel like we’ve been working on them forever, but it’s so true. We have to enjoy the process!

    • Yes, Adrienne, it’s definitely a culture thing, plus our own desire for ease… it’s funny how those things that “take forever” when we are going through them are often the things we look back at and realize didn’t take that long at all… thanks for the comment! 🙂

  • I homeschooled all five of my children and three of them are in college. I treasure the memories of the days when all five of them were homeschooled. The journey is definitely enjoyable and worth it. One is getting his PH.D. in Engineering and the other two are in nursing. They all devoutly practice their Christian faith.

    • That’s great, Eileen! I need to remember that when I look back from the future, these days will be treasured memories. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

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I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five. I believe YOU can do this homeschool high school thing!
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