One of the biggest pieces of baggage you pick up when you get on the homeschooling train is worry. We all worry about our kids to varying degrees and for many reasons. Even the most laid back moms and dads are bound to find themselves prey to the worry monster now and again. Am I feeding them well? Are they getting enough activity? Should I enroll them in that class? Should I let them quit the team? Am I reading to them often enough? Do they watch too much TV? Am I doing a good enough job?!?
Adding "primary educator" to an already lengthy job description packs on a lot of room for more worries. Are we doing enough schoolwork? Are we doing too much schoolwork? (Often two worries you'll have in the same day). Do they need more time with friends? Do they need more challenges? Do they need a new activity? Should I enroll them in something else? What about a co-op? Is this homeschool group a good fit? Am I moving them ahead too quickly? Too slowly? Am I doing a good enough job?!?!?
Once in a while it is helpful to stop and look at things with a wee bit more logic than emotion. It is easy to get wrapped up in all those worries and what-ifs and let the image you have in your head of how things ought to be get in the way of seeing how things really are.
Case in point, I have been worrying lately that my kids aren't getting enough opportunities to make new friends. We moved, and while our new homeschool group is nice, but we haven't made a lot of strong connections, especially for David, who is certainly the more social of my minions. I kept thinking about whether to try a small co-op, or jump into the rather large one in the area; or find some other activity to sign him up for that will give him the chance to make more friends. There are some options, but I kept going back and forth on what would be best, what would work with our schedule, and so forth.
I wasn't happy with any of the options, really, and it was bugging me that I couldn't find something that seemed like the perfect fit. Add in my already dramatic propensity for overthinking and I was running myself in mental circles over this one. What I had forgotten to do was probably the first logical step - ask my kids what they wanted.
Today I randomly asked them if they were interested in something like a co-op or other group that meets regularly. The boys both looked at me funny and said something along the lines of, "Not really."
I was stopped dead in my tracks. Didn't they need more time with other kids? Aren't they both pining for more opportunities to meet and hang out with other kids around their age? Aren't they feeling left out and sad because they have only met a few kids they have connected with since we moved?
Nope, apparently not. I asked David more specifically about whether he felt like he needed somewhere to meet more kids his age and he said no. They have a few friends in the neighborhood to hang out with in the afternoons, and he's made a couple friends through our new homeschool group. As I was prodding him, he looked up at me and said, "Mom, it isn't like I'm some lonely kid with no one to play with. I'm good." Grayson echoed the same sentiment.
So here I was, googling and researching and worrying about a problem that didn't even exist. Literally. I spent all that energy on something that wasn't even a problem to begin with.
Yes, I know Mr. Spock. Highly illogical.
So cross that worry off my list. We are starting some new things in the new year - gymnastics for Grayson and Ella and kung fu for David - so that will be a new experience and we'll see where it takes us. And both boys are clamoring for team sports, so I see that in our future as well. I should probably chill myself out and not go from under scheduled to over scheduled. My conversation with them today was a great reminder for me to get out of my head once in a while and take into account their actual needs, not just what I think their needs might be. If they're feeling bored, or lonely, or want something that we aren't doing, they'll speak up. In the meantime, I have enough to worry about without inventing new problems to fret over.