SummaryHow can homeschooling parents maintain a joyful heart and enthusiasm in the midst of the often hectic busyness of family life? Amanda Evinger explains how.
OK, homeschooling dads and moms, let’s start with a little test.
At the start of a school day, stand in front of your children and say: “Rejoice, kids! Rejoice! We are homeschooling!” Watch carefully for their reactions.
If they are utterly shell-shocked that you are beginning the school day with a smile on your face, you have plenty of work to do.
If they are only a little surprised, you are doing fine. If they are nonchalant, just wondering why you chose this form of jubilation this morning instead of your usual form, you get a pat on the back — treat yourself to a cappuccino with extra whipped cream.
In all seriousness, homeschooling with a joyful heart is essential to a successful school experience for both you and your children. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Joy is a net by which we catch souls.” As Catholic parents and educators, we are seeking to win our children’s hearts over time and time again; we want to draw them to the love of God as well as to the love of learning.
There is immense power in our joy. By our joy, we can drive home the message that embracing the Creator as well as His gifts will bring us profound happiness.
Blessed Teresa continues, “We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength. This is the joy of the Lord.”
A joyful heart distinguishes a homeschooling parent who is acting like a military sergeant chewing on a sharpened pencil from one who is more like Maria von Trapp in Sound of Music. Now, which one would we like to be? Seriously!
With the help of divine grace, which is always so readily available, we can make both our families and our homeschools joyful even on difficult days. A religious superior (who smiled almost all the time) once told me, “Joy is not something normal, even for the Christian. It is something you must seek out and catch. Once you lay hold of it, you must not let go.”
Satan is a mastermind at stealing our joy. He weaves discouragement into our minds and taunts us with fear. But the fabulous reality is that our omnipotent God is just waiting to shower our hearts, our families, and our homeschools with praise and the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”
He is the King of Kings, and as the King of our homeschools, He will give us what we need to joyfully develop our talents on earth and gain eternity. St. Phillip Neri once observed, “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.”
This being said, what are some practical ways we can ensure that we are the joy-filled parents we long to be?
- We need to make sure we are getting substantial physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. Do we need to get more naps? Are we eating the very best we can, or could we use some healthier foods, super foods, or supplements to give us more energy? Do we need counseling or spiritual direction in some area? Would we benefit from an annual retreat or making more time for silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Are we too isolated at home? Would setting aside more time to get together with other homeschooling families do wonders?
- Contemplating Christ Crucified on a regular basis — both within and outside the Lenten Season — can be a real source of joy. By meditating on His sacrifice and the self-denial of His saints, we will be able to endure our daily sufferings with greater peace and resignation. Reading inspiring homeschooling materials can really help. Are there some books on homeschooling that can assist us, or is there a homeschooling magazine we can subscribe to?
Ultimately, remaining intimately close to Jesus, the Source of all divine joy, will be the sail in the ship that takes us home.
Keep close to Him, and you will keep the joy!
Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us!