I recently found myself in a class by myself. I am the only home educator I personally know who is also a single parent. Homeschooling is generally a team effort, with one parent bearing the burden of generating income, while the other parent handles teaching the children. Suddenly, I am both. Suddenly, I am single.
Maybe one day I’ll write about the shock and pain and misery of helping two children (and myself) recover from the ending of a 20-year marriage, but it won’t be for a while. It is still too raw, still too reeking of a Jerry Springer episode to share with the world just yet. And there are many articles and forums out there for the single parent, a handful for the single parent homeschool family. But the lessons I’ve learned in the past few months can be distilled to the following:
- Give all the pieces of your broken heart to the task at hand. Don’t waste a single moment despairing about the past. Those are moments you could be spending with your children.
- Refuse to be a victim. Divorce creates drama, and as Skeet Savage says, at the very least you’ve had a supporting role in the soap opera. Be ready to experience a new chapter in life.
- Get thee to a support group. Whether it’s a community center, your local homeschool co-op, or Friday lunch with the girls, find and maintain excellent friendships. Refuse to give yourself to anyone who is less than spectacular in the friendship category.
- Stay focused. Don’t distract yourself by looking for a new partner. As HAPPINESS AT HOME author Gretchen Rubin says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” The years left educating your child are very short indeed.
- Rethink your priorities. Adjust your expectations. There are gifts waiting to be opened if you will only stop looking in the wrong direction.
- Keep one eye on the calendar and the other on your health. Time and energy level management is key to your success. Be vigilant in taking care of your health and keeping to a schedule.
- Stop thinking “What If…” and start thinking “What Will I Regret?” (Then go out and do those things with your kids that you don’t want to regret when they’ve grown.)
- Think creatively. Work from home or at odd hours to accommodate the needs of your homeschool schedule. Accept help from family and friends. Bargain, barter, sell unnecessary items, split costs…whatever it takes to save money and gain more time with your kids.
- Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Multi-task where possible, but be realistic about what you can do in a day, week, month, or year.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
- Realize that you have more control over your life than you think you do. You’re in charge here. You cannot afford to let other people take advantage of you or your children. Being assertive (especially for women) is vital to your success. People can hate you later. Right now you need results.
I’d be honored to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please leave me a comment!
And to the many friends and family who have become my support group, I thank you. You make everything better.