Homeschooling has been amazing for our social life. We’ve made a wide variety of friends from all walks of life, we’ve experienced some amazing hands on education from local experts, and we’ve discovered some wonderful local resources we normally wouldn’t have found without homeschooling needs.
My email and social media feeds are filled with local homeschooling and other educational activities and events on a daily basis. There’s so much to do I can’t fit it all in!
And I shouldn’t.
We don’t have to do everything, nor should we do everything. It’s a wonderful life lesson, and I’m still trying to teach it to myself to this very day.
Fear of Missing Out
I’m sure you’ve heard of FOMO. If not, you’re hearing it from me. It’s the fear of missing out. It’s the feeling that you need to be with your friends at every experience, every event, and if you leave early you might be missing out.
When I grew up I didn’t have a lot of extras. I was raised in a small town without a lot of money. I didn’t belong to a lot of extra clubs or organizations and we rarely went out of town. Going to the next small town over was considered a treat.
The excitement of being in a bigger city with more resources and an enthusiastic homeschooling social circle means I hear about a lot of amazing educational activities going on and I want to make sure my kids have more opportunities than I did growing up.
This feeling can be overwhelming to parents, especially new homeschoolers. We’re not new homeschoolers, by any means, but we were at one time. There was a fear, thanks to the many social myths of homeschooling, that we would have an uphill battle to make sure our kids got enough social interaction. There’s a myth about how homeschoolers have less opportunity for hands on educational experiences. Let’s just say, there’s a lot of myths about homeschooling and it can put a lot of stress and worry on new homeschool families. Often that fear is the family isn’t doing enough for their kids social and academic education, so they overcompensate and do too much.
That’s my world. My fear of missing out on something that would be a game changer in our homeschool world led me to do all the things. My overcompensation meter was off the charts.
We joined a co op with a group of families that meshed with ours beautifully. I am now a co-organizer, lead teacher, and all around point of contact for the group.
There was a need in our homeschool community for a 4H club, so I went to all the 4H 101 meetings to learn as much about 4H as possible. I didn’t belong to 4H as a kid so I was clueless. With the help of a few other amazing families, I started our homeschool 4H club.
My girls were beyond excited to join Girl Scouts. Something I wasn’t convinced I wanted to take on, but because of their excitement we attended an informational meeting and by the end of the meeting I was sold. Finally an activity where the girls could expand their skills, talents, and social circle without me in the driver’s seat… until I somehow slid over into that role. I’m now the leader of the Juniors in our multi-level troop.
We help out in the community wherever we can. As the girls ask to learn more about people in need we’ve found ourselves on trash pick ups, helping at food banks, and currently we’re helping to get a refugee family ready to move into an apartment.
It’s hard to say no when there is a need and I can do my part to address that need. However, there is also a time when it can be too much and it’s time to pass something onto the next person. Recently I made the decision to pass the 4H club on to the next leader who wants to step up. We’ll still attend and I’m always available for questions, but the planning, reminders, and overall management of the club was just too much when I combined it with all of our other obligations.
All the Activities
We’re fortunate that in our community homeschooling is well received and many local organizations offer homeschooling classes or other educational opportunities. I’ve mentioned 4H, Girl Scouts, and our homeschool co op, but there are other things the girls either do or want to do.
Things we do:
Homeschool co op
Art museum visits
Natural history museum visits
Things the girls want to do:
Tae Kwon Do
Rock climbing lessons
Rock & Mineral Club
Paleontological digs (they can’t even do this until they are teenagers and it’s expensive!)
I’m sure I’m forgetting something on one or both of those lists, but that’s what we have. We’re already rarely home, and if we add on more we’ll never be home! I don’t know how we could fit all of that in our already full agenda.
We don’t have to do everything. No matter how tempting it would be. Even if the cost wasn’t an issue, the time commitment would push us over the edge.
Deciding Which Activities to Do
All of this boils down to the question, how do I decide which activities to do and which to pass on?
With so many amazing educational and social activities, as we’ve already discussed, it’s hard to decide which ones to add to the planner. I don’t have an exact step by step, concrete answer to this because every family is different, they have different educational and learning styles, different finances, different opportunities, etc. You get the picture.
What I do have is a list of questions you can ask yourself to decide what to add on.
Sometimes after thinking about some of these questions I realize the event or activity is going to cost us more than it benefits us. By cost I mean everything from financial to time costs. Our time is precious, we want to make sure that the things we’re doing are going to meet our needs and not just doing things to do them.
What are the kids interested in? Have they expressed interest? Does the activity relate to a hobby or educational goal your child has?
What is the educational benefit of this activity? Is it high on the education scale? High on the social scale?
What is your financial situation? Will your bank account allow it? Are there cheaper alternatives? What about scholarships or other payment plans?
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of activities? Are there carpooling opportunities? Is the date or time overbooked?
Are the kids feeling overwhelmed? Are they doing too much?
Is it age appropriate?
Can this activity be held off until a later date?
What is the reason you’re looking to add on this activity? Is it because you find it interesting or because there is actually a benefit for the kids?
How do you manage the overwhelm of too many activities? Share your thoughts in the comments below.