In the spring of 2018 — nearly a year before our very first moms’ retreat — I went to a nationally-known homeschool convention with three friends. We spent a weekend in the big city, stayed in a hotel, shared leisurely meals, talked our hearts out, and enjoyed every minute.
Except for the ones we spent at the convention.
Don’t get me wrong: I attended lots of truly wonderful trainings and heard some amazing speakers who still inspire me to this day. But I also went to a couple of workshops that were flat-out sketchy, and still others devoted to flogging expensive treatment programs for various special needs, or costly curricula touted as “The Solution” for every family.
It was in the enormous Vendor Hall that I came face-to-face with the dragon. I discovered some of my friends in the booth of a well-known online Classical academy, flipping through catalogs, examining the course offerings — and holding back tears. Surrounded by row after row of booths, featuring every type of curriculum and resource available, the message came through loud and clear: “Do more. Buy more books. Add more classes. Adopt different methods. Cram in more electives. Change everything about your homeschool. Otherwise you are FAILING YOUR KIDS.”
Wow. If we’d wanted to feel overwhelmed with our own inadequacies, we could have stayed home.
Tell me you have homeschooled for at least a year, and I will tell you you’ve felt inadequate at times. Unfortunately, some homeschool conventions and conferences (by no means all!) tend to feed these doubts because there are speaking slots to fill and curricula to sell. In other words: there is profit to be made from our confusion and insecurity. I won’t deny there are seasons and situations when we need to pivot our approach, or swap our curriculum, but those changes should come from a place of prayer and honest assessment — not a place of comparison, guilt, or fear.
Furthermore, if a homeschool mom carves out the time to leave town and invest in her homeschooling journey, it should probably begin by said mom investing in herself. In my humble opinion, the airplane rule applies: Put your oxygen mask on first. Mothers, too, are born persons, bearers of the image of God. How can we cultivate the hearts, minds, and souls of our children if our own are habitually neglected?
I left my first homeschool convention with two clear “lessons learned”:
- Homeschool moms sincerely need to get away once in awhile, and
- Discouragement or anxiety should not be the result.
So my wheels started turning. Perhaps there was a better way. What if homeschool moms could take a weekend and invest in the elements of their homeschooling journey that mattered most: supportive relationships, spiritual renewal, and good old-fashioned rest?
I resolved to give it a try.