There are so many ways to experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but a homeschooler's FOMO is truly special. And in some of the boards and groups I follow, it seems to be raging quite strongly right now. I think it's just that time of year when many families are announcing their plans for the next year and they are getting pushback from their family, friends, neighbors, dental hygienest, and strangers on aisle three of the Piggly Wiggly. Oh. You're going to keep doing that homeschooling thing? What about school pictures? Field trips? Friends? Socialization? ["You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - I.M.] For many of us, those unsupportive comments are when the FOMO creeps in. Maybe they're right. I will miss those overpriced, poorly composed photos with the 1980s backgrounds. And my kids love field trips! They will miss their friends - all except those six kids who pick on them every day at recess.
But even if we have supportive family, friends, neighbors, healthcare pros, and Piggly Wiggly shoppers, sometimes we give ourselves a raging case of FOMO by scrolling through social media, checking out Pinterest boards, subscribing to aaaaaaaall the homeschooling blogs, perusing every catalogue that lands in our mailbox and on and on. We start to think that everyone else's homeschool is prettier, happier, more creative than our own homeschools. Maybe I just need to attend this seminar? Buy four more curricula? Knock out a wall in our house? Exchange my kids for some more compliant ones and buy some new clogs to make it all better? Right?!?
[No. You cannot exchange your kids, you monster. You should buy the clogs, however. Clogs are magic.]
Ah, FOMO is fantastic, isn't it?
But, I like to be "extra" so in addition to FOMO, I have some extra mental baggage I like to carry around every now and then.
FOGO - Fear of Going Overboard: What if we start homeschooling and we just never stop? What if I turn into one of those homeschooling parents who decides to sell everything we own and live in a second-hand yurt in some remote part of the Saskatchewan? And I end up making our clothes out of mountain goat hair we collected in the wild and making shoes out of tree bark? What if this year is the beginning (or end) of the slippery slope into wierdness?
FOPO - Fear of Planning Overwhelm: How am I supposed to plan an entire curriculum for my kids? What if I pick the wrong thing? I have six options for social studies. Maybe I should just do them all? Should I start my day at 8:00? 8:30? Noon? What snacks should I have in the morning? Is there a planner for that? And while I'm thinking about snacks, what am I supposed to do about AP Biology? I mean, my kid is in kindergarten, but someday?
FOLO - Fear of Losing Options: What if we homeschool and my kid can't get into college? What if my kid never makes friends ever in their whole life because we homeschooled 4th grade? What if my kids hates me because they realize at thirty they want to be a professional pickle ball player and I failed to cover that in PE?!?
FORO - Fear of Running Out: What if I run out of school days we and don't finish the math book? What if we run out of space on our bookshelves!?? [This is truly a horror.] And what if I just cannot go another day right in the middle of January? What if I just run out of CARING about fractions/Newton's laws/iambic pentameter?
Phew. Now I'm feeling jittery. You?
The truth is that we all feel insecure from time to time about this homeschooling path. Some people seem to experience this less than others - or they hide it more effectively - but if you are afraid of something, you're not alone. You're not defective. And having these fears doesn't mean you shouldn't be homeschooling. Fear doesn't mean this is the wrong choice for you.
What it might mean is taking time to sit down with your thoughts and get to the root of them.
If you're stuck in FOGO, you just might need to remind yourself that you can always change directions and make different choices. Very little in this life is permanent - even your decision to homeschool. Yes, some of us find that homeschooling leads us to a more simple life (yurt optional) and I do know of some folks who make clothes out of foraged fibers - but that doesn't mean you have to. You can make the decisions that are right for you - and you can always change your mind.
When I'm stuck in FOPO, I remind myself that comparison really is the thief of joy. Sure, other people have prettier, happier, more creative homeschools than mine - but mine is the best I can do with what I have to work with and even more so, it is tailor-made for the kids I have. For our family, the best thing about homeschooling has nothing to do with math skills or how many books the kids have read or how beautiful their portfolios or my tea-time spread photographs.* It's about the time together, learning together, connecting together. That's just not something you can show on social media or a Pinterest board.
(*There is no tea-time here. My kids forage in the pantry like mountain goats.)
FOLO is a bit trickier, isn't it? I'm a musician and I know that at their current skill level and ages, it's unlikely either one of them is going to be a concert pianist. I'm okay with that. My personal standard for our homeschool is that I want to prepare them as best I can for a variety of options and life experiences. I might miss pickle ball - but I'm going to instill in them the ability to read, work hard, and play well with others. Theoretically, with those tools they could learn to play pickle ball - or something even more satisfying. I'm willing to wait and see.
As for FORO, well, the honest truth is that I run out all the dang time. I run out of energy, creativity, patience, book money, shelf space, caring about physics [I hate physics], and so much more. That doesn't mean I have failed. It means I'm human. We just aren't meant to go and go and go and give and give and give. [A mama in motion stays in motion until acted on by becoming an unbalanced mess. Or something like that...] I'm working on giving myself permission to take the time and ask for what I need so that I have energy, creativity, patience, book money, new-to-us shelves, etc. I don't have to suffer FORO. I can accept that running out is normal and plan for it instead.
Do any of my Fears Of resonate with you? If so, how do you "cure" yours? Any you would add to the list? We humans are pretty good at freaking ourselves out (some of us are pros!) - but we also have the capacity to bring healing and wellness to ourselves and to others. I hope this (often outrageously ridiculous) post helps you a teeny bit. Let me know your thoughts!