Eating an Elephant

I have a history of becoming immobilized when facing large tasks. I am not afraid of hard work, but sometimes I am daunted by where to start. As a kid I remember needing to put away my laundry and just staring at the pile and wanting to cry. One day my ever patient mom sat beside me and said, “Jana, how do you eat an elephant?” She had my full attention with that preposterous question. When she answered her own question, “One bite at a time” I began to laugh and was amazed as the once insurmountable pile of clothes diminished one shirt at a time.

Rarely, if ever, have I felt more overwhelmed than as a homeschool mom. Taking on teaching along with mothering children is not a small job!  Especially, as LDS mothers with church callings and obligations, and/or, while helping to provide a family income. When my family was small I felt like I had to meet all my children’s social needs single-handedly as well.

As I found myself still in pajamas, surrounded by children and chaos, I wondered how anyone in the world was possibly making homeschool a success?! The Spirit told me, “You WON’T succeed on your own. Go ask for help.” So I went back to my room and offered one of the least eloquent but humblest prayers, “Help me, please!”

Since that time I have uttered that prayer more times than I can count. And He answered even more times than that. I have learned that “With God nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

If you feel like you have bitten off more than you can chew with homeschool, here are some ways the Lord helped me take “one bite at a time” that might work for your family:

-          Homeschooling one child at a time, while others attended public school.
-          Utilizing a co-op for subjects I was overlooking.
-          Taking just one subject each day to teach the whole family.
-          Outsourcing . Paying professionals for subjects  I didn’t want to teach.
-          Learning that each year our homeschool improved a little, and it didn’t have to be the best right at the start.
-          Joining a mother’s support group to learn how other mother’s solved their problems.
-          Helping older kids teach younger kids, (and vise-versa through play).
-          Dividing the day into manageable chunks. (Do all we can until 1pm and then call it good.)
-          Using other schooling methods (public, private, co-op) when health conflicted with ability to teach.
-          Not worrying about college before kids even hit puberty.
-          Simplifying curriculum as much as possible. (LDL Family School and TJED helped us).
-          Changing curriculum.
-          Taking an academic break to get home management in place.
-          Unschooling and Lapbooking for a semester.
-          Scheduling the week so one day was free to play and do field trips.
-          Cutting out extra-curricular activities to cut down on stressful taxiing time.
-          Using audio books during drive time (Story of the World Audio CD=History in car!).

The help I received when overwhelmed rarely came as I imagined it would and always in different forms. Believe it or not, these were all answers we received at different times for our family. The Lord answers  prayers through scriptures, other people and bringing ideas to our remembrance. I received help in all these forms, but it took action on my part. I read scriptures, help books, blogs and joined groups. I asked for help in finding the books, blogs and groups that would help us most. When I forgot to ask for help I got buried in the volumes of “help” and got more confused.

The principal of accomplishing big things bit by bit is a true principal and covered extensively in the scriptures. Consider the following:

“A very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm…” (D&C 123:16)

“Lord gives line upon line, precept upon precept.” (Isa. 28:10)

“Out of small things proceeds that which is great.” (D&C 64:33)

“By small means the Lord can bring about great things.”(1 Nephi 16:29)

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

We aren’t meant to tackle huge things all at once. With God’s help we can accomplish anything by doing the small and simple things.

Slowly I am learning the power of seeking God’s help and taking on challenges one piece at a time. Just one month ago, my mom again sat patiently beside me while I dejectedly looked at the semi-truck full of boxes waiting to be unpacked into my new home. I didn’t despair long though, because I knew what mom would say, and that together we would tackle this elephant one bite at a time. And, with help from above, we did.

PLEASE NOTE: No elephants were actually harmed in the building of this testimony.