Comparing yourself to other homeschool moms is undoubtedly the key factor to making motherhood and homeschooling as difficult as possible (financial strain is a close second for me).
Do it all the time, do it ruthlessly, and you’ll eventually end up giving some of the sweetest years of your life to regret and self-doubt.
I’ve personally seen comparison make my home life completely unenjoyable, steal my gratitude, and make me feel discontent.
The problem is, half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s more like something I catch myself doing and then have to start rerouting my thoughts like a herd of cattle.
What curriculum is that mom using-is it better than what I’m using? Those preschoolers do crafts every day-should I be doing that? Her kids are enrolled in Hebrew-oh no! Mine should probably be too! She doesn’t allow her kids to have any screen time during the week? Oh gosh.
Comparison is evil because you either end up feeling like you’re not doing enough or like you’re better than another mama. It’s like, why can’t we just observe without judging either way, ya know? Sheesh.
And sometimes, it’s not even that you’re comparing yourself to someone you actually see. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself comparing myself to someone I’ve made up in my mind, or some standard or list I feel I should be adhering to (do you deal with this too? Let me know in the comments below if I’m not the only one!)
This is not healthy for a mama’s mental health and emotional well-being.
Fortunately, I’ve also discovered a few ways to avoid the homeschool mom comparison trap. While the following things haven’t completely made me immune to comparing myself to other homeschool moms, they have definitely helped me reroute my thoughts and guard my heart at a much greater level than before.
Here are several things I find helpful to avoid the homeschool mom comparison trap:
Seek the Lord
It’s embarrassing for me to admit that it took me years to yield my homeschooling decisions to the Lord and ask Him to give me His priorities for what needed to be done in our homeschool. After all, it was Him who placed homeschooling on my heart, and it would be an unwise task for me to try to take things upon myself and move by my own understanding.
Dear Christian mama, Jesus comes first in our homes. We submit to His authority for all of our decisions, and this alone does away with the need for comparison because we’re doing what He’s leading us to do.
Proverbs says that from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He knows us, He knows our kids, and alongside following our state homeschooling laws, He can lead us into what needs to be focused on in our homeschool.
Recently, I spent a lot of time in prayer asking Him to take the lead over everything I’m trying to do in our home and to show me what I need to focus on in this season. He showed me that the main thing I need to focus on with my kids is helping everyone get along and learn to love one another.
I know myself, and I know that I can have the tendency to shove everyone in the schedule car and drive it forward to the finish line, so this instruction from Him helped me to slow down and focus on relationship building and connection (No Drama Discipline by Siegel & Bryson is also a tremendous help in this area.)
Mamas, we cannot do all the homeschooling things, and we don’t have to. There are just too many options. Knowing what God wants us to focus on in different seasons of our lives helps protect our hearts when we see what other moms are doing and helps us avoid the homeschool mom comparison trap.
Create a vision for your homeschool
Creating a vision for your homeschool can also protect you from comparing yourself to other homeschool moms.
Have you spent time in prayer for your homeschool? What vision do you feel God has given you? What do you want to see happen during your children’s time under your care?
When you have your own vision for your homeschool home, you can stay guarded from feeling the pressure of copying what you see other moms doing if you can’t fit it into your day or if it doesn’t necessarily align to your vision.
Creating a vision will also help you identify and narrow down what specific subjects you choose to study, what activities you do, and how your family chooses to spend your time. That way, you can shield your mind from the darts of comparison if something doesn’t fit into this season of your life.
Be aware of your kids needs
One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that you don’t have to just be a slave to a bunch of curriculum and checklists made by someone else to meet standards that you may not agree with. OF COURSE you must follow your state’s law for homeschooling, but aside from that, you have the freedom to focus on what your family needs to focus on.
Every family has different needs. Some families may have a bunch of high IQ learners, while others may have children for whom learning is a challenge. In some families, you as a mama might work a full or part time job from home to help out financially, or you may be running a home with multiple children while your spouse is at work.
As a mom with four children currently ranging from pre-k-6th grade, it makes no sense for me to compare myself OR MY HOME with a mom whose children are all in upper elementary school or high school, or even to a home where there is just one child.
I live in Texas, and our homeschooling laws are some of the most lenient. So aside from these, I’m free to focus on what our family currently needs to grow in.This helps me avoid the homeschool mom comparison trap because I can focus on what is needed for my home and not be doubtful when I see what another mom is doing in her home.
Create systems & schedules that work for YOU
One of the biggest sources of discouragement I faced in my early years as a stay at home/homeschool mom was that I could never quite make my life fit into the schedules I saw other moms following.
I spent a lot of time reading other mom blogs, devouring every post related to schedules and routines that I could find. I wanted to find that perfect schedule-the one that the experienced mom was doing-and I wanted to follow it to a T.
Through much disillusionment, I realized I was spending so much time trying to make my life fit into a schedule that I wasn’t actually being present. I was checklisting my day, constantly double-checking if I was following “the schedule”.
I eventually learned that I needed to take a good hard look at my own life-what was right in front of me-flaws and all. Then, I could make a schedule that fit with my family’s current season of life, our priorities, and our involvements.
As I started doing this, I got more confident that even the way we were doing things looked different than other families, our needs & priorities were getting addressed. This has played a part in protecting my heart from comparing myself to other homeschool moms as well.
Be aware of where you’re at-and where you came from
Of all the pieces of advice on this page (except maybe the first one), this is the one I come back to over and over again to avoid the homeschool mom comparison trap when it rears its ugly head.
When I used to notice other moms interacting with their kids, I would sometimes feel discouraged because I felt that that mom had what I was lacking in a particular area. I would end up feeling bad about myself, then formulating a plan or reading a book (or buying one) that would help me become more of what I felt that mom was.
But here’s what I realized:
Some mamas came to motherhood with excellent examples from their own mothers, and some did not.
Some moms have personalities that allow them to be more lenient and go with the flow, and some moms are very Type A.
However you are, you are unique. We all have strengths that help us in certain areas and weaknesses that hurt us in other areas. Knowing where you’re at and how you specifically are growing will help you avoid comparing yourself to other homeschool moms-you’re on your own journey, and Holy Spirit will gently guide you.
It’s ok that I don’t have the same personality as another mom. As long as I yield myself to the Holy Spirit, He will meet me where I’m at and help me bear the fruit of righteousness I should bear-for His sake and for my childrens’.
Avoid making assumptions from what you see
When you see what other moms are doing on social media, other blogs, or even YouTube channels, remember that you’re not there for their whole lives. You’re not present for every venting session they may have with a girlfriend or husband or every tough session with a therapist or counselor. You’re not even there for the times when they have a bad day and snap at their kids all day long!
The homeschool mom comparison trap has a way of making you take one image, one reel, or one video and use your imagination to assume what the rest of that mom’s life looks like. Then, you assume the best of them and the worst of yourself.
We all have good days and we all have tough days. We all have super productive days and then days where we feel like brushing our teeth was a major accomplishment. I’ve not met a mom who has perfect days that go according to plan every single day.
By all means, scroll social media and get ideas. Watch YouTube videos (one of my personal favorite channels is Grace and Grit) from other homeschool moms and get even more ideas. But keep your heart guarded and remember that a snapshot of their life is just that…and you’ll most likely never see the bad.
Think in terms of suggestions and not pressure
Along these same lines, I encourage you to think in terms of suggestions and not pressure when it comes to seeing what other moms are doing in their homeschools.
When I watch another homeschooling channel on YouTube or read a homeschool blog, or even have a conversation with a current or former homeschooling mom, I always remind myself that I can take suggestions from what that mama is doing without feeling the need to compare myself to her or feel pressured to do what she’s doing.
I can choose to take some ideas from what she’s doing and even make minor adjustments to what I’m doing -or not!
Let me give you an example. I came across a YouTube channel of a well-known homeschool mom. I think she used to be a teacher, so when you watch her channel, you can see that she knows what she’s doing.
Her kids have a garden and care for animals. She has a bunch of props to help them learn, even the very young children, and even while she cares for a baby.
For a while, I had to stop watching her channel because while I would walk away with ideas, I would also walk away feeling bad about what I was doing and wanting to revamp everything.
Now, to protect myself from comparing, I mentally prepare myself before watching any videos. I remind myself that what I’m doing is good, I don’t want to do any major overhauls, and I’m just there for ideas. Then, I’m more free to just be encouraged and appreciate the hard work another mama is putting in.
Find a mom mentor
Lastly, it may greatly benefit you to find a mom mentor. Having someone pour into you can encourage you to stay focused on your assignment-not someone else’s.
Personally, I’ve reached out to my mom mentor a few times when I just felt like I was either doing a horrible job or really struggling in a certain area. She’s helped me stay the course by focusing my mind on the bigger picture and giving me wisdom that’s helped keep me going.
Is there a mom around you who’s further ahead of you, and who bears fruit you want to emulate? Consider asking her to mentor you. If not, pray that God sends one your way!
The homeschool mom comparison trap seems inevitable, but it is possible to walk as free from it as possible.
Above all, yield yourself to the Lord and allow Him to lead you. Stay tuned in to your unique family-the one in your household. You got this!