Why we stopped homeschooling

I am sat drinking coffee alone in my favourite coffee shop reflecting on the last 12 months. Today is the first day back at school for our boys after we spent a year home educating them. The irony is not lost on me that it was in this coffee shop that we spent our first morning of homeschool last Easter.

There were many reasons for choosing to bring our children home, but the main reason was that we wanted Jesus to be at the centre of everything; our home life and the children’s education. They were in a faith school, and one that they loved, but we felt that we needed to give them something more. I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance, and decided to spend a year working together as a family at home.

I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance

The homeschool lifestyle is incredible. We thrived outside of timetables and schedules, we loved the freedom and spontaneity that homeschooling afforded our family, and we found such incredible friends within the homeschool community. We read books on books, we spent endless hours outdoors and learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. It was such a privilege to watch my boys grow in confidence, learn new social skills and make new discoveries.

So why end it all? That is a very good question.

We always said that we would homeschool for a year and then review our decision. On reviewing, we realised that our eldest was missing school terribly, and the truth was, I was floundering under the demands of educating two very different children while running two very different businesses. Home education is most definitely a ministry in and of itself, and is a huge sacrifice for parents.

I felt that God called me to homeschool, however it wasn’t my ‘calling’ and at times, I struggled to find my identity over the last year. I loved being with my children all the time, but as God continued to speak into my heart I felt a tension between teaching them and spending quality time with them, alongside doing things that I wanted to do or felt called to. It is fair to say that the children have missed corporate learning, and although their social lives have been off the charts, the majority of their education has been in the home, one on one with me.

So what was the purpose of these last twelve months? Well, I believe that this year has not been about heart education not head education.

Our homeschool journey has been about heart education not head education

Prior to homeschooling, we were struggling at home. We were still blending as a family of five following our daughter’s adoption and still recovering from my maternal mental health challenges. Last Easter we needed to press the reset button. So we did.

As we took school out of the equation, and put God and family first in our home, we have gotten to know each other again. I believe that we have grown tremendously, in faith and in relationship. As we leaned in, God bound us together and we have now laid the foundations for a stronger family unit going forward.

Since December, God has been challenging me, guiding me and equipping me in so many areas; business, serving, faith and family. I believe that He called me to homeschool to lay down the foundations for our family future. God never said for how long we would homeschool, He just asked us to step out in obedience. We now believe that this season has come to an end and we need to build on what we have started. I am pressing in and listening hard. It feels like I am listening to a new song on the radio and God is tuning the dial so I can hear it clearly. I can hear the melody but now I need to let him refocus me so I can hear the words too.

Can you homeschool? Of course you can. Should you homeschool? Yes, if you feel led to.

I absolutely advocate home education and have seen firsthand how my children have thrived in the home environment. But I have also seen the delight on my children’s faces as they walked into their classroom, watched their eyes widen with excitement about the things they will get to see and do and the friends they get to meet.

So although my heart was a little sad as we waved them off this morning, I also felt incredibly excited for this new chapter of our story – both for them and for me. Here’s to the first entry on the page.

R x

Everything I never wanted

It is Mothers Day, and this is the first one as a mom of three that I am actually looking forward to. Last year I was dreading the emotions (or lack thereof), that I would feel when my children bundled into bed with me.

I consider myself crazy blessed as a mom of three, but I wouldn’t wish my motherhood journey on anyone. Before I had my first child I knew a little about postnatal depression and knew of people who experienced it, but I learned so much more when I actually experienced it. I had moderate postnatal depression after my second son was born.

I put my tiredness down to juggling two, I put my desolation down to long days and sleepless night. It took me five excruciating months to get professional help with my maternal mental health and medication and conversation helped me through one of the darkest times. Fast forward a few years to the adoption of our daughter. A perfect princess to complete our family, yet when she arrived, my world came crashing down once again.

Motherhood seemed to be everything I never wanted

It seemed so unfair. I wanted to feel happy and proud but I felt terrified and trapped. I wanted to cherish and treasure my babies but I was angry and ashamed. All I had ever wanted was to be a mom, yet not once, but twice my mental health suffered as a result. I had done everything ‘right’, prepared, planner and prayed, yet postnatal and post adoption depression and anxiety tried to crush me.

But it failed.

Because my God is greater.

If you are facing tough times please know that you are not alone.

God will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you feel like He has.

I spent hours, literally hours on my knees crying and screaming out to God to fix the mess I was in, to take away the pain. I didn’t feel Him but I know He was there. And now as I look at my babies, I look back and see that while I was holding on to hope, God was holding onto them.

He cradled my baby when I couldn’t.

He soothed troubled hearts while mine was overwhelmed.

He did what I wouldn’t, then when I was ready He gently handed them back to me.

Mama, if you are reading this in the wee hours of the night because you cannot sleep, or with tears rolling down your cheeks because you know how it feels to want to just run away from everyone, everything, please know you are not alone. I was there, twice. I made it through and you will too.

Check out our Facebook group Moms on Mental Health for friendship and support with other mamas who have overcome depression or are still battling through it. We are stronger together and we would love to cheer you through the dark days.

R x

Finding the lovely in everyday life

Nothing like quite a blog rebrand is there? My blog has enjoyed several face lifts and name changes over the years, but this current one somehow seems more poignant than ever.

Have you ever wanted to find your place? Your purpose? Your calling?

I am a self-confessed people pleaser, searching for the one true reason that I was put on this earth, wanting to hone in on that talent, that gift, that passion that I have been blessed with and run with it to the best of my ability.

Of course, the truth is we all have many talents, many gifts, many passions. I love to sing, and worship music is something that is incredibly close to my heart. I have tried to pursue this calling and advance in my ministry but have been met with a wall limiting my growth and holding me back. I love to write, and dream of writing my own story, pouring my life into the pages in the hope that my experiences could help somebody else, yet it never seems to be the right time. I love being a mother, and this lifelong desire to raise a family is now realised, yet I have found myself struggling with depression and mom-guilt.

Trying to fixate on just one gift is like trying to a child that once he has learned to walk that is all he can ever do. He shouldn’t try to run, ride, hop, skip or jump – sounds ridiculous, right?

All through my life, I have tried to please others. To get others to notice me, to recognise my giftings, to use my talents. Not in an egotistical way, but because rightly or wrongly I find my self-worth in what other people think. This applies to my blog too, to a certain extent, as I have always wanted to find my ‘niche’.

My very first blog was a craft blog, Sing Sew Write, inspired by my heroine Kirsty Allsopp following her successful series Kirstie’s Homemade Home. I documented my attempts at patchwork cushions, decoupage and even managed a crochet blanket, however, I soon ran out of ideas within my skill set, not to mention time after my second son was born.

I then thought that a mommy blog was the way forward, and Boys and Babyccinos was born. I loved documenting my adventures with my sons, but soon felt torn between wanting to share their lives and wanting to protect their identities. My husband and I agreed that in this media hungry world we needed to limit our children’s exposure on the world wide web, and so Boys and Babyccinos was no more.

After that I decided to go for a more generic blog, using my name Rachel Rae Writes and began sharing my journey with Jesus. As I was taking to time to study the Bible or spend time in God’s presence, He would drop little nuggets of wisdom into my mind and pretty soon I was writing mini-sermons that spoke into my soul. This has continued for a while until we embarked on our adoption journey and our third child, a daughter arrived.

To say that adoption rocked our world is an understatement. The assessment process itself is at best like having your home life raided by social workers with a search warrant. The approval process and eventual matching are both extraordinary and excruciating, and the introductions and birth parent meetings leave you reeling in every which way. Then there is the integration of a brand new little life into an established and, in our case, exuberant family. We have been on the most incredible journey, one that has left us elated and exhausted, delighted and depressed, complete and cautious. Yet, to protect our family we have chosen not to share the details publicly.

So where does this leave my blog? What should I write?

As a professional writer and chronic oversharer, I am rarely left without something to say, however, I feel that the focus of my blog needs to not just shift, but be removed entirely. Why can’t my blog cover many topics? Why can’t I be interested in and passionate about many things? I believe that over the past 12 months or so, I have undergone a major change in my thinking, I have found my worth in God and not in my giftings. He doesn’t want to pigeon-hole me, He wants to pursue me. He wants to see my find my feet as a daughter of the King and not be defined by a role or responsibility. He wants me to live free from restriction and restraint, to run with my imagination, to realise my dreams.

I want to share my life with you, the journey that I am on personally, both with God and with my young family. We are about to embark on a new chapter in our story and are so tantalisingly close to an exciting future as a family of five. My impatient nature wants to run ten steps ahead but my heart tells me to be still and wait. There is beauty in the waiting. There is a miracle in the middle. There is lovely in life. While I wrestle with my new normal there is much to see, much to enjoy. There are moments of pure calm and sheer bliss amongst the many moments of muddied waters and stormy seas.

As I navigate unchartered territories, I cling to the One who calms the storm, the One who created the seas, and I will seek to share a window into my world with this new blog Little Rae Life. I hope you will join me on the journey, I thnk we are in for quite a ride!

Rae x