Today’s post on FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out, took a long time to come together. I have been wanting to write about it for months but I wasn’t sure how exactly to write it. Because I am afraid I am going to offend. Telling someone that she is doing more than what is necessary because of FOMO can be highly offensive. But I guess if I can cause just one person to take a step back and pause, I think the risk would be worth taking.
Also, while I am mainly addressing FOMO in homeschooling mothers, this can easily apply to mothers whose children attend public school too. Because anything we do out of fear is unhealthy. So here goes …
Dear younger homeschooling mom
I see you.
I see you running yourself ragged trying to fit in all the good and educational activities you think your child needs to have. Drama and speech lessons (in English and Chinese), ballet and jazz classes, and don’t forget lifesaving, art and singing lessons.
Playdates? Coops? You’re in! You want to make sure that your homeschooled child has friends, is not socially awkward, and is able to stand strong in group play, not just academics.
Meanwhile, I also see you getting more stressed, and physically tired. Finances are getting to be a bit tight too since all these classes cost money. Even homeschool coops cost money because special materials need to be bought. Transport costs need to be factored in as well. Also, because you are seldom home now, and when you are, you are too tired to clean up or cook, you have taken on a part time helper. Take-outs and food delivery has become the norm, rather than the exception. You are even thinking, “Maybe a live-in maid would be a cheaper option.” Your husband isn’t happy at the drain in finances, your short temper, and the children’s grumpiness and rudeness.
Friend, slow down. Take a deep breath.
You have fallen prey to FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out, or in Singlish, kiasuism. FOMO only leads to a lot of unnecessary stress and worry. For ourselves and our children.
I understand that in the beginning of your homeschool journey, you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty. I have been there too. And all those activities you signed up for? They are good things. Getting involved in the homeschool community through playdates and coops? Very helpful! Because homeschooling can get lonely at times, for you and your children too.
My dear friend, are these the BEST things for your child and you? I know they are good things but are they the BEST things? Because GOOD ISN’T BEST. As Oswald Chambers says, “Good is the enemy of best” in his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest.
As an older homeschooling mother (13 years and counting), I am gently telling you that it is not necessary to participate in ALL the activities out there. (This applies to mothers with children in public schools as well.) I know that when FOMO strikes, we can’t think straight. The fear of missing out cripples, and is oftentimes irrational. So much so that we stop assessing what is truly necessary and helpful. Instead, we just copy what others are doing with their children. And we tend to think, more is better.
FOMO → Burnout
FOMO eventually leads to burn out. Because no one can run on adrenaline all the time. And a packed schedule cannot be sustained. Both our children and ourselves will crash and burn. You may even give up homeschooling. Friend, if homeschooling is a long-term goal, and it is what the Lord has called you to, you need to pause and recalibrate.
Go back to your WHY
Recall why your husband and you made the decision to homeschool your children.
Start with your why
RELATED POST : Start with your Why
Is it to be free from the constraints of a school schedule? To allow your child to progress at his rate of development? To develop close family ties? To provide a one-on-one instruction? To pass on your values? To work on character issues?
Are the activities/classes/coops you are signing up for
bring you closer to your goal or distract you from it?
If your answer is, “Yes! It brings us closer to our goals!” Then absolutely do it! But if it is a “maybe” or a “I don’t know”, consider saying, “no”. Everyone has finite resources – of time, money and patience! Saying “yes” to something that is only so-so is a drain on your limited resources. It is not worth it, my friend.
But when the time comes where you have the margin to do something that does not bring you closer to your goal but is fun, go for it! Saying “no” is not forever.
Consider your season of life
What season of life are you in? A season with pregnancies and little ones? Or a season with mostly independent children but aging parents? Sometimes the season you are in warrants a “no” even though the activity brings you closer to your goals. The season needs to be appropriate too.
Are you perhaps still worried that saying “no” will limit your child’s potential? That, my friend, is your FEAR speaking or perhaps, yelling, at you.
Put FOMO at the feet of the Lord
Take this fear to the Lord. What is He saying to you about your child’s needs? You may be thinking, “Huh? Pray about a class?” Yes! Nothing is too trivial for the Lord, you know? And if it is really an activity that your child needs? God will bring other opportunities when the time is right. Because trite as it sounds, truly “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are told to “Trust in the Lord, with all (our) heart(s), And lean not on (our) own understanding”. Instead, “In all (our) ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct (our) paths.” Let us open our ears to hear what He is saying so that we do not end up running around like headless chickens.
What is truly important?
Many times, in our quest for the best for our child, we forget what is truly important, taking our cues from the world instead of from God’s Word.
Dear friend, please don’t let FOMO get you down. Give your fears to the Lord. Remember that Scriptures promise that all our children will be taught by Him and great will be their peace. (Isaiah 54:13). If he has called you to homeschool your child (and whatever else He has called you to do), He will equip you.
Hang in there! You can do this because our God goes with you!
An older homeschooling mother
PS : Don’t let social media feed your FOMO. It skews our view of everything! Your homeschool friends may be posting lovely pictures of their homeschool activities or homeschool rooms and you turn green with envy. Remember, what they are showing you is just a snippet of their entire day/week! No one knows what went on before or after the photo/video.
PPS : I definitely am not immune to FOMO because despite knowing what to do, I still battle with it. So I am writing to myself, too!
Related Post : Fear of Your Kids Missing Out from Planning with Kids.