How do I Volunteer at Church…And Homeschool

I guess the short answer is I’m married to Dan.  So this description isn’t going to have  a whole lot of generalized application – or fit you are a single parent, or if you are the dad and the primary teaching parent either, or not particularly religious.

Dan at Sturbridge Village this Summer

Dan puts K and M to bed on Saturday nights so I can study and organize my flannel-graphs.  (Flannel-graphs are so old they are new.) He is generally cheerful about late meals, weird  meals, and messy houses.  He washes dishes, cleans the bathroom and maintains our computers and car.  His work is 6 blocks away, so he walks to work, walks home for lunch, and makes himself available for emergencies.  That means I have the minivan all day.  He has told the secretary at the lab that my calls always get through – she does let me know if he’s in a meeting with customers though, so I try not to abuse the access.

Wow,  I haven’t told him lately how much I appreciate him.

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What do I do at church? It’s minimal really.  I teach Sunday school with Dan, and show up for Sunday service.  I put K to bed Sunday nights, and on Wednesday nights when he goes to Prayer meeting (he is a deacon and needs to be up on what is going on.)  I do go to wedding and baby showers, but not usually to Ladies Fellowship meals or Bible study.  If the deaconesses need a meal for a sick family, I shop, cook, and deliver it – with the kid’s help.  If the nursery is empty of workers, I’ll stay there, but Dan asked me to try not to, I’m already teaching during one service.  The nominating committee hasn’t asked me to serve lately, though I have worked on the music committee, run 2 VBSs and taught in the Family Fun Fair.

A lot of how to homeschool books caution new homeschoolers to cut back on church activities, or at least evaluate which ones to attend.  Hmm.  Since so many of us pick homeschooling in order to give our kids an education integrated with our spiritual beliefs, this is kinda ironic.  If you are blessed to be a part of a healthy church community, when you are thinking about what you can handle and what you can’t, you shouldn’t get a lot of false guilt and pressure dumped on you.  If you are getting false guilt and pressure dumped on you, that sounds like a body that needs some honest communication anyway.  Pray for grace for them.  Pray for grace for you.  But don’t volunteer beyond what you can actually do, and think about giving notice in a convenient time frame so you can be excused without causing big holes in the roster.

Homeschooling is like a full time job, with times you need to be alone to plan, evaluate and research. Only no one is paying you, you still have to nurture your marriage, chauffer, cook, chaperone, and in some seasons nurse the baby.  Which means that you are NOT really a good candidate for volunteer positions during the weekday days – unless childcare if provided, and it’s part of your calling, or you can fold your children into volunteering with you, which will depend on the age span, number, personalities, and how young your youngest is.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the skills you pick up as a homeschooling Mom are transferable to church work once you are done actively schooling.  Can you teach a co-op class of other people’s kids?  Then you can teach a Sunday school class or VBS.  Can you organize a co-op or field trip?  Deaconesses do lots of logistics.  Can you listen well to students to help them figure out why they aren’t learning?  Oh boy, are there lots of young people who need mentors.  Can you research curricula?  Sunday School superintendents have to pick curricula.

Don’t put church activities on the chopping block first thing – what else are you doing?  Is it holding up to Philipians 4:8?  Is it energizing you?  Is it something that brings you closer to your husband?  If not, maybe nix that before you start skipping church work to make time for homeschooling.

Don’t even get me started on skipping church altogether.

 

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