Applying the Powerful Positivity of Procrastination to Your Homeschool

two blonde children relax in a red and blue hammock

After he put off taking a vacation for several months, my husband decided that we would finally set off on that seven-day vacation—the next morning. There was no time to organize and label seven zip-top bags filled with infant clothing; there was no time to do laundry and match up my outfits. We were simply going to buy new underwear and clothes along the way. I had never lived so wild, adventure-packed, and stressed at the same time.

Through the years, little has changed in how my husband puts off adventures and then suddenly springs them on me. But I’ve changed. Instead of having a judgmental eye toward procrastinators, I’ve learned that there are many valid reasons to delay action. For instance, on our buying new clothes along the way vacation, I learned that when my husband postpones trips, it’s because he doesn’t want to waste time ironing out the details beforehand.

He has a overall mental image of what he wants to do, and part of the thrill of the journey is discovering the details as he goes. I, on the other hand, have a rigid to-do list for our vacation. To him, the decisions we have to make mid-stream in our unplanned vacation are opportunities to explore and spontaneously adjust. They are chances to seize the moment without being paralyzed by the need to constantly scrutinize every decision.

I found a lot of applications of my husband's vacation planning (or lack thereof) to my homeschooling experience. Despite my obsessive need to plan, I learned how to incorporate the positive power of procrastination into my homeschooling routine. First, though, I had to move past the mindset that postponing decisions is always a negative. Look at these four situations when procrastination provides a timely payoff.

ONE: When You are Too Pushy

Over-preparation made me a tyrannical teacher for my then four-year-old son. Unlike his older brother, my budding reader found my well-planned reading list a source of stress. Instead of wanting to read, he wanted to play.

Postponing formal reading lessons allowed my son to come to the reading table later when he was ready to learn. Now that he has finished homeschooling, I can see that procrastinating the start of his phonics instruction has made him a lifelong lover of books and reading.

Applying the Powerful Positivity of Procrastination to Your Homeschool • tips for homeschoolers

TWO: When You Over-plan

My lesson plans have always been detailed. Following through with those plans has helped to steady me through the many fads of homeschooling. Unfortunately though, many times my planner ruled my day. I had to learn the art of putting off lesson plans so that we could seize teachable moments such as unplanned field trips and vacations.

THREE: When Your Kids Need to Grow Up

Daily decisions, significant and small, are part of homeschooling, and they can create stressful situations. Instead of having to always step up and be responsible, I’ve learned some decisions need to be put off. Sometimes the situation works itself out, and the decision is made for you because of a change of circumstances.

Another example is with tweens and teens. For example, as my boys turned into young adults, they’ve had to take more accountability for their actions. They sometimes need to learn life's lessons on their own without my direct instruction. I’ve needed to speak less. There is no need to constantly remind them of consequences. Decisions for my sons, which may seem urgent at the time, have a way of working out. And when I let them make the final call, they learn more from the experience than when I jump in with an authoritative directive.

FOUR: When You're Burned Out

Burnout is a frequent consequence of homeschooling. I do believe that waiting to the last minute to make significant decisions causes more stress. And stress easily turns to distress. However, one way to rejuvenate from burnout is to postpone work until you are rested enough to handle the task without frustration. When you find yourself on edge and angry, it's time to step away from homeschooling for the day. Take a walk, read a novel, call a friend, or get that fancy coffee drink you love. When you feel calmer, then you can resume your homeschool role.

My husband has mastered the art of procrastination. He doesn’t delay making important decisions when doing so will result in a negative outcome or additional stress. He does know when it’s time to loosen the reins and live in the moment or delay the moment. I’m still learning to let go, linger, and lag. When I release my perfectionism and strict adherence to deadlines, I can see that there is a powerful positivity in procrastination.

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About the Author

Tina RobertsonTina Robertson celebrated the graduation of Mr. Senior in 2013 and Mr. Awesome in 2015. Because of her love for new homeschoolers, she mentors moms through her unique program called New Bee Homeschoolers. She loves all homeschoolers, though, as she shares her free 7 Step Curriculum Planner, unit studies, lapbooks and homeschooling how tos. She can't sing, dance, or craft, but she counts organizing as a hobby. She is still in the homeschool trenches blogging at Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus.