52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 17: Keep a NO List

Death to Stock Photos

Death to Stock Photos

Homeschoolers are always making lists—books to read, field trips to take, websites to check out—so we’re definitely no strangers to the joys of a good list. But one list that we often skip is the NO list—a list of things that we’re not going to worry about, wonder about, or fret about—at least for the time being.

My list includes things like “using coupons,” “cleaning out the garage,” “my son’s reading habits,” and “standardized test prep.” All of these are things I have worried about, I could still legitimately worry about, and some people might think I should worry about—but I’m not going to. Not right now anyway. I’m worrying about other things (notably algebra and handwriting practice this year). I’m too busy to worry about whether I should participate in a homeschool focus group—so I say “no, thanks” and put it on my NO list. I’m more concerned about getting through AP U.S. History this year than I am about whether my daughter should try another sport—so we take more walks, and I put “find a physical activity for O” on my NO list.

The NO list, like any good list, isn’t a set-in-stone, established-for-all time dictate. Rather, it’s an evolving reminder of how you’re prioritizing your homeschool at a given time—this year, you’re going to stop obsessing over finding the perfect science curriculum and focus on making the one you’ve already bought work better. This year, you’re going to let the idea of picturesque, cozy morning time go because it’s never worked for your family, and you’re going to plant a vegetable garden instead. Right now, you’re going to stop panicking about your kid’s less-than-ideal grammar and focus on helping her find her voice as a writer. You get the idea. You can’t do it all. We never can. So knowing what we DON’T want to worry about right now can help you get where you want to go just as much as knowing what you DO want to do.

Ideally, you’ll keep an actual written version of your NO list that you can check back in with every couple of weeks (or months, if obsessing over lists is on your NO list right now). Are you worrying about the things you’ve designated as not-worth-your-worry right now? Are you worrying about things that should be on your NO list? Is it time to move that don’t-wordy-about-it item back onto your everyday radar? The NO list helps you prioritize, but it also helps you keep up with things you know should eventually be important, even if they’re not really that important this particular year.

Your challenge this week: Start your own NO list by choosing at least four things that you aren’t going to worry about right now. They can be homeschool specific (socialization, finding the right park day, writing research papers, writing on the front side of the paper) or more general (meal planning, painting the dining room, volunteering at the food bank). Remember: Putting something on this list doesn’t mean it’s not important or that it doesn’t matter to you—it just means that, right now, you’re focusing your energy in other areas.