This is a partnered post with the Thrive Convention.
If you are a homeschooling parent, you probably fall into one of these categories: 1.You are reluctantly attending convention, but not so sure if it’s really the right thing for you 2. You’ve never been to convention, mainly because you think it will be too overwhelming for you or 3. You’re totally going to convention, been there, done that, have a plan and can’t wait!
I am writing this as I head into one next weekend and I’m hoping these tips will help a few of you out there who are also headed that way. It IS overwhelming, as some people warn you that it can be, but part of that problem is us. I believe that a good majority of homeschooling parents are planners. We like to be in charge and know what’s coming, what we can do to tackle it and have a good feeling that we’ve got it covered when it does happen. Or maybe that’s just me…..
For those of us who like to know the issues that “may” come up, heading into a huge event like a convention, for the first time, does not sound appealing at all, because we have only heard other people’s stories (and let’s face it, most stories people like to share are the negative, dramatic type!) and we don’t actually know firsthand what it will be like, so therefore, we don’t know firsthand what we will need to prepare for. The fear of the unknown can be huge thing that keeps many people from ever stepping out in faith and taking the first step.
Now, I do have some mom friends who are the opposite of me, and they are laid back, just seeming to go with the flow and ride the wave where it takes them. But I will say that most of them are not attending convention for other reasons than I mentioned and they just seem to handle it all as it comes and don’t get all nervous-Nellie. If that is you, and you actually are planning to attend convention, I would advise at least a little planning so you aren’t overwhelmed either, although I am just certain that your level of freaking out is not even close to what mine would be if it indeed, happened.
So how can you plan for this and come out refreshed, relaxed and totally planning to go again next year?
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You’ve heard this before, but it’s true. There will be things that will happen that will rattle you. It’s inevitable. Like, after being there a whole day already and walking what feels like 5 miles, you still haven’t found the one booth you had planned from the beginning that you absolutely had to get to first. Or, you had your schedule all planned out, hour by hour, so that you wouldn’t miss a lecture or lunch, for that matter, and the next thing you know, it’s 3:15 and you’ve been talking to someone at a booth who is amazingly helpful and you really couldn’t help it, but now you’ve not only still not eaten, but you missed that 3:00 lecture. This stuff will likely happen. But, going into this knowing what you have in mind to do, but also knowing you may not get to it all and that’s totally o.k. makes a world of difference.
2. Do some research ahead of time.
If you know already what curriculum you want to use and you basically need to just get to those booths and really get your hands on it, then that’s awesome, but if you’re like me, you know a few things you for sure are wanting, and then there’s a gray area there with a few others where you want to see what your options are. Well, you will get to see a lot of options there for sure, but you may not see every brand of writing curriculum you thought you would, and you may not even realize that until it’s all over, so spend a little time googling it before you go, so you can narrow it down some, and then make a few notes so that when you’re there, you’ll see that booth and the little light bulb will go off and ding! “I need to talk to those people!” will happen in your brain. Ask around in your Facebook community or co-op too, and see what your fellow homeschoolers use and how they feel about it. It can be very helpful. Somehow, when you are there in person, it ALL looks good, and they have a great speech that makes it sound even better, and the thing is, they MEAN it, they believe in it, so then you believe it too….so you have to know at least somewhat if 1. Yes, that booth is for me or 2. No, I know I’m not interested in that and keep walking on.
3. Make some lists and budget. This may not sound fun, but doing some of the work ahead of time will alleviate a lot more work while you are there.
Make a list of what curriculum you know for sure you will need before starting the next semester, and if you end up finding it while you’re there, whether you buy it, or just find “the one”, check it off the list! It feels good to do that and it justifies the WHY of the reason you’re there to begin with. Making a budget is another great thing to do. If you are bad about spending money you don’t have, then take cash in envelopes for certain subjects or for meals, or fun money. When that cash is gone, you’re done. You can still spend plenty of time doing research and checking out curriculum or supplies and write it down to purchase later. These two things alone can make the experience much better for you.
4. Take time for yourself in the middle of the day, each day. Step Back and Enjoy!
You work hard and you deserve for this experience to be a good one. There are so many really sweet people there who enjoy doing what they do, and they are there to help you. This is a needed paycheck for them to help them make it through their year and they want to talk to you, and in return, you’re helping their families. So, try to take it slow, be a light for people that get sent in your path, and don’t feel guilty if you don’t make every lecture, or get to see each and every booth. If you need to stop mid-day and go take a nap or even a swim, by all means, do it!
5. If you see a friend, take a break and grab a coffee with them.
Just be sure to keep in mind that everything will not go as planned and truly, this is normal and totally fine. Leave the guilt behind and go have a great time!
If you’re planning on attending the Thrive Convention in Winston-Salem, NC on June 2-4, 2016 let me know and we can try to look out for each other!
I have two tickets to the Thrive Convention to giveaway! If you want to win tickets to the convention leave a comment letting me know what grades you’ll be teaching this year (and if you have a favorite curriculum already I’d love to hear it!).
If you don’t want to wait to enter to win, you can pre-register for the convention now. Don’t forget that May 26, 2016 is the last day to get pre-registration pricing.