This is re-posted from previous years, with minor changes.
Here are a few of my lessons learned from attending HEAV’s Homeschool Convention:
1. Pack half of what you need, and then cut that by half. And then by half again. Really.
2. Don’t expect to actually to get anything done afterwards in the evenings in the hotel. You’re going to be brain-dead. Or exhausted from hauling your loads of junk around. So why pack it in the first place? Just leave it all at home.
3. WEAR COMFY SHOES WITH LOTS OF SUPPORT. Trust me, no one here is going to look at your feet and no one will care if your sneakers match your outfit in the least. In fact, they will probably be looking very longingly at your feet, wishing they were wearing comfy sneakers too. And remember, you’re talking of two-three days of walking around carrying tons of junk.
4. There is a reason that they recommend you bring a cart on wheels. ‘Cause you will be carrying lots of junk. My first year, I had one of my Thirty-One Gifts Large Utility Totes, and about killed myself. First of all, because the bag will just hold too much stuff and I am apparently a wimp. But also, because I had it up over my shoulder all day long. Even my “briefcase purse” that I’m using today is tiring. (Gots lots of complements on them though! And being a girl, I did enjoy getting complements on my bags and my purse!)
And last year, I had two rolling totes. I loved them so much, I’ve killed them both this past year. So yes, I have to get new ones! My first purchase already planned!
5. Labels with your contact info. That was recommended on a blog post I read, and I’m so glad I did this. This is great for filling out all those “Enter to Win” forms. Peel, stick, and you’re done. Saves a lot of writers’ cramp. (I forgot my labels last year! I just left them right on the printer. So I guess I would add – actually make sure you pack them!)
6. Business cards with contact info on it to share with other people. I learned this eons ago from when I used to go to conferences with direct-selling companies and it was wonderful. However, I was completely SHOCKED at how many people were so surprised when I was able to hand them my contact info after we met. AND, by how many didn’t even offer to reciprocate. Like every single person I met (that wasn’t trying to sell me something in the exhibition hall). No one even offered to write down their email and exchange that.
7. MEET NEW PEOPLE! Don’t only talk to the people you know! Please, please, please, step outside your pretty little comfort zone box and talk to someone new. Because that someone new might have come by herself with two small children, might be new to the area and not know a soul, and might just be STARVING for friendship. Take a chance, and go a step beyond the polite conversation in the Starbucks line! That “nice gal I briefly met” might be a wonderful encouragement to you, or perhaps be your chance to be God’s arms and give her a huge hug after an emotional session!
Now that I’ve been to convention for a few years, I will say it is so wonderful to come back “home” and see all those friendly faces once again! I have dear friends now from all over that I only know because of HEAV! Only because they were willing to talk to this crazy gal! And I can’t wait to go back just to see my buddies again!
8. Come ready for God to speak to your heart and stir your soul. Really. PACK KLEENEX PACKETS. Bring extras to share to bless the gal next to you. Bring extra pens to share, and paper (cause I forgot my pad in one session and had to scribble on a scratch paper). Pray for those around you. Look for God working in the room, and offer up prayers and praise in support. And set aside a few minutes of quiet time partway through each day to just deal with what He is bringing up in your own heart. Trust me, you’re going to need it. And plan some alone time after you get home to just process all that you took in while there. It’s just an overload of stuff.
9. Take copious notes. And then buy the convention recordings.
10. SLEEP. Don’t worry about anything else in the evenings except showering and sleeping. You are going to need the extra sleep to deal with all the emotional energy you are going to be expending. And carting around of stuff like heavy curriculum books and impulse purchases. I wish I was kidding! (Surely, I’ll behave better next year, right? As all this won’t be so new???? Oh well, I can dream.)
11. Check the room before you leave. Have someone else check it, then wait five minutes and check it again. One year, I did all this and still left my nice pillow there. Doh! I was losing things all weekend. I blame it on the sleep deprivation.
12. Pack your cellphone chargers. After last year, hubby and I now have “battery packs” to use as well, when our cellphone batteries try to run out. I know that was also because I was using my phone so much to blog, etc at the convention as well, but it was actually quite difficult to find plugs in convenient locations around the Conference Center!
13. Take extra bags to bring stuff home in! My Thirty-One Gifts Large Utility Totes came is so handy when it was time to come home! Everything I got – books, brochures, whatever, was easily shoved into one tote, the girls toys and pillows in another, etc. They collapse completely when not using them and take up almost no room. So that’s why I like them. Well, that and they’re cute.
14. Okay, I know I’m supposed to say something about staying on budget, blah blah blah. Coming with your list and your money and sticking to it. Well, I never follow my own advice, so I’m definitely not going to be the one to tell you to! HA! At the very least before you go, make a list of “must haves” and review what you already have so you don’t buy duplicates.
15. Take advantage of the experts there! While there, I was able to sit down and talk to several different ladies about my children and their educational/ developmental needs. I got some fabulous advice and information that really helped me feel like we are now in a position to conquer the dreaded math facts instead of them conquering us! Plus, I talked to several people about missionary work around the world, legislative work at both the state and federal level, and what science kits would be appropriate for our current age levels. Soak up the knowledge of the pros while you can!
16. Use childcare. My first year at the HEAV convention, the “kids room” started at age five, and I didn’t want to split up my girls. Plus, there was absolutely NO WAY I was taking a three year old into lecture hall sessions with me for eight straight hours! That would have been pure torture for both of us. So, I bit the bullet, worked my contact list and found a college student babysitter. My girls were thrilled, and I got to really focus on the task at hand. It was a pretty price to pay, but worth it. The moms/parents who were hauling around multiple toddlers and older kids and still trying to listen to the speakers while keeping the rug-rats happy and quiet – I honestly don’t know how they heard or concentrated on a thing. (I am not talking about breastfeeding infants.)
Now that my girls are older, they love the kid’s program! They beg to go (and then, not to leave) every year! My youngest, who has social anxiety, did have enough by the second day, and was more than willing to attend sessions with me in the peace and quiet (and color with some markers and paper I got for her).