Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hardships of Homeschool

Just for reality's sake, I feel compelled to share that I am not so enamored with homeschool as my homeschool review post may have made it sound. Well, let's just say that me and homeschool have a love-hate relationship. I mean, I don't want to be negative and grumpy about the turns our lives have taken. There is a lot of blessing in our daily lives because of how it has worked out that the kids and I are together all day every day. And I really am kind of "into" this. But, there are dozens of "happy homeschooler" blogs out there, and I really don't want to shoo away the weary homeschool mom with detailed reviews that sound like I am organized and on the ball and loving every minute of this. For example, right now it is 11:41am. We are all still in our pajamas. We read poetry and storybooks for about two hours this morning and now Amabel is reading Ramona the Pest and I am blogging. I don't have time to be blogging, but I gave myself an extremely easy school week this week because last week was so rough. I had an extremely organized week that had me in tears several times, so we are having a disorganized, Abby style week this week. 

Yesterday, we went to the bank and the post office and didn't actually start school until after lunch. Actually though, that's sort of what I hate about homeschool. Everyone has to go to the bank and the post office and the grocery store. It's unavoidable. If you have preschoolers, you take them with you. If your kids are in school, you go while they are in school. But what if you are their teacher and you have a toddler who naps until after four? I guess you gain a lot of compassion for the thousands of working moms out there who go after work. But when do they fix dinner? Maybe I should do all my errands on Saturday. There aren't enough hours in the day! Anyway, my point is that just cleaning or doing necessary errands during the week seems to put me, and therefore all of us, behind. (Not to mention the discouragement that lingers after this inevitable exchange- friendly inquiry "They don't have school today?" which forces me to answer,"Well, they're homeschooled." which is almost always followed by the disapproving "Ooooh.")  But since this is an easy week, we managed to start after errands and still knock the school day out before dinner yesterday. I talked with a friend about some of this last week on a particularly bad day. I had started at 8:30am and didn't finish until 5:30pm. This was nothing like the first time it had happened that way. It doesn't make sense. Even laid back George was floored. How could it take me so long? So I understand if you think I am crazy. But this friend, a mom of four who homeschooled for years until just this year, said that that happened to her regularly. 

The other thing I hate about it is that I am always always always with my children. Go ahead and think that is a wicked thing to say, but I just need to be Abby and not Mommy for some portion of the day. And that rarely happens lately. I also really miss the days of having other moms over so our kids can have play dates. If I choose to do this now, I have to take an entire day off school. But I do have more than one child, and I figure the younger ones deserve to have their needs catered to as well. (Not that I don't stop teaching umpteen times a day to make snacks, discipline, change diapers, clean up messes, break up fights, get out a new toy or activity, read Where is Baby's Bellybutton, etc. ) And, as I said, this also helps meet a need I have for adult interaction. 

Okay, so I have said "hate" several times during this post and I know that is a pretty strong word. I feel like I have been positive about homeschool in the past, but this came across fairly negatively. But because I am writing on an easy day so it came out way better than the posts I attempted last week! I think I am just in a process. I am trying to figure out how doing this will look for us. If I have learned anything about homeschooling from reading and talking with people who do it, I would have to say that it seems to require constant trial and error. So I am not alone in this love-hate thing, I don't suppose. Even for moms who instinctively love the idea of homeschool, I suppose there are plenty of things they find themselves hating even if it is just a math book they want to throw out the window. One thing I have been thinking lately, because I do get so stressed out when we unexpectedly lose a day, and because I get a little depressed during the summer months, is to think about doing school year 'round, with a week or two off when we need it. Doesn't that kind of sound like me? I'm in no way sure I want to do this, but I have just been thinking about it a little. Let me know what you think. 

One thing I would be wondering if I were you is what an "easy" week looks like. And for that matter, what does a "tough" week that brings me to tears look like? Well, I'm so glad you asked. But I don't have time to answer today. I'll let you know once the easy week is actually over. It appears that I won't even get the little bit I had planned accomplished, but I will care less because I know that the underlying idea was just to regroup and stop panicking. If you had talked to me last week, you could definitely trust that I am much better now which, in my mind, renders the "easy week" priceless no matter how little we get done! Mercy for all! Hurray! 

3 comments:

jennifer h said...

Abby
Since we talked this morning, I guess I really don't need to comment here, but I will anyway ;)

Cut yourself some slack. Remember when your kids were in school? How many "staff in-service days" did they have? How many field trips? How many times did the teacher allow the kids some free time to read or play quietly?

Generally, I feel that if kids are current or at least close to current grade level, you're doing your job. And, I am sure your kids are there. If you were to move somewhere and were able to put them in Christian school again, if they took the entrance test, they would do fine.

Re: the Abby time, you need that, especially with as much as George is working. Perhaps a swap with another homeschooling mom every couple weeks could do that for you?

Praying for you to keep on keeping on.

Renee said...

I feel your pain. Lydie sleeps from 2-5 each afternoon (which is amazing, but restrictive). If there are things to do away from home, it has to happen between 9-2, with lunch at home in between. I have opted this month to have HS in the afternoons and run errands and let the kids play outside in the morning, most mornings. It has just been a busy month will extra meals to make and more errands for some reason. I was so rigid in the fall, but I have learned to roll with it or I get frustrated and burned out. With a toddler, I have to allow myself to let our days/weeks/months look differently. Life is too unpredictable (with three children) to be able to prescribe to the same schedule every day. Besides that, friends and people in our church body have birthdays, need meals or help, etc. Some days I describe my day to Andy and he says, "Wow, babe. I know you weren't complaining, you were just recounting the day. But it sounds like it really sucks to be you." And yes, it does, on a hard day. But the good days are so sweet! I have given myself the freedom to take is slowly and enjoy the kids. If we miss a science lesson but have a fun trip to the park, so be it. On a hard week, I try to remember that all of life counts for school, really. We write letters to grandparents on Sunday afternoons and they get handwriting, grammar, and a little art, too. They help me bake and we talk about measuring, adding, etc. There so much more depth in the context of living it all out together. (Don't get me wrong- I have an English and Math curric., too. But it may take me an entire 12 months to get through it. And that's okay if it means we have time to help other people out or visit with family more often or just make great memories together.) I am hoping that each year, as they become more self-reliant, it will all be more easy to manage. It really is hard to manage it all!!! I ask Andy frequently and fearfully, "This is my hardest year, right?" As far as "Abby-time" I think that is a good investment for the entire family. I go out alone every Thurs. (I should be already gone right now!). I usually just veg in a coffee shop and soak up the quiet with a book or on the computer. I tend to have a really bad week without that time. If nothing else, it is a great help to have something to look forward to when I feel like it's all too much. I am pretty sure you are right that every homeschooling Mom hates something about homeschooling. I would love it if I just had to do the schoolwork and play time with the kids, bake, decorate, sew, and draw or paint. It's the managing of the house- errands, bills, cleaning that I hate. I actually have friends that hire a maid and a 1-2 day Nanny to help them with their homeschooling. No kidding. In fact, in my homeschool group from church, I am the only one without a cleaning service. What you are doing- all the stuff along with the schooling- is the amount of work two or even three people typically do. I am so proud and encouraged by your willingness and persistence to do it for the sake of your children's education- even though it is not something you feel is a good fit for your personality. I will pray for you right now, and that God would bless you tenfold for your sacrifice and determination.

Abby said...

Thanks Jennifer! Your comment was very freeing and encouraging. I also appreciate your prayers. I feel like I could talk to you about all these things for a while and glean a lot of wisdom (but poor Calvin!) Maybe you could come over for coffee one morning? Yes, I would be missing school, but these comments make me feel a little more freed up for that sort of thing. I'll email you.

Thanks Renee! I really appreciate your honest and encouraging words! It really helps to hear other moms talk about the good and the bad, to inspire with the good and validate/come alongside in sympathy with the bad. I figure if even you get stressed over these things from time to time (and you are a very calm and gentle individual, if memory serves), it isn't only me. It's just a rough job. I love that you "treasure" so much of it. It seems that more days than not, I am more or less in survival mode! But I think that is just my life right now. I certainly treasure my "students," and I am glad I have them with me as we all kind of struggle through a tough time together. Every day isn't chocked full of fun, but I imagine that later on we will likely forget the exhaustion and homesickness and remember pajama storytimes, batches of oversized cookies, and walks in the woods. Or at least I hope so!

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