August 9, 2010
By Courtney @ Ordinary Happily Ever After
This past May, three weeks before I had my fourth child, I called a very unceremonious end to our school year. I was done. My pregnancy was such that I could no longer keep up with the physical requirements of homeschooling. Heck, it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning! Fortunately my seven year old is very eager to help in any way. So with her help, we were able to keep the house from falling down and thanks to a local pizza place, every one was fed.
At the end of May, I went in do be induced and ended up having an emergency c-section, so I was looking forward to a nice long recovery before starting my second year of homeschool.
I should have known better. It didn't take long until my kids were all foaming at the mouth. So when my baby was a mere four weeks old I was at my wits end! My husband had already gone back to work, extended family had long since left me to tend to my four children ALONE (the nerve) and I was so ready to ship them off to the nearest military academy.
Then I remembered what school was like those first few months before the morning sickness kicked in. It was Heaven! My kids were nice to me, they were sweet to each other (mostly) and my home was consistently peaceful for the first time in years. Not to mention the fact that since I no longer had time to "waste time" I was much more productive while perusing my own interests and guilty pleasures.
The answer to the problem of my rabid children wasn't to put them into straight jackets and lock them in the garage, but to start school again.
I was smart enough to plan next year before my boy was born, so everything was done and all I had to do was start. Monday morning rolled around and I just pulled out the school stuff, dumped it on the table and hit the floor running. Oh we were so productive that first week. I was awesome. We finished everything on our lists, we played with friends, we went to the pool, my house was clean and we had dinner nearly every night. Saturday came and I was exhausted. But it was a good exhausted. The second week was just as good. Third week I started to lose steam and two days into the fourth week I decided we'd take the rest of the week off.
I usually take one day during the week and declare it a Home Ec day. That is the day "we" catch up on laundry and other chores (I try and have them help, but they are still young enough that they are more in the way than anything else, it's the age-old parenting dilemma, but that is a post for another day). By that fourth week, while I had done my best to keep up on the house work, the corners of my house needed a good scrubbing, not to mention the fact that my brain needed a BREAK!
Now don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love to teach them, but we all know that you can't draw water from an empty well. And my well was getting pretty dry.
But after two days off, I wanted to pull my hair out again. My kids were bouncing off of the walls and the only quiet I could find was in the corner of my bedroom closet. But only because they didn't think to look for me there.
When thinking of my family, I am always reminded of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol where it says :
The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief...
My home is the most peaceful and my children are the most happy and enjoyable when we are actively having school. But it's unrealistic for me to have school ALL the time. I just can't do it. Not only do I have to do things like clean up after them and myself, try and prepare healthyish food, educate myself, exercise and find time to fulfill my other commitments, but sometimes I just need some time to be by myself and be still. Unfortunately, our daily quiet times aren't enough to fulfill those necessities, especially since I usually spend that time with my oldest.
Does anyone else have this problem? How do I keep my children happy and occupied (and quiet) while I am tending to things that, while not more important then they are, nevertheless need to be tended to?
My children have no shortage of imagination and can entertain themselves quite effectively, however, more often then not, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Distruction keep me from accomplishing anything during those few hours allotted for me to play catch up (Heaven be thanked for my seven year old, who is the eye of the storm).
I have found lately that I am relying more and more on the television to do this for me, but it's not what I want to use, nor is it effective for very long. I was pondering this problem during school a few weeks ago. I was dreading the weekend and feeling like the Grinch:
"For, tomorrow, he knew...
All the Who girls and boys
would wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!"
It's not even the noise itself that bothers me, that comes with the territory. It's the endless barrage of "Mommy she/he... It's not fair... He/She... Mommy can I... Mommy can you... Mooooommy's" that get me down. But I digress... big surprise.
I was pondering this problem and a hint of a thought came to me (no doubt an answer to my prayer). It hasn't evolved into a full thought yet, so I want your ideas too. But there just is not enough time during our school days to cover all of the subjects that we (I) want to. Music and Art are just a few of the life enriching things that just didn't make the cut this year.
And as much as I might want to, I don't have to be present for every subject. And now that my eldest is getting to the point where she can read quite well independently, sometimes I can pass the teaching roll to her, and I just know she'll love it.
So this is what I'm going to try, no more days off from school. But on those days where I need to play catch up, we will not have any of the subjects we normally put a priority on. No math, no english, no history or science. That will be the day for painting, for piano plinking, for play doh and other crafts that don't require my help or instruction. I also would love to have my big girl read about art and music history and generally to get her hands dirty with the arts.
Any other ideas? How do you deal with the chaos of school withdraw? Be specific! I'd love your recommendations :)
Courtney is an overly scheduled, overly stressed, overly sleep deprived and overly blessed homeschooling mom. She has been married to the greatest (and best looking) man for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it (almost). Her husband recently joined the Air Force and so far, she is thoroughly enjoying the military life. She has two girls, ages seven and five, and two boys ages 3 years and four weeks. She is in her first year of homeschooling and has decided there is no way she is going back. Courtney knows it is selfish of her, but she feels that her children are entirely too much fun for someone else to enjoy their company all day long while she can't. Courtney apologizes if this post is long winded and rambling. She tends to feel very passionately about things and has a hard time ever shutting up. You can find more of her and her musings over at My Ordinary, Every Day, Happily Ever After.