Thursday, August 31, 2017

the hardest part

There are a lot of hard parts about homeschooling: the burden of everybody's education falling on you, the never ending nature of it, teaching a child to read (nails on a chalkboard, people), kids fighting you about doing their school, etc... However the hardest part in my opinion is none of those things. The hardest part doesn't include books, or teaching or anything school related. The hardest part for me is:



I have read so many great posts by great moms about how to handle the toddler/baby constituent during school time and I have come to one conclusion: there is nothing you can do to make it easier. I have gotten a lot of tips from older moms: fun activities for toddlers-- they're fun for about 5 minutes for my toddler; put them at the sink have let them play in the water-- cue a heart attack for me; tell them they just have to play by themselves-- let the shrieking begin; give them lots of attention at the outset so they're "filled" during school time-- they always want more; . They can smell when they aren't going to get all my attention during school the same way they can smell it at the witching hour when my attention is divided while I try to make a meal to feed the family and they will. Not. Have. It.




 The best tip I have gotten is having the older kids take turns playing with the youngest ones while I do school with one or 2 kids-- that has been mildly successful, but my older kids have about a 10 minute threshold for being helpful with the toddler and baby until they start yelling about how hard it is and how bored they are. Your kids are more saintly than mine, I know. I am only 3-ish years into this homeschooling gig, and maybe when the older kids get older it will get easier, but so far it's just hard.




Plus there is the fact that it is a 2 fold issue: 1) finding ways to entertain the little ones while you do school so that your home is not trashed by the end, toilet water is in the toilet and no 1-year-olds have choked on lacing beads, but the harder one is 2) the guilt and sadness I feel at the end of the day over whether I missed out on good quality time with the baby and toddler. Babies and toddlers do not keep and when the main spurts of my time spent with them have been the 5 minutes prior to tossing them into their cribs for naps, it makes me feel sad and a little worried.




But maybe that second one isn't primarily a homeschooling mom problem but a mom problem in general. I am sure that even if I sent my kids to school I would get to the end of the day and see all the things I didn't do with the small ones that I could have. I am prone to beating myself up at the end of the day and I give in easily to mom guilt and this area is fertile ground for planting seeds of mental discouragement and guilt. The fact is that at the end of the day there isn't enough of me to go around and also I am a selfish person who has things I want to do for myself and there is always someone who gets the shaft. But I need to go easier on myself, no one is being really neglected, they are all loved and cared for and fed, I am doing the best I can and they are getting a lot of time with me.

For now I am just excited that I have a few more days of summer (thank you flooded school room!) and a giant room-length baby gate to keep Fred from ripping all the papers away from the girls' and Joe from flipping their desks over for fun. And wine at the end of the day.


12 comments :

  1. You're three years into homeschooling and I'm only three weeks, but I was surprised how relieved I felt taking the two year old to storytime yesterday. Finally! An enriching activity just for her! But I know that's a luxury I won't be able to afford if we progress, as our one-kid preschool operation takes maaaaaybe 45 minutes...

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  2. Thomas. The. Train.

    And I know it's bowing to everything that is wrong with the world when plopping toddlers in front of screens is your go-to for productivity time but I still give myself this treat every now and again and it is heaven. (Maybe it doesn't work if you go there all the time? I try to limit to once every couple of weeks and I love it so much. Besides, He needs his special time with the t.v. because when the big kids are involved it is never something he wants to watch. 4th kid problems.)

    And I hear you on the guilt thing. I am keeping my 4 year old out of Catechesis of the Good Shepard (what!) because the mere driving back and forth and back and forth again has been KILLER on our home school time, no we can't do school work in a park somewhere, much as we have tried. I need to cut something out and it was that or Mass with Daddy on Fridays. sigh. The guilt and sorrow is so so real and at the end of the day I just tell myself. Okay. That's a con to our homeschooling situation. It isn't the end of the world to admit that there is a con to it. There is plenty of good as well.

    Cheers to a first week down.

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    Replies
    1. Last was little Einstein's all the time for the first couple months- I'm all about it except that I now have the 1 year old who couldn't care less about videos 😩😩😩 AND he dropped that glorious morning nap this summer so I'm just like... !?!?! Trying to breeeeeeath.

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    2. Yeah. My baby is 19 months and loves watching the tv. (hangs head in shame)

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  3. I'm so much with you on this, and my youngest is 3. It's hard. I thought this year, "oh, I'll do Before Five in a Row with him, and that can be his special thing!" We just finished our third week of school and I have read one of the books to him twice (I think). I'm trying to tell myself that the benefits of having older siblings around all day outweigh the shortage of one-on-one time he gets with me. And then I remember that my twins never got one-on-one anything, so only my oldest ever had that benefit. He's delightful, but also by far the most challenging of the crew. So maybe I'll just keep doing my best and telling myself that God will take care of the inevitable gaps?

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  4. I'm sure you've had a million suggestions, but I'll throw what I did at you just for fun! I started homeschooling in 2006 when my older two were 5th and 2nd grade, and my younger two were 3 1/2 and 21 mos. respectively. I know my oldest is older than your oldest, but my 2nd is about the right age. I would divide the day up into - independent work, and dependent work (work that needed me) and I my goal was always to push for more and more independence (i.e. look at your assignment list for the day, work independently as much as possible) with the goal of total independence (except for questions) as they got older. I saved subjects that needed me for nap time for the smaller two. I also had "school" stuff for the younger ones that they did at the table. I found, at least with mine, that they just wanted to be included. We also moved school into the kitchen, which opens into the back yard, so they could go out and play and I could still see them. We also took lots of breaks - school for 30 mins, break, school for 30 mins, break, so I could have some focused time on the littles. It's no picnic, but it's doable and every year gets easier!

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  5. Oh I have a whole basket of books to read to mine to fill them up (mostly unread) and bins of sensory activities to keep them busy and developing appropriately (water beads! Was I insane?). I agree it's just hard. I tell myself that the solid read aloud and snuggle time I get in before naps is enough....hopefully 😬

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  6. I could have written this! Exactly how I feel about homeschooling. Its juggling the different ages that is killing me. I just end up getting so mad at the boys all day and then I feel so bad at the end of the day that I did nothing just for them! So I don't know what the solution is... you just need to try harder to be teacher to the big kids and best fun mom to the little kids... it's totally possible I'm sure 🙄

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  7. Yes, totally hear you on this! Not sure if it's everyone's experience, but I think little boys are just SO hard at this age. When Sophie was little and we were homeschooling, I'd give her some paper to color and she'd sit happily at the table with us, no problem. If I try to do this now with Thomas? HAH. He's throwing watercolors on the floor, having a fit because he can't sit in a specific chair...always something. I'm hoping this phase passes quickly!

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  8. I don't homeschool, my oldest is in kindergarten this year and I have a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old at home. But something I try to remember is that all kids are different. I know you know that, but it can be so fruatrating. I know moms whose kids can sit at a table for hours and color or entertain themselves and my kids can't. My daughter will color or paint or do a set up activity for approx. 3 minutes before she finds some unfortunate way to use the crayons or materials that requires massive cleanup. It's infuriating at times. And I'm not even trying to homeschool while those shenanigans are going on. All I can hope is that their capacities for those kinds of activities will increase with age.

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  9. I totally get you! My youngest is turning 2 this month and teaching my child to read!!!! O my heavens, I am going to pull my hair out haha. We have been using the book you have suggested, so we shall see, I am praying my way through:)

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  10. Ana you're fourth born is a boy. I have four boys and they are busy busy busy. They slow down to eat and play legos. I have noticed that especially in the 3 and 4 age range they need my attention, they want help with their projects and they really need consistent discipline. They need explanations and lots of hugs. Boys are aggressive and passionate and they need their mom (and dad of course) to help them channel that passion. I guess what I'm saying is that if I were you, I would try to see the younger boys as half of the homeschooling job. They can split time with the girls and you can expect that of them, but in my experience if I don't give my boys enough of my patience and presence they act so much worse! Your doing great! I just wanted to say that when I give my boys my affection and then they are easier to deal with. I just see such a difference between boys and girls, I thought it was worth mentioning.

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