I love to post about the fun things we do, the trips to New York City, the extended playdates, and the fantastic learning opportunities that we get to do as homeschoolers. Yet, there is the other side of homeschooling that does not get posted as often.....the mundane, the day to day stuff, the household chores, the sibling issues. Committing to homeschool is not just taking on the job of being your child’s educator. It is carving out time for education, in whatever style you choose, amidst the other zillion things that are necessary to running a household. While the homeschooling is not a concern for me, managing the other parts of my life certainly are.
This week we missed a doctor appointment. A big one - a physical. I knew about it, it was on the master calendar, the one that hangs on my fridge and effectively runs our lives. I knew it had to be rescheduled, but in the midst of my zillion other things, it slipped my mind, forgotten until my phone calendar rang to remind me of the appointment. The thing was, I was two hours away in New York City. Oops! Thus the stereotype of homeschoolers was perpetuated, that we are careless with other’s time, lackadaisical in our approach to life. As if! Sometimes I just have too many things to juggle like piano lessons, flute lessons, cooking class, brownies, girls scouts, basketball, playdates, oh and lesson planning.
I have to get up early, or stay up late to get quiet time alone. This time of year, Staples love to run their commercial of parents cheerfully dancing down aisles to the holiday carol “the most wonderful time of the year”. I hate this commercial. I have said many times, I never enjoyed September. I never looked forward to experiencing withdrawal from my children. Now I don’t have to. The challenge is that I have to work very hard to carve time for myself, away from my children, into my day. Now that they are older, I have purchased walkie-talkies and they are allowed to explore parts of our neighborhood without me as a chaperone. This buys me some peace and quiet. When I am not being paged by the walkie-talkie every five minutes!
My laundry sure can pile up quickly now that three people are living in this house 24/7 running amok. I cannot possibly keep up with it and frankly, I have stopped trying. We wear what is clean. I am actively trying to Goodwill many of the clothes we do not wear on a regular basis to make my life easier. This year we did not get “back to school” clothes. This year my children got hiking boots, and utility knives!
My biggest challenge right now is handling the squabbles. They are happening often as the girls are transitioning to being homeschooled together. We have had all summer to de-school, but now that the reality of starting in just a few days has sunk in, I think they are feeling each other out for where boundaries should be drawn, who is willing to give and who is not. I have thrown up the white flag. I have been a mediator, a peace maker and a reconnaissance agent.
I choose not to be their go-between. I do not want to be put in the middle of their arguments, when I never hear the complete story, only to be accused of loving one child more than the other when something is perceived as unfair. So I retreat to my learning lounge, hop on the computer and tune them out. It is my escape until the battle is done. I reminded my girls that I have taught them conflict resolution. I have taught them to use their words. I cannot make them use these skills and if they choose to battle it out, they know where we keep the band aids. I hope it does not come to this. Over all, by pledging to be like Switzerland, I am no longer getting upset with them, and the arguments seem to be lessening.
So when people learn that I am homeschooling both my girls now and they respond with the customary, “oh, I could NEVER do THAT!” I don’t say anything anymore. No, maybe you could not, or would not choose to. When you are used to the schedule of public school, making this choice can feel like an additional self-sacrifice. I am certainly no saint. I love my children more than life itself but there are times I must walk away from them and give myself a time out. But do I miss the “alone time” I had when the girls were in school? Honestly... not really.
I do miss having time to have a cup of coffee with a neighbor, run errands quickly, or sit and read a book uninterrupted, but I can still do these things with proper planning. Many of my friends have no comparison to what life was like with six hours to yourself all day. I vividly remember watching the clock, counting down the hours until my children would come home to me. Within minutes of being home, the squabbles would start, the house would be a wreck, their clothes would be stripped off and in the dirty pile and we would probably forget an appointment.
I guess not all that much has changed!