Monday, April 18, 2011

A Day in the Life-Part 2

In Part 1, I told you about a very good day. Now I'm going to show you what a very bad homeschooling day looks like at my house. I truly love homeschooling, but it asks a lot of you, as a parent.  Just like with so many things, there are doubts and anxiety.  But as I work through difficult days, both the children and I are learning patience, kindness, gentleness.....and some of us (right here!) really need it.

A Very Bad Day

Wake up late (How can I teach the children self-discipline if I don't practice it myself?!), still exhausted. Baby has had yet another bad night. Hubs is frantically frying eggs for the children and trying to empty the dishwasher with "help" from the 2 year old as I stumble downstairs. He is annoyed and rushing to get out the door for work, late. House is a total disaster; we didn't do our chores last night. I have to remind the kids three times to clear their plates; surely it is just easier to do it myself.

By the time the kitchen is clean-ish and we all are ready (no shower for me), it is 10:30. Way behind on laundry-Olivia (5) has to borrow Amelia's (3) shirt. The baby is colic-y/teething/not napping anymore as we start school. Strap him to my chest and bounce him as I teach. The 2 year old is needy and demanding attention, distracting the big girls from their work. Feel guilty that 5 year old has to practice reading in such a loud environment. Remind myself that classrooms of twenty kids can be pretty loud too.

Olivia (5) can't remember something we have been working on for weeks. 3 year old apparently doesn't recognize the alphabet anymore.

Charlotte (2) is climbing all over me during the math lesson. Baby still strapped to chest. Amelia (3) is not working. Maybe if she were at real preschool, a real teacher could convince her to do some edifying activity? As it is, she is quiet, so I ignore the fact that she isn't doing anything.

Am at the very beginning/very end of pregnancy and/or potty-training. Have to get up twice during school to throw up/pee/take someone potty/clean up a puddle.

I feel frustrated with the noise level and lack of focus, so end school. Decide to skip history CD today, send the kids to playroom for some quiet time while I make lunch.  Feel guilty for sending the kids away from me.  Shouldn't I want to be with them all the time?  Isn't that the whole point of homeschooling?!

Kids can't sit still and be quiet during read-aloud time.  Someone interrupts every three seconds. While we read, Charlotte is systematically pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets, despite the child-locks. Olivia is in tears because it is so chaotic and hard to hear the story. Surely she would be getting a better education at school, without all these little ones running around. How can I expect her to love reading like this? Am barely hanging on until naptime.

Naptime, finally: big girls are incredibly loud; 2 year old gets woken up, screaming; cranky all the rest of the day. Two of the three girls say their tummies hurt; put out a puke bowl, just in case.

Get curriculum catalog in the mail. Realize that the prices for next year's curriculum have jumped again. Put it out of my mind. We'll make it work somehow. Vacations are overrated anyway.

Three big kids fighting all afternoon. Clearly being together all the time is not good for strong sibling relationships like all the homeschool books claim. School bus rumbles by: I think wistful thoughts about friend who sends her kids to school on that bus, hence gaining 9+ hours of silence to herself. And a clean house.

Have to ask kids repeatedly to pick up house. Despair of the character issues I see in the kids that need attention, but I am too exhausted to address them now.

Realize that the same character issues you see in the kids are yours too.  Life would have been a lot smoother if I had noticed and dealt with my own character inadequacies before I had children.

5pm: Haven't even considered dinner. Out of milk, bread, frozen pizza. Guess we'll have spaghetti. Again. Out of noodles. Curse in front of the kids. Drag all four cranky kids to the store at the worst time of day, the after-work, pre-dinner rush. I look like hell. Needless to say, we see everyone we know.

Hubs is planting/picking. Not coming home for dinner tonight. Or tomorrow. Or this weekend. All I keep thinking is that there needs to be more of me to go around.

Feel guilty that Seth will be coming home to a meal with no protein or vegetables after 16 hours in the field. Throw some hamburger on his spaghetti.

5 year old sees how cranky you are and makes you a card saying that you are the "best Mama ever". Feel guilty (again) that your exhaustion is apparent to your children. Mrs. Duggar never looks this tired. How can I cultivate a cheerful heart in my children if I don't have one myself?

Everyone to bed. Olivia asks to pray for Daddy in the field. Put the baby and the 2 year old to sleep, then snuggle with the big girls in my bed and read Little House in the Big Woods until they both fall asleep. Am grateful to have gotten a few quiet moments alone with the big kids. Daddy will move them when he gets home at midnight.

I get up to leave him a little love note about dinner and a stack of kids' pictures and schoolwork to look at as he eats.

Go to bed, pray hard for strength and grace for tomorrow. Wonder if you are doing the right thing. Wonder if there is enough of you to go around. Wonder if there is enough grace to cover all your faults and mistakes.

.........So there you have it. A very good day in Part 1, and a very bad day above. Most of our days are really good. Some are in between. Thankfully, only a couple have been this bad.

I hope I am being refined through difficult days....that my rough edges are being worn away, so that I can be the mother that I would like to be.  Basically, as I pray that God will teach me patience, I hear "What do you think I'm doing right now?"

Questions?  Interested in more specific homeschooling info?  Leave it in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.


  1. This post is awesome! And such an encouragement to me! Makes me feel normal!!! Thanks. : )

  2. My husband and I are considering homeschooling our 2.5 yr old and 6 yr old. You know how it is when your trying to "decide" what is right for your family... emotional. I was so touched by both part 1 and part 2... cried through both. You write beautifully and thank you for encouraging me through both the good and the not so good. Your doing great! We can hear your heart!

  3. @5Bazocs

    Thank you so much! I wish you all the luck deciding what is right for your family! But I can just say...homeschooling is a lot less scary AFTER you start!

  4. I loved both parts but can't help but think that just maybe your "bad days" will turn out to really be your "best days". You and Seth are building a bond of love with your children that will never be broken despite days like the ones you describe in part 2. The children will look back on these days and remember them with great fondness and wonder why life isn't like it was when mama raised us. Will keep you, Seth and the kids in pray.

    BTW, cried through part 2 twice (once as I read it by myself and the second time as I read it to Myrna)

  5. Thanks for sharing, that was fun to read! I have yet to 'begin' homeschooling my 3 y.o. with a 3 month old in tow :)

  6. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenFebruary 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Oh, I'm never bored, I can tell you that!

  7. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenFebruary 3, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    You will do awesome!  It is really, really nice to start before they have ever been to school.