I need some help! Over the past few years, I've learned more and more about various topics such as eco-friendly living, nourishing foods, attachment parenting, vaccines, and unschooling. I tend to jump right in with both feet and then get disappointed in myself for not 'doing it all right' (with two small children at home lol). So, things happened and my oldest is now in kindergarten. I have gotten two calls from his teacher in the past two weeks (he just started about a month ago due to his anxiety/fear of going, we let him wait until he thought he was ready). The problem is - he LOVES going to school. He loves playing with the other kids, mostly. My in-laws are ALL retired teachers, superintendents, etc, and everyone, including them, has 'pushed' us to send our kids to public school (mostly because of life challenges of astronomical proportions in the past 1.5 years and they thought I could use a 'break', and also their intense belief in the public school system).
Anywho, my son's teacher has labeled his VERY normal 5 year old behavior as 'misbehavior'. It's just little things like him not wanting to sit down for 40 minutes to do worksheets, and blurting out answers, and other small things that his teacher completely mistakes for 'bad/mean behavior' when my boy doesn't have a mean streak in his body (except for with his little brother, but that's to be expected lol).
So, I want him OUT of there. I knew when he went in that it wasn't best for him, but we have been under so much pressure and don't have family nearby to help - that is, TRUSTworthy family - so we needed somewhere for our kids to go. Our youngest is in preschool right now. In short, we have had 5 miscarriages, a job loss which is causing serious financial issues, me becoming disabled, and my husband is now having serious medical issues. I know, I know - they'd be better off at home learning to deal with the issues of life, but this is why I'm posting.
So, as much as I want to pull my son out of school right NOW, my husband wants to wait a little while. I told him the longest I'll give it is until Thanksgiving break, less than a month away. I don't want my son thinking he's a 'bad' boy, although he says his teacher is okay and he likes school.
How can we do this financially? Let me give you a breakdown of our finances:
Hubby makes $10/hour now after his job loss. I am disabled and waiting for disability payments to start, which may take a couple years, but will be a 'lump sum' from the date I became disabled.
Mortgage: $700 (includes taxes and insurance)
Propane (hot water): $250 every 3 months
Water: $100ish every 3 months
Electric: usually $70-80/month
Gas: hubby car pools to work and I don't go too far, but still $400/month
Phones: $140 (contract ends in January and we'll be switching to the $45 unlimited everything plan each)
Food: $700 (nourishing foods when possible, eating out less, and we get $430 in food stamps, so minus that)
This, of course, doesn't include car maintenance (2 cars), house repairs, heat (which we couldn't afford this year, MIL sent money), etc. We bought the house last May 2011 and DH lost his job in September 2011, income got cut in half.
Oh, and I was in school, but am now unable to work, so even if I finish my degree, we are stuck with $800/month student loan payments, half of which are private and I can't defer.
HELP!! What can I do? Babysitting not an option emotionally for me right now after the 5th miscarriage - really threw me for a loop.
Other ideas as to how we can manage financially and unschool?
I'm so sorry about your miscarriages <hug>. I had 4, myself...
I think the main financial difficulty with homeschooling is the loss of a second income. If your disability means you are unable to earn money anyway, and if your disability isn't so severe that you can't take care of your children and need school for childcare, then whether they are home or not doesn't effect your finances.
I honestly think it is cheaper to homeschool than to send my ds to public school. He doesn't need as many clothes (no one will notice if he wears the same few things over and over), there are no fund raisers I feel obligated to participate in, there are no lists of supplies, he doesn't have to have sneakers for gym class by a deadline (meaning I have time to search sales and thrift stores), etc.
We struggle with keeping within a monthly food budget at $540 for two adults and a tween, but we've been doing it... We get points for using our grocery card which gives us a discount on one gas fill up every couple of months. If I fill up our minivan tank and all our red 2 gallon gas containers with my discounted fill up, I can sometimes squeak by until the next one. I stay local and do all my errands in the same direction at the same time to minimize fuel use.
I'd head over to the finances and frugality forum to get more advice about lowering your expenses.
I second 4evermom's comment about clothes and shoes. Our kids get a few changes and that is it. A lot of hand me downs too and they don't care. Because they don't go to school, there isn't the pressure to keep up. I actually didn't realize how serious of an issue changing daily is until I had my son participate in playgroup over the summer. A kid walked up to him and asked why he was wearing the same thing he wore the previous day. My son replied "because it is still clean" and shrugged it off but I was struck nonetheless. None of the kids wore the same thing twice!
I am sorry to hear about your miscarriages too.
I'm sorry to hear you're having a tough time and you definitely deserve time and acceptance of your grieving process.
I don't know where you live but if your disability is not too debilitating there may be some way you can use some of your experiences/skills to either make some money or barter/trade for things you need or take in/mentor an older teen or young adult who may be homeschooling or independent and that person could help you, while you help them learn some things that could be beneficial to their education or career.
If you have gardening skills you could get someone to come volunteer at your house and write out or facilitate a program for them in exchange for, much of the food, money or help with other things, and you give them a great reference after a certain time period. Or someone who can come over and record videos of you talking about something you're very experienced with and they could use that as a part of their portfolio or education or career(they could sell it) and give you some of the returns or pay you for your time or barter with you for something.
Of if you have lots of things you can sell you can get someone to come collect those things from you to put on craigslist or ebay.
The great thing about all of these is that your son can learn from it all. You could probably come up with more appropriate ideas, but I'm sure there's a way to get your family back on it's feet.
I have also found a few income sources like this and I'm happy to point you in some specific directions. If you think you can send out emails, talk to people and possibly mentor a few teens/young adults(your helpers), I have something you might be interested in that would significantly decrease your food costs and could make you a good income and some really good connections. As well as provide a great foundation for homeschooling. Feel free to private message me if you're interested.
My heart goes out to you.Miscarriages are hard.I too, was unschooling,had a traumatic loss, put my kids in the neighborhood school as I thought that this was an appropriate time to accept that community resource-withdrew them 5 days later-it was SO much MORE work! We just toughed it out, and that was/is life. I noticed that your finances are spectacularly similar to ours, with the exception of the food allowance.We have 8 members in our family and use a fraction of the amount you listed.About $300 when we're lucky.I know-I KNOW how important food is when we are stressed.Particularly when we feel it is our best if not only resource to improve our lives.I completely understand that.That said, there are many ways to cut back on food expenses that actually require a healthier diet.At this point, it would be nice to know what your disability is-because some money saving healthier eating tips do require more "elbow grease" and time.One-serving size.Really, a lot of us (myself included whenever possible :) eat too much.This can be widdled down many ways-my fave is to feed the eyes as much as the stomach by using smaller plates, best dishes as much as possible-the plates and beautiful setting can create some emotional feeding rather than the food.Let's admit-we like our emotions fed. :)Two- baking and cooking from scratch-and I mean scratch.Amazing and lovely meals can be made and be very nourishing from very few ingredients(which are very inexpensive, particularly in bulk)-cookbooks or recipe's from the 30's and 40's and thereabouts are great for this.Three- preserving.Storing, preserving-freezing, canning/bottling, etc...is very satisfying and creates a great sense of security, just be mindful of your resources and add a little at a time.Four-grow your own food.I know Maine has a short growing season, but some garden plants such as tomato, zuccinni, produce a lot and can be fun house plants or terrariums.Potato and carrots can be cold grown year round in any size bin.And you have access to seeds and cuttings through your food benefits.So, by being mindful and industrious, you have many things-curriculum, security,industry, some money,and a work to do to help filter your troubled heart.I know it is hard work.Sometimes, in some ways hard work is the best medicine.