Well I could of wrote this post myself. Except I don't care if my kids sleep in. I pray they sleep in. My husband is gone 80 hours a week and I am completely on my own. I never sent my kids to public school and keep them home for the same reasons as the original poster.
I really struggle with getting them to do school. All they want to do is play. They are 8 and 5 so the difference in age doesn't allow me teach them at the same time. The 5 year old needs constant attention and direction. Plus I have a crazy 3 year old who constantly interrupts. Plus I'm pregnant.
If I do school everything gets neglected. Laundry, house work, errands, etc. I'm only one person. Essentially I'm a single parent since my husband gets up leaves for work and doesn't get home until 11pm SIX days a week. I've been drowning in work and stress for years. I don't want to send my kids to public school but I don't want them never learning either. I've tried lots of stuff over the years and I'm still struggling.
Awwww, I hear you. My husband has stints where he does long days, and also where he is working away and I know how hard it is. I think more than anything, you are not alone, this is a fairly common situation. But also, what you face is what we all face to some extent, yes, but its so much harder when you have multiple kids, when you have to get most things done without backup. The simple fact of having to take the kids most places. I know that feeling of drowning and not knowing where to start.
You know what I'd think about doing? Try to get yourself some space, an hour or two and sit and think what your priorities are. What is the minimum you feel needs doing by the end of the year? What do they need to have learnt? I always focus on skills, not knowledge, so in your situation I guess I might say, " by date x the 8 year old needs to have learnt to write semi-legibly, finished boox x of math and to have practiced for half an hour a day at least 5 days a week on the french horn.". Concrete, realistic goals. Talk to your kids as much as possible, I'd say the ideas would be for them to set the goals.
Or another way to do it, the approach I kind of went for a little more, would be to look at ways to help your oldest gain the skills for independence. Life skills like cooking and laundry. But also, self-learning/self teaching skills. My kids have always had really the final say in what they learn, their learning decisions are collaborative but for my 9 year old now, I am far more hands off, I guide him more than anything and help him set long term goals and short term incentives for himself. Thus, hes highly motivated. Time invested in that would pay off, I suspect.
I know how crazy a house with 3 little kids can feel (I have pretty much the same ages as your kids, we're just a year on). I think the big thing I want to say is don't underestimate the job you are doing. This is hard work. Kids grow though. Honestly, nowadays, with a 5, 7 and 9 year old, life is pretty easy.
The point I was trying to make is that you can read a book about bears, for example, to all the children. Art projects can be done at the same time. Look for ways to lighten the school load. It's got to be tough with multiple children, but I know a family of seven who manages. As they get older, there is more help with schooling and housework from the older children. In the meantime, with a baby on the way, you should, I think, simplify. Give the older two baskets for their clean clothes, and let them fold their own clothes, or wear them from the basket, until the baby is older, at least. I'm sure other moms have lots of ideas. Post for housework help in other forums, if you want more suggestions. When the baby arrives, though, relax the education standards (or eliminate them). They are still young, and will be able to catch up when you are able to give them more attention. If you can, hire a mother's helper to play with the current youngest. That will free you of some stress. Work on what's stressing you the most, first.
We're here for you, as much as we can be. I wish you well!
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