I have been homeschooling for almost 2 years. My kids are 10, 6, 4. I am ready to give up. I don't want to quit, but I think that is from me being stubborn and not wanting to feel like a failure.
I want to homeschool. My kids tell me that they want to be homeschooled. The problem is that I am feeling overwhelmed and they don't listen. It isn't about school, but they are not helping out around the house. They were supposed to do laundry before we had co-op today. They were playing instead. It happens quite frequently and it is not getting better. I would like to think that I can leave them unattended while I take a shower but it doesn't work.
I don't really see it as a homeschool problem, but as a parenting problem. It is affecting my family negatively. My husband is at the point that he doesn't care if we homeschool. He wants peace in our family and there is none.
I am in tears. I have no idea what to do.
As you said this is a parenting problem, not about homeschooling. You could stop homeschooling but you will still have to deal with chores, homework, and school stuff. If you want to homeschool, I would stick it out.
You might want to also post in the parenting area to get some other ideas for motivating your children to do chores and stuff.
If they are supposed to do something and they don't do it are there consequences? I would try to have consistent consequences like missing activities if chores are not done.
Are your expectations age/developmentally appropriate? Can you break the task down into smaller steps for them?
Work together with them to get things done. You don't get a break but things get done and they learn.
You could try positive motivational tools like sticker charts or other rewards if they do chores or behave while you shower.
You could schedule a clean up time each day and make it a game with a timer or music.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
I think your expectations may be too high for those ages (at least for the 4 and 6 year old), or there is more going on than is in your post.
Can you break things down into smaller pieces and see if you can figure out where the problems are? Then maybe you can make a plan to deal with the big pieces.
For example, I think you might be able to take a shower while they are unattended, if the 10 year old is fairly responsible, but I don't think you can expect to have them actually do work while you are taking a shower. The 10 year old might be able to do that, but with the younger ones present, I don't think even a 10 year old could stay focused on what needs to be happening without an adult engaged.
Many homeschooling families send their children to preschool. Do you think it would help if the 4 year old went to preschool, while you worked with the 6 and 10 year old and got a routine established?
I agree that some of your expectations may be too high. I think the 10 yo should certainly be capable of laundry however I wouldn't expect that from a 4 and 6 yo. I do think a 4 and 6 yo can do chores but they need a lot more supervision and direction and definitely stick to small jobs (i.e.- feeding the dog, clearing the table, ect.). Unfortunately, 4 and 6 are just an age where a lot of kids just can't work independently without some supervision and direction nor should they be expected too.
I think the PPs suggestion of consequences is definitely something to think about it, but you have to be super consistent or it doesn't really stick (trust me, I am terrible with consistency!)
I do think you should be able to shower with them unsupervised for at least a short time. Why do you feel you can't? What happens during that 15-20 minutes? Destruction? Screaming? I think this is another situation where very clear consequences need to be set, but you may need to elaborate a little onto what exactly is preventing you from showering.
Can you think of why they might be misbehaving and unmotivated? Is there anything else going on at home that might be triggering it? I know when I am stressed my kids are too so I have to be careful. I am not trying to imply anything, I am just brainstorming anything that might help you get to the root of the problem.
I agree that going to school is work too. You have to deal with transportation, homework, activities, projects ect. It is still pretty involved so although it still might be an option it may not exactly solve the issue.
If you feel like faulty inter-family dynamics are pushing you towards an educational approach none of you wants, then it's time for some collaborative problem-solving. I'm a huge fan of family meetings. However, if you go into a family meeting for the first time at a crisis point like this, the kids easily feel attacked and defensive. I think you'll have to be very careful. I would hold a family meeting in a way that will make it happy and fun, to bring out the best and most charitable emotions in all of you: serve some special beverages and snacks and maybe light a candle, and make an agenda that has a heavy (if somewhat contrived) focus on appreciation and other positives. Something like:
1. Why our family is awesome.
2. What we love about homeschooling.
3. One thing that is frustrating mommy.
4. Other business: any concerns or frustrations that other people have
5. Exciting new ideas for homeschooling that we want to try out some day.
When it comes to number three, use a pleasant voice, avoiding blaming statements, but be honest about how it sometimes makes you feel. Choose one discrete issue that you can focus on at that first meeting. "I know it might seem a bit weird to you, but to me having a tidy living room is really important to my peace of mind. And when I spend time and energy cleaning up, and then I go to have a shower or to make lunch and I come back and the living room has turned into a disaster zone, I get frustrated and angry. Sometimes I feel like I'm ready to send you to school, if only so that I can keep the living room clean. In my heart I know that wouldn't be solving the problem, it would just be pushing it away for part of the day, and I know that we're smart enough that we can probably solve this if we put our heads together. So, has anyone got any suggestions for how to keep mom from freaking out over living room messes?"
Then you can discuss the problem, brainstorm ideas and agree on one or two or three that you can all try for a week. And then plan to reassess at your next meeting. If they have trouble getting started on problem-solving, you could offer some silly ideas for fun ("We could hire a giant machine to suck all the mess out every day at 5 pm") and some generous ones ("Maybe kids just aren't able to do this kind of work on their own; maybe this is something we should do together as a team every day").
Take notes. Hear everyone out, even those with suggestions you think are unrealistic. Be willing to experiment with suggestions you're skeptical about: it's only for a week, and then you'll reassess.
Finish the agenda, then reiterate. "Okay, so here's the plan. We'll do the team-tidy blitz in the living room twice a day for five minutes using the timer, and we'll keep the Lego play in Josh's bedroom. And if you don't help with both team-tidies there's no computer or TV time until the next day. And we'll try this for a week and have another meeting next Saturday to decided if it's working or not. Is that what we agreed on?"
The magic is that you really hear each other in an atmosphere of mutual enjoyment, and you create a plan together. You end up feeling like you're all on the same side after all. You want a happy family that functions as a family should: helping each other and taking each other's feelings into account. What's not to love about that?
Good luck! I've been there, deeply frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. My kids were about 9, 6, 4 and 1 at the time, so very similar to the ages of your kids. Family meetings helped us solve our "how to be a family" issues. Relationships first: that was my mantra for the better part of a year. It took quite a while before I felt like we had totally found our groove, but I knew within a couple of weeks that we were definitely on the right track.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
I do think its interesting, and I mean that genuinely, that you consider this a parenting problem and yet posted in homeschooling. In no way is that a criticism, please understand, its just it suggests to me that you see the not doing chores as related to homeschooling. Is this fair? If so, how? Do you feel, for example, that because your kids have a privilege of homeschooling they should earn it a little with chores (being provocative here), or that if they are at home making the mess they need to clean it up? Or that the mess is only there because they are homeschooled? Or might it be something more related to you? For example I know for myself that one consequence of homeschooling is that I am just in the house more and so it has more ability to get me down. Another take on this. I think because we are in the house more we often have a sense that it should be super-tidy, forgetting all the other things we, as homeschooling parents, are getting done.
I dunno, I have to be honest and say I'm not sure I'd use consequences. To be honest I've never really found they work to change deep, long term behaviour. I think all your kids are old enough for a serious conversation about this one, about how frustrated you are feeling, about what you need to happen in order to be happy long term with homeschooling. It does sound from your post that there might be a lot of frustration going on and I think this does need sorting out because homeschooling resentfully, or having no peace in your own home sounds miserable not just for you but your whole family.
Long term, I so agree that its really worth investing time in sorting this out, and I'd personally prioritise this over anything else, any book work, playdates, what have you. Homeschooling really should not be a battle. I have to be honest and say that, for me, I think if homeschooling was making my home miserable-and I, me, with all the resources I could muster, (as opposed to the resources that the perfect others who appear in my head at those awful moments might muster) could not do anything about it-then yes I'd consider school, at least short term, if you think that that break from each other could make the difference. Because to me, a happy, loving family is far more important than staying homeschooling, at the end of the day. (do bear in mind that, as others have said, preschool might be a gentler option for your youngest) If you really think you are in that place, in my book no one gets to judge you for making the best call for your family. Good luck with it.
OP. here is my advice for what it is worth. Strip everything to the basics. When I have difficulty managing stuff in the home, I look at the house and see what I could take out. Having less reduces the stuff pile. Less stuff pile, less to clean and easier and less overwhelming for kids to help themselves. We have just enough of everything --- clothes, toys, household stuff. Clothes have to actully get dirty to be washed, not just be worn once. I sort through their desks on regular basis. I have a 4 yr old and a 6 yr old. They clean and help out to the best of their ability. Not perfect but they help. I help myself by streamlining everything to be as efficient/simple as possible.
onlygirls- It can be overwhelming to do the task of homeschooling while keeping the household chores done. It doesn't mean you are failing or have to stop homeschooling if you want to keep homeschooling. Some days you do have to be stubborn to keep doing it. Is it worth it for you to work this out and continue? Why did you want to homeschool 2 years ago? Are those reasons still important?
I gather you posted here because you'd like to continue. If you want to hear how great it is to put your kids in school you'd post somewhere else.
You aren't alone in feeling overwhelmed at times. For many years for dh has worked full time and gone to college. Our house is frequently messier than I would like. I do the bulk of the work around here and do feel overwhelmed at times because it can also be work getting a kid to do a chore even if they should be able to do it. On the other hand, our schedule is very flexible, we have a great deal of control over our own lives and the reasons for homeschooling continue to be much more important than the state of the house. I tell dd when I need time alone and she does her own things for awhile.
It could help to let some things go like outside activities or reduce your possessions. As a family maybe you can decide what the most important things to get done are and how that can happen.
If you are feeling overwhelmed you can also become more relaxed on homeschooling. Maybe take a break from any academics and just exist for a couple of weeks or just cut back to basic reading and math while you work out your problems with the kids.
Some people like chorewars.com, flylady.net or habithacker.com.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
I’ve been mulling this for two days. You are not going to like hearing what I have to contribute. You seem to want to quit homeschooling and are blaming your children and looking to your husband for an excuse. Instead you should be blaming yourself and taking control of your household. You chose this life.
You say your children don’t listen. What have you done to turn them off? Maybe it’s because you treat them like your personal servants and blame them because you haven’t showered? You blame them because they won’t follow your commands to do the housework. Perhaps they have no role model?
Husbands get frustrated. I’ll bet he’d rather see the kids in school and an end to your whining and blaming. It is your job to do the housework just as it is the children’s to learn.
I had 3 boys so I know that “can’t turn your back” thing. What is wrong with your husband that out of each 24 hour day he cannot spend ½ hour watching his own children while you shower?
Back up a little – my mother treated me like her personal servant. She never said ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. She always belittled me while comparing me to others who always did things better, quicker, cheaper or whatever. I promised myself I would never treat anyone like that, especially my own children. I always remember to thank people who do things to help me out. I never ordered my kids to do anything – I ask. If they said ‘no’ I say, ‘maybe later’. (Odd how things would get done at some point without a reminder.) I try to remember to tell them how much I appreciate them and thank them when I see something done. I still offer to help them. My youngest son still at home will ASK with that basket of laundry needs to go upstairs. He does his own.
When they were teens I taught my boys to cook and run their own laundry. My reason had nothing to with waiting on me. I did not want them to marry the first girl that came along because they were hungry and had no clean underwear. I wanted them to have skills to take care of themselves. They have grown up to be self-reliant, responsible men.
Getting back to that laundry – your children are too young to be fussing with chemicals and machines. Period. I’m a full grown old lady and I have to stand on my tippy toes to reach the bottom of the washing machine. I cannot imagine a child being able to safely do the same. Children should not be using bleach or even detergent. It’s for adults.
You don’t need to quit homeschooling, just recognize you are not the center of your family. They are not there to wait on you. You are responsible for your home. Your husband is responsible to provide for you and your children. He works hard – respect that and make a home for him to come home to. Your children are dependent on you, not the other way around. Their ‘chore’ is to learn and become educated, self-respecting, responsible adults. Remember they learn by example.
After 38 years of marriage with 3 grown homeschooled sons I think I have earned the right to say: Quit bawling, put on your big girl panties and go do the laundry. You're making a mountain out of a pile of dirty clothes.
I think I've read this whole post at least seven times. I hope it doesn't get deleted or edited. I found it personally inspiring and empowering.
My kids are older and in order for this to happen first thing before our co-op I would have to be really focused in order to lead the way. My 10yo can complete a task but if she had younger siblings it would probably be too hard, and at 6yo and 4yo they are so little.
When I am bad at focusing our energy for our group, it's usually going to stay fragmented and that's my responsibility.
My kids know not to even ask for computer or TV without having done their chore for the day, but we do a chore in the afternoon usually right before a snack. They are pretty used to it. Getting used to it gets better only when I stick with voicing my requests and being present enough to help them focus very consistently.
I am also overwhelmed, so I feel you. I want others to make it easier instead of harder. I sometimes feel I have too much on my plate and homeschooling adds to it but we aren't thinking about quitting. My kids want to homeschool too and they do make the effort to do their part because I have made a fuss several times that I won't and can't force everything because it's exhausting and just not fair. But again they are old enough to understand reasoning and make solid connections with their actions. Little ones don't do that so much. We are working on kinds of cooperation we couldn't do before.
I want to reign in the chaos, but I try to be tolerant of some of it instead of getting so tense. Can you maybe work on getting ready together and just do the laundry after co-op? If they love co-op can you choose to miss it if they don't do expected chores? I would stay home as a consequence if it were not critical to others in the group that you be there and it was motivational. Then they'd see that their actions determine what the family can do.
ME&HE... loving our: dd(18) ~~ds(13) dd(13)~~ dd(10)