Please help - I don't know if I can do this. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 01-17-2003, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I am feeling so discouraged. I will start out by saying that I believe homeschooling is the best way for children to learn, I know all of the down sides of public schooling (I don't think it is an evil place, I just want homeschooling for my children.) I don't want my kids to deal with the cliques, the competition, the standardized learning, the bullying, the kind of socialization that happens in schools, the pace, the separation from all know the list. I have AP'ed from the beginning with my 3 little ones (6, 5 and 3 years old) and want to homeschool them with all of my heart and mind.

Here is the problem: I just don't know if I am cut out for it. I am so tired. My mother has Alzheimer's disease and I will be providing more and more support and care to her over the next few years. My husband is a wonderful loving, supportive and involved husband and father - but his job is very demanding emotionally and often time-wise. My kids are great - very bright, creative, sensitive and fun. My oldest thrives on having some structure and a few expectations each day (not a lot, but unschooling doesn't work with him.) I have been pretty open-ended in what we do but he has a phonics program and have used some math workbooks and computer programs. My 3 year old usually interupts any time we try to read or get into a project together - I have to put so much energy into her to find a little space with my older ones that I don't have any creative energy left for them. I have tons of books with great ideas, lots of things I would love to see them try but I just don't have the energy or patience to deal with it. My son had a tantrum today when the word/math puzzle I made for him didn't have a Z in it. Both girls were talking at the same time, ignoring me, wanting me to entertain them and not wanting anything I offered to engage them. I had my own tantrum then and I just want to send them to school. I won't do it at this time of year, but how much good is a burnt out mother as a teacher or mother? A mother who isn't homeschooling well could cause more problems in the end than public school. School has its problems but next fall I could send all three and have quiet time every day, work in my garden, read by the fire, be fresh when they came home, get some exercise......... I know it would create some new problems but I just want what is best for them and right now I don't think I am it.

Please offer me your wisdom and please be gentle. There are no longer any other HS moms at a convenient distance and biweekly get togethers aren't what I need to relieve this feeling that this might not be a good choice for our family. I may not be able to offer the ideal to my family, I just want to do what will be best in the long run.
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#2 of 8 Old 01-17-2003, 03:36 PM
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I would join this elist and then cut and paste your post here-
there are some moms caregiving their parents and hsing on that list that are going through similiar things. my mom is 76 now and has parkinsons, (not really about hsing) - I found with my siblings that it is VIP to make sure there is a group effort when taking care of parents, that no one person needs to shoulder that alone. I'm sorry about your mom, I hope you can find the resources you need. Please post again~
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#3 of 8 Old 01-17-2003, 07:40 PM
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There are wonderful things about school. Even if you have to supplement or compromise, if your children enjoy it and are learning it is not, as you said, all evil.

I am homeschooling one child, my husband freelances so is around a lot, we have no elderly or ill relatives to care for, thank god, and I am still overwhelmed, wonder if I should send her back to school when we move, and miss those quiet mornings while she was away. Of course there's a lot of good things too, but my point is I don't know how you *could* manage all that without being overwhelmed and strung out.

I suggest you evaluate your needs and see if they can reasonably be met within a homeschooling framework. You need time off from responsibilities to parents, spouse, children and home. Can this be done while homeschooling? Is there time in the day for you to take a class, have a part-time job, or whatever else you personally may need to feel nurtured and fed? You *must* exercise. It will give you more energy and help relieve anxiety and depression. One of the advantages to homeschooling that I think is often missed: children need to learn to wait while Mom is doing something for Mom. From the time I was very small my mother did TM twice a day - I knew not to bother her that twenty minutes and to be super quiet.

Can the children be enrolled in classes? Check with museums and community centers - even weekend classes, that aren't just for homeschoolers, can help take the edge off, and I may be unpopular for saying this, but I highly recommend a non-academic preschool or kindergarten even if the children will be homeschooled later. There is so much social work for small children to do, and so many delightful benefits. Just three mornings a week could give everyone the break they need, if you don't want to send them full-time. And if you plan to homeschool them later, you can easily justify the tuition (always ask for financial aid info!). Preschool or kindergarten are easy to enter mid-year, too. Waldorf schools' prek and kindy are entirely non-academic, and your local churches may also offer a nice program.

My daughter is much easier to be around when we have had our homeschool group park days or classes. I think the children can sometimes be overwhelmed by too much Mom or Dad even when things seem to be going well to the parent.

It also sounds as though you need some community,which having your little ones in preschool would help provide even if you choose to leave after a semester. I am still friendly with the parents of children my daughter went to preschool with years ago, even if our children don't see each other often.

I hope this comes across with the gentleness you asked for, because that is my intention. I suggest you enroll the younger children in a kindergarten you can live with (ask around, I never would have found our wonderful co-op except through the grapevine), even if it's just the mornings, and use some of that time for academic attention for your oldest (so he won't need to compete for that attention later) and some for YOU (meditation, gardening, half hour of yoga or exercise). When your husband gets home, no matter what time, go out for a walk, even if it's only a quarter mile down the street. Literally, get some air. Above all, don't feel guilty if you conclude you need to enroll them all in full-time school. No one should doubt that a parent makes their choices based on what they feel is best for their children.
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#4 of 8 Old 01-18-2003, 01:04 AM
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Shantimama, I hear you loud and clear. I, too, worry about my aging parents, and my little ones, although my situation is different from your's. I am making this post because I am worried that your suggestion that putting your children in school will give you more time is illusory.

I have three children, aged 8 , almost 5 and just 2, and the two older ones go to school. Love the schools though I do, I have no illusions about having any free time or extra time for my parents or my husband's granny. I have to coordinate the schedules of two schools now, as well as different ways of getting the children back and forth. I am completely governed by the clock, and I rarely have more than an hour that I can actually decide what I am going to do. Our evenings are ruled by a schedule of homework, extra-curricular activities and volunteer commitments. I put up with car-pool arrangements that make my head spin, and I find myself caught up with other peoples' children in ways I'd be happier avoiding.

I have to echo the statements of others who said that it is important to get siblings involved in the care of elderly parents. I'd also suggest looking into getting childcare one day a week and having that day to look after the big needs of your mother. School is not really good childcare, and it presents a number of challenges to your time schedule, so I feel it is not the solution to your problems.
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#5 of 8 Old 01-18-2003, 06:01 PM
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I think bestjob has a great point about the illusion of more time with kids shipped off to school -- if you're an engaged, passionate parent you're probably going to have just as much stress getting everyone to and fro at appropriate times, connecting with them while they're home in the little time you have left with them, etc. You'd undoubtably want to volunteer in their classrooms. OTOH, sometimes it's a nice mental break to deal with different groups of people and problems instead of facing the same problems all day long. Does that make sense?

Overall, I think it's the burnout time of year for homeschoolers. I heard a firstyear schoolteacher say the same thing the other day -- that by Christmas he felt like an absolute zombie, and that this is common among teachers in their first year. I reflect on that comment alot...dealing with kids day in and day out is stressful for *any* adult, especially without alot of community support. Also, public school teachers are human, too. They need those parent volunteers! Maybe that's a compromise for you -- put them in school, then volunteer to help in the classrooms often. It would take leadership stress off of you but keep you involved with their education.
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#6 of 8 Old 01-20-2003, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Thnaks for your replies. I know that school isn't going to free up hours of time and that it would bring new challenges into our family....that was just a desparate attempt in a bleak moment to provide for my beloved childrens' wellbeing.

The day that I wrote that was pretty tough for me emotionally. I phoned my husband at work and told him how hard it was and then when he came home he looked at all the kids had accomplished that day and kissed me and said that I was doing a great job. He is a wonderful husband.

My hormones are also totally out of whack - my menstrual cycle which always worked like clockwork is now totally unpredictable and my energy and mood are the same. I should probably go see my doctor.

I don't have any siblings, I am it as far as my mother's family goes. She will probably be living with us (in a granny flat) sometime soon. I have already decided some things if that does happen like getting a dishwasher, drawing in as much community support as I can, getting a microwave (I don't like them but it would make Gramma's meal prep easier), looking into a math and *maybe* language curriculum so that I don't have to come up with everything on my own during the stressful times.

Thanks for your support. I am going to need it!!!!!
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#7 of 8 Old 01-20-2003, 07:41 PM
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(((hugs))) It sounds like a really tough situation all around. I'm glad you got some extra strokes from your DH. I don't think people meant to say that you shouldn't consider school under any circumstances, just that you did seem to be overglamourizing life with kids in school--I do the same sort of thing about all kinds of things, I imagine if I give up 2 regular committments that there will be 20 extra things I'll be able to do to express/nurture/whatever myself when in reality I'll get at most a few extra hours and I will not suddenly have a clean house, peace of mind, millions of completed sewing and craft projects and the garden I've always dreamed of. I know some people who find a good, play-based preschool program is closer to their ideals than public school for older kids, so you also have some options about how much school and what kind you try if you go that route (of course, there's not always a "free" or even "cheap" option for preschool, and I think you may free up more time with the dishwasher and microwave if you have to choose).

I do think that making homeschooling easier on yourself is a good idea, especially since making up worksheets can be time-consuming. You may want to also ask whether having your oldest, in particular, take more responsibility around the house may be good for his character and learning Connecting with another homeschooling Mom, or just any Mom with a child the age of your younger one could be good. You might be able to eventually swap responsibility for playdates and this would give you some focused time with your older one. You may also need DH to spend time with your younger one in the evening and you could do more focused time with your older one then. Part of this could be developing a list of some things he wants to do the next day when you are busy and some house responsibilities you'd like him to accomplish.

Also, do everything you can to make life easier for yourself in caring for your mother. A dishwasher can be very helpful when you feed as many people as many meals a day as you'll be doing! If she's on a special diet and it wouldn't work for her and the rest of the family to eat the same meals, you may even want to look into making big amounts and freezing in small batches or programs like Meals-on-wheels to give you some time off. If you have a friend or loved one who can go through paperwork and make some calls for you, see if she could get any home health aide or other assistance paid for through insurance or social security or whatever she has.

You also may want to ask yourself whether you're feeling some depression along with all that's going on. Nothing saps my creativity like depression, and nothing would sap my joy in creating good learning experiences for my child like feeling low on creativity.

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#8 of 8 Old 01-20-2003, 10:36 PM
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Shantimama, I just wanted to chime in as a (former)caregiver who homeschools. I would highly recommend that you network all you can with people who can give you respite, they don't know you need them until you ask! There are other moms who would be happy to bring an extra child along to where ever they're going, to give you a much needed break &/or focused time with another child/your mother. (oops, I just went back and read that you don't have any near-by ~ are you sure?? or just not met them yet??) When your mom moves in, do you know of any respite program that will send someone to sit with her (paid by the state, generally) while you get time to focus on the kids? There should be information available thru her doctor's office or thru the senior center.

Also, don't beat yourself up if you decide that traditional school is what is best for your family right now. Give yourself credit for what is going *right* and all the wonderful things you've accomplished while homeschooling! Your kids will be fine no matter what ~ so you need to do what will make *YOU* fine with the situation, whatever that entails. Either way, you've certainly got your work cut out for you ~ come here anytime you need some support or reassurance!


~diana google me: hahamommy. Unschooling Supermama to Hayden :Super Cool Girlfriend to Scotty . Former wife to Mitch & former mama to Hannahbear
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