I didn't know where to put this so I hope it is appropriate here. I homeschooled the past 16 years and this year sent my remaining 5 children to private school because I have been struggling with severe anxiety and depression and need to heal. In addition to my own mental health issues, my 18year old son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So my plate was full, and the other children needed a peaceful atmosphere. BUT I am having a hard time adjusting. I feel guilty because I can't do this right now. I feel especially bad for my 1st grader who is being pushed into reading way faster than she is ready for. I am very much a relaxed homeschooler so things like this (and homework) really bug me. But most of all, I feel like I don't have a job anymore. It feels like I have quit a job, and I don't know my purpose now. Dh says it is to rest and get better. But I feel such an emptiness and loss right now. I don't know how to work through this. Any former homeschoolers had similar feelings and how did you work through them?
Lisa, mom to 7. Rest for the weary homeschool mom A blog for burnt out homeschool moms, moms considering school, and former homeschool moms.
Let go of the guilt!! Let me say it again LET GO OF THE GUILT! There is nothing wrong with school. You are not a failure for sending your children to school. You and your children will even find there are positives to school. :)
As far as the empty nest thing, I think your husband is right. Take some time to focus on you. You do still have a role, you are a mother, a wife, a friend, etc. etc. Give your self some time to get healthy. when you start to feel better maybe you will find something that interests you to do. There is tons of volunteer work out there. With your homeschooling backround maybe tutoring in an inner city school or adults who are learning to read would be full filling for you?
I'm not sure about the pushing reading.... Is it bothering your DD? Is there another private school that would be a better fit? Maybe it's just a bit challenging now but once she gets it she will be thrilled with herself!
It sounds like you are doing what is best for your children even though it's hard for you. You sound like an awesome mom.
I've struggled with depression myself. I can tell you that guilt is well-known as a symptom of depression. It's your illness talking. Try to take a cool, rational look at your kids' situation and do the best you can. In the meantime, healing from depression is vital for you and your entire family.
Have you seen this book? I'm finding it very helpful:
I wish you health and happiness!
You've made the best decision you can for your family in your present circumstances. There will adjustment for everyone. As a parent, you still have an important role in your children's education even if it isn't as directly hands-on as it once was. It might help to view homework as an opportunity to continue your involvement in their schooling. You can see what they are doing in school, give them feedback, guide them to resources and otherwise maintain a presence.
Look for the positives for attending school. It's good to be exposed to different teaching styles. They may find new, interesting subjects or try different co-curriculars and activities. There's a lot of attention and fear-mongering about negative peer pressure but often there's positive peer influence too. No one ever talks about positive peer influence, LOL!
I think you need to care for yourself, so rest may be the right thing right now. If you need some activity though (or maybe later, whenever you are ready), perhaps the schools would appreciate parent volunteers. When my dc were in primary and elementary school, I was very busy helping in the classroom, the library, and doing tutoring, mentoring programs, organizing extra-curriculars and fundraisers etc. etc. I know moms who provided art classes, directed the school play, helped with the choir, gave lectures on science....activities inspired by their interests, experience, and training. At some schools, you have to be careful not to become overwhelmed or taken advantage of, but you can carefully set out your boundaries if you decide to volunteer.
Best wishes with the adjustment.
I'm in the same boat this year. I love homeschooling and the kids were thriving, but I've developed a chronic illness that has sidelined me. The kids are having a rough adjustment to school this fall, even though they both did well during the spring semester earlier this year when they first started. DD is now in second grade with a new teacher and she's not loving it, whereas last semester she couldn't wait to go to school every day. She's acting out in all sorts of ways and is angry and defiant where she's usually sunny and cooperative. DS is in kindergarten and he's having a rough time, too. Transitions are tough for him and this one's a biggie. It really doesn't help that he didn't want to go to school in the first place.
It's been a much harder adjustment for me than I thought it would be. It needed to happen -- the kids needed a break from my illness and I needed a chance to rest. It just kills me that my kids aren't enjoying their time at school more. Our goal was for them to be safe and happy while I deal with doctors' appointments and therapies. Instead I'm fielding phone calls from teachers and the school social worker, I'm stressed, the kids are stressed, and I find myself just hoping that the day goes moderately well for them.
We homeschooled until the kids were 10 and 12, and there were several reasons they started school. Part of it was that I was clinically depressed and desperately needed some time to myself.
My advice is to take this time and do some nice things for yourself, starting with finding a great counselor. Then add exercise. Exercise is really, really good for our mental health. Exercising with other people is REALLY great for depression, so check out your local Y. Next, have lunch with a friend. Every week. If you don't have friends to have lunch with, make some new friends. There are other moms at the Y during school hours, and some of them need new friends too. Doing a little (not a lot) of volunteer work at the school is also a good way to meet nice women. Join a book club or other social gathering for people with similar interests to yours.
I find I feel happiest when I don't spend the entire time my kids are in school at home. I find that I need to be around other adults, some of whom only know me as me rather than as "susie's mom." Experiment with your days and see how YOU feel best. Which days leave you happy and which one's leave you drained? It might be different than you expect.
I found that as I took better care of myself, I was better able to be fully engaged with my kids when they were out of school. My life is better balanced and happier, and in some ways I'm a better mom. My kids are currently thriving in school and loving being there, and we really enjoy our time together when they aren't there.
but everything has pros and cons
Thank you for all of the thoughtful replies. I am trying hard to let go of the guilt. I know I need to take care of myself so I can be a good mom to them. I just miss them dearly. And although my 1st grader is really being pushed to read, she is not complaining. She is actually thrilled to be learning to read. It's just me and my ideals. My homeschooling ideal and my reality aren't the same, but I've got to face it regardless.
Lisa, mom to 7. Rest for the weary homeschool mom A blog for burnt out homeschool moms, moms considering school, and former homeschool moms.
My 3rd and 11th grader started school this year after being homeschooled until now(I do have a 9th grader still homeschooled but she volunteers 2-3 days a week). The days I am alone and all the kids are gone....it's SO LONELY and empty. It's been over a month and still feels like my family has been torn apart. Everything in the world now revolves around school. Family emergency- I can't be there now bc I have to deal with school pickup. A pregnant neice and nephew was burned last week in a kitchen fire and taken to the burn center over 2 hrs away and I could not be there with them because I had to be here to pick up the kids. If there is a death in the family, I have to go through the hassle of school and having to send in an obit to excuse the child's absence(went through this last year when my middle daughter went to school for awhile).
And besides all the inconveniences of school, I miss my children. We weren't together 24/7 as it was, and now there's even more time spent apart. It's stressful, things go on in school we will never even find out about. Mine are happy though, and I try not to be pushy about homework(we were unschoolers and I'm trying to balance this kind of thing), try not to rush in the mornings. So far nothing major has happened, mornings are not horrible like mine were when my mom took me to school or I rode the bus.
drowning in hormones with 4 daughters and an understanding, loving hubby. also some dogs. my life is crazy and we are always learning.
I went through this transition with the older two, and it really did all work out. The kids are happy. I worked evening shift when I home schooled, so I didn't feel so much out of a job as somehow less of a parent. But I found over time that I kept some of the habits I had home schooling and stayed involved in my children's education. I do still have a job in my children's education, and it's a collaboration. They are getting some experiences that were hard for me to give them from home, and they still learn things from the family that they aren't learning from school. Their world had broadened, and with time and perspective I have no regrets.
Taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts you can give to your children. I had wonderful, well-meaning parents but with unresolved mental health issues. I would have rather had a work away from home but mentally well Mom than carried the burden of a depressed and anxious Mom. Your interaction with your children and your ability to be present matters so much more than any abstract ideal if how you should educate or parent your child.
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
Obviously several families have had experiences like this, with very different outcomes. In our case, we enrolled our three children (ages 8, 6, and 4) in a Montessori school this fall. It was each child's first experience with school of any sort. Seven weeks later, we withdrew them. We're now back at home as unschoolers, with a renewed appreciation for how full and rich our lives as unschoolers are. Dh and I concluded that the guilt we were experiencing was valid guilt--we had put the kids in a less-than-ideal situation when we were able to continue homeschooling them. This is a very sweet time for our family, as we've sat down as a family and worked through the issues that made us consider school in the first place.
My six-year-old honestly does miss some of the girls from school, and while we're going to try to arrange play dates, I'm not holding my breath because I'm not sure these particular parents are interested in the hassle. Still, even she feels that the negatives outweighed the positives, so we're working through it. Every family situation is different, as is each school. I felt like in a few short weeks my oldest was losing his innate curiosity and motivation, and my youngest two were being pushed inappropriately. Dh and I finally just accepted that the only kind of school we could make peace with would be a democratic or free school, and there aren't any of those in our area.
Wishing OP the best.
Oh, LLMom, don't be so hard on yourself. I was a teacher for many years, and I promise you that a healthy mom who will feel more optimistic soon is far more important than the daily grind, be it at homeschool or regular school. Even if it takes quite a while, you're still doing the right thing. I've seen kids from both situations, and yours is the right choice. :)
I taught many homeschooled kids, and while some had adjustment issues, they all worked out eventually. If you're truly worried about your 1st grader being pushed to read, let me work with her for a few free lessons and I'll tell you how she's doing. No charge, and I'd be happy to do it. If she is struggling, I'll let you know. But it doesn't really sound like she is, if she's so happy to be learning to read. :)
EarthMama369, same for your 2nd grader. I'd be happy to meet with her on Skype, chat, and give you feedback. Or is she just displeased with school in general, rather than academically?
Since I started teaching struggling readers online (I broke my back and went partially blind—no more school for meee!), I always offer free lessons with an evaluation right now, because this is the time of year when parents freak out because something said at the school conference (or their own evaluation, if homeschooling) leads them to believe there are issues with reading. More often than not, their kids are doing just fine.
If the child really does need help—I say so, but add in some suggestions along with it.
Wish I could help, and let me know if you want it. :)
I hs'd my 9 yo the past 3 years, and for many reasons, we both felt like it was time to go back to school. For me, I felt like my world was centered around my little ones, and DD was often put on the back burner. (When we started hs'ing, I thought we were done having children.)
Anyway, re: having a job . . .I have a million of them for you. :) I would definitely exercise (helps you with depression and anxiety) but I would also get EVERYTHING done during the day so that when your kids come home, you can be 100% present with them . . .house clean, dinner started/planned, etc.
As for schooling, it's my opinion that ultimately, it's my responsibility to educate my children. I do not leave anything up to the schools. I make sure my children do their homework and do it correctly. I keep them company while they do it (or am available). I find extra resources for them, like enrichment classes and book clubs, but look for those that do not meet weekly forever . . .I limit the # of extra curricular activities so that we have time together. I find shows that I know will interest them and record them . . .get high quality books for them from the library on the topics that they want more info on, online resources, etc.
You can also spend time on making things special for them. That way, even when they are not around, you are doing something for them and they will enjoy it. For example, plan themed dinners, or think of traditions you can incorporate into everyday life. Write them notes you can tuck into their school bags. Find creative ways of preparing lunch for school.
If you can manage, I would strongly suggest volunteering in the school, too. If there is a skill you can teach there, do it. Volunteer to come into your children's room (esp. the 1st grader) to read. I would not commit to a schedule now, but even doing it a few times will have your children smiling!
2/02, 4/05, 2/07, 11/09, and EDD 12/25/11