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This family I know seems to be the perfect homeschooling family and it is giving me huge inadequacy issues. 4 kids ages 6 to 12 3 girls 1 boy all beautiful. They wear perfect clothes and act perfect all the time. The oldest played Clara in the recent local nutcracker and plays piano better than most adults I know. 8 year old girl who plays violin is having her own concert soon. They all do gymnastics, dance and play instruments. They spoke recently at church and I swear they have the whole bible memorized. Plus they actually seem happy. They are a lovely warm amazing family. They don't have a lot of money but they make it all work. There is a woman in our community who owns a small home and she has a soft spot for homeschoolers. She rents out this house for very cheap ($300 a month) to different families until they can save enough for a down payment for a house. This family is currently staying in this home. Mom works at the gym/studio where they take lessons to cut down on costs.<br><br>
I know they are at a different place in their life than we are. I have 4 children but my oldest is 6 and youngest is 1 month. My dh is an attorney but money is really tight. Our mortgage is too large for us really to afford but we can't move because the land the house is built on is family land (confusing I know). I am also about half way done with my midwifery apprenticeship which takes up a lot of time and money.<br><br>
I have a lot of guilt that we don't have enough money to pay for all of the lessons that my children want. 6 yo takes piano but would love to do dance. She was in tears watching the dancing last night it was so beautiful to her. Breaks my heart. DS who is 4 wants to start Suzukki Violin but we just can't pay for it.<br><br>
Part of me feels like I need to get a job and put my kids in school so I can afford all of the lessons. I know lessons don't make or break a person but my parents sacrificed to pay for music, and singing, and dance for me and even though I don't do any of those things professionally it gave me confidence and poise and a love of music. My parents also wouldn't pay for lessons they thought were impractical. I wanted to do gymnastics but at age 5 they decided I would be to tall so I never got to take it. My sis loved dance but she was too "big boned" (she is now 5 ft 10 and 130 lb and models) so they wouldn't let her continue. It broke both of our hearts and I don't want to set the same limitations on our kids.<br>
Dh and I had always planned on each child doing one musical/art lesson and one physical lesson at a time. But we just can't afford it.<br><br>
What do you do to deal with your feelings of inadequacy?
 

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You're not that family. They don't have any babies, and the bigger ones are old enough to help with household chores- freeing Mom and Dad to do more "teaching". She's able to work part-time at the studio because she doens't have any babies and the bigger kids can help with household stuff when they get home. You have no idea what her life was like when her oldest was 6 or 7 and the youngest was a baby.<br><br>
Lessons for various activities don't "make or break" childhood. I think most kids would rather have their parents time and attention than have their parents away, working, and then be able to pay for lessons. It sounds like maybe you're bringing baggage from your own childhood into this. Just because YOU were dissapointed that your parents didn't sign you up for lessons isn't a guarantee your kids will feel the same way. It anyway seems to me like your parents were just making lame excuses for why to stop each lesson, rather than just saying "we can't afford to keep paying for this", which was likely the reality.
 

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If it makes you feel any better, my guess would be that if you had a job & 4 young children you wouldn't have the time/energy for a whole bunch of extra classes anyway...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Ruthla</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14716815"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think most kids would rather have their parents time and attention than have their parents away, working, and then be able to pay for lessons</div>
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Yes, this!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Ruthla</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14716815"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">You have no idea what her life was like when her oldest was 6 or 7 and the youngest was a baby.</div>
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Yes, and for that matter, you have no idea what their lives are really like now. When I start feeling inadequate because I'm comparing myself to other moms, I remind myself of something I read once (probably on MDC <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">): I'm comparing the inside of my life with the outside of theirs. IOW, I have intimate knowledge of my family, including detailed info on where we fall short of my ideals. But when I look at other people, all I generally have is surface knowledge. People don't usually hang out all their dirty laundry and self-doubts. I know that people who know me casually (and even those who know me better than that) tend to see me as much more "together" than I am. The mom you view as such an inspiration may actually be looking at you and thinking, "I wish I were more like her." <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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I have been very pleased at what we've been able to get as homeschoolers or otherwise in terms of extracurricular bargains. Shop around ... we do a Christian band program that is super cheap. We do a free church ballet program that is just great. The director was saying they were going to do RAD intensives in the summer for the kids! We do gymnastics through the Y, which is thousands and thousands cheaper than a private gym team. We use the rec center for classes. Our swim club -- #4 in the country! -- is about 40% off the usual monthly tuition for team because we can do home school hours. I have some piano learning software I got at Big Lots, if I would hook it up to the computer.<br><br>
I agree with PP, don't compare yourself to other people. And at the same time, if seeing other families that are further down the road gives you ideas for how you want your kids' homeschooling experience to be, don't give up on it ever happening, either.<br><br>
I spend a LOT of time working on The Schedule comparing it to The Budget and Comparison Shopping for Programs. It is one of my main activities I'd guess about 2 months total out of the year -- planning the sched.
 

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Oh mama, I wrote the book on feelings of inadequacy and the why-can't-I-be-like-that-mom syndrome <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br><br>
I LOVE what TortelliniMama said about comparing the outside of other families to the inside of ours. It's so true!<br><br>
I have a dear friend who has 8 children. She homeschools all of them. She is as patient as the day is long and as a bonus, she is skinny <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br>
Next to her, I always feel like a frumpy, grouchy, overwhelmed mess!<br><br>
The thing is, as others have mentioned, we all have our shortcomings. No family is perfect. That family may seem happy and normal but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. They also may be 100% happy and joyful and that's great! Our children, our personalities, our childrens' personalities are all different. Our family dynamics are all different. We do the best with what we have. We all need to stop comparing our lives to others. Be there in the here and now for your children. THAT is what will make them happy. Music/dance/gymnastics lessons should be "extra" not mandatory. You won't get another chance for today so live it and embrace what you have. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
(that was meant to be a pep talk...hope it didn't sound "preachy")
 

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<span>I have four beautiful, highly gifted children myself, and I know that there are times that my family appears to be "perfect" to outsiders even though my kids are relatively young and we have no money to speak of. When we're out and about, I seem to have infinite patience and energy, I'm full of creative, helpful ideas, I've got all the answers and everything under control. What my friends DON'T see is the lax housekeeping, or any number of other things I've let slide in order to work with my kiddos. They also don't see the glass of wine I have most evenings that the opportunity presents itself. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/blush.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="blush"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> In light of what I know about us, the fact that people ask me "How do you do it?!" with expressions of awe always leaves me hard-pressed not to laugh out loud. I don't always feel that we're succeeding at all! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Over all, I think that my kids are doing pretty well and I think I'm doing pretty well, too... but I don't kid myself. It's nothing like the super-rosy picture that four relatively healthy, happy, bright and beautiful children seem to present to outsiders. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Just this morning, my five year old threw a HUGE tantrum at me because when she asked if she could have candy after finishing her schoolwork, I told her that it would depend on how cooperative she was and how much effort she made. It wasn't a "yes" so she flipped out. I can't even remember the last time she threw a tantrum like that in public-- knowing her, it may never have happened. Most of the time she's happy, healthy, bright and beautiful when we leave the house, and when she's not I'm generally sympathetic because she's exhausted and I know how that feels.<br><br>
I guess what I'm saying is, you should probably talk to the "perfect" mother, if you can. Ask her how she does it, and ask her what things were like when her children were smaller. It sounds to me as though all of them are working very hard and things are going fairly smoothly for them, but I'd be willing to bet that the road was a lot bumpier when the kids were smaller and that she, like all of us, still has days that she wants to pull her hair out and put the kids on the first big yellow bus that passes the house. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"></span>
 

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Ditto to much of the above.<br><br>
I also want to point out that her 4 children are ages 6-12, a far cry from your 4 ages baby-6. You are completely in a different place, and I bet when her kids were baby-6yo, it was a different place for her, too.<br><br>
I would also suggest talking with her. Just face the dragon, so to speak. You have this "idea" that all is perfect with her. I bet if you talked to her and explained how you are just starting out and she is 6 years ahead of you, and you'd love any words of wisdom she could share, it might be very interesting to hear what she has to say. Heck, I'd love to hear what she has to say!
 

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I wish you could have a magic ball and look back at that family when their kids were 0-6 years old!! I bet you wouldn't have been nearly as impressed. Instead of feeling inadequate try finding some things you can change now to be closer to the ideal you feel this family portrays. You say they all know the Bible. I bet the didn't six years ago! They had to start somewhere, and so do you and your children. This is my first year homeschooling and my youngest is finally 4 years old and more manageable. I am beginning to see results because my life is less hectic and I can devote more time to things like daily devotions, bible study, etc. In the earlier years my goal was to get through the day with every kid intact!<br><br>
As for activities and lessons, I do think those are helpful, but not absolutely necessary. If you can't afford lessons and activities look for more inexpensive options, such as Church choir, homeschooling clubs and activities, etc. Also, honestly I started my kids early in activities and I now realize that it wasn't so essential that they start so young. Children learn a lot of things more quickly (like sports, dance, etc.) when they are a little older and more developed/coordinated. And many times the activities that children do when they are very young are really their parent's choice because the kids are too young to know what they are interested in. Perhaps your financial situation will allow some activities or lessons in the future when the children are a little older.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all of the ideas and pep talks. I know you are all right and it will all come with time. It is just so hard to remember to enjoy the moment and not give in to peer pressure.
 

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It's so stinkin' difficult to have kids that young. Been there with my 3 girls, homeschooling and all. Wow, that was hard but we pulled through it. They're still young, oldest is almost 9 and youngest is almost 4 and what a difference a few years makes!<br><br>
In the past, I've had terrible issues with anxiety and also feelings of inadequacy. Money is tight for us too but I bit the bullet and started seeing a therapist once a month for a little while. It helped immensly and was more affordable than I thought. I was worth the $60/mo. Don't rule out a family therapist or psychologist - the right one can really help you put things in perspective and will really hear you.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>completebeginnings</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14716731"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have a lot of guilt that we don't have enough money to pay for all of the lessons that my children want. 6 yo takes piano but would love to do dance. She was in tears watching the dancing last night it was so beautiful to her. Breaks my heart. DS who is 4 wants to start Suzukki Violin but we just can't pay for it.</div>
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I'm in a similar boat. I'm in school, and until I finish, our income is pretty low. Even after that, it will probably be a few years before we're caught up enough to afford much. And yes, it does make me feel inadequate, especially when other people who are "struggling" manage to pay for lots of classes.<br><br>
One option a lot of people near me use is homeschooling charter schools which provide funds for classes. Do you have anything like that near you? Even the dedicated unschoolers near me have found options they're happy with. The only reason we don't utilize this is because my son really likes the program he is in currently, but we may force him to switch next year.<br><br>
Our parks and recreation department offers classes which are generally relatively inexpensive to begin with, as well as scholarships which reduce the price by half.<br><br>
If you have a YMCA near you, they offer low income discounts.<br><br>
If you poke around, you may find something you can afford, even if it isn't your first choice of activity. For a while, our homeschool group had a fencing class going that was in the range of $10-20 a month, and I've run into other similar things that aren't widely publicized. Or you could organize something - you may be able to find a local studio of some sort that is willing to run a homeschooler class at an affordable cost during a time when most people are at work/school.<br><br>
You may also be able to find somewhere where you can offer volunteer work of some sort to offset the cost of lessons, which may be less time consuming than an actual job.<br><br>
And I agree with the others - you can't compare a family with all older kids to your family! Even if the 6 year old is "ahead" of your 6 year old, remember that younger siblings have a big advantage in a lot of respects, since they have their older siblings for examples.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>completebeginnings</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14719359"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Thanks for all of the ideas and pep talks. I know you are all right and it will all come with time. It is just so hard to remember to enjoy the moment and not give in to peer pressure.</div>
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Is it possible to give yourself a "break" from this family and just try to avoid them for a little while until you get your thoughts/feelings sorted out?
 

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I used to live in a place with lots of <i>perfect</i> families. I've learned quickly: They're just better at hiding all the "regular" stuff than the rest of us. Everyone has SOMETHING that definitely isn't perfect in their lives.<br><br>
Just do the best you can...for all you know, that mom might think you're pretty darn great, too.
 

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Oh, and by the way, my kids are 18 months apart. When they were 0 and 1, we'd go out in public and the kids would be doing their crazy two baby things. I remember sitting at a dinner table (at a restaurant) with an acquaintance just DYING on the inside because of the kids and trying to deal with them.<br><br>
Her thought on this situation? "Wow, you're just so calm! You've got it together."
 

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This reminds me of a recent experience: an aquaintance of mine just started hs their 12 year old daughter, they have a son my son's age, and I was just a little hopeful that we might, you know, be friends or something. So, I asked her all about how it's going...and it's wonderful and her kids are getting along "perfectly" and it's all going really well! and did I mention she looks like a million bucks? So, I'm like..."oh, my kids fight all the time and I'm pulling my hair out by the end of the week, and drinking a hefty glass of wine through my tears...." OK, no I didn't say that. But I DO love my kids and I wouldn't trade my life for hers.<br><br>
Usually when I start comparing myself to others, I find I haven't taken the time to recharge myself in awhile.<br><br>
I'm going to try again with her though, nobody can be THAT perfect, right? And maybe she feels the pressure to say it's all good because let's face it--homeschoolers aren't the norm and maybe we all try extra hard to show how GREAT it is to others. I find if I say anything remotely negative around my non-hs friends they tend to use it as a way to encourage me to send my kids to school.
 
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