Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting Your Spouse Involved

After my meltdown last week, my husband realized he could help. On Saturday, Xan had a karate tournament, but because Grampa was coming to visit, David (my husband) had to stay home to care for him. So, while Charlie and David stayed home, David decided to work on a couple math lessons to help catch Charlie up.

So while I had a fun time cheering Xan on to first place in forms (YAY XAN!) David helped Charlie with his math.

By the time I got home, my husband was a changed man.

He'd always been supportive our my decision to homeschool, but really didn't have a big opinion on which program I decided to go with to teach the boys. Whatever was easiest for me, he trusted I would make the best choice for our guys.

But while he was poking around the K12 website helping Charlie with his math, he discovered what an awesome program it is. He was very excited to tell me that had he been making the choice given Charlie's current problems, he would totally have chosen K12.

This was very exciting and encouraging to me. Hurray! Not that I had a problem with my husband in any way, but having him have a taste of what I was doing, what schooling the boys was like was very, very comforting to me.

And not only did he approve of the school I had chosen for the boys, but he also now had a first hand understanding of Charlie's behavior when doing school work. It felt so good knowing I was understood, that my problems with school were understood. A VERY good feeling.

David has offered to teach the boys Science on Saturdays, and to help with the occasional lesson (particularly for Charlie) if the boys fall behind, or as I need it. So now I have an extra day during the week to use as catch up if I fall behind or a day OFF to use as I need. Such a relief and gift.

I feel like such a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. Just knowing I am NOT in this alone, NOT caring all this burden alone ... it feels really, really good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The other day, in the heart of my own personal emotional tornado, I wrote down some thoughts on what's going on in my head. I thought I'd share it here because maybe someone will recognize themselves and know they are not alone.

Why did I decide to homeschool?
  • I love my boys.
  • I wanted to spend more time with them.
  • I want what's best for them.
Why do I feel like I'm failing?
  • I'm afraid Xander is becoming weird.
  • Charlie doesn't seem to be able to learn anything.
  • I feel like I'm constantly fighting against the boys, or it's Me/School vs. Them.
  • They are dirty (have poor hygiene habits.)
  • I find I'm folding easily and giving in on the things that are important to me because they're not important to them.
  • The house is a mess.
  • We've been eating out too much.
  • Dinners are stupid. (They hated everything I was making, so we made a list of all dinners that were acceptable to them, and once a week only we'll try something 'new' ... their choice of dinners are kraft dinner and weiners, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ... that sort of thing.)
  • I'm not getting any exercise and I'm getting fatter and fatter.
  • I'm lonely for friends.
What's going right?
  • There really has been an increase of love between me and the boys.
  • Charlie seems to have increased confidence.
  • I like having scripture study with them.
I'll write more about my thoughts on these things ... but you can stew on that for now!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Struggle

I have been struggling this past while. I've been feeling like I can't, in fact, do this homeschooling thing. I could give you lots of excuses and reasons, but none of them really matter. I know I have to work through this bump in the road.

But the thing that is really getting me down is my struggle with my dear boy Charlie. 

I am beside myself trying to figure out what to do with him, or rather, for him. 

Charlie is capable of many things, but he hasn't found his special thing yet. With a brother like Xan, what's a boy to do? How can he make his star shine when Xan seems to have monopoly on shine.

With school, Charlie just plain feels like he 'can't'. He can't do math, he can't do language arts, he can't do anything.

Whole days have been spent when only one lesson is completed. There is often much crying and frustration.

I am just tapped out and don't know what to do for him. Two teachers, one being our K12 teacher, has suggested that we continually point out to Charlie what he's great at. Thing is, he is honestly not great at many things. The only thing he is really great at is hard physical work. 

He is the best worker and helper I know. Even among men. His work ethic is truly to be admired. I just wish I could help him transfer that awesome work ethic to schoolwork.

I am praying so hard for my little guy. I hope I am granted some sort of inspiration and guidance for how to help him. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

An Increase of Love

I've often read about how much homeschooling moms love their children, that I figured it was a prerequisite. I mean, of course I love my kids, but thought these moms had access to a type of love I couldn't hope to have.

I grew up in such a way that loving people doesn't come naturally to me. Scratch that, I love people, but I think I hold a lot of it at bay, and I have difficulty showing and receiving love. I am much better with my sons than I am with anyone else, but still ... I felt I still wasn't giving them everything I had within me.

Until now.

Now, my heart bursts with love for them. I must sound like a broken record because just about every night I tell my husband how very much I love our sons. It's just such an amazement to me, that I can't help but point it out, in awe over how such a thing could be happening to me.

Who would have believed that spending all day with your children could actually help you love them more?

And it's not just me feeling it for them, it's them feeling it for me.

For instance, the other day I was feeling exceptionally tired after we were done schooling. I laid down on the couch while the boys headed outside to play. A moment later Charlie came back in and lyed down beside me. He just wanted to snuggle, he said.

A few minutes later, Xander came in and wordlessly lyed down beside me too.  

We lay there together for a good twenty minutes. When they finally stirred, it was not to leave me, but to gently stroke my hair. 

Then they finally left to go play again, and I was left wonder what had just happened. Don't get me wrong ... we are a very affectionate family, but usually such things have a time and a place. After school time, when freedom is allowed and friends are home to play with is usually not that time. 

That they chose to come and snuggle me, to quietly give and receive love without asking for anything in return, was something sweet.

And it helped me to see that this increase of love I feel for them is not one-sided. They, too, are feeling an increase of love for me, and for each other.

There is far less bickering happening between the two boys. I would have thought there would be more, being cooped up together for so long.

Rather, homeschooling has been a great blessing for us, in so many ways, but the most cherished of all ways is this increase of love we are experiencing.

Now I understand why those homeschooling moms expressed such love for their children. It wasn't a requisite nature that made them good homeschooling moms, it was the companionship, the closeness and time spent together that yielded the love. 

I expressed my faith in this homeschooling lifestyle, by planting the seeds, covering them with warm earth and providing them with needed sunshine and water. And now I'm seeing, much sooner than expected, those precious seeds bearing fruit, and the blossoms are fragrant and beautiful and far beyond my wildest dreams.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Household Chores

One of the things that seems to bog down new homeschoolers is household chores. There's this falacy out in the popular world that moms have to do it all. We have to work, we have to make gourmet meals for our kids, we have to keep a Martha Steward style home perfectly clean all the time. 

Whether you're homeschooling or not, this just isn't true!

As I writer, if I was concerned for domestic perfection, I'd never get any writing done. But now, as a homeschooler too, there just isn't room for my inner Martha Stewart to have her say.

But whether you're a homeschooler or not, you've got to let go of some misperceptions that might still be bogging down your inner psyche. First of all, household chores, are not only for wives and mothers to perform. Don't you remember Little House in the Prairie? Everyone pitched in with their share of the work. Even the Beav had to do household chores. It seems to be a rather modern day phenomenon that lets children get off scot free.

Sometimes I wish I lived on a farm because then it would be easier to identify chores my children could do. But let me brainstorm a few ideas here of suggestions for things your kids could be doing, day by day, to not only lighten your load, but strengthen their spirits. Some of these chore ideas are ones that my own kids do, others are gleaned from friends and online sources.

  • keep room clean
  • keep bodies clean
  • set table/clear table
  • feed/water pets
  • walk or exercise pets
  • vacuum
  • wipe down bathroom
  • swish and swipe toilet
  • wash walls
  • wipe down light switches and door knobs
  • windex windows and mirrors
  • pick toys and rocks off the grass before it gets mowed
  • mow the lawn
  • weed the garden
  • harvest vegetables
  • wash dishes/load dishwasher
  • help prepare a meal
  • help with grocery shopping
  • unload groceries
  • sort/fold laundry
  • put laundry away
  • wash their own laundry
  • always pick up after themselves
  • dust
  • wash base boards
And many, many more that I'm sure I haven't listed. If I've missed something you think is great for kids to do, please leave it in my comment trail. It would be cool to compile a list of household chores children can help with.

Now that you have an idea of all the myriad ways your children can help, it's time to let go of your inner perfectionist and let them help

It's true things won't be done to perfection. It's true that they may only be able to accomplish one or two things (and imperfectly to boot) in the period of time it would take you to do many things. But think of the benefits:
  • you can begin to let go of resentment you may be feeling about always having to do everything yourself
  • you are training up your children in the way to help in family ... creating men and women who will know how to pull their own weight in a family
  • you're also teaching them basic life skills that will serve your children well in their grown up lives
  • your children will grow to respect and love you all the more because they will have a real understanding of all you do for them
So let go of your Domestic Diva and become a Marvelous Mom. Your children will one day thank you for it, and you'll be grateful for it today.