Whether you homeschool or not, this post may discourage you. Please forgive me if it is discouraging. I feel this is the time and place to express some raw emotions and clear my head. If you feel stressed, please quit reading.
I feel that I am in the middle of experiencing numerous difficulties of homeschooling my children. It is a very lonely place to be because I certainly do not want to share my struggles with my friends who homeschool, for concern that I might discourage them. And with my other friends, I sometimes get the feeling that they wonder why I am "doing this to myself in the first place". (Other comments that have given me that idea are, "I would never do that." and "Are you out of your mind?" and "Why would you want to homeschool?" and "You are not planning on doing that all the way through high school, are you?") It is very difficult to describe in a way that sounds believable and convincing just how much I feel called by God to do this with/for my children at this time. I mean, we left a very wonderful, comfortable situation (private school with tuition paid by a family member) to venture into homeschooling. It was an undeniable calling, trust me.
This calling is beautiful, wonderful, rewarding, interesting, and stretching (in a good way). But, it is also very hard. Right now my husband has a strenuous work schedule that requires occasional trips for 5 days in a row. He has also joined a hunting club that requires weekend travel various weekends through out the year. When these weeks come, I get completely exhausted. He is an amazing relief to me over the weekends, usually giving me time alone on Saturdays and rest on Sundays to revamp for a new week. The fact that I really struggle to sleep well when he is away from home exasperates the exhaustion issue even more.
Also, I feel torn frequently in trying to balance whom to serve. Being a full time teacher to 3 very individual children is a challenge I relish. I really enjoy the thought, planning, and careful selection of books and materials that we use. And I really enjoy these days of learning and living life together, and I have seen great rewards. But this aspect of my day is only one in dozens. Like most Moms, I also cook (trying to cook more from scratch b/c we can not afford organic), clean my house (no house cleaner this year), pay the bills and keep the budget, shop, decorate, wash clothes, garden, and sometimes do the yard work/pool maintenance when Andy's job demands his time. I wish these things were fast and simple, but with our budget I am required to research sales, consign, buy second-hand, and cut coupons which require patience and time.
My children are not involved in a large amount of activities, but do attend tennis, pe, art, and ballet weekly, not to mention church and church-related activities. (I am attempting to teach the boys piano at home to save money and time, too.) And I try to make sure they spend an afternoon each week with a friend. Once all of these school/Mom/house manager things are done I am whipped. I struggle to maintain time for exercise, time to sit and connect with my husband (although, by God's grace we remain close), and time to enjoy relationships with our family who are all in a different state, as well as our friends and the teenagers in my discipleship group. We find ourselves using our home a lot for ministry and friends, which is truly a joy (and one of the few spiritual gifts that Andy and I share) but a challenge energy-wise. I need a mentor, and actually I have someone who has agreed to be one for me! But we can not find the time to get together. I am pooped in the evenings or busy wrapping up house work.
All this to say, this homeschooling lifestyle has enabled my children to really blossom, given us the opportunity for much closer relationships, and delivered a very tailored education to each one. Plus, I love the way learning together has become a lifestyle, spanning beyond the frame of "school time". But I find it very difficult to maintain all of the other categories of my life well without feeling sick with exhaustion. We have very little help due to out-of-state family and a skimpy budget that does not permit many opportunities to utilize baby sitting. I find it a bit ridiculous, but absolutely necessary, that I am usually still folding laundry or sweeping the floors at 9 or 10 pm. My children already do more chores than most children their age. If I have them do much more we will not get our school work done in time for afternoon commitments.
I love my life and the the choices we have made, but I am not sure how long I can maintain this work load, especially when my husband's travel schedule heats up. I am not sure what gives. I sound like I big fat whiner. But honestly, I really just want to understand how to make it all work. I am beginning to think I am not the best time manager. For example, I will stop just about anything to have a conversation with a friend, especially another Mom who needs a listening ear. I get these types of phone calls frequently and enjoy my friends so much. I have not set too many limits in this area because I see God at work in these relationships and I think they are vital. I have been told I have the gift of encouragement and I enjoy using that gift. But maybe areas such as these need boundaries?
And finally the point of this post: Can anyone relate? How do I balance it all and maintain good health (I have gained 10 pounds since I began homeschooling 2 years ago!)? If you are a working (or homeschooling) Mom who does not employ house or yard help, when/how do you do it? I feel the Lord urging me to press on with homeschooling, and I will do so with joy. But I also know we need to make some changes and I have no idea where to start! I know the Lord does not give us more than we can handle, so I think the issue is not the amount of responsibility but the way in which I am handling it.