Sunday, August 22, 2010

The hardest part of being a homeschooling Mom

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.


Anonymous said...

I did not homeschool.

But there were similar times in my life.
I think maybe you need to give yourself some grace in regards to what you feel you have to do.
Also Let your husband read the post and see where he might take some of the burden. Does he feel you need all the extra activities for the kids? Is he convinced homeschooling is for you? This is a battle for your heart, too. so many of us feel we have to do this or that and God will not be pleased if we don't.All He says is to love Him w/ all your heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.

Also could someone baby sit in exchange for a skill you have?
God bless you. The stress will not be forever. I promise you.
June Bostick

Carrie Thompson said...

I do home school and share a lot of the burdens you do.. I dont have a husband that works out of town but I do have a husband that is not always as helpful as I would like :0) Need less to say a lot gets left to me. I am a huge ball juggler!

Some things I have had to do out of necessity is to manage my time, it means really keeping a schedule the best I can WHILE still letting life happen-- juggle balls, it means the kids absolutely have more chores but they need to be efficient chores. I have gone through a book called The HOUSE that Cleans Itself and it has really, really helped in that area. I made ZONES for my kids in their rooms (think Fly lady) and that is helping.

we have a budget also so cook a lot of meals, it means being careful to allow a few messups (end up at Wendys) but having meals planned and keeping up with my pantry. I really like to incorporate meals that are cook once eat twice, Pork tenderline, and two night later chopped pork potatoes.. etc.

I do agree that you should sit and talk with husband, maybe it is time to take hiatus from a few things or limit a little bit but I know it is hard to cut out because everythign is important!

We have three also adn if they each have ONE activity that is three things plus church and family etc! IT ends up being a lot!

We have had to really sit and priortize some things. this year we are focused on our health so we stopped ahg (think girl scouts), I stepped down from leadign HS support group adn we are puttin out focus on out health, cooking more, working out, kids fitness classes... it has become a priorty even if other things suffer- i.e. maybe less play dates? OR a play date where we ALL swim!

I will be praying for you adn know this is a hard, hard place to be in! I hear you and you are not alone in feeling this way and it might help to talk to your HS friends... they might feel it too!

AS for being an encourager-- it is important but there are boundaries, maybe there is simply a time you DONT answer the phone, let God lead you. Pray someone else comes across thier paths or promise to get back with them at a better time. If you were a PS school teacher you could not stop your class and go minister to a friend.. your ministry would be those kids in front of your right then and there. Gods know what he wants you to do and if you are lead to HS they it is amazing calling! I love it even through the huge struggles.

Also remember that we have seasons... maybe this is a different season for you and your kids, less friends more home focus or less home focus and more freinds--- the year of the NOT SO CLEAN HOME! :)

Carrie Thompson said...

I wanted to add something. I went to a home school support group meeting, they had a special speaker. She said a lot of what we have all heard a 1000 times but one thing that caught my attention having read your post was this....

we know the devil is roaring around like a hungry lion and he is trying to steal your time, your passion, your heart, your strength.

THis has to stop. You have such a wonderful opportunity that is a calling of God... we cant allow the devil to steal that from us!

She talked about Eph 5:16 "Reedeeming the time , because the days are evil"

Her point was that to redeem out time to have organization in our homes adn school, to have family time, to have ministry time we have to pay a price.

For some it is getting up at an earlier time, for some it means cutting an activity, for other it might mean getting a housekeeper...

we all have to redeem out time and make the most out of our day.

One more thing... she said that organzation is not about a system it is a way of thinking --- that works for YOU adn your family.

Prov 4:23 says "Keep thy heart with diligence for out of it are the issues of life"

If home schooling is your life issue... your call. Then be diligent to make it a priority and make it work for your family in your own way!

i HOPE something helped a little...

Jackie said...

You are doing an awesome job! I love coming by for little visits and seeing the kids blossom!

Here are my two cents that I think will help with everything. You've got to get some regular rest. You can't depend on Andy on just the weekends when he can help. You've got to get to bed on time and relax, even when he's not home. I know it's hard, because my husband worked night shift when I had little ones. It was frustrating, too, not to have him around at the hardest time of the day - the dreaded dinner time.

However, I think you are doing a marvelous job! Don't be discouraged in any way! Little things are going to fall by the wayside, but in the long run, those things that fall don't really matter. Just do the the important stuff. Keep yourself in the word and your kids in the word. Make sure they are being obedient -- as this is such an important part of childhood! And GET SOME REST! A rested Mommy is a happy Mommy. A happy Mommy is the heart of a happy home!

Abby Hutto said...

Hey, girl! You have been in my thoughts lately. Ken told me that your hubby is traveling a lot. I know the pain of this--I too struggle when Ken is out of town with feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted.

I am praying these things for you:

That you would know and feel the smile of the Father as you follow His call on your life. You are walking in obedience, even though that is a tough road to be on.

That you would have wisdom with choices for how to utilize your time and feel confident to follow God's leading in these areas (confident and free of guilt!).

That you would have STRENGTH and REST even while Andy travels. I have seen God completely change my sleeping habits in the last 3 years. I sleep like a baby now--which I know is a sweet gift from God. I used to lay awake and be restless all night while Ken was gone.

Ken and I are praying for your family and your future. God loves you, Renee, and you are a part of something so much greater than what your eyes can see at this moment. I know that one day you will meet our Saviour face to face and He will lovingly take you into His arms and say those words your heart longs to hear: "Well done, you GOOD and FAITHFUL servant. Enter into my rest!"

Anonymous said...

Michele Pipe directed me to your blog last year when I decided to start homeschooling our two girls. I have sooo loved reading about your experiences. Your words have been a huge encouragement to me -- even this post. Thank you for sharing your struggles, they are not unique. Much of what you described are the stuggles I have faced in the past year (even the 10 lbs!).

A book that has greatly helped me in the time mangement category is "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney. And, it's a short book so it won't take up much of your time :) Keep persevering in what you know the Lord has called you to; never feel you have reached a point that you don't have to lean even more on Him; remember it's His work; and, enjoy the ride -"the roller coaster is always more fun than the merry go round" ;)

Carolyn Roberts

Bloom Where You Are Planted said...

My Precious Friend,

Although I can not relate with having 3 (yet) or home schooling, I can TOTALLY relate with feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and at my wit's end with my husband's travels...

Hang in there, beautiful. You can and will make it through.

Praying for you tonight and sending love all the way to you.