Plop, plop, Fizz, fizz; Oh, What a Relief It Is! (Marketing Credit: Alka Seltzer)
Hello Ladies! Last week's assignment was so great, wasn’t it! This week I thought since we all shared about our educational background and our feelings about homeschooling, the trials and tribulations, and how we got our start, I thought we’d share about some of the burdens we’ve felt.
Assignment: This would be a good week to tell about your worst struggles with a lifestyle of homeschooling. Tell about something you’ve struggled with and how God’s mercies gave us the strength to get past it. Also, share any curriculum/homeschool methods that have been a relief to you, i.e., a particular Teacher’s Manual or Homeschooling method that’s been easier for your family. Talk about how you felt when the burden was lifted and Oh, What a Relief it is!
I don't know who first coined this phrase, but we use it a lot around our house:
Those things which don't kill us make us stronger.
Biblical parallel: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials for we know that the testing of our faith works patience. James 1:2-3
Finances -- Because our lifestyle choice means that I have been home (meaning: working for free) for the past 17 years, there have been some things we just couldn't do: sports, gymnastics, drama, choir, band. Moving to Mexico did not alleviate that problem!!! I hate telling the kids, "We just can't afford to do that." Over the years, God has allowed seasons for all of those "extras", but right now we're in a season of just the basics.
This assignment was interestingly worded -- "struggles with a lifestyle of homeschooling". Yes, homeschooling is, for us, more than an educational choice. Before I knew what I was getting into, I saw it as nothing more than teaching my kids at home. Now I know better!
Uncertainty -- Am I choosing the right curriculum? Do I really need curriculum? Is my flakiness going to permanently impair the kids? Are we doing enough? Are we doing too much?
Isolation -- We've lived "away from civilization" since our second year of marriage. We found that being in the country suited our family and personality, but it did tend to leave me feeling a bit "cut off" from the real world while the kids were little. Now we've moved to a culture where everyone lives in a fish bowl! It's an adjustment, having folks stop by to chit-chat just about every day. I like it now. I didn't like it so much 2 years ago. I think it's healthier, but it's an adjustment.
Being spread thin -- "Like chocolate pudding over too much ham." (Bill Boy Baggypants in Lord of the Beans) -- wife, mom, teacher, sister, daughter, AWANA leader, dance instructor, 4H leader, soccer mom, homeschool co-op leader, Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, mechanic's assistant, house veterinarian, goat tender...the many hats we wear. How do you fit it all in? Having 6 preschoolers in the house at once was definitely a struggle...even though now I look back on those crazy years as some of my favorites!
Learning challenges -- I have issues with the term "ADD/ADHD", but I have a son who (if he were in the public school system) would have been labeled and drugged by the time he was 6. He's a lot like me and a lot like his dad, so having all three of us in the house at once is sometimes...challenging. I love the boy he was at age 3, "What's that noise, Mommy?" and I love the young man he's becoming at 14. I tell him daily that I'm glad we let him live this long, cause he's turning out OK. ;^) We have another son who struggles with dyslexia and a speech impediment. At age 10 (almost 11) he still doesn't enjoy reading -- it just doesn't come easily to him. This is especially hard since the rest of the kids and I are bookworms!
***We've seen great victories in both of these young men in the past couple of years. Andrew's speech problem only effects his English -- his Spanish accent is perfect! Caleb's ability to focus on 25 things at once makes him an incredible drummer! God made them special...and He loves them very much! (We've been watching old Veggie Tales this week.) ***
In Christ, we are more than conquerors!
Somewhere along the way, I stopped struggling so much. Now instead of having "seasons" of struggles, I have a couple of hard days once in a while. Part of the relief came simply with time -- the kids got older, I mellowed. God brought the "important things" into focus for me. Now I don't sweat the "small stuff" as much. Not to say that I'm never grumpy. I caught myself grumping at the kids when I got back from town yesterday, but I apologize and move on. The family is always forgiving!
As far as one particular curricula or book that has been a stress-reliever...there have been a few. Each time I was in a hard, stressful or searching time, I would spend time in prayer (and brain-picking of homeschooling friends) and the "right" thing came into my hands.
OK, I'll wrap this up (sorry I rambled a lot this assignment!)...
A photo of my biggest stress-reliever: The Chore Chart
The name cards are on magnets and rotate to the right every Monday. The "Laundry" magnet moves every day (Monday thru Friday) so that a different person does laundry each day.
This is the 2008 edition. The 1997 edition had no words on it -- fully pictoral. The 2001 edition used velcro and a huge piece of poster board. I revamp just about every year. Do the kids "like" the chore chart? No. Not really. But without it, mom goes crazy trying to keep the house in order -- nevermind trying to keep up with school and "extras"! Do the kids like having a non-crazy mom? Very much!