I am NOT a homeschool mom. I have dreamed about it and read about it, but have never dove in for a plethora of reasons, some of them that ended up being heaven sent (like homeschooling during a year of cancer? NO!).
BUT that means if you are home trying to make this new thing work, I get it. I’m there too. And with six kids, I’ve also been a manager of a busy household, helped with homework all the time, and had multiple ages all needing my attention.
I learned by messing up and making mistakes and being totally overwhelmed sometimes. I have the perspective of looking back and realizing that some of the things I stressed about were ridiculous and there were many routines and systems along the way that I found made my life easier and thought “why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Since it looks like we all might in this for the long haul (I am praying my kids don’t go back because I am loving teaching them) I have made a list of tips that might help:
1. First up ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING. It is!!!
Expectations are everything also! If you are trying to keep up with the one million ideas on Pinterest to keep your children entertained, or all the ideas coming home from school, and all the great methods to learn everything under the sun, you will never ever feel like you are doing a good job or enough. Concentrate on what you have at hand and don’t complicate things. If messy art projects stress you out than don’t do them! Find the system and activities that work for you and your kids, and don’t get off track.
2. Take the Ipads, the video games and every other device and throw them in the farthest corner hidden of the attic so even YOU won’t be tempted. Turn off the TV except for a SET time. I know, you will go through hearty and annoying withdrawal symptoms. But these things entertain children. So when they get off, they can’t entertain themselves. They can’t concentrate. They fight with each other more. They don’t want to get to work or to even play with their toys. It makes their minds lazy, their moods bad, the whining worse and in the end TRUST ME, you pay the price. You won’t believe the difference. You just have to get through the hard part and then it gets easier.
3. I know you will say “but the kids need them for school”. Well at a certain age they do, but they can sit at the home computer, do the work, and then get off. Under a certain age, it’s 100% unnecessary. Print out the work if you can. Instead of doing math online, print out a page on your own and explain to the teacher, if it is required, why they will get a paper copy of the work. Remember when back in the ‘olden’ days we were taught with pen and paper and books? They will learn without technology when they are young, and even better some would argue. We are co-teaching right now so we DO get to have some say in how we want to accomplish that, as long as we don’t make it more difficult for the teachers and let them know the work is getting finished.
In high school they are on their own. Don’t save them. I’ve done that before, and it’s hard I know, when you can see them procrastinate and not do the work. Let the teachers know you are doing a “learn the hard way trial”. Brainstorm with your teen to figure out a system of getting the work finished on time. Let them lead. But don’t pick them up when they fail.*
4. Some things my mother did and mothers everywhere USED TO DO and not feel guilty about: Everyone go to their room and read or play quietly. Everyone go outside and don’t come back in unless there is an emergency. Take your little brothers on a wagon ride. Draw pictures. Color. Make a book. There was a list of jobs on the fridge. NOT a star chart, and cute stickers and rewards. Here’s a list of jobs, do them before you do anything else. Cereal for breakfast, the same lunch every day. SIMPLE SIMPLE SIMPLE.
5. Learn about your child. I have one child that needs breaks often. He needs to get up and move. He wants me to sit next to him when he does his work. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t. I can tell when he is getting frustrated so I say go run around the block. Or shoot baskets. Or just get this done now. Encourage, and then remind them how good they feel when the task was completed.
6. If you are having a bad day-baby crying, you are behind, getting frustrated, you all feel like crying and yelling, get in the car and go for a drive or turn on the music and dance. Feed them.
7. Simplify everything else. Easy meals! Teach them to be independent in every way and you will make your job easier.
8. Watch where you are wasting time. I can tell you from someone who remembers when we didn’t have cell phones that it is the biggest time suck as a parent and I can get so much more done in a day when I put that thing away without checking it for hours or a day.
9. If all you can do is read or have them listen to books (I am thinking colickly baby in your arms, or bad morning sickness etc), then they are learning. When my oldest kids were little I would have stressed so much about them getting behind or missing a day of school or creating some huge gap in their education. I know mom minds go there-if they miss this or that, they will one day be living on the streets after flunking out of high school, and it will all my fault. Don’t catastrophize little things. The big picture is what makes the difference.
10. Establish loose routines. Get as much as you can get done before the kids wake up. Or before you go to bed. When Andrew had colic so badly as a baby, I would make my kid’s lunches even when we didn’t have school, and put them in the fridge so they could get them out themselves the next day.
*My oldest wasn’t crazy about school and was very young in his class, because being the oldest we didn’t know better. (Poor oldest children you are just our experiments.) He struggled but he got through it. Sometimes I felt like tearing my hair out. Sometimes he did too. I worried a lot. I slowly let go through highschool and it was a big experiment in so many different ways. In college they have to do it on their own! And he did. And he is so smart because he loves to learn new things. A’s aren’t everything. He knows how to teach himself and he does, as an adult, constantly. He is successful. Independent. A self-starter. An awesome adult. Remember there are all different kinds of kids and different ways to learn. Some kids are “school kids” and some kids aren’t. That does NOT predict their success in life. But kids have to learn to do hard things, and do things they don’t want to do. And to help out. And what it means to have a good heart. That’s more important than anything else.
I am asking all homeschool moms for tips! What did you struggle with when starting out and what is one or two awesome tips you have for us new moms at this for managing our days? THANK YOU!