At some point in the middle of my life, after some abrupt and major family events, I stopped and said “Wait, I can do hard things, but I don’t have to do ALL the hard things ALL at the SAME TIME.”
So I stopped some of the hard things, and thus began the year of living domestically. Ironically analogous to the steamy movie from the late 80’s with Sigourney Weaver and man of the hour, Mel Gibson. Because caring for little kids and driving around in a minivan is just like that movie. You know, making preschool snacks, tying shoelaces and hounding kids to wash their hair? Mmmhmm.
The idea being that the youngsters will only be little once, and no of course we can’t “afford” it, but…. Do you realize what a short time we are young and how long we are old? My whole life my grandma was old, until she passed when I was 36. But young? Twenty years max. and after that, well there is still learning but usually youth are off and running.
At first, it was the best thing ever, we figured out fun things to do, we played and played and went on picnics, and rode bikes and had corndogs for lunch at the counter and watched people walk by, we went places and did things and read books and camped and it was Fun! That was summer. Before I ran out of ideas.
Then school started. Some things happened, and it was decided to home school this year.
Now at the end of the year, the sun is out and we are all really ready to be done, except for my little preschooler who loves school, as it should be.
The home school curriculum is threatening all of our sanity because it is not particularly interest-based and is not very interesting. We do interesting things, of course, but not always along the lines of the curriculum.
I have thoughts about home school. I love it! I will be glad when it is over. It is often a lot of work. I didn’t even do all the work that I could have done if I was Josie Supermom. I think the biggest part of the work was keeping the pace and motivation up because the curriculum was just not that engaging. We needed way more hands on.
Now the year is so close to being over we can all taste it. Today we made an awesome purple bridge today out of peanut butter jars and some of dad’s leftover wood. I used a chop saw and she spray painted and glue-gunned. We did no school except for the super easy spelling, because the house was really, really hot and all of a sudden I realized there were messes everywhere. The bridge was fun.
Thoughts about homeschooling: We were at home a lot. Even we did school at libraries, cafes, swimming pools parks wherever, we were still at home a lot. It was a lot of one on one with my 8/9 year old. She loved it and hated it. By the end of the day, I had no energy for fun stuff with her. If we did more home school, it would have to require a little less of me and more of her navigating the process.
We sometimes could get done in a couple hours or less. Unless motivation was low, and then it would take a ridiculous amount of time to get the simplest things done, until finally we just had to close up shop. Those days were the most exhausting.
It was true, after working with her all day, I didn’t have it in me to pursue anything more fun, it all just sounded like work, I wanted “me” time.
We had some great experiences, learning cursive, physics and a ton of math together with me bumping her self-confidence in math. Homeschooling is somewhere between wonderful and everything you ever hoped parenting to be and … as hard as you make it, really.
As your kids teacher, they discover “Hey, Mom knows a ton of stuff!” and they watch you be patient, they learn from your actions and words, they see you express a lot of faith in their capacities, and then, some days were hard…. I learned about myself too, challenges I have with holding on to things loosely and making sure I was willing to admit when things weren’t working. Truly, there are days when much work can be done, and days when, well, not much can get done. That flexibility is there with home school, sometimes I wanted very much though to just check that box and get it all done. I can be pretty persistent.
Having the preschooler present while teaching was also goodbad. I learned to work with it positively, but it took some time. Sometimes she wanted to play the piano while we were doing math. Or play Uno with me or jump on the trampoline with her sister other times she wanted to learn with us doing numbers, maps, reading, letters, writing. It did add a layer onto the whole process, sometimes wonderful, sometimes trying to minimize distraction while trying to read or write poetry, which could make her feel a little left out. We navigated that. Daily.
My year of living domestically did turn into another teaching job, in hindsight. One that deepened my teaching abilities in ways that were important to me, but for which I earned no money. It would have been easier had I prepped and planned more, which I knew very well. But a big part of me wanted badly to get away from some aspects of teaching, like the organizational part which I have spent years overlearning. I wanted to learn the heart part, where you navigate that push and pull with your student. They don’t really teach that to teachers, at all. This year we practiced that daily.
What about next year? Well… it remains to be seen. I am planning on being employed and entering a program at the local University, so our plans will reveal themselves over time.