Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping It Real

Ahhhh! It has just been one of those days. The kids wont' listen to me, they are bickering with each other, Peter just accidentally knocked over and broke a glass...then I stepped in a stray shard. Ellie did not sleep well last night (so neither did I) and we are both cranky. Today I really want to call in sick.

One of the main reasons I decided to write this blog, and to conduct this summer experiment in general, was to get an honest assessment of how this homeschooling thing would work for me and the family. As I have said before, I have read a ton about it, but I thought putting it into practice would show me how it actually plays out for us in particular: for our specific personalities, learning styles, and relationships. Today feels like a really good day to report on the challenges of trying to teach my own kids all day long, everyday. I promise, tomorrow will be better. Soon I will write about the pros of homeschooling. But, today I just have to be negative. Thanks in advance for letting me vent.

What I dislike about homeschooling:

1. The constant talking. I like quiet; I like solitude. I like to be able to think and to chew on my ideas. But, this summer, I cannot even hear my own ideas, let alone let them form into anything coherent. Those of you with young kids know what I mean -- they never stop talking. In theory, I know this is a good thing. Heck, I spent a lot of time and money taking my boys to speech therapy to get them to speak! But this is just a constant barrage: "mommy, look," "mommy, look!" "MOMMY, LOOOOOOOK!"

Then, there is the 12 hour long cacophony of voices all directed at me. At this point in our family's journey, the kids still talk more to me than to each other. And, most often, this happens all at once. And then they start fighting: "hey! I was talking first! Mama, listen to ME!" I am tired of having to referee all of the competing voices and it stinks that sometimes I cannot listen to all of their ideas.

2. Having to be consistent. I am an idea person. I love to read, and to plan, and to imagine. And I don't mind implementing my plan..for a little while. And then, I admit, I get bored and want to move onto another dream. But, if I decide to homeschool the kids full-time, this will not be an option. I can't get bored, and then decide instead I want to try scrapbooking. Or photography. Or calligraphy. (Although, I just realized that perhaps all these ideas could be worked into homeschooling...maybe this is one way in which fits me??)

3. Having to be 'the bad guy.' Usually teachers and other school or camp officials take some of this burden. You know, the telling the kids to sit down, to listen, that their math problem is incorrect, or that it is not nice to yell at your playmate. Sure, a parent does this stuff too -- at home, with homework, etc. But, now I am doing it all day long. And the kids do not always want to do "Mommy School." They say "No!" or "awwww..I want to play" And I have to say "I'm sorry, it is time to work." This is not always easy. And it is, unfortunately, easier for the kids to have a meltdown in front of Mommy when I say this, than it would be in front of a teacher.

Also, I worry that the reason the kids are saying "no" so often is that they are bored. Am I not enriching their lives enough? Stimulating them as much as they did at school or camp? Are they not learning, growing, creating?

4. Juggling the differing educational -- along with the emotional, and physical --needs of 4 very different kids. My biggest concern with starting to homeschool for real (i.e. next fall) is that I might not be able to give the kids enough personal attention at their own academic level. (Of course, I think I have a better chance at doing this with 4 kids than a teacher does with 12 or more kids...but I digress). It is really challenging to find topics about which kids at various levels can comprehend and/or be drawn to. Then, there are the topics that they just cannot do at the same level: reading, writing, and math. I have yet to figure out how to spend individual time without the other kids continually interrupting me in a one-on-one session. How can I occupy them (without TV)? How can I keep it quiet enough for the tutee to concentrate? These are my conundrums I have yet to solve.

5. Having to be happy all the time. Or at least not bitchy. My mood is more important than ever for setting the tone of the family. That is a lot of pressure. Some days, I am in a terrible mood. Coffee in general makes things a whole lot better, but one some days even Starbucks can't save the day.

6. Going to the grocery store with all of them I am a sucker -- I buy them too many extras just to get them to cooperate. My grocery bills have never been as high as they are this summer. If only Peapod carried more organic products, I would give them all my business.

7. Having a messy (or should I say messier) house. This is directly associated with # 5 (see above.) When the house is in constant disarray, I am not a happy mama. And the house is just turned upside down lately. I clean up a room, and then turn around, and it is messy again. Come to think of it, this is also directly related to #3, because I have to be the "bad guy" in getting the kids to pick up after themselves all day long, too. And, once again, it is much easier to ignore Mommy than a teacher. Why is that??

8. There is no moment in the day for me. This summer I have spent more days consistently makeup-less than in my entire life (and for those of you who know me, that is saying a lot). I miss talking to my friends on the phone. I miss working out. I miss watching TV that is inappropriate for kids (oh, "16 & Pregnant," I'll see you again some day...) I miss napping. I miss email and Facebook and reading blogs. I miss talking to my husband on the phone.

Ok, I think that is it. I feel better now, having pulled out my hair and written down all my complaints. Let's see how tomorrow goes.