Recently I had an email from a mom of seven who was struggling in her first year of homeschooling. Last week I posted my response
. I also received some responses from 3 friends of mine, so they will be posted on the other Thursdays in March. Today is post #2 from a mom of 6.
I also have 2 sets of twins, as well as 2 singles, ages 20, 18, 18 (girls) and 12, 8,8 (boys). I have homeschooled from the beginning.
I wanted to give you some practical tips on homeschooling a large family, which I wish I had known when my kids were younger.
How do you maintain the crazy life and not lose yourself or your mind?
I really try to keep a sense of humor when things don’t go perfectly well, and they won’t. Chaos isn’t so bad, and you get used to it. My life isn’t so chaotic anymore with 3 finished with school, but my chaos included a year of chemotherapy because of breast cancer 5 years ago, so perspective is key. There is joy in life itself. There is joy in the blessings of many children, a home, a job. Count your blessings often, and thank the Lord often.
How do you and your husband’s relationship not get lost and become a roommate relationship in the midst of life? How does everything not just feel like work?
Talk to each other and tell him your needs. Be one another’s confidant. Life is work and often times you feel only like roommates, but that happens even if you aren’t homeschooling or have only 1 child.
What do you do with younger kids while trying to school older kids?
For the 3 and 6 yo,
Fill the kitchen sink with soapy water and have them wash ALL the plastic dishes, stack cups, give them beans to put in cups. I always had a box of these items that only came out when I did school with the older kids. The 1 1/2 year old twins are harder. Keep that nap schedule for as long as you can. My twins (8 years old now) were tough at this age so school happened mostly during nap time. Have the older kids do independent work when the younger ones are awake – reading, writing assignment, math homework. Can you hire someone to come over and just play with the younger ones while you teach the other kids? Can you find a homeschooled teenager in your church to come over 2 times a week to read and play with the younger ones? Maybe a grandparent or single person?
How can I be everything everyone needs all the time without getting burned out?
Don’t do everything! Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean that you are their only teacher. Join a co-op so that someone else can teach certain subjects. You’re already providing them with a better and safer learning environment by pulling them out of the public school; you don’t also have to teach them everything. This year, I am only teaching my 12 year old history. He has a math tutor, my husband teaches science, he has an online writing class, and in co-op he does art, speech, gym; and Bible with my Community Bible Study group.
How do you not be tired..and how do you manage your home and kids all day and have anything left to give your husband at the end if the day..
Assign chores to everyone – have your kids help you make a list of things that need to be done daily (unload dishes, garbage, bedroom…) and weekly (toilets, big garbage can…). Then assign those for the week and rotate those chores. Do a “30 minute pick-up” where everyone is assigned a task or room, and send them all to do that for 30 minutes while you rest! Ask dad to help too. You BOTH work all day (and your work is harder). Evenings shouldn’t only be your burden. If husbands need us to be wives to them, then they need to make it possible for us by not letting us be overtaxed with work. Otherwise exhaustion will take us over. Also consider using paper products for breakfast and lunch and skip the dishes. During the school year, I need to NOT do dishes on school days.
Have the older kids each be in charge of a younger kid for half an hour or an hour every day to give you a break to take a walk outside by yourself, or read the Bible outside.
I recently bought and read and made a schedule based on Managers of their Homes (book).
Keep it simple – simplify as much as you can.
It will get better. Try to be consistent, have a general schedule and don’t worry if you veer away from it; think of what you did accomplish rather than what you didn’t.
I am reading and praying and drawing near to Him…
Pray a lot
There isn’t enough of me to go around..
That is correct – assign jobs; “anything you remove, you put away,” if it doesn’t get done, there are consequences like no play time or tv (or computer time if you allow it) on weekends
I have always stayed at home and funny enough 5 kids seemed manageable but 7?
It’s the little twins – believe me, it does get better! Enjoy their crazy antics; I miss that when I look back at the pictures of the chaos.
We hardly ever leave the house because it usually takes longer to load everyone up than to actually do whatever it is we needed to in the first place.
A walk and sunshine does wonders
I really do love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything else I just really want to know if this time passes or if it’s just always spinning out of control.
No one can do this perfectly, not even the Duggars. That’s just television. I hope some of these ideas help you as they have helped me get through some difficult times. Be encouraged that your effort will be a blessing to your family. My older daughters thank me for homeschooling them and plan to do the same when they have children someday. There nothing more encouraging to me than that.
If you have anything to add, please leave a comment!
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