I am a friend of Gena Mayo from I Choose Joy. I am 43 years old will be married 20 years this year. We have eight children ages 17 down to 3. We’ve been homeschooling since we became parents. We decided to homeschool when our oldest was just two months old after attending a homeschooling conference. I am not sure I have any great pearls of wisdom but want to say you are normal. Whatever you are feeling, you are normal and there’s no shame in that other than our own pride being wounded that we are not living up to our own expectations.
Gena mentioned you are in your first year of homeschooling. I have heard it said that the first year of homeschooling should be more about getting to know each other again and creating organizational plans and delegating, than grades and school. Part of me thinks you had high expectations and haven’t met them and that’s robbing you of your joy.
Mothering is exhausting under any circumstance but throw homeschooling in the mix and being with our offspring 24/7 and you have a completely different exhaustion, in my humble opinion.
Here are my suggestions:
1. Your relationship with your husband should always come before anything else. You will be giving your children a huge gift to see the priority you place on your marriage and each other. So that said, set up a date night, tell the kids you want to surprise daddy with his favorite meal and a date tonight/tomorrow night so you are feeding them early and they are going to bed early because mom and dad are having an in-house date. Get them involved with decorating, setting the table, getting the house clean. The older kids can read, clean their room and even put the little ones to bed. I think this would go a long way in restoring togetherness among the two of you and your children seeing how important you are to each other and what child doesn’t want to surprise daddy before he gets home?
2. Set aside time for yourself this weekend and let your husband know you need this. Whether it be a couple hours at Starbucks, the library, in the bathtub or your room. Make time for you. You can read, watch tv, write letters, craft or sew, but it has to be something you enjoy for you and no interruptions.
3. Delegate. If your children and husband are not doing anything, they have to be in order for homeschooling to work. Your children are not too young to do chores. I think a goal you should have is most of your children doing the bulk of every day chores with you doing half the meals and helping deep clean. You are the manager (and yes I have Managers of their Homes but haven’t used it in years but I certainly learned much from it) so manage and delegate tasks according to age and ability. I own my own business and do a morning paper route, out of necessity when my husband was laid off six years ago and again last August, so my family does the bulk of the house work. It’s the way it has to be when I work almost 40 hours a week. Granted I have my husband home right now so he’s a huge help and has taken off the stress in helping with homeschool and overseeing the children. But our situation is unique because of his unemployment. We also have a small farm and the children do the bulk of those chores as well. We told them if they wanted animals they would be taking care of them because dad and I wanted to do just vegetables! 🙂 We are raising the next generation and our priority is to raise responsible adults who know how to work hard.
If you get these three things set into your schedule, I think all the rest will fall into place over time. Notice I didn’t say overnight. You have a huge adjustment in having all your children home again, but your three older girls, even your 6 year old can learn to take over some of the meals. Start with breakfast or lunch as those can be fairly easy meals to fix. All five of our older kids can cook many to several meals each. Our 7 and 5 year old help with prep work.
As a mom, you have the most important job in the world – raising your children! God chose you to be their mother and them to be your children. He didn’t make a mistake. You can homeschool successfully and He is with you every step of the way. Homeschooling is more than just school. It is our children learning godly character, learning skills to last them a life time, learning to love and forgive. And as Gena’s blog title suggests, “I Choose Joy”, joy is a choice and we need to choose joy no matter the circumstances, just think of the apostle Paul’s example. I doubt he was very pleased to be jailed but he did choose joy amidst a difficult situation. Homeschooling is as much for our children as it is for us. God refines us in the process.
Anyways, I’ve got to bake with my little ones but hope you can take something of what I said and apply it to your life and home.
May you be blessed with strength and encouragement today.