As I mentioned in my last post, the first couple weeks of our homeschooling experience has had its ups and downs. Part of the challenge is like any other beginning to the school year — to know what the expectations are, to learn and understand how a normal day unfolds, and just in general settling into a routine takes time. At our home school we learned quickly that the schedule we meticulously set this summer for our average day needed a major overhaul and by day 2 we were re-writing it. It’s ok, though, we half-expected that – even the best, most carefully laid plans rarely survive contact with reality without requiring major changes. This is especially true when your reality includes 2 very bright children: one a slow, methodical, perfectionist 9year-old learner and one a very speedy, impatient nearly 7year-old learner who has very little attention to or interest in details unless she is specifically interested in said details.
Suffice to say by the middle of week two, I was starting to come undone a bit. It wasn’t concern about my kids’ education. Really that part is pretty clear — we’ve researched and worked hard to make sure that is all laid out to set our children up for success. No, my concerns were based more in questions like ‘will my children would still like me at all when they are grown after this or just see me as a crazy schoolmarm’ and ‘will I survive this exercise?’ The best way I can describe how those first two weeks felt are if you imagine not working out of the house for 10years and then not only starting a full-time career again, but make it a running new company with headquarters in your home and you spend 24hours a day and 7 days a week with your coworkers. The return to work alone is a shock to the system and — especially for an introvert like myself — the 24/7 of it is just draining and exhausting. There were evenings when I mostly just wanted to cry or at the very least not speak or think for a couple hours once our school day ended. Those were the ‘down’ moments — although difficult in the moment, I knew they were things I’d get used to in time.
The ‘up’ moments included how my son sat down very maturely with me to discuss changes to his schedule, asking for very reasonable alterations like math in the afternoon instead of the morning and time for creative writing. It was pretty nice to be able to fast-forward my daughter through the first couple units of math because she really didn’t need to spend multiple days practicing counting to 10 since she counts to 110+ with ease and accuracy. It has been awesome to see my son relax and really thrive without the anxiety he had in his public school. I loved finding inspiration for my daughter to improve her handwriting with the promise of being able to be pen-pals with my mom. It was really amazing to have a lesson in plants that allowed us to spend time in the garden and to have the freedom to take field trips for hands-on learning. And it was pretty cool how it just worked out that the local art center is offering art classes for home schoolers once a week that works with our schedule. The ‘ups’ were pretty significant.
I’m thankful for my husband who despite working long hours at his job does his best to provide me with those important quiet moments. When I was at my wits end because when my daughter gets bored or tired a lot of the negative stuff she witnessed last year in school comes out in a torrent, it’s my husband who could easily see the forest for the trees and helped me set up some accountability and incentive for her to leave that behavior behind her. I’m thankful that his field days with the kids are optional for me — so that I can write or clean or do all the things that are no longer happening during the daytime.
I’m also thankful for our sweet dog, Moose.
Not only providing extra snuggles in the evenings, whenever my daughter is having a moment he comes over to try to calm everyone down. As ridiculous as it is, it works! It’s hard not to laugh when this big crazy dog is thwacking into everything with his wild tail or when he inadvertently picks the kitchen table up with his back and moves it 2″ this way and 4″ that way. It’s hard for my daughter to remember whatever random thing she doesn’t feel like doing when the 85lb dog is burrowing his head into her lap, too. He is such a huge help.
And I’m thankful for knitting which gives me a form of meditation, something to quiet my mind, and a sense of accomplishment no matter what the day brings. This weekend, I took advantage of some time in the car and some real weekend time and got some real knitting done. I’m very happy to share that I not only finished my Pussywillow Mitts…
But I also wrapped up my String Theory Colorworks AfterThought Heel Socks…
You might remember I came up short on yarn for this sweater. So one year later I went to the same annual fiber festival where I purchased the original skeins and picked up the last two skeins in the yarn & color of the sweater. And they just happened to be the same dye lot.
After the ups and downs of beginning the school year, it felt really good to wrap-up some projects. While it always feels good to click away on something, that satisfying tick from WIP to FO was even more monumental this weekend after a somewhat emotional week. I know our weeks and months and years as homeschooling parents — and as parents in general — will always be full of ups and downs. I think it is simply the nature of the beast. While in the moment it can be really hard to see the forest for the trees, I know that overall we are getting closer every day to having all the daily routine wrinkles ironed-out. I know that the kids are working hard and are very happy. I know that I will most likely survive this exercise and my kids will probably still like me when they’re grown. I know that the kids will have a great education and we will have bonds that are — according to my son — indestructible. These sentiments are the forest that is sometimes obscured in the moment, the thoughts I need to keep in mind when the dog is knocking the table all over the kitchen.
This week is another week and while it probably won’t be perfect, we’ll all do our best, we’ll all keep working those wrinkles out, we’ll remain thankful that we have this awesome opportunity to be a homeschooling family, and hopefully we’ll manage to keep the kitchen table upright. I’ll keep my knitting close and the forest in my sights.