Job loss. Moving. New babies. High risk pregnancy. Hospitalization. Injury. Chronic pain disability.
These are a few of the things that we, at the Non Stepford house, have dealt with during our almost (gasp!) eight years of homeschooling.
That’s one of the many things nobody warns you about when you embark on the homeschooling path. Life keeps happening. As a homeschooler, you’re not immune to the chaos that life throws at you. In fact, I sometimes wonder if homeschooling isn’t some sort of lightening rod for it, or if it’s like hanging a sign on your front door saying, “Murphy! Come visit!”
The old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Personally, the only place I tend to get going is to the fridge, to see if there’s any cheesecake hidden away.
I’ve been asked, many, many times, why I don’t just put the Minions in public school. I’ve given many thoughtful, profound answers over the years, but really, it boils down to three things: 1) Homeschooling is best for our family, 2) I don’t want to, and 3) I’m stubborn as all holy heck. To me, asking why I don’t put the kids in school is akin to asking, “Why don’t you quit parenting?” It’s a part of our life as a family now, and not something I’d ever willingly give up, at least during the elementary years. High school, I’m willing to negotiate on, depending on what the situation is. Heck, I’ve been known to BEG Diva, our almost 16-year-old, to try high school, but no dice.
See, I’m not someone who always planned to homeschool. We started as a direct result of Diva being horribly bullied…so we started out in chaos. And have been fumbling our way through ever since.
My tips for homeschooling through chaos:
Scale back – Do what you can, as you can. If that means math and read alouds are the extent of your ability that day, that’s okay.
Use media – Personally, I love me some National Geographic. There are loads of science shows geared for children, and I have no guilt at all in plugging them in to Magic School Bus, Kratts Creatures, or similar. The Middle Minions think Horrible Histories is fantastic. I also looked for free online ‘games’ for reading, spelling and math. They think they’re playing, but I know they’re learning. Win!
Delegate – Daddy Wolf is probably the biggest resource I have. I can count on him to oversee math, to have the kids read to him, and to do read alouds when I’m not able. Diva, the teenager, does art with the Middle Minions, because since becoming one-armed (and left at that!) cutting, sewing, and painting are not in my abilities.
Be patient – This is for you. Remember, when chaos hits, everyone is out of sync. Kids are more rambunctious, or at least the Minions are. If I’m stressed, or out of whack, so are they. I find that giving them some physical activities outside helps tremendously. Burn off that energy, so they can settle down and focus.
Accept outside help – Granted, sometimes this isn’t even an option. We’ve been in a new city, without a support system, so I understand how that happens. But, if you have anyone you can turn to, that can help at all, LET THEM. Ask for help and support. You might be amazed at what folks will do when emergencies arise.
So. There you have it. Five tips for surviving chaos, and still homeschooling. My number six tip, is possibly the most important though: Remember, this too shall pass. And it will, and it does. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.