SummaryFinding balance in homeschooling may be out of reach but look, an unfurling ribbon of tiny, stunning performances is at your fingertips.
While sitting in my teensy cubicle at Seton, anticipating the next counseling call and fantasizing about the instant my eighth and youngest child would graduate from school, a call came bleating in.
“I have five children enrolled in Seton,” a mom whispered to me in a way that sounded as if she could hardly believe what she’d done to herself. “They’re in second grade,” she went on to say, “fifth grade, seventh grade, ninth grade, and eleventh grade. Plus, I have an eight-month-old baby, two annoying parakeets, a leaky dishwasher, and no sleep. How am I supposed to balance all this?”
I thought a moment, and then I told her my answer.
Balancing implies that you’re doing everything at the same time. This is impossible.
The life of a homeschooling mom is an unfurling ribbon of tiny, stunning performances, witnessed by God, your family, friends, and even, perhaps, those pesky parakeets, if they’re paying attention. The trick is to avoid getting tangled into knots.
Sidestep the Tangle
Next week, assess the natural sway of your day and then lay out your schedule with that in mind. For example, if nobody gets going until
ten, set eleven as the time school should begin.
This way, you’re not fighting your family’s natural rhythm. Assess your children’s skills and abilities and delegate.
Dole out chores, so all the household duties do not fall exclusively on you. When you see a job that needs to be done, give it to the youngest kid who can carry it out.
Otherwise, the tendency is to give everything to the oldest.
Children can help each other with school, listening to reading lessons, or multiplication flash cards, for instance.
As in a brick-and-mortar school, your children may have to wait for the teacher’s attention. They will be more patient and cooperative if they know this in advance and believe that you will get to them when you are free.
Make sure you are using Seton’s lesson plans as a tool. If you find them overwhelming, pare back, look at what needs to be done, and set aside the extras.
Allow your kids the freedom to schedule their day within parameters you have previously set. This gives them a sense of control.
Let them choose the order in which they do their subjects and, if possible, allow them a pocket of space that is theirs to study in. Little kids like to study in little, cozy places.
Let high schoolers be responsible for themselves. Have them check in with you once a week to ensure they stay on schedule and advance confidently. This is good training for the future. You’re learning to let go, and they’re learning to be responsible adults.
Finally, put a towel under the dishwasher, set the parakeets’ cage at the farthest possible end of the house, and when your eight-month-old takes a nap, you take one too. I give you permission.
About the Author:
Heather Hibl, Seton Elementary Counselor, lives in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia with her blue-eyed husband and her eight blue-eyed children. She is always missing the ocean and nearly always craving blueberry muffins. Obviously, her favorite color is blue. Oh, and she also likes to write.