Incredible and Isolating: First Year of Homeschooling
We are 6 weeks into our first year of homeschooling and I can officially say that it has been the best decision for our family. But as amazing as it has been, I have also had moments where I have felt incredibly isolated.
Our decision to home school our four children was made surprisingly easily. It was surprising, because overall our kid’s 21 combined years of education have been excellent. Our kids have been blessed with some great teachers along the way and they have excelled academically and socially despite some early speech delays, focus issues and shyness that they have had to overcome.
In spite of the goodness of their schooling, our lives had become increasingly more frantic. I felt like I was constantly forgetting something- after school practices, signed permission slips, spelling test reviews, initialing home assignments, filling out practice records, making lunches, keeping track of three different start times and bus schedules. By the time our kids came home at night, they were almost as tired and grumpy as I was, but they still had to complete their homework. The worst time of the day was when I needed to be making dinner. Consequently, when my husband arrived home, we were often all stressed and unhappy.
We knew that something needed to change.
We spent the summer preparing for the home school year; choosing curriculum, purchasing new furniture and supplies needed to do school at home, preparing the kids for this transition and reading everything we could. By the time our first day of school came around, we were ready to begin.
I knew in my head that this was going to be good for our family, but I didn’t expect it to be great. It has been. There are times in the day when I feel absolutely giddy. I get to read books to my kids that I want to read to them. If I think they need to write a review, I get to choose that. If they are tired, I know why and taking breaks are at my own discretion. I can make up art projects that coincide with what they are learning in history. I can have my son make banana bread and double the recipe when he is working on doubling in math. If it’s a beautiful day, we might decide to go on a hike and look for fairy houses or go to the beach in the middle of the day.
The kids love that they don’t have homework, but the amazing thing is that they do work in their free time without even realizing it. As I am writing this, I am sitting with my sons who are playing Minecraft and building spaceships and lunar landers complete with the command modules and heat shields, the result of studying astronomy in science and watching NASA documentaries. My daughter is working on a notebook that she is making for a friend. She has spent hours on this project and it is quite elaborate and imaginative. The fact that my kids are using their free time in these ways is amazing to me.
Incredible as all of this has been, I have also experienced feelings of isolation. I haven’t quite figured out how to balance everything in my life. While making dinner has become in many ways dreamy, laundry and housecleaning continue to be haphazard and overwhelming. Faithfulness in my part time job is challenging, because I am adapting to a new schedule, one that isn’t even close to the flexibility I used to enjoy. My interactions with friends have changed. I find that I forget to respond to texts and emails. Phone calls, while difficult before homeschooling, are nearly impossible now! One night, I completely forgot that I had signed up to bring dinner to a new mom. So, while the school mom pressures have been taken away, I have a new set of pressures that are weighing me down.
I think the hardest part in all of this and what leaves me feeling isolated is not being able to talk freely about it all. If I shared every moment that has been amazing or all of the things we have been able to experience, I know that I would very quickly annoy everyone (including myself!). I want to be careful with the information I share, especially as my kids are getting older and are more sensitive to things being said about them.
But I am an extrovert! I love being able to share experiences with people I love and as a result I am feeling a bit… well, isolated! In my attempts to not be annoying, I am feeling shut off.
And so, I think I might start sharing a little more here. My blog has been pretty quiet of late and as I talk to many of my friends in the blog world, this seems to be a general trend. In some ways, I am thankful for this quietness, because it gives me the freedom to share here without worrying about the whole annoying-the-masses thing.
If you have made it this far in all of my ramblings, thank you. It’s not good for an extrovert to feel isolated for too long and so I am thankful for this place to share what is on my heart. While choosing to home school our kids feels like a huge shift, it is also the natural progression of our lives. I would love for you to stick around for this crazy ride!