Homeschooling, as I have been finding out to my great surprise, is not for the faint of heart. Actually, nothing about motherhood is for the faint of heart. Sometime in the dim past I thought being a mom would be so easy. I loved babies and children. I had lots of experience with babysitting. I knew how to cook. I had this down cold. Then I had my first baby. Suddenly I realized that I knew so very little, and that while babysitting is good experience it doesn't even come close to preparing someone for being a 24/7 mommy.
Flash forward fifteen years and eight babies. I know so much more, but the most important thing I've learned is how little I really know. Baby #7 was and still is a huge challenge. Adding him to our school life took so much energy because he only wanted human arms - no swings, baby rockers, etc. Thankfully I had long since been comfortable wearing my babies so that helped. Still though it's tiring to teach five children of various ages, keep a preschooler happy and wear a baby. By the end of the 2011-2012 school year I was a little tired of school. Of course, my newest pregnancy was probably contributing to the fatigue.
I started school a couple of weeks earlier than usual in August 2012 so we could take extra time off when our new baby arrived sometime around the end of the year. Things were going pretty well until I started having complications with the pregnancy in late October and had to severely cut back on outings, housework, any activity really. After a difficult two months we finally welcomed our new little one just before 2013 started.
|at 10 pounds they're still small|
Baby #7 was not impressed with our new addition, who incidentally has been our easiest baby. He is happy and laid back with a beautiful dimple in each cheek. However, I was tired - tired of school, tired of always trying to figure out why my toddler was crying this time, tired of marking papers and being on a schedule, tired of never having time to sew, just plain tired. I don't know if this was burnout or just some heavy post partum fatigue due to a difficult third trimester.
|check out the dimples|
When school ended in early June I think I was happier than all of our children combined. Usually we do a little math three to four days a week just to keep up on the basics. This summer I decided that we'd just do some extra review in the fall. Then the reading lessons I was doing with my kindergartener slowly petered out over the summer. It was only about twenty minutes in the morning, but it started to feel like a burden.
I finally decided I needed to give myself some grace. It's okay if my children forget a few facts over the summer. It's perfectly fine if it takes my third son a little longer to learn how to read than it did his older siblings. If I want to sew because I enjoy it that's okay too - especially since so much of what I make is for my children anyway. I needed to try to not be so perfect for a while.
You know how it is. You read this and that blog. Their lives look so perfect and you think you have to implement ideas x, y and z to be the perfect mother. But that is such an unattainable goal. I needed to give myself the grace to quit trying to be perfect or to implement every idea that I thought would make our lives easier. I needed to relax and enjoy my family. So that's what I did this summer.
I did so much sewing. I love to sew and was surprised at how much I accomplished when I gave myself permission to just go at it. I went on errands with my husband when he was off work...something I can't do during the school year. Who knew grocery shopping could be a date? It was fun. We enjoyed lots of time together this summer. I let thoughts for a new chore system perk in my brain until I came up with something workable the week before we started school. And I slowly here and there started preparing for a new school year but without much enthusiasm.
|one of my sewing projects|
About two days before we were to start school I was finally getting excited. The children were excited to start a new year. My toddler is settling down so much. He's easier to keep occupied and the baby has worked into our school life quite easily.
So I've come to the conclusion that I should have given myself a dose of grace a long time ago. I'm so much more relaxed now than I was just a few months ago. I feel like I've had a fresh start. Our first week of school has been the best week I remember having in a long time. I had been feeling like I couldn't go on with homeschooling, but now I think I'm ready for another good long while. That's a good thing since I probably have almost another twenty years of it.
|getting set up|
|starting her Bible lesson|
Next time I'm feeling burned out I'm going to step back and see where I need to introduce some grace into my life.
How has homeschooling gone for you? Have you felt burned out and what helped?