Homeschooling was not what I had in mind when I had children. I left my job when JT was about to be born and planned to return to the work force when both boys were in school.
If only things always went the way we plan...
You may be wondering how I keep such a positive outlook now that I've found myself at home with two boys, teaching subjects that I sometimes find interesting, sometimes most definitely do NOT, listening to those two boys do everything they can to irritate each other AND me, spend quite a bit of my spare time researching how to do chemistry experiments, how to teach Algebra to a kid that wants nothing to do with it, how to get a homeschooled child into college, and seeing the possibility of ever having my own dreams of a college education fulfilled fade into the past.
I'll share the keys that I have found to keep me sane through these crazy days.
First of all, LOTS of coffee. I kill coffee makers. Seriously. I recently had a yard sale where I had SEVEN carafes from the coffee makers I have annihilated in the past four years. The warranty people from Black & Decker and Mr. Coffee all know my voice.
Flexibility. I mean it. When something comes up, we move our schooling schedule around to make things happen. If I just can't seem to get everyone motivated to finish the whole list for the day, we alter the list and add things to days later in the week. Everything eventually gets done. The boys are still working at grade level or above in all subjects. I am not worried that their futures are going to be negatively impacted when mom suddenly decides she REALLY doesn't want to read aloud from the Pennsylvania history book on a dreary Friday afternoon. It's not the end of the world when the list is not finished. It took me many years of hard life-lessons to accept this truth. Take it from me, life is easier when you write your to-do list at the END of the day and cross off all the things you completed.
Support. I have been blessed with the most supportive husband in the world. From the very beginning of our homeschooling journey he has been behind the plan one hundred percent. I feel horrible when I read about women whose husbands worry that their kids aren't getting what they need homeschooling. Of course we have days where we question if the kids could do better in a more traditional school setting, but when we have those days, WE have them. It's a discussion. We also have the support of the rest of our family. No one thinks we are nuts for homeschooling. At least, if they do, they don't tell us.
Time to recharge. I love my boys. I even like my boys. But I DO NOT want to be with them all the time. Fortunately I have people in my life who allow me to get away. Because my husband works from home, I can skip off on a quick errand and leave the boys with him. They are old enough now that they can do their own work and he can continue to do his work with little intervention. Not having to take them on every trip to the grocery store allows me a little breathing room. When my husband and I want to get away for an evening, or an extended trip alone, our adult daughter and her husband always step up and take the boys. I am very thankful that we have someone we trust who enjoys taking care of them. She also understands most of their quirkiness which makes it even easier on all of us.
My own life. One of these days, the boys will be finished with their years of schooling and I'll have loads of free time. If I allow my whole life to revolve only around theirs, I'll be in a sorry place when that time comes. I try to avoid that pitfall. I stay active in our church, helping with as many efforts as I can without overextending myself. I make time for my friendships. Most are long distance friends who I keep up with via email, chatting, and phone calls. I try to stay healthy and go running regularly. My favorite past time has always been reading. I don't always get to read what I want anymore because I have to read ahead in textbooks for planning, but I still keep a book beside the bed and in my purse when I leave the house. I also take classes through Coursera when I can squeeze them in, hoping to stay up to speed with my own learning in case I ever do make it back to school.
But if I don't make it back to school, it won't be the end of the world. I no longer feel that I can't be successful without a college education. I already feel successful because I am doing something I never thought I could do. I am happy doing it. My boys are making great progress in both their book learning and their real-life learning. Our family is close and we continue to enjoy spending time together. Who knows if that would have been the case if the boys were away at school for hours each day and I was busy with a career?
I do know that I am glad things don't always go the way we plan.