Friday, January 16, 2015

The Beauty of Homeschooling

I have a skill that was invaluable in the business world.  Focus.  I can get a list together, put my nose down and get it done without anything distracting me.  I love the feeling of being DONE.  I love getting into a zone and not coming up for air until my idea has come to fruition.  This same skill has proven to be useless and even frustrating as a homeschooling mom.

Last week I had an agenda.  We were back at "school" after a two week break and I wanted them to understand that I meant business.  I set expectations with my tiny students (5 and 3) and we got to work.  For five minutes.  Then the baby woke up.  

I wasn't to be swayed.  I grabbed my beautiful girl and a handful of snacks to keep her happy and coralled the kids upstairs in the play/school room.  I locked our food driven puggle (beagle/pug mix - very cute!) behind the baby gate and started reading about Egyptian Pharaohs.  

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH" the baby sang as she slapped the book out of my hands. 
"No no, honey.  Here, do you want your snack?" I asked her as I tried to get back to Egypt.  She smiled and dumped the full bowl of Cheerios and raisins on the floor.  I took a deep breath and started refilling the bowl as I read.  She decided to help and plopped down on her bottom, right onto my full cup of water.  (Why did I put the water on the floor?!)  "Luke!  Can you get me a towel from the bathroom?" I asked as I picked up my soaking wet child to change her.

"Okay!" he yelled back as he burst into action, thrilled to be needed.  But instead of going to the bathroom upstairs, he opened the gate to get a towel downstairs.  The dog ran up and promptly began eating all the snacks I had brought up for them.  

"He's eating our snacks!" my three year old yelled.  As I wrangled the dog, my daughter decided to try out the stairs for the first time.  I grabbed her ankle before she tumbled down then sat down in a heap of Cheerios, raisins, water and frustration.  

All this within ten minutes.  As the day progressed, it didn't get any better.  I felt completely spent by lunch time.  I called my husband.  "You wouldn't believe how awful it was today!!  It was like herding cats!  The boys just want to play with their new toys and run around and Rosie is into everything.  But I did manage to get done with school," I assured him.

"That sounds awful," he said.  He paused for a moment before saying something else and I knew he was trying to figure out the best way to phrase it.  "Now, I know it's always easier to see another way from the outside, but isn't flexibility one of the joys of homeschooling?  I mean, if they were that nuts, couldn't you have just scrapped the morning and tried again in the afternoon?" 

I thought for a moment, trying to weigh the merits of his words.  Flexibility - Isn't that one of the reasons I give for choosing homeschooling?  Wouldn't that, in the end, make it easier on everyone?    Yes, he had something there.  "You're right, babe.  It's just so hard when I see the check list.  I want to get it done.  It makes me feel like I'm doing this well," I explained.

"Well, why don't you look at your checklist a little differently?  You can do it anytime that day, not just in the morning.  On the days they are really distracted, let it go.  And on days they are really into it, just keep going," he suggested.

And so I have.  Or at least I've tried.  We went to this beautiful park the other morning and my oldest and I snuggled on the couch to do our work as his siblings slept in the afternoon.  We have been reading when my daughter is sleeping or at the kitchen table when she is safely snacking in her high chair.  I'm working (always working!) on letting go of the checklist and, instead relishing the moments we have to learn about this incredible world all together.

Do you struggle with the need to control?  Kids teach us so much about letting that go.  How can you let go of some of your agenda today in order to embrace theirs?

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