Thursday, February 17, 2011


Oh yes, it has arrived. I admit, here and now, I have entered the Apathy Stage.  Revel in it with me for a moment.  The entire household has been down for the last couple of weeks with intermittent occurrences of head-colds, stomach bugs, and in my case, epic pregnancy-induced heartburn.  For the last little bit we’ve been foraging instead of having regular meals, living off saltine crackers and suspicious looking leftovers.  Dishes and laundry are piling up. Half my kids have been running around in pajamas, the other half, undies and T shirts that haven’t been changed in a few days.  I think I’m the only one who has bothered to shower in nearly a week.  I may not feel good, but I insist on smelling good.  As for the others, I’ve ordered them to stay downwind. 
We (but especially me) are officially suffering from burnout.  With everything.  School, chores, church, interpersonal communication, hygiene…(I warned you I was keeping things real here.) Even TV has lost it’s mind-numbing charm.  Consequently, the house is in chaos and the bickering between the kids has increased.  I’ve been tempted to put hazard tape up across the front door. It is NOT pretty here.
However, before I’ve completely depressed you, I will say that I know this is temporary.  I know as soon as I start feeling better, things will improve, by virtue of the fact that I’ll care about the state of the kitchen and general housekeeping again.  I’ll go back to insisting on daily bathing rituals.  I’ll get excited about using the copy machine to run off math lessons.  Right now, the kids are on the upswing, meaning they have tons more energy than I do—but they’re all young enough to still need a lot of hand holding to help with chores and still need considerable one-on-one time for schoolwork.  They are bored and I can only boss them around from my prone position on the couch for so long before they revolt and run screaming into the backyard half naked.
Sometimes, when you feel crummy and don’t want to face the day, I think it really is best to surrender to that and hide under the covers as long as the kids will allow.  I’ve heard crashes and clunks and screechings as I’ve been buried in blankets, and when no one comes in bleeding or on fire, I manage to quell the concern over what’s happening by reminding myself that everything in the house is cleanable or replaceable.  Wow, I’ve really sunk low.
Burnout is a part of life—and it often seems to hit me and my family when we’ve been under the weather or had some major change in the family or our environment.  I used to stress about those “blah-I’d-rather-be-doing-anything-but-this” times, thinking I was shortchanging my kids’ education.  I mean, what if they get “behind?”  What if I get SO burned out I can never get out of feeling this way?  But now, I know that this kind of thing is cyclical.  Sometimes, you can force yourself out of it by changing your routine, or taking a couple of days off.  Other times, you just have to ride out the ugliness. When things are good, they’re great.  When they aren’t, they aren’t—and it only makes things worse when you stress out.
I’ve found that having friends to talk to helps a lot.  I meet up once every month or so with a group of other homeschooling moms—we call our meetings “Mother’s Meeting.”  No kids are allowed (except nursing babies) and we meet at someone’s house for a couple of hours to talk about whatever’s going on in our lives.  Our meetings generally have themes or topics and each mom is asked to come prepared to talk about whatever the topic is.  Questions and concerns are encouraged and “what works for you” ideas are even more so.  I find these meetings inspiring—it’s nice to see I’m not the only one dealing with balancing housework with homework, and it’s fun to rejoice in each other’s triumphs.  It’s comforting to share each other’s burdens and concerns.  We laugh, we cry, we encourage each other. Oh, and we generally have treats.  Always an upper, in my opinion.
This month’s meeting is in a week or so, and fittingly, our topic is “Burnout—when does it hit and what do you do?”  I’m looking forward to this meeting because I SO need it.  I’ll post what I learn/gain here on this blog afterward.
Now, back to the couch and the ginger ale.

Monday, February 7, 2011

School in the Time of Upheaval

Just when I felt I had this homeschooling thing figured out and running smoothly—weekly schedule ironed out, lessons planned, supplies purchased or borrowed, chores assigned—our family and household has been thrown into some upheaval.
We’ve had the unexpected addition of some extra people to our household and it appears we will be accommodating said extras for an indeterminate amount of time. This has changed the dynamics of everything from meal times and preparation and timing of lessons to space in the house and the car.  Maybe that sounds like no big deal, but believe me—it is.  There are discipline issues and differing expectations that make for plenty of awkwardness and Motrin-worthy headaches. There have been no end of distractions from schooling (some minor and just annoying, some major and downright frightening.)  And this is not including a newfound anxiety of where to put and what to do with the baby I’m due with in a mere four weeks.
Consequently, we’ve had to fit school in wherever and whenever we can.  I never considered myself a “structure” person, and never put much stock in having a routine, but now that we don’t have any of that anymore, any sense of routine and normalcy is what I crave most.  There have been days where I’ve had to abandon formal school time and just grit my teeth and endure the goings-on around here.  There have been times when I’ve needed to put myself in “time out” so I don’t turn a hard situation into an awful one.  I long for things to go back to  normal…but it appears we’ll have to redefine normal.
I apologize for sounding both cryptic and grim.  What I’d like to get across in this post is that even though we’re in the midst of a less-than-ideal situation, we’re trying to make the best of it.  I’ve had to let go of my expectations that things will run smoothly in any given hour, and I’ve had to practice patience when I’d rather run screaming from the room (or send other people screaming from the room!)  I’m trying to find humor in all the craziness, and I think I’m succeeding (most days.) 
My point here is that even when times are hard, and things aren’t going as planned, we can still accomplish a lot.  We can still learn a lot.  It’s a matter of reassessing one’s priorities. In our case right now, we’re more in survival mode than anything else.  We’re spending less time learning math, grammar, and history, but more time learning adaptability, patience, and diplomacy.  I suppose I should include that we’re learning more about love and charity (by far, the hardest lessons for me.)  In the grand scheme of things, those are probably the most important lessons to learn.