I probably shouldn't be writing about a new system the day after I put it into place. To be fair, I should probably have a few weeks of it under my belt before I go spouting off about how great it is and how it is going to change our homeschooling days forever, and how my child is now going to be so successful and there will be no more complaining and eye-rolling, and whining, and, and, and.….
But, it's on my brain. I need to spout off about it. So here you go.
I'm having my yearly "question all the educational decisions I am making for my oldest child" breakdown. I am really beginning to think this happens at about the same time every year. Call it burn out, if you will. But things are a bit different this year because I find my husband beginning to question a bit as well. Usually, I'm the waffler and he's on the straight and narrow, "we'll get through this" path. But this is a long discussion for another day. Maybe.
In the meantime, there is still school to do. There is still progress that needs to be made. There is change that needs to happen. I'm not throwing in the towel in the middle of February.
When I was in San Francisco (I promise I'll stop talking about it soon, but give me a break. I don't get out much.) one of the lovely moms I had the pleasure of spending some time with was Kristen, from Cool Mom Picks. She also happens to be a homeschooling mama, and writes weekly on Ree's Pioneer Woman homeschooling blog. Her post last week talked about the importance of not only finding your tribe, but also putting in as much effort as you do in finding social outlets for children, for yourself. We need to take care of ourselves, mamas.
I'm horrible at this. Usually, nothing happens until my breakdowns and anguish have reached epic levels. Then, I call in for reinforcement. My husband sends me away by myself for a few hours. My mom takes me shopping or for a haircut or a manicure. I take a nap and wake up to a miraculously clean house.
The problem is that I really suffer from a lot of guilt. The moment I step away from my home or "my duties" and leave someone else in charge (aka, my husband) I feel guilty. I feel like I'm asking him to do something that I should be doing. Never mind, that he also happens to be my husband, my helpmate, and yes, their father. But still. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
But lately, I've been realizing, as women, this social outlet, this interaction, this girl-time, is so important for our well-being. So I've been trying to be better about finding it, seeking it out, and making it happen.
San Francisco was an example. (there I go again.) and so was this past Tuesday night. I get together with a group of moms about once a month. Our kids play and get dirty, and (usually someone ends up bleeding or bitten by a wild mouse–long story) the moms sit in the kitchen, eat cupcakes, unload our woes, stories, and listen to ways we can pray for each other.
But last Tuesday night, we decided to go out together, kid-free. It was wonderful. But after being gone to SanFran the week before, I felt all the guilt of asking for another night "off" creeping up. But, this time, I shoved it away. Told it to get lost, and knew that in the long run, these two hours away would be better for not only me, but the whole family.
And I needed them. I needed to unload some of my current struggles to these friends. The conversation was uplifting, encouraging and full of good ideas.
So, this is a round-about way to show you some of the "fruit" of that night, but apparently, I needed to say this. Friends, whether homeschooler or not, let go of some of that guilt. I fight it every day. It's ugly. But we need to take care of ourselves, too. I'm a big hater of the word "me-time". But I have to admit there is some truth to finding some ways to care for our own souls so that we can come back to our days with a cup that's a little more full, instead of running on empty.
It was the genius of these three women that inspired this chart. Emma needs to get more done in a day. And she (and I both) need there to be more independence. My friend Jen told me the genius line of "Do it nice. Or do it twice!" It has become my mantra. I LOVE it. And we also discussed motivating Emma with one of her favorite things that she always begs for–time on the computer.
Yesterday we both sat down and charted out what we thought needed to be accomplished in a day. She listed three things, I listed the ones that you see made the final list. (She did agree that chores needed to be done, and reading. She also wanted to give two speeches a week. We'll work on that….)
Yesterday we put it into place. And all went smoothly. I'm not going to be so bold as to say this is life-changing. Yet. Because you know, this is day two. And right now, she's down at the stream with her sisters and I'm on the computer. But there is reassurances that when she comes back inside, she'll know exactly what needs to be accomplished in a day. And yesterday, when offered the chance to go outside with her sisters, she said, "I really should just get my dictation done first so everything on my chart is finished." Huh?? Whose child is this???
Maybe this post really isn't about a chart. It's more about me. About us. If you've read this far, bless you. Thanks for bearing with me. Oftentimes, these posts are more about me reminding myself of the things I'm learning and striving for. And just maybe, you'll share a little bit in that goodness, as well.