HOMESCHOOLING / LIVING WELL / MOTHERHOOD

homeschooling charts and mom guilt

02.17.11

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. 

film.efb

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. 

this has more to do with guilt

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.

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. 

film.efb

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. 

this has more to do with guilt

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.

36 comments on “homeschooling charts and mom guilt”

  1. I like your chart. I’ve thought about doing more for my kids so they can learn to be more independent. A few years ago, DS’s teacher said he needed to be more self-directed, that he was depending on me to tell him to do everything. I still haven’t implemented what she suggested. Oh well, I’ve got enough guilt without adding that to the list!

    I have learned over time to be better at taking time away. I still don’t get out as much as I probably should, but the times I get girl time, or time in nature, or even just a nap, help me so much, and even me out. As you stand up for yourself and your rights to some self-care time, it gets easier to do it the next time.

    Hang in there, Mama. You are doing just fine!

  2. Aww…yes. I don’t usually suffer from mommy guilt, but the mid-year homeschooling panic attack? Right there, right now! And it’s partly true in our case. We’ve been sliding by, just getting the bare essentials done. We need to regroup (and find our spelling book! I think I need to just order a new one). I like your idea. My oldest is very visual…a list he could check off might be a nice motivator.

  3. Molly, thank you. I’m going to start using “do it nice or do it twice” with N. I think having that rule in place will really help us. And don’t ever feel guilty- I’m in awe of everything you accomplish!

    xo

  4. Funny that my sister and I were just talking about this same topic. I find it so hard to get time. I feel tremendous guilt even though no one is trying to make me feel guilty. You are lucky to have such a group of friends. I call mine my tribe. We have known each other for several years and it is so nice when we meet. Keep taking that time for you. You need it to be the best you can for your family. And hooray for the chart. Sounds like you are off to a great start.

  5. Totally get you on the guilt and the burnout. I’ve come to realise that ‘me-time’ is actually the opposite of selfish because it’s actually productive to harmony in the house – and if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.

    List – seriously going to try this. We have ‘normals’ everyday – stuff they have to do, but maybe a tick sheet would motivate them more. They love tick sheets.

    Be kind to yourself.x

  6. I had huge mommy guilt! until I turned 42. It was when I hurt my leg spreading 10 yards of mulch – alone – and they wanted to know how soon I would get off the sofa with the heating pad to make something for them to eat that I had a huge epiphany. I realized that I was creating 5 very selfish – self centered – dependant people (husband included) and that if I didn’t make them more self reliant they never would be. And I didn’t want to start resenting them for a situation I had created myself! So I started saying no. Saying no and meaning it – while ignoring the instant guilt that I felt. I started saying you are certainly capable of doing that yourself. I started taking more time for doing things that IIIIII like. I started not asking if I could go but telling (nicely of course :O)). All things that were hard for me before. Huge difference. My kids didn’t implode, my husband actually made his own breakfast…once.lol (he still needs some work but after 20 years of being catered to it takes time to change). He complained to me the other day because when he was putting his laundry away he didn’t like that socks and underwear were mixed in with undershirts – he had to sort his pile. He thought I should make separate piles for everything for everyone as I’m folding. Okay, that sounds reasonable I guess, but I do all the laundry for 6 people on Monday. So I have massive piles for each person by the time I am finished. If I sorted the piles for each person too that would be like 30 piles of clothes with me in the center.lol I don’t think so. I think they can sort their pile don’t you? Four years ago I would have been not only folding but putting all the laundry away myself. Three years ago I would have sorted the sorted piles myself and felt guilty that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I think it’s funny that my 10 year old takes her pile sorts it all out and puts it away without a problem. 47 year old husband – whining. :O)

  7. Really, REALLY nice post. Thank you.

    I keep thinking we may be the same person 🙂 Which is helpful during MY times of giult and waffling. It’s nice to know there are other mammas out there making it work every day. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  8. oh, the mom guilt. i know it all too well. but i LOVE the “do it nice or do it twice” rule – brilliance! day two or day three hundred and two, i think this new system earns YOU a few extra minutes doing whatever you like. guilt-free 🙂

  9. I DO think February is just the blahs month. I’m not a homeschooler, but just life in general gets a little crabby and boring. I’m all for the kids being bored, but we took it to new levels! I think your chart rocks and it may just be the thing to get you over the hump. Or maybe not and then you know. You strike me as an honest reflective person and you’ll find your way. Cheers.

  10. My mom learned the hard way…and passed her knowledge on to me…You’ll feel more guilt if you raise your girls up to be women who don’t know how to practice self care. Martyrs. Much better to set an example of how a woman can achieve balance in her life and care for herself so that she may be able to be generous with others. It’s not ‘Me-Time” It’s self care.

  11. It must be the time of year, because you’re the 7th mom in a week I’ve heard discuss sometime-angst over educational choices. Public school, private school, homeschool, montessori, you name it.

    After the fifth mom confided her concerns, mine… didn’t evaporate, but they got put in perspective. It just needs to mostly work for your family, most of the time. I just needed to concentrate on the whys of our family’s choice.

    Oh, and mom’s night out? Can’t live without ’em. Even though mine tend to be every 3 months (2 if I’m lucky!).

  12. I, too, am working on getting over the guilt with some things as I am parenting my first and only. I suspect this struggle to get rid (or at least reduce!) guilt won’t be ending any time soon. Having a net, a tribe (I love that) seems to be *so* important, and is something I need to focus on a bit more. Thank you for this post.

  13. LOve the “do it nic or do i twice”. Definitely going to add that to my encouraging appropriate behaviour arsenal.

    In terms of the mommy guilt – what you have written rings so true for me. I had my first child 11 months ago and I haven’t actually had more than an hour without her (well, except for naps) since them. SOmetimes I think, if I could just have a little break, I would be in a much better place to deal with her. I have booked in a 6 hour long quilting class in March so we will see how she and DH survive that. I am expecting a visit in the middle for a feed – somehow I don’t think a bottle is going to cut it for that long.

  14. yep, I’m there with you on the guilt thing, burn out…etc. I’m taking it a step further and freaking out that my oldest will be registering for high school next year at this time. Do we homeschool? Move closer to the high school? Move to a different district (fat chance the economy will be nice to us)? I wish I had a moms night out…I’m just desperate to find someone that would join me!

  15. Love this post. I am right there with you about the guilt, I find it very difficult to take time for myself. Definitely something to work on. The chart and the line “Do it nice or do it twice” are perfect!

  16. Oh I suffer so much from this guilt–and my guilt isn’t just limited to mama guilt. It covers everything–parents, friends, neighbors, etc… It IS ugly, isn’t it? Guilt has never done me any good–hmmm well that might be not exactly true, but most of my guilt is totally unproductive. I have found though that many times, I actually do not really enjoy my nights out. I think though that it might be the ‘night’ problem. I am just so tired at night…I would much rather curl up in bed than drink a beer. I do need to find a way though…

  17. I had far less trouble with mommy guilt when I worked full time than I do now that we have moved and I am unemployed for the first time in my married life. Suddenly this is my only job and I feel like I can’t leave it. And Tim pulls less weight with housework because he’s the one working and I’m the one at home….::sigh::thanks for your post, molly.

  18. i’m too tired. talk about running on empty. but i almost feel like you wrote this for me.i’m going away sat-mon alone. i’ll tell you more later.i need to go to sleep.and i even feel guilty about that.xo,tara

  19. I am also so bad at finding moments to get away from things, letting the tension build up until I get sent away to the coffee shop for a bit. It’s not good. Guilt against all logic!

    I hope your new system works for you. I’m thinking of doing something like this just for our mornings getting ready for school. I could never handle homeschooling — anyone who does it has my admiration!

  20. As mentioned by a few other commenters, I feel as though you stepped in to my head to write this. I’ve been thinking about a job/ reward chart for my girls (especially the oldest 2, who can’t focus their attention long enough to walk from one room to another and remember what it was they were supposed to be doing) and that ‘do it nice or do it twice’ rule is gold! I’m going to make one now, and then work on sitting down with a cup of tea and my laptop without feeling guilty that I should be cooking or cleaning. Thanks.

  21. I almost called you to go to a cooking class with me at church last night. It was awesome. Well, I have it too — the guilt. I have learned that I need to voice it and do something about doing things for myself rather than bottle it up with a label of resentment.

    good for you. keep it up. we all need to be recharged and refueled.

  22. Are you nearby? Seriously, because I could really use a friend or two like you to help me get over my isolationist, do-it-with-my-own-power, guilt myself out of house and home, panic because I can’t figure it out life. Ridiculous. I really need a tribe and I need it to include other homeschoolers. Off to read those links you shared now.

  23. Since I don’t homeschool, school life and home life are very separate for us, but still chores and homework must get done. My son – age 6 – just clued me in to the fact that at school the schedule is on the wall, they review it every day, and he knows exactly what is going to come next. At home, it seems, I am constantly springing on him that we’ve run out of time and we must now have dinner/baths/books. He is frustrated and confused by this. In the morning, we have no extra time for computer or playing with toys as we must be out the door for school at 7.45.

    I was at first reluctant to commit to a written schedule because I don’t like to set standards that I’m not going to be able to hold up, but I put it on paper and I think it can work. I reviewed it with him and he was satisfied.

    I built in “free time” as part of the afterschool schedule and then again after dinner. And I used an asterisk, a punctuation mark that he’s been really interested in learning to use, to convey that there is only free time after dinner if it is before 7 pm. If dinner ends at 7 or later, we must move straight to bath, etc. I think I’m sounding like I have my s*** together way more than I do, so let me confess that like you, we are on day 2 of our brand new life.

    xxxoo

  24. I just have to say bless your heart on 2 counts.1. That was just what I needed to hear about homeschooling. I am struggling with should we or not. It was a fantastic perspective….and love the chart idea.

    2. Mommy guilt. Oh how I am familiar with your work! I am learning that same lesson. I have to take care of me to be able to take care of my peeps. I think of the airplanes lesson….i get the oxygen first so I can give it to my guys.

    Keep your chin up!Thanks for sharing.

  25. You’re not alone in this. Frustration builds up in our house when schoolwork and other things don’t get done – really, it is a lack of a chart or schedule. (Not to mention an attitude problem with all of us.) When I don’t have one of those, I find that I get cranky, the kids get cranky and all is not well. I’ve already been thinking that I need to reinstate some sort of daily check-list for my 2 younger ones so they can stay on track better and show more independence & responsibility for their work. Thanks for the reminder.

  26. i read this a couple of days ago and it’s been on my mind ever since. i have come to the conclusion that needing time to myself is not selfish and i shouldn’t feel guilty about it, BUT it is hard to take the initiative sometimes. i need to work on making it happen, you know?also, i have instituted do it nice or do it twice in conjunction with em’s 5 minute freeze for disrespect and wouldn’t you know, things are going rather smoothly around the house. imagine that!thanks for all the good ideas, friend. miss you. xo.

  27. I am unfortunately not a mom yet. However, I am a 34 year old daughter of a wonderful mother who devotes all of herself to her kids. One thing I really wish I could get her to understand is exactly this what this post is about. The times that she has spent REGULAR time(a walk around the block doesn’t count)for herself (usually taking some sort of class), she is a much better mom, happier person, more comfortable in her own skin, and refreshed.

  28. Oh, girl. I can sing it, but darned if I can’t do it myself. I can beat myself up, especially in the afternoons when the sitter comes so I can work and she’s off playing with the kids and I’m like “I SHOULD BE DOING THAT!” which, hello, I spend all morning teaching and playing but still. Sigh.

  29. I don’t know why until now I didn’t realise you’re homeschooling! I was just looking into that the other week (bit prematurely as litte one is just turning 1) but still, who knows…!

  30. Hi, new reader here. I’m so with you. I don’t homeschool, but I am a SAHM and wonder why I am wracked with guilt when I need some “me” time, when I spend just about every waking moment with my kids when they are not in school – and my three-year-old is home w/ me still, so we have tons of bonding time. I know I need it, but it’s hard to go through the hoops in order to get it, find a sitter, call my folks, etc.

  31. I love the new mantra…I may have to use that one. The chart idea is fabulous. And believe me, you are not alone in the February burn out. I go through the same doubt/guilt cycle every year before spring. Hmmm, a night out with my girlfriends would be nice…if it weren’t for this pesky flu season we’re enduring.

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