Welcome to Our Hot-Mess Homeschool Life
For those of you who are homeschool moms please understand this post is not directed at you at all! This post is directed at my personal experience as a homeschool mom with two big kids and two toddlers 17 months apart. This experience is my experience. I'm sure all of you have it ALL together! Me on the other hand, my homeschool experience was ROUGH! It was HARD! But we did the best we could with the babies either breast-feeding or undertow. We survived the school year and that's all that matters at this point.
For me, being a homeschool mom was overwhelming every single year. Our first year homeschooling, Julia was 4 1/2 and Mark was 3. That year was overwhelming because I had no idea what I was doing and I was so hard on myself. My goal was to get Julia reading at a 6th grade reading level and I set all these hard core standards for her and myself that just were not reachable.
The second year we homeschooled was rough because Julia was 5 1/2, Mark was 4 and Micah was a newborn...oh that year having a third was so joyful because I wanted Micah so badly, but at the same time Micah was the baby who barely slept, nursed around the clock, and was crawling by 4 months and walking by 9 months. Yup! He kept me completely on my toes! So teaching Mark to read somehow happened and Julia was doing awesome but most of that year I think my brain has blocked out due to lack of sleep or too much caffeine.
The third year we homeschooled we finally were in our rhythm when...we found out Amelia would join our family that summer and we needed to pack up and move to a bigger home! I don't need to tell you how hard teaching a 6 year old, and 5 year old, and 1 year old and being pregnant and packing up your entire home at the same time was...it was crazy busy, but we somehow did it by the grace of God. We joined CREATE an amazing coop that helped Mark come out of his shy shell and helped Julia stay connected to kids in her age group. The kids loved going every Friday.
The fourth year we homeschooled was my worst nightmare actually. I think I cried most of September and October due to post-partum depression, big kids who took advantage of mom having a toddler and a newborn, and just being so overwhelmed with setting up a new home and lack of sleep. The only way I got through that year was Classical Conversations on Wednesdays which we all loved and having friends and family reach out to help.
By the 5th year I knew something had to give. I was so outnumbered at home by myself and Mark really wanted to go to school (which was 2 houses away) Julia really wanted to stay home still so I decided just focusing on one set of curriculum and grade levels for her would be best while Mark went off to first grade at Applegate Elementary School. Mark had an amazing teacher and such a great year. I was so thankful we had made that decision. Julia did great at home. We participated in two coops which really added a lot of extra social time that she loved and needed and also was a terrific addition to our curriculum at home. Classical conversations on Wednesdays and CREATE coop every Friday made our week very busy but very academically based. It also allowed for me to be ministered to by the other moms in the coops. It gave structure to our days and also balanced out academics and social needs.
Homeschooling has been one of the most challenging things for me as a mom. Even though I consider myself an excellent teacher in the classroom as a teacher at home for my own kids I don't really like who I became. I was very strict. I set very high expectations. I was hard on both of the kids. I tried to do too much in one day and I ended up not being a very nice mom/teacher. I think looking back both big kids won't have such fond memories of homeschooling and this is one of my greatest mommy regrets. I wanted to be a blessing to them but in the end with having so much on my plate all the time and raising two babies in the midst it became more of a dreaded thing than a positive thing. I love the idea of homeschooling and if I only had 1 or 2 kids I think maybe I would've been better at it, but with 4 it has been so so so hard.
I hope the big kids read this post one day and have grace for their momma who truly had best intentions to start with. I loved all the field trips we went on and the fact that I can say I taught my kids to read. I absolutely adored all the Social Studies Fair projects we did and the Bible Study Fair last year. I love that we learned a lot together. I just wish I could've devoted more time in a more loving way without all the stress and demands of life. I wish I could've enjoyed it more and been more patient not only with myself but with the kids.