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Doing It All: The Struggle for Your Family

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By Beverly S. Krueger

Do you find yourself feeling guilty when one of your children gets more of your attention than another?

Children have different levels of need. You canít use a stopwatch mentality when dealing with your kids. Some children take more of our attention because they truly need more of our attention. If you give the impression to your children that love must be doled out in equal spoonfuls, youíre giving them the wrong impression. I donít love all my children equally. I love them each so much that I canít imagine having room in my heart for anyone else. I expect them to love each other the same way. Love bears all things. In my family we learn that lesson starting at birth. We work hard to combat a whatís in it for me attitude. If each of us is thinking how can I minister to my brotherís and sisterís needs, or how can I help my mom and dad minister to my brotherís and sisterís needs then no one should be feeling left out of the circle of love.

Thatís of course a perfect picture, which quite often doesnít match up with reality. Training your kids to think of others first is ongoing. There will also be times when a child is expressing a real need, which you need to address. If a child thinks they are getting less attention than they deserve, you need to sit down with the child and discuss the situation. That means listening to them so that you donít miss what theyíre really trying to tell you. Sometimes kids complain about one thing, you spend an hour every day with Mike on math and two minutes with me, when you know that they donít really need time with you on math. Maybe itís the one on one time with Mom they may desire. By listening and truthfully discussing the issue and your very real time limits, you can come up with a solution together that should satisfy both of you. Be creative --- fix dinner together, match all the socks in the sock basket together, or take that child grocery shopping.

An easy solution may not present itself. Then, once again, itís time to stop and think. What is it this child is really expressing to me? Is there some dynamic going on in the family that Iím just not seeing?

I remember the day when it finally occurred to me that when my kids were complaining about me yelling at them and I knew I hadnít raised my voice, they were really telling me that the force of what I was saying to them was as intense to them as if I were actually yelling at them. It was a real revelation to me, but not immediately discerned from their claim that I was yelling at them. I needed to learn to dial down the intensity when they werenít the cause for it.

If youíre kids are saying things to you that make you feel guilty. Get to the bottom of it. Solutions made to assuage your guilt often do not work. Thereís a reason why youíve been doing what youíre doing. And thereís a reason why they are responding the way they are responding. When you bump laundry folding to after your ideal bedtime in order to spend quality time with your kids, youíre not really solving the problem. Youíre merely guaranteeing a grumpy tired mom during quality time.

Have you truly embraced homeschooling as a lifestyle?

When you accept the truth that learning can happen any place at any time that should free you from the need to accomplish a set pattern of learning within a set amount of time. George must read by the end of 1st grade, for example.

It also frees you to accept that non-academic learning is just as important as academic learning. You can spend your days whining or yelling at your kids to get them through a certain number of pages or problems each day. You can go on like that forever, never breaking from a pattern of anger and frustration. Or, you could spend the day, week or month required to solve the root problem behind the frustrating behavior.

If you havenít already heard the statement ďI donít need to do school,Ē you will eventually hear it. One of my friendís has a response to this statement. ďFine, youíve chosen to end your formal schooling. That means youíll probably be working for the rest of your life as a toilet cleaner or some similar occupation. Well, letís get started on your apprenticeship now.Ē She hands them the toilet brush and the toilet cleaner and directs them to the nearest toilet. All finished cleaning the toilet they are now ready for the R & R they feel they deserve. No, toilet cleaners donít clean just one toilet a day. They clean toilets for eight hours. She has her academically rebellious child clean toilets for eight hours that day and the following days or until they give in and decide that toilet cleaning isnít the life they were looking to lead. Was a day spent cleaning the toilets badly spent?

Perhaps the phonics youíre forcing your child to tearfully master is really the problem. Maybe heís not ready to read. Maybe heís an auditory learner and youíre using all visual resources. Muscling your way through isnít the best solution. Spending the equivalent time reading reviews, or reading a book on learning styles would lead to a solution that works for years to come. The key is to get at the root of the real problem.

Iíve had momís tell me theyíve switched curriculum five times and still no one is happy. Swapping curriculum without understanding the root of the real problem may just postpone the real solution. Taking time to sit and think about the dynamics of the situation can pay dividends. Your curriculum may not be the problem at all. There may be no math curriculum that makes your child shout with glee, ďLetís do math!Ē If youíre busy solving your problem by finding the math curriculum that will do that for you, it may never happen. The solution could involve understanding why math is important. Help your child understand why they need to study math, then let them participate in choosing the least onerous way of getting it done. Yes, that takes time away from studying fractions, but is more than made up when you consider how much time youíve been spending keeping a foot dragging kid on task.

When homeschooling is your lifestyle, youíre on your own schedule, not the school systemís schedule. You determine on any given day what is most important for your children. If youíve got one foot blocking open the door back into school this wonít be true. You will be inviting someone outside your family to be the arbiter of all you do. All you will have done is trade off the stress of getting the kids out the door and getting homework done for the stress of covering all the right subjects so your kids can fit back in.

Fear is the most common reason for keeping your foot in that door. Fear of failing. Fear that your kids will get to a point, Junior High or Senior High, when you wonít have the brains to keep going. I will tell you now; there are plenty of resources to help you through the hard spots. Donít let future possible difficulties influence what you do now. What you do now should always be predicated on what is best for your children now. That doesnít rule out planning for their future. Plan to conqueror future difficulties. Donít plan to be conquered by them.

It may be hard for you to see now, but the longer you homeschool the more your abilities to homeschool your children will grow. If you completed your high school education, then you should have all the knowledge required to pass on a high school education to your children. It may be locked away somewhere, but Iíll bet you did cover noun clauses way back when. You remember high school, that period of time when most of us were motivated by having a good time with our friends rather than understanding algebra? What, you never got algebra? Never fear, what you couldnít understand in your hormone induced adlepated teenage state is amazingly less difficult when youíre a mom wanting the best for her kids. However, if youíre one of those who truly live in a math free zone, thereís always other ways for your kids to learn algebra. People who did not graduate from high school have successfully homeschooled. The primary factor in determining whether kids will be successful when homeschooled is their parentís commitment to the process. So, get your foot out of the door and fully embrace homeschooling.

You will find that there are more opportunities to grasp, more needy causes to assist, more worthwhile books to read and more activities to enjoy than you can possibly fit into your life. When you make the decision to homeschool you are making the decision that something else will have to go. My home is never as clean or neat as it was when my children were in school full time. I donít cross-stitch any more. My first year of homeschooling I stopped all church work. I laid aside some things that I enjoyed to devote myself to homeschooling. Over time, as Iíve adjusted to homeschooling and learned to relax, Iíve found time to take up other pursuits. EHO takes a big chunk of my time. But it fits into our lifestyle because even as I help other homeschoolers I get back a great deal from the work. If youíre feeling overwhelmed by too much to do, too many expectations, too much input from others, itís time for you to stop and think. Take a look at the questions posed in this series of articles: ďThe Struggle for Your MindĒ, ďThe Struggle for Your HomeĒ, and this article, ďThe Struggle for Your Family.Ē Determine where your weaknesses lie and take steps to shore them up. A good place to look for resources is right here at the Eclectic Homeschool Online. Connect with other homeschoolers through our EclecticHS email list. Browse the various departments for resources and tips for making the most out of your homeschooling adventure.

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