Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding balance

I feel like homeschooling has been going remarkably well lately!  The boys are all attentive and willing to work.  They really seem to enjoy that we've found our way back to a more traditional approach to learning and seem relieved that I've taken over planning and implementing lessons. 

 I enjoy planning lessons and watching them learn so I don't mind continuing to do so.  I love that we've been tackling so many subjects a day and feel like we're learning a lot.  

But it really dawned on me today that all this comes at an expense.   

The more time I spend planning and implementing lessons the less time I have for the house, for my health/me, and for my hobbies.  While I don't mind putting my children first I do have a problem with ALWAYS putting my children first.  



I just think I'm a happier, nicer person and a better mom when I feel like I have some time to myself.  


  • The past year I worked really hard to drop a few clothing sizes and I'm finding that really hard to maintain; I'm constantly interrupted during workouts (if I can even find the time to workout!)
  • I'm skipping meals because I don't have (don't make?) time to sit down and eat
  • I'm tired and feeling kind of apathetic about almost everything (since I'm going to bed later and later and getting up earlier and earlier!).  
  • I feel like the house always looks dirty lately because I don't ever have the time to clean it anymore!  
  • I can't remember the last time I sat down in my craft room to craft anything.  I have pictures piling up and tons of ideas about scrapbook pages I'd like to make but can't seem to find any time to do anything.  
All this dawned on me in one of those "aha!" kind of moments today (well, yesterday now) when I shouted at poor Evan, who happened to be the third interruption in my measly 15 minute workout this morning.  As I sat there inwardly griping that I can't even have a measly 15 minutes to myself, I began to think back over the past year and wonder what had changed. 

 I used to work out every day for an hour! 

 I used to scrapbook one or two pages a day. 

 I used to have a nice dinner prepared every night for dinner and I used to have a clean house. 

 What had changed?  

If anything the kids have gotten more self- sufficient and helpful so I should have more time to myself-- not less.

So as I completed my workout (after apologizing to Evan), I realized it was all the school work we've been doing.  

Planning has taken up a huge chunk of my time and since they're all dependent on me now for most every subject school is also taking a bit more of my time each day.  

It's not the boys' fault either; I find so many great ideas and get so gung ho on trying them all out that I just keep cramming more and more into our days.  

I think we probably need to scale back but I can't figure out how to do that (in other words I want it all!).  

I'm a perfectionist by nature and so it's hard for me to find that balance of "good enough" or "that's fine" without going over the top.  

Unfortunately, this perfectionist attitude applies to every area of my life.  I get immersed into projects to the exclusion of everything else.  I have real difficulty finding balance-- in anything! 


 So I decided I needed to figure out how I was going to balance my needs with that of the kids, my husband, my hobbies, my house, etc. 

Short of cloning myself I didn't come up with any bright and shining solutions either.

  • We need a schedule (not lesson plans but a loose daily schedule).
  • Everyone needs to pitch in and help out more.
  • Start school later and do housework, exercising, "other" things done first when I still have energy.
  • Scale back our school day to include math, reading, language arts and just one other subject. 
  • Try to cover multiple subjects at once.  

I decided the best solution was to try and come up with some sort of schedule.

We've really enjoyed not having any sort of schedule these past two years of homeschooling but I think I'm finally ready to get back to a more set system like we used to have.

OUR NEW DAILY SCHEDULE: 

So today I woke early (I went to bed early last night!) and immediately got my workout in before the boys were even awake.

I sat down to eat breakfast and then quickly went to the computer to check Facebook, Pinterest, E-mail, etc.  I set a timer for myself and when my time was up I got up and started tackling the housework.

 I found this great printable cleaning calendar on Pinterest.  I had used this in the past and I really like it.  I'm not sure why I stopped following it.  It's not the perfect schedule for me but it works pretty well and I like the idea of spending less than a hour a day on housework while still maintaining everything.  Today's job was the toilets and tubs.

When I started cleaning, I told myself we'd start school at 10 whether I was done or not (and I was!).

I've been trying to start school earlier most days and realized I spend a lot of time waiting around for the boys to be ready.  Instead of fighting to have them ready early we'll start school later and then that give me plenty of time to get things done in the morning without feeling guilty that we aren't starting school. 

I got my cleaning done, spent about 30 minutes in my craft room and even got the boys to clean a few dishes for me.

I warned them last night that they are going to have to start pitching in even more around here.  I'm only one person and can't do everything myself; if they want to continue to homeschool they have to help out.  They all agreed.   

They were anxious to start school and I didn't feel distracted by all the other things I thought still needed to be done.  Seriously, why have I not thought of this before?


OUR SCHOOL DAY: 

Math: 
We dug right into our math work.  The boys seem to like starting with math.  Evan had another odd/even coloring igloo paper while Ian chose to work on a roll and cover multiplication sheet.  Alec wanted to play Knock It Off again just like they did yesterday (using the 5's times tables) but Ian really did not want to play so I offered to play with Alec instead.  We had a great time and after the first roll I commented that Alec was fast in answering 5x8 is 40.  He told me he noticed a pattern with the five times tables.  He told me that he noticed the answer always starts out with half of the number being multiplied by 5 (if this confused you as it did me I'll explain the way he did--- 5 x 8 is four--ty.  5 times 4 starts with a two-- twenty, 5x 12 is six- ty.)  I love that he has found his own patterns in math!!   Ian immediately caught on and he was excited too.  They then each tried their math minute for the five's time tables and did really well too.  Another day or so and I'm sure they'll have mastered those facts too!

Language Arts: 
The younger boys wanted to go play but Ian wanted to finish all his schoolwork for the day.  While the younger boys played with Evan's new Lego set, Ian wrote a rebus story using this printout for the pictures and worked on some winter analogies.  He did a great job with both of these assignments!  I think it's one of the longest stories I've ever gotten him to write for me and he used proper punctuation and spelling!

Evan worked some more on his sight words paper.  Today I handed him some rubber letter stamps and ink pads.  He stamped the words as he struggled to read them to me.

Sight word stamping

Alec worked on his analogy page and then I worked with both boys on writing up their rebus stories.

 Evan dictated his story to me but this time I asked him how to spell a few of the sight words for me as I was writing-- again he struggled.  He can read emergent reader stories pretty well since he quickly finds the patterns in the stories, uses the pictures to help him read and memorizes them absurdly fast yet he really struggles so much to learn any basic sight words.  I'm hopping that by continually plugging away at them he'll eventually start to make those connections.

Alec wrote a two page story!  They all had so much fun making these rebus stories.  Alec was cracking himself up making up his story.  We'll definitely have to try and find more of these; or at least a series of pictures that they can cut up and make stories out of!
Our rebus stories

Alec laughing as he works out his story

  
Reading: 
I found this printable easy reader for Evan and so today he read Winter Animals to me. We all settled in to read today's stories.  We're starting a new chapter book called The Last Gold Diggers.  I though Ian would really like this book since it was about finding gold but I knew Alec would like the story too since it takes place in Australia.  We read a chapter or two (it's hard to tell as it's not really set up as chapters; it's a series of letters written from a grandfather to his grandson and it's hilarious!).  We also read Edward the Emu (the prequel to yesterday's story) and a book simply called Australia.  (See how I used reading time to cover geography too?!)

Geography/ Craft Project: 
To finish up today the older two boys did an art project for Australia.  We made the Sydney Opera House!

 The boys started by painting a sky and waterline on some watercolor paper.  They drew a light pencil line and then used green and blue watercolors to make a sky and the ocean.        

Once they were dry we used paper plates to cut out the shapes of the opera house and glued them in place using regular school glue (this was the hardest step for all of us!).  We used cheap paper plates and cut out crescent shapes-- looking at a picture of the Sydney Opera house while doing so.

Ian decided that he was done once he had all that in place but Alec wanted to add some fireworks to his picture and so he took out the glitter glue/paint pens and drew some fireworks.  I got the idea from Kids Crafts and even offered to find blue cellophane or star stickers so we could make our pictures just like theirs but the boys didn't want to.

They really love painting the best. 

Working on our opera houses
completed paintings