Do you home educate and are you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted?... Is your house out of control and you only just manage to keep enough clothes clean for the kids to wear, but they are in a pile somewhere in the house waiting to be put away? Does your garden need weeding and the grass need cutting? Have you forgotten what colour the floors are in your kids rooms?
Can I let you in to a secret? All the above things are normal when you home educate. Can you be different? Probably not with out killing yourself in the process.
So why bothering blogging about it if there is nothing we can do about this? Because I believe we need to shift the way we think about ourselves and our home.
Here is my list of things that can change:
1) Stop comparing yourself to school mums!
It is tough being a mum, whether you home educate or not, the biggest difference is the sense of responsibility Home Ed mums feel towards their kids education. So the following is a generalisation based on how it feels to home ed, so please don't shoot me if you are a school mum reading this.
There are three types of school mum, ones with all the kids in school who work away from home full time, ones who have some in school and some at home and a few who either don't work or work part-time.
Firstly the ones who's kids are in school and work away from home full time, guess what? There is no-one in their houses messing it up all day. So you can't compare yourself to them. I had a lovely neighbour, who was in this situation, and I always felt like a bad mother and beat myself up about it, when I went over to her perfect home! Everything was organised, floors were clean, everything put away! ARGHHHHH!
Secondly some with kids at home and some at school, these mum's you can relate to, because they will have toddlers probably throwing toys and food around, but still remember they have not also taken on the full responsibility for their children education. So you can't really compare yourself to them.
Thirdly mum's who don't have a paid job or a part time job while their kids are in school. They have free time alone! How they spend it is up to them. You have zero time alone, ever. So stop comparing!
2) Us mum's/dad's who home educate, have mostly been in school ourselves, so a lot of us have the mindset of formal study times and term tables. Lets throw this out of our heads. If you need to take two weeks off to get control of the house because you feel like you are drowning, then DO IT! Stop all study and get the kids to help, and get on top of things, not to perfection, but to the point where you feel like you can function again. You can then start studying again with a clear head. Kids learn a lot from sharing the responsibility of caring for the home.
3) Set a few small routines in place for first thing in the morning. I learn't this from Flylady. If you can get a few little things done every morning, then they at least won't hang over your head. My personal routine is, get dressed immediately, unload the dishwasher, put the washing machine on, empty the kitchen bins (recycling, compost etc), then make breakfast. Then the biggest issue is remembering to move the washed clothes from the washing machine to the tumbler dryer or washing line later, I often set a timer on my watch, as I always forget and get distracted by the kids.
4) Bin ruthlessly, really get rid of a lot of stuff, lets face it, our kids don't play with most or their toys, we have lots of clothes we don't actually wear. Keep only the things that bring you joy, I learn't this from this amazing ladies book, its really works. I am probably half way through the process she suggests and I feel a bit more in control than I did. The best bit about it is that you actually become aware of what you own, then you spend less money, because you know what you have and where to find it.
5) Know you are not a bad mother/father and you are not alone. Its was very hard for me to admit that I was overwhelmed, because when my kids were younger I was considered by family and friends as a bit silly, probably wrong, to home educate. If I was to say I couldn't cope, they would just say, well you can put your kids in school! So ye, its not always easy to home educate.
6) Enjoy the chaos, my kids are now all grownup (18 & 15), they don't really need me as much for daily care. It won't be long before they leave home, and then my house will be tidy, organised and I will be wondering what to do! Enjoy the laughter, enjoy the madness, its only for a season, then you will miss it, trust me!