One month into a new part time job and commencing Week Three of homeschooling six children (I say six because the eldest is currently working full time until winter—oh the flexibility of being a homeschooled teenager!), I have come to realize a few things.
First of all, I underestimate the mental energy required to accomplish everything I would like to accomplish on a daily and weekly basis while simultaneously fostering relationships/living with/co-existing with a husband and seven children. I don’t clue in to just how much some of our interactions can actually drain me until I find myself at work peacefully sorting through hundreds of fabric swatches and checking off the ones we have, or helping some nice lady match colours for two hours. When I waitressed (which I will still do one day a week every summer), it was a high-energy, high-demand job—not much left for those on the homefront after 9-10 hours in a fine dining establishment catering to several customers simultaneously. A couple of days a week in a family-run furniture and appliance store is much easier to factor into the big picture as it does not leave one zonked. But sometimes I get a little too used to the quiet, and waking up to lots of chatter and immediate needs to be met on all fronts can be a shock to the system. I am writing this right now or I will forget to later, but I have to get the kids ready for homeschool group, for which we leave in less than two hours. So… I need to sit down and figure out how much energy is realisitically being depleted on each day, and what I am doing to actively replenish my energy levels. Some of this is going to the gym with my husband on the mornings that I work. It is a nice time for us, kind of like a date. I am pretty sure I’m going to have to start running again as well, though. I was getting up early, exercising and reading, but then my children started getting up early as well, which kind of defeated the purpose of it.
Second of all, I am a social critter (ok I already knew that, but it is something that has been quite relevent lately). This doesn’t mean that any and every social encounter is energizing for me (as I have just very clearly stated). But I do need regular ENJOYABLE social contact and activity to remain happy and upbeat, and in the right place psychologically. Some of my introverted friends put effort into going out to events happening around the island, but need major recovery time afterward. I find I get a boost. I like it. I look forward to my Tuesdays with my homeschooling pals. I notice a difference when we miss a week. My husband could hibernate in the house on the couch all week (even month) in the winter, his off season, and be fine. I begin to sympathize with Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining… So, positive social events are important. Like the friends we are having over for a bonfire on Saturday night. We haven’t seen them in a while, and it is the perfect season to bundle up outside in a blanket and enjoy a few drinks and snacks by the fire as the kids roast marshmallows and eat popcorn. I am selective about my social life, so that it remains something positive as opposed to draining.
Third, I do not need to justify my base personality and needs to those who do not share either of them. What gives me a boost may not give you one What makes you more pleasant to live with may have the opposite effect on me. There are things we cannot change about who we are; this is when it is important to understand who we are, and adapt our lives accordingly. Otherwise we will be miserable people, as will those around us. So just because that homeschooling mother of a million (ok, maybe less) kids can have every item in her home accounted for and base her decisions on how many litres of gas will be expended per venture off of her farm (not to mention run a farm) and be ok with that, doesn’t mean that my mind, or needs, work that way. Beyond trying to be careful about gas and trying to kill two (or three or four) brids with one stone on our outings, it’s all Chinese to me. I am not Mr. Spock; please do not ask me to analyze the details. I will break down and cry. So while looking to others for inspiration to help with my weaknesses, I am who I am, and that’s ok.
Fourth, my kids need to be pushed. I hate pushing. I hate nagging. I am not a natural leader. But they need it. I am working on this; working on being consistent and following through and not letting things slide because they are “one more friggin’ thing to deal with”. This is challenging for me. Some people seem born to take charge. I am not one of them. I respect people as individuals. This can be a hinderance when raising several children, as much as it can be a positive thing.
Fifth, I hate gardening. Yes, we have a garden patch. Yes, I loved seeing the kids get excited about the stuff they planted growing. But I fucking hate gardening. I have tried to love it, but I don’t. I will likely always have a small garden patch, until my children are grown and I convince my husband to live in a condo downtown with me, but as it stands, I’m just not a gardener. I went through a pahse of life where we were unbelievably “back to basics” for quite a few years, and am over it, to say the least. It was more convenient to live that way when there were babies and toddlers around, as having any kind of life outside of home at that stage is more difficult than just staying home and dealing with the chaos. I was home, full time, for over a decade. I am not Olivia Walton, nor am I Mrs. Ingalls. I do not like gardening. Period. But I will do it for my children. For now.
I was going to post the schedule/rhythm we are following, but I think I am going to tweak it just a little and see how that affects our life. I find that Sundays tend to be “catch up” day after a morning of relaxing with The Husband (it’s his day off). Mondays are the gym and work. Tuesdays are Homeschool Group day, followed by groceries & the library, and today Teen Book Club as well. Wednesdays are seriously focused on homeschooling, generally with a long hike taken on some cool trail nearby to end the day, just before dinner time. Thursdays are not as hardcore as Wednesdays, and we might head over to visit a friend when the basics of homeschooling are done. Last week it was just too beautiful out, so we ventured to my husband’s current work site to see the progress and have coffee with a friend. Fridays are gym & work. There are websites, activity books, and games that the older ones explore with the younger ones while I am at work. We are also currently hooked on Hidden Kingdoms on Netflix.
My primary reason for being home at all whatsoever during the week is my children’s education. Quite honestly, while I put a lot of effort into keeping our home clean (enough) and staying on top of things, it is not as important as actively learning with the kids. An educational venture will take priority over vaccuming the stairs. That said, the stairs will get vaccumed, but that’s not the main reason why I am home most of the time. If I felt that public school was a better place for my children, I would be working full time. But I enjoy being with my children, even if some days are tough and tiring. They are worth it.
I will tweak our schedule and post again soon… 🙂