“I don’t know how you do it.”
“I could never homeschool that many.”
These are common comments once folks figure out what I do with my life. My hubby would tell them that we set our bar pretty low these days and most days, even then, we only trip over it.
Anyway, here’s a glimpse into a common day in our house.
6AM I’m up and working. This is our only day right now we don’t have to be somewhere in the morning.
7AM This is when the kids are allowed to get up. Today I don’t see anyone until 7:30ish. Everyone has to be up by 8AM. As expected, Grace wakes up grumpy. She went to bed grumpy but compromised to resolve with me in the morning. She’s not ready to talk until 8:45ish.
10AM I work with subsets of kids to do dictate EEL sentences, drill phonograms, and teach a new spelling concept. One of my big girls refuses to work hard at English acquisition but then never gets what I’m saying. It makes our spelling lesson painful and I do nothing to hide my frustration with her. Meanwhile, the other kids work on their independent work.
11:30AM Lunch break!
12:30PM In the afternoons, I bounce from kid to kid answering questions and working on their individual assignments. Ty often listens to a book on tape to keep him occupied. Grace pulls herself together long enough to do a spelling lesson.
I’m trying to teach our oldest son to play and use his imagination. Today I ask him to play trains with Ty. He refuses claiming he wasn’t a baby. I keep trying to explain babies don’t babysit but he doesn’t buy my ploy to get him to demonstrate that he can play (which he claims he can). Now he’s just being obstinate, and I enter the power struggle. Ty sits John down for a lecture on how God wants kids to obey their parents. It’s a priceless moment. I kinda wish it was a video camera in my hand instead of my trust Pentax.
Having the trains out is just distracting PJ (10 years), and he can’t resist playing. He should probably be doing a Latin lesson or something.
12:45PM Ty and I do a short spelling, reading, writing lesson.
1PM Ty’s angry about something. That happens a lot. I’m exhausted from what has really been a month long funk with John. Ty goes to take his therapeutic bath. We use essential oils and Epsom salt along with the warm water to calm him everyday (and to buy me some uninterrupted time with everyone else).
1:15PM I sit down to hear the older girls read aloud. PJ and Mia are goofing off in the dining room. They should be doing schoolwork but the happy chatter makes me smile. Plus, I’m really too tired to care.
1:40PM I’ve been keeping John close while I wait for him to do what I ask. Five minutes of play. You’d think I was asking him to scrub toilets with his toothbrush. He finally caves. Won’t they learn? Mama always wins. Afterward, he gets sassy and tries to leave our conversation without permission. It’s ugly and ends with him in a heap sobbing in our hallway. My phone is also ringing. Really? It’s hubby so I fill him in and tell him to come home after his doctor’s appointment. All the relationship drama really throws Grace, and she’s already been super fragile today. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need backup.
2:00PM I’ve spent the last 20 minutes holding my sobbing son. I’m hoping someone somewhere is doing schoolwork. Grace is angry that I never help her. Oy vay. She’ll get my full attention next. Mia can’t find her spelling notebook. She’s crying because no one else can find it either. I task her with emptying our toy/homeschool closet hoping it fell off the shelf into the abyss. I finally get John stable, and he goes off to withdrawl.
2:30PM I’m knee deep in toys in our front hallway. No spelling book. Now to put it all back. Oops. Ty might still be in the tub. I should get him out. He still needs to read aloud to me.
3:00PM Mommy office hours are closed. The kids can still work on assignments, but questions have to be marked and wait until the next day. I never got to help Mia or Kayla. They did get to do their spelling lesson via recorded video though.
4:30PM We all leave for afternoon extracurriculars. The kids eat dinner in the car.
7:ooPM Everyone showers at the local Y after Tae Kwon Do. Patrick and I plan on going out to dinner after the kids are in bed. We somehow end up in a conversation that’s reminiscing about PJ and Mia as really young kids. This is dangerous territory for Grace. She doesn’t remember anything from her young childhood like the other two. She’s also the only one without a single photo from her growing up years or her birth family.
8:15PM The younger girls are playing and someone gets hurt.
8:30PM We settle down for family prayer time. It doesn’t go well. Afterwards, I owe John an apology. Grace is still reeling from whatever happened before prayers. We ask her to stick around after the others head to bed. She can’t go to bed angry for a second night in a row. The conversation we try to have goes nowhere.
8:45PM We’re holding her while she screams and cries. It sounds angry, but I have a hunch this isn’t about what happened with Mia. Then it happens. The guttural sobs about missing her birth mom. You can read more about this meltdown here. So much for date night.
10:ooPM She’s still curled up, not talking to us. We turn on a movie we started a couple nights ago. Now, I’m worried about sleep deprivation which is detrimental to compromised, traumatized brains. We have to get up to see the therapist tomorrow.
11:00PM She’s still not back. We turn on reality TV about a 600 pound woman. This gets her talking, but alas she won’t directly address us about what happened. She goes to bed dysregulated anyway.
11:30PM We collapse in bed shortly after Grace. Tomorrow’s going to be a bad day.
While we do have some peaceful days where I feel like the kids are learning stuff and we’re accomplishing goals, days like the above are not uncommon and happen a couple times a month. However, this is an improvement to six months ago when they were happening a couple times a week. Relationship lessons and healing are priority right now, and I try not to stress about academics. The kids without attachment issues have become fairly self-sufficient. Sometimes I struggle with this since it feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick, but really they are coming out stronger and becoming independent learners which I always wanted for them anyway. Our struggles are teaching me a lot about giving up control.
Wednesday I went to see our therapist with the kids. (We have an amazing therapist who partners with us and who gently uses her professional trauma training to decode our children and guide our parenting decisions). It was ugly. For whatever reason, the kids are usually not knee deep in dysregulation when they see her. It was good to hear her perspective and watch her interact with the kids in a their dramatic state, but John and Grace still left unresolved. I was able to get John back on line Wednesday afternoon, but Grace didn’t pull out of her fight state until Thursday after another dramatic episode. You can read more about her meltdown here.