Homeschooling as a Night Owl

Owls

I thought perhaps it was just me that was a raging mean person in the morning, thereby making waking up early and homeschooling by 8 am a virtual impossibility.

After a quick Google search, though, I found that I’m not alone.  I was actually surprised at the depth of some of the discussions I stumbled upon on the subject.

In my ongoing quest to bring attention to the road less traveled, I decided it was time to discuss homeschooling when you’re not an early riser.

Here is a rambling of a few things I’ve found helpful in our situation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A “FLOW”

Each day has its own progression.  Soccer practice and getting the neighbor’s children from the bus stop always happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Most of my “day job” is done Monday-Wednesday.

There might be a few more things, but basically this means that everything else flows around these things.

Babydoll knows that in the mornings on my workdays she is to do all the schoolwork she can do on her own until lunch.  After lunch, we come together to finish those things we must do together.

There is no set schedule for any of these other things, just a general outline for when they should take place.  Add my husband’s crazy work schedule to the mix and we just don’t live in a house where we can always do math at X time and science at X time and so on.

We all know the flow.  We all know the must-do items.  Other than that, we kind of fit it all in as each day requires.

How do I keep myself on track?  I have a digital Post-It on my Chrome home screen.  I *heart* Incredible Start Page for Chrome.

The yellow Post-It is where I record the must do things for each day.  This isn’t the note where I list “clean the bathroom.”  That doesn’t have to be done.

Picking the neighbor’s kids up from the bus stop has to be done.  Paying a bill has to be done.  Getting certain work done by a deadline has to be done.

Another colored note will hold the “I’d like to get this done” things.  Another holds the blog to do items.

This has worked amazingly well at keeping me organized.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A SELF-SUFFICIENT CHILD

I am one of those mean mothers that forced my child to learn to fend for herself as soon as she could.

Of course, I take care of her generally speaking, but if she happens to wake up before I do, she knows how to get her own breakfast, do her chores, and get herself ready to start her day.

I’d admit: I wasn’t into this idea when Vince first suggested it, but it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

She doesn’t need me to take care of her, she knows how to get herself started each day.

Heck, even if I am up, I don’t do breakfast for anyone…

This also helps me get the stuff done each morning that I need to, and then we come together at lunch.

RECOGNIZING WHEN YOU NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE

This is a huge one, and one that I’m still currently fighting.  I despise waking up early, I always have.

I remember the first thing my baby sister would tell people about me is that I was a cranky person in the morning.

She was four.  That’s how bad I am in the morning.

Add to that the fact that we go to bed anywhere from midnight to 3 am every night, and I’m on a crazy schedule.  Rolling out of bed at 5 am just ain’t in the cards.

And this wasn’t a problem, until I started working from home.  In addition to the “fun” of my blog, I’m working as a social media maven and trying to write books, start e-courses, and other awesome stuff.

There’s only so much time in the day.  There’s only so much time left after working and homeschooling and soccer and…

I’ve started thinking of ways to tweak the flow a bit.  If I want to achieve all my goals, I might need to wake up earlier, which means going to be earlier.

It’s a sacrifice and I have to figure out if it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD

I realize quite a bit of this may apply mainly to my household and our unique circumstances, but the meat of the issue can apply to anyone.

If you’re a night owl, you can make it all work, it just takes some out-of-the-box thinking and an open-mind toward adjustments that may need to be made.

Remember that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing in their homeschools.  Work at what’s right for your family.

Now let’s chat: what type of risers do you have in your home? How do you make it all work?  Have any secrets to share?

Homeschool Encouragement

Getting deep and emotional!

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If Homeschool Walls Could TalkWe are entering our third year of homeschooling.  Since I never thought I’d be doing this, I’m pretty amazed that we’re still trucking along.

Amazed, and yet, I feel like I totally suck at it.

I know homeschoolers go through phases where they worry they’re not doing enough for their children and similar feelings, so I know I’m not alone.

But, this is called If Homeschool Walls Could Talk, which implies some sort of secret, at least in my mind.  So, I’m going to just lay it all out there for you guys to see…

Our first year of homeschooling ended with us barely finishing half of the year’s work.  Yep, there, I said it.

That’s right.  We had all of our nifty stuff from our boxed curriculum company {that I loved by the way}, and I only managed to teach a tiny smidgen of what was there.

And no, it wasn’t because we were using other stuff.  We simply didn’t do school.  Here I was, the homeschooling mom of a second grader, and I wasn’t teaching her…

To this day I feel like a complete noob about that.  But I at least had some fairly unusual circumstances to attribute my noobdom to.

We had moved out of our house in WA, were living with Grandma in OR for three months while Vince exited the Navy and found a job, to then move from OR to AL at the end of October.  From November {when we arrived in AL, no place to live, no friends or family} through January we lived in a hotel one hour from Vince’s work and almost two hours from the area we’d eventually be moving to.

We spent those three months looking at houses {yes, that meant driving those couple of hours one way to look at houses, many, many, many days…}, finding our way around, learning and complying with the new state’s homeschool laws, trying to make ends meet while we waited for the new paycheck to come in {and while unemployment was no longer coming in}, and dealing with all sorts of other little things that occur when you’re living with a small portion of your things {while everything else is in storage} in a hotel room and trying to generate a new normal.

I’m not gonna lie, I hated living in that hotel.  Looking back, I was probably being an ungrateful whiny thing, but I still hated it nonetheless.  And it was expensive.  Like $1,400 a month expensive…

The hotel wasn’t a bad place; an extended stay type of thing with a little kitchenette, new and fairly clean.  My husband was fortunate enough to find a good job at a time when most people couldn’t get hired.  We had finally been preapproved for a loan and ended up finding a great house.  I was healthy, my family was healthy, I really should have been grateful.

Hotel roomBut, I hated living in that hotel.  As it dragged on through November, and then December, and into January, it’s all I could do to sit there in what was fast becoming a cramped hotel room and homeschool Babydoll.

I didn’t want to.  Or, the day would be spent running errands or doing something out of town and then when we got back I didn’t want to.

Looking back, I’m honestly not sure we got much of anything done.  We started strong at the beginning of the year while at Grandma’s house, but we quickly trickled once we were in AL.

HouseThen it was finally time to move into our new house!  We were excited!  I was ecstatic!  I thought, “Now I can finally settle into a routine!!!”

Well, then we had to wait four weeks for our things to come out of storage and make it to us.  And then there was a problem with the fridge delivery.

Want to know what’s almost harder than living in an extended stay?  Living in a house without a fridge, pots or pans, utensils, plates, cups, chairs, tables, beds, pillows, linens…  You get the picture.

So, to get us through that month we had to go and buy stuff, even though I knew I had stuff coming.  It was winter and it was cold {snow in AL that winter, crazy!} and there were no blinds or curtains on my many windows to keep the cold out and the heat in.

I should note, however, that despite all this, I was still infinitely more happy in my house.  It felt like things were finally moving forward.

Great, we can finally “do school.”

Nope.  Now comes time to talk on the phone for endless hours with delivery folks and military movers and the blinds lady and the fridge people and the utility companies and this person and that person.

HouseAnd then our stuff came!!!  Which meant things had to be unpacked and put away.

It was Spring before we really started doing any semblance of school again.  I felt so bad.  So, so, so bad, like I was letting Babydoll down.

She was fine, for the record.  She enjoyed driving across the country and seeing the Grand Canyon and Arizona and all sorts of other awesome stuff.  She enjoyed the new “castle park” we had found near the hotel.  She enjoyed living close enough to family to drive eight hours and surprise them all in December.  She enjoyed seeing all sorts of new things and hearing all sorts of new things and experiencing all sorts of new things.  She enjoyed being my helper.  She enjoyed our new house and the pond out back and fishing in it.

We ended the school year in June, because despite the fact that I had a ton of “not school” time, I felt like I needed a break.  I felt like I just needed to start new next year.

I cried.  I’m crying right now writing this.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to let go of the feelings of failure and of letting Babydoll down.  I felt like I let the homeschooling community as a whole down by not “doing school” properly.  I felt like the ultimate billboard for reasons not to homeschool your child.

Yet, we kept at it for a second year.  It was much better.  We were much more settled and got much more done.  Yet we still didn’t “finish” everything.

And then I realized, you never finish.  You’re always going, always learning.  It doesn’t stop.  Just because an entire book hasn’t been completed doesn’t mean we aren’t doing things right.

Just because she didn’t learn every last multiplication fact in third grade doesn’t mean that in the end she will have still learned all the math she needs to know.

It’ll all be alright.  She’s progressing and flourishing and enjoying what I hope to be a fulfilling and exciting life.  As our one and only child {by choice}, I constantly worry that I’m not giving her everything she needs.  I’m hoping she’ll grow up thinking that she had awesome parents and an awesome life.

So, if my homeschool walls could talk, they’d tell you of the struggle we’ve had adapting my preconceived notions of what it means to learn and school to what homeschooling is really about:  living a life of learning and loving it.

If my homeschool walls could talk, they’d tell you that I still worry about what I’m doing daily, hourly sometimes.  They’d tell you that I cry sometimes thinking I’m not doing enough for Babydoll.  They’d tell you that I want more than anything for her to grow up and think she lucked out on the home front.

They’d tell you that we’re plugging away, for a third year, learning from our mistakes and what didn’t work and figuring out what works for us.

They’d tell you that I love my daughter more than just about anything and want her to grow up thinking that homeschooling was the most wicked awesome thing we could have done.

This post was written as part of a link up with some other fabulous homeschool moms.  We’re all really laying it out there for the world to see, so be sure to stop by each one and give them some encouragement and love.

Lisa at The Army Chap’s Wife

Megan at Half-Pint House

Maureen at Spell Outloud

Reesa at Suburban Tree Hugger

Laura at Day by Day in Our World

Jasmine at Ponder the Path

Lee at Homeschool Canada

Jimmie at Jimmie’s Collage

Honey at Sunflower Schoolhouse

Tiffany at Sweet Phenomena

Want to share what your homeschool walls would say?  Link up here!