My parents, heaven bless them, recently left sunny coastal California and came to the icy tundra that is Indianapolis in winter. They came to watch our four kids for a few days so my husband and I could get away for a very timely respite.
Last fall my mom texted me to ask what we wanted for our winter birthdays and Christmas. After giving it some thought, I replied emphatically, “We don’t want stuff! We want a break!! Please come!”
So they booked flights and agreed to come rescue us and keep the circus—ahem, I mean beautifully orchestrated routines—going in our absence. I also began the process of typing out everything they would need to know when we left. It ended up being three single-space typed pages. Either I am a really intense person, or we are very busy. Maybe a little bit of both!
They arrived in time to celebrate my daughter’s 5th birthday and just hang out with our whole family before my husband and I left town.
We had two homeschool days with my parents here, before my husband and I went on our trip. I knew those days would be really packed. Mondays around here are especially busy as we try to get a huge amount of our work done before my older girls go to a late-afternoon bible study.
Halfway through our Marathon Monday of homeschooling, I realized that all three of us adults—my dad, my mom, and me—had been fully occupied all day long. My dad had been playing with the younger two kids (preschooler and toddler) all morning. My mom had been doing things like unloading the dishwasher, changing out laundry, preparing for lunch, reviewing some subjects with my fourth grader, and playing a vocabulary match game with my second grader. I had been going back and forth helping various kids, looking ahead at upcoming lessons and assignments, and trying to keep my very-highly-distractible kid on track, which always takes Herculean effort.
No wonder I often feel deflated at the end of a typical Monday. It took my parents travelling 2,000 miles for me to figure out what the issue is. Basically, I need three of me. I am doing the work of three people!
And I know I’m not alone. If you are reading this, that means that you are probably a homeschooling parent, and therefore you are very possibly doing the work of three people too!
Since cloning human beings is likely not going to be approved by the U.S. government before my children graduate, I need to figure something else out.
Some days I just need to focus on the essentials and adjust my expectations. Other days I need to just plow through and reward myself with early bedtime, Netflix, and a favorite beverage. I have been trying to help my 4th grader work more independently and take more ownership of her assignments. I am already seeing encouraging progress, in this regard. Also, I realize that my two-year-old monster—er, I mean, beloved son—will not always be scattering potting soil across the carpet, needing me to cut up his food, change his diapers, and drop everything to try and get him down for a nap. Things will not always be this crazy, right?!
In the meantime, I am going to give myself a lot of grace and do the best I can, and pray for strength to do this really awesome three-person job.
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.