View Full Version : Homeschooling help for the slightly depressed and disorganized mother?

07-21-2011, 12:30 AM
Hi all,

This is my first post here, but I've been reading for awhile. My DD1 is five and DD2 is almost three - my girls have never been to preschool but we do a lot of activities and volunteer work and are well connected in the community.

We decided to homeschool about six months ago - we actually live in the boundaries of an awesome public school and also live near several pretty good private and charter schools. However, we've always leaned toward homeschooling and once I read Hold on to your Kids and some John Holt and WTM (I know, different ends of the same spectrum, but I like both philosophies) we realized this was definitely the path for us. Although we get along well with our community we differ from most people around here in that we practice AP, homebirth, we are secular in a very religious state (Utah), etc. We travel a lot and love to ski and camp. I have a masterís in education and am now a SAHM. We have also found a nice niche in our community of like-minded people (especially through LLL)- so we have a good group of friends (some who are homeschooling). My husband is very much on board with homeschooling and my family is too (his family is a different story but they donít bother me that much).

Sounds great, doesn't it? My problem is that some days I wonder if I'm up for this. Don't get me wrong - I REALLY want to homeschool and most of the time I'm super excited - but I go through these periods of time (and I know it's hormonal) where I am just down in the dumps! On days like this I wonder how in the world I'm going to pull this off? I get completely overwhelmed by the upkeep of my small house, snap at my kids for making mess after mess (they are so playful and creative), and get positively stuck in a rut. Like I said, the extreme version of this is occasional - but I do get a hint of depression and anxiety pretty much every day between about 3 and 5, when my girls seem to want to interact with me the most.

My other problem is that I read a lot of homeschooling blogs and find myself comparing my strategies to what I read and I feel so disorganized. I am quite flighty and forgetful and don't have a lot of consistency. I have great intentions and I want to be organized, but it simply doesn't come natural to me at all. When my MIL found out we wanted to homeschool (she just retired as a first grade teacher) she mentioned that "it only works if the parents are VERY organized". Now, I know this can't be true and I know she is aware I am sensitive about this, but deep down inside I truly question myself.

I want to do the right thing for me kids. I have this ideal teacher in my head that I could be sending my DD to next year - cheerful, creative, organized, on-the-ball - and then I think about the way I am and feel really sad :(

I am sorry to have such a mopey first post! I am generally a very happy person, promise :) Just a tough day.

Accidental Homeschooler
07-21-2011, 01:17 AM
Hi and I am sorry you had such a bad day. We have some hormonal issues here too, mostly that my estrogen is dropping as my older dd’s is surging (not always a great combination). I think if I had had time to think much about hsing before I started I would have felt similarly. We started hsing when it became apparent that kindergarten was not going to be a good place for my younger dd (and we live in a good school district and it was a charming little neighborhood school). It felt like we didn’t have a choice so it was kind of a huge scary leap without a plan.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to start out with the idea of seeing how it works. You sound happy with the school choices you have so if you decide at some point to try ps I can’t see how there would be anything wrong with that. You have a support system that includes other hsers (I am envious here) from the start. Your family isn’t going to give you any grief (I don’t count MIL’s but I will spare you my usual rant about mine). You are starting from the beginning and we have never done more than a couple hours a day for kindergarten and often more like an hour and a half with lots of breaks. You can hs for three weeks and take that all important fourth week off if that will work best for you. One of the things I have learned since starting is that there are so many approaches that people take to hsing and they all can work. Good luck!

07-21-2011, 06:49 AM
First of all, always take blogs with a grain of salt. Most of us bloggers present our best ideas. We might write about our struggles too, but the day someone photographs their workbox system or their shelves is the day it was cleaned up perfectly. The science activity they write about was probably balanced by one from another day that completely bombed or the two weeks before that didn't have any science activities at all. You get the idea.

I think there are ways to implement little checklists and simple things to help make you feel more organized. We do portfolios and it allows me to just shove everything in a box and deal with it only once every two months, which I think is a win. I jot down things on a calendar hanging up in the kitchen that I need to remember to properly record later. And you can choose curricula that is open and go and requires less prep from you. As a comparison, you can think about a math program like Math Mammoth that, while it offers some games and manipulatives suggestions, it entirely worktext based and is completely open and go... versus a program like RightStart where there's a script and you have to prep materials and get things ready the night before, or at least keep it really organized.

As for the emotional stuff, mostly just *hugs* - I think everyone gets that way at least occasionally. Dh and friends help me keep perspective when I have a no good, very bad day or two. I think having a homeschool community around you and having the kids in outside classes or co-ops, even if it's just one or two things, can help you feel like you don't have to be the be all end all for your kids.

07-21-2011, 08:45 AM
Don't sweat the organization stuff at this point. There won't be a lot to organize for kindergarten, and you will find what system works best for you as you add more material and subjects for each grade. It's like parenting--we aren't just handed teenagers (fortunately) and can learn as we go! And while some people will plan a full year's curriculum, others of us just work though materials at our own pace and tackle one unit study at a time. :)

I get those pissy, yell-at-the-kids days, too. Lately I've been trying to just take them somewhere where they can cut loose for a while (playground, swimming, backyard), which gives me a break. Chocolate never hurts, either!

07-21-2011, 11:12 PM
Thank you so much everyone for your kind words! It turns out I had some sort of stomach bug so there was a reason I was feeling so poorly yesterday! Today is better :)

Accidental Homeschooler~ I've never heard the strategy of taking every fourth week off - I love it! Especially for the kindergarten year - we will need some flexibility to get use to the new routine.

Farrar ~ Good point! That mixed with the unusually good photography skills of a lot of bloggers and I feel I'm comparing myself to Martha Stewart sometimes! I just hope I have some of those good days where I think "I should put this day on a blog :)". And thanks for the organizational tips. It's amazing how even the obvious things don't occur to me! I will check out Mammoth Math.

Monkey Mama~ Yes, chocolate! How could I forget! The playground is always therapeutic!

Stella M
07-22-2011, 01:12 AM
Take a break from the blogs :) Start small and add in more subjects etc as you go. Get yourself outside every day - the kids too - for some fresh air - that really helps with mild anxiety/depression.

07-22-2011, 03:12 AM
Some good advice there :-)

Your post is very very similar to myself, we are now entering our fifth year, so you can definitely do this.

Many bloggers have great ideas, but I agree, many appear all too perfect as well. Just remember that it is all appearances for a lot bloggers. You do find some great real life bloggers, but maybe be a little more selective with the blogs you read, atteast for a while.

I have built up a really decent collection of software covering various topics and subjects. If I am having one of those days we just have computer school....and in all honesty there are times we also do computer school for full weeks at a time.

The older the kids get the more independent and the less they need you every minute of the day, that helps.

Dragging a rug out onto the lawn and doing school in the sunshine is great for off days too.

Keeping a notepad and jotting down the stuff the kids do during the day and then place that stuff under subject areas will help you to realize how much learning goes on without you even really trying.

The biggest things for me....not comparing to anyone else, looking back over the past few months and seeing that we did actually cover quite a bit and being kind to myself....we are all human.

Best of luck, you are not alone though.

07-22-2011, 03:00 PM
I'm really glad nobody told me you had to be organized to homeschool because I never would have tried it. :-) Nobody who knows me would ever describe me as organized and, I too get those days where I'm feeling totally down about everything (I started crying the other day because my optical mouse wouldn't work) and feel like shrieking at everyone. I figure it's the start of perimenopause and not having enough sleep for the past 6 years.

Despite what I often feel is a totally haphazard teaching style my kids are doing well. My son is turning 6 next month and my youngest daughter is 4 today. In the 2 years we've been "homeschooling" he's learned to read up to about 2nd grade level and is doing math at a 1st grade level. I ended up being very lucky that he likes workbooky stuff and learns well from playing games (and we won't discuss how much he learns from television and computer time). DD is a little more of a challenge but she knows her letter sounds - the Cartoon Road to Reading (i.e. Leapfrog videos) is the best, LOL - can mostly count to 20 and knows cat rhymes with hat. It's all good.

Relax, take time off when you need to, try different things to see how your girls learn best and have fun with it.

And if you want to see a blog showing some lack of organization, check out mine and note how we started a Geography study, got through Antarctica and 3 countries of Asia before switching to a prehistory study because of a new dinosaur exhibit that was opening at our museum. We are up to the Carboniferous Period (as of today) and the exhibit opened in April. We still haven't gone because I want to go when we actually get to the dinosaurs (almost there!). Now, we may be staying with family temporarily and won't be able to bring my large maps, etc. so instead of returning to Geography, we'll be doing unit studies based on Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus books. Lots of fun and totally random. Best laid plans and all that.... I figure they're still learning way more than they would in public school at this age.

You'll also see a lot of post describing how I changed programs or organizational methods. Organized I'm not. And keep in mind, I DO post only the best and most successful.

07-23-2011, 12:50 PM
I once saw a quote which really helped me have the courage to Homeschool. I have no idea where I read it, but it went something like this "I've never told a mom she was too disorganized to Homeschool, though I have seen a few who were SO organized, I wondered if their kids might be happier at school"

When I have really bad days, we take the day off. We school through summer to make up for it. I take several 2-week breaks throughout the year, quarterly. I am disorganized and emotional, and I've learned to schedule as much as I need to and just go with the flow.

07-26-2011, 02:18 PM
I can so relate with those "perfect life" blogs. There are some I feel like I should be inspired by, but in reality they just make me feel like a total loser. I look at how perfect the moms, the kids, their homes appear - via the amazing photos - and I start to feel so critical of my imperfect self, kids, home. And that's really not fair to us. So I have cut those out, along with trying to keep up with all the seemingly perfect moms in my real life neighborhood -- and I feel a lot better.
We haven't started our homeschool journey yet - hope to this month, if DD will give it a chance - but I am already learning to cut myself some slack and realize that who are are as a family is just fine. You will be just fine too.