Have you been thinking about going back to school in the new school year? What happens to your homeschool if Mom (or Dad) is suddenly teacher AND student? By choice, I am a homeschooler. By trade I am a pediatric speech language pathologist. I love being an SLP, but three years ago, I decided I wanted to go back to school for something new and different. In an apparent (read impulsive) “I can do anything, I am so beyond type A kind of fervor” I went back to school again and began working on a second masters in History. While I am taking this year “off”, here are five things I learned while trying to juggle going back to school with homeschooling 5 children, blogging, and working part time.
1. Something always has to give and it’s okay…a schedule can only take so much, so since it wasn’t going to be my homeschool, or my two classes that had cost so much, it was the house and the laundry (“I know my kitchen counters are here somewhere, I just know it.”) We want to be superwomen, but there are only so many hours in the day. If the folded laundry piles sit an extra day waiting to be put away, that’s okay. If your house is a little messier than usual, that’s okay too. Remember these are not permanent conditions.
2. Plan ahead for circumstances beyond your control by getting work done before deadlines when possible. I am just as bad (if not worse) a procrastinator now as I was 20 years ago and that had to change. When I went back to school I knew I was going to have to plan ahead better. What was able to be left to the last minute assignment/study-wise when I was twenty years old and single, could not be left to the last minute at this stage in my life. With little people calling you Mom, something always comes up at that “last minute”, so giving yourself a buffer on deadlines is a good idea.
3. Make sure you meal plan every week without fail, unless you are fine with your family eating cereal for dinner (guilty). Meal planning (and utilization of the crockpot) means everyone gets fed, even if you have to type a paper or study for a midterm. Do keep easy things to prepare on hand so that if he has to, Dad can feed the troops something more nutritious than said cereal. Which reminds me–true story–I once sent my husband to the store for “staples”. He came home with Lucky Charms and a watermelon. Now I make specific lists.
4. It is okay to not be perfect. I had planned to get a 4.0 my first semester back. My first semester back to college saw me get a 3.0 average. Two “B”s. In one class, I missed having an A by a total of one whole point. This time, my watermelon buying husband was able to help me find perspective, by reminding me that a “B” was still a respectable grade and “A” or “B”, I had learned a lot and that was what was really important. I was learning. I am learning. He was right…that same year I took my first trip to a French speaking country, and no one cared I had gotten a B instead of that A in French that I had wanted so badly.
5. Ask for help when you need it and break down big projects into smaller doable parts. If you have a support system, take them up on offers to watch the kids while you study or to bring over dinner. If you don’t and you find that you don’t have time to homeschool and study and clean the house, clean the bathroom(s) or wipe down counters. Even little tasks accomplished can make a big difference. In hindsight, I found that I was the only one who even noticed that the house was not up to what I considered it’s usual standard. (That, or everyone was just too nice to say anything; either way, I was the only one stressing about it.)
Currently, I am trying to decide if I will be heading back for a class or two this fall, which also brings up the point that if you are going back to school, it is your journey and therefore, do it in the way that is best for your family and goals. I wish you much success on that journey.
Katie is a Christian, a Jane Austen lover, a wife to her own Mr. Darcy and mother of 5 children, ages 14-4, including twins who have special needs. A pediatric speech language pathologist by trade, she has been working off and on, on a new masters in history and French, while continuing homeschooling. She pens her tales of homeschooling at the My Sweet Homeschool blog and facebook page, shares her love of France at French Pemberley, and tweets about both as @katiesullivan41.