Category Archives: Parenting

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 2

Scathing words. Hard crystal eyes. “It’s your fault, Mom. You asked for it. If I was in school, we wouldn’t have this problem. If you can’t teach me, you shouldn’t have homeschooled.”

Well. Huh. This isn’t going well. Accusing responses build loudly, sounding like a jackhammer in my head. Somewhere in the house I hear doors softly close as siblings retreat out of the fray. Do I take the bait? I know this path. It’s easy to follow.

Nope. Not this time. I’m done with that. I make a mental HARD STOP. Immediately. I am not a fish! I do not jump on dirty worms hiding nasty barbed hooks. It is my job to bring out the best in my four children. It is my job to bring out the best in myself as I bring out the best in my children. (So help me, God. Because I am going to need it.)

I have been homeschooling for ten years, and I love it. And I’ll tell you what! My kids do, too. We have had our moments, months, or even years. There have been maybe two or three times when I finally broke down, couldn’t think of another thing to try, and offered to send a child to school for classes. (It is my full intention to homeschool all four of my kids through high school, but I am not here to ruin my children’s lives. I am here to help them thrive, learn, and be the best they can be, inside and out.)

However, my children have always turned me down in the end. They decided they liked the homeschooling education and opportunities, and they wanted to find a way to work together. I know I am the adult here. I know I can find a way to understand the dynamics. I was gifted these human beings. In today’s post and in the last post, I explain some important thoughts that I consider to keep me from antagonizing my children.

The Reflection of Me I Refuse to See

I am consistently beginning to notice that when my kids irritate me as I teach them, it’s because I am looking at (often subdued) pieces of myself. Every time tears glisten in my children’s eyes, there’s a good chance I have provoked them because “Big Terri” (that’s me) is reliving “Little Terri’s” life and school inadequacies. I’m not teaching math or grammar anymore! I’m covertly “teaching” my child what I had to squash out of me (or call forth out of me) in order to “succeed” in school.

Be quiet. Sit down. Do math faster. Lose math facts chalkboard races again. Quit counting on your fingers; you’re too old for that. Stop talking. No whining. Pay attention. You’re a good reader, but not good enough for that class. That’s bad handwriting; look at Melanie’s. Be number one or nobody will care or notice. How can you be so smart and not be able to add fractions? You talk too much. You’re trying to learn German, and we’re working on spelling. We’ll spank you because strong enough to be an example.

These are voice loops from my school experience. (And the paragraph got way too long, so I took half of it out! Laugh till you cry! And I was a good student! What kind of voices do non-conforming adults carry in their school memories?) Anyhow, I see an awful realization:

My teachers and lessons have become my kids’ teachers and lessons nearly thirty years later!

So often, whatever it is that I am losing my temper about is really about me. I am looking at a piece of me or my life somehow. It can take me months to see that I am so angry because my child is:

  • doing something I do,
  • doing something I have done,
  • doing something I have been reprimanded for or embarrassed over,
  • or showing me a trait of mine that I have squashed down so deep in me that I don’t even know the struggle is there anymore.

When I finally do see how it is not my child that I am punishing, but me, I’m dumbfounded. It takes courage and curiosity to see it. I have asked my friends sometimes about traits that I see in my children and if I have any of that in me. “Hmm. Never seen that in you, Terri. You’re perfect.” Thank you, dear friends. I know perfection surrounds itself with good company.

I must see that I’m judging myself when I judge them.

Stuff a sock in your thoughts and compliment your child.

Kids thrive on accurate, TRUE praise. I have very high standards, so I begrudgingly compliment my kids about their schoolwork. It’s expected work. But I KNOW that my kids do better when I tell them, “Great job!” Or, “You’re really good in multiplication.” The hard thing is, compared to all that is stuffed in my brain, they’re, uh, well, honestly, they’re not good at reading, writing, and math.

Whoa. I know. It sounds horrible to read. But I subconsciously base my evaluation of my kids on my brain after successful completion of thirteen years of public school, five years of pharmacy school, four years of medical school, and a medical residency. Plus living over forty years.

So, yeah, stuff a sock in your thoughts, Terri. I have to consciously tell myself that I need to encourage and compliment my children each day in each area. Sometimes it feels fake and like flattery, but I know that’s because I am thinking about it from a brain that has been educated already.

I must compliment more.

Sit with them.

This is the hardest for me, actually. Strangely, it’s even harder than all the others! And it requires nothing.

Sit. (That’s hard.)

Sit. Quietly. (Oh, just give me a kidney stone already.)

I’ve got lunch to make and supper to plan. Laundry to fold. Bills to pay. Mom’s birthday coming up. Other kids’ lessons to teach. A four year old to pull away from the TV.

I don’t have time to sit here for thirty minutes, mostly in silence, just waiting for my child to move forward somehow. What sixty minutes now? What? Two hours? Are you kidding me? She has accomplished nothing and brought me down with her.

No! This won’t work! I need to show my student how to her work, hurry her along to show me she’s got it, and then move on. Check-box marked.

But homeschooling doesn’t work that way. When there are struggles, especially coming out in anger and tears, I have learned that I must sit quietly with my kids as they work. I must not ask inflammatory questions or hastily push them along. I must be there to help. Not degrade. When they’re mad at me and trying to explain themselves, I must not interrupt. I must not even interrupt their silence! I must sit in silence as they formulate their words, sometimes requiring long, long tens-of-minutes of silence. I must sit next to them as they struggle through math, keeping my voice and thoughts calm and focused on them.

I must sit in silence.

School is an Option

When I’ve exhausted everything, every opportunity, and I still feel like what I’m doing is making us both worse people, then, I ask the hard question. “Do you think you need to go to school to learn this? Would you and I be better together if you took this class, and others if it leads to that, at a school?”

There has come a point in which I knew my parent-child relationship was deteriorating due to homeschooling interactions. I knew that in a particular area in homeschooling, I was letting a child down. I knew that even though I was trying my best, I wasn’t doing a good job! And I told my child exactly this. I think because of my exceptional honesty, my child decided that whereas she had been unwilling to budge before, she wanted to try it again with both us trying even harder.

I must be willing to let go if I have to.

You Should Have Made Me Do It

When I meet resistance in my children, I usually stop and assess the situation. I make some tweaks and changes in what we’re doing to coax them along. I don’t usually just plow through and make them do things “because I said so.” I’m a very strong-willed person, and this is a sure-fire way to lose me; therefore, I am cautious to treat my children how I would like to be treated.

I recently was in combat with one of my older children who was pointing out that I had let her slide through a school subject in her younger years. (I had tried everything throughout the years, and it only created resentment and anger. So I put it off till I could put it off no longer.) I asked her now that she could look back, what should I have done? She said, “You should have just made me do it.” Sigh. Easy for her to say.

At select times, I must be willing to push my child past the point she thinks she’s capable of.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Since they were born, I see my children as PEOPLE with futures. I just got lucky enough that these people got put in my arms to tend. When yelling and tears happen, I step back and take inventory. WHAT can we do here? WHAT is REALLY happening here? WHAT am I missing? God gave me these people. Their His people. What does He want me to know about them? What does He want ME to know about ME?

Best wishes to you! Find a way!

Terri F

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 1

Listen. I love my kids so much. We all do. I mean mine are the best. Shine like stars. Thanks for loving them, too.

Okay. Kidding.

We all love our own kids immensely. We want the best for them. If you homeschool, you’ve decided that your home is the best place for them to learn their academics. But sometimes, there’s a kid who always makes you yell, even if you just won a million dollars, tax-free.

There’s one who you always make cry. You tell her she’s pretty in a harsh voice and she tears up. And you tell her she stinks in a soft, loving voice and she glows. Kids are crazy.

We have tears and yelling sometimes in our homeschool. It happens. Some years more frequently than others. Some school topics more frequently than others. Some kids more frequently than others. We have had tears or yelling over:

  • Where to put the apostrophe in English contractions
  • Whether to add or subtract numbers in elementary school story problems and pre-algebra problems (Example: Solve for X when X-357 =120)
  • Writing thoughts down on paper to construct paragraphs or essays
  • Failed crafts
  • The feeling that too much school work has been assigned
  • My voice
  • Their voice
  • Their eyes
  • My eyes
  • Critical remarks from on-line teachers
  • Not fitting in anywhere

Yep. We’ve had tears and yelling. Yelling and tears, to me, mean something is wrong. Something is not right. It does not mean my child is defiant. It means something is wrong, and the buck stops with me.

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this that you have tried the take-a -break, go-get- coffee, hold-hands-and-pray posts. You’ve learned all that. You’ve remembered to use your resources and identify learning styles. All that jazz.

Today and the next post, I want to point out a few ideas that I have internalized which have helped me through our trying homeschooling experiences, so we can stop the tears and yelling. I could write an e-book on this one day, I think. 🙂 But I’ll keep it somewhat short.

When I have to repeat myself, we’re heading for trouble.

From tricky (to the kids) math concepts to writing expository essays, when I hear myself explaining things I’ve explained before, I can tell you one of us will come to tears, exasperated words, or yelling. Whether it’s explaining something repeatedly in four different ways over the course of ten minutes or explaining it in thirty seconds reminders repeatedly over the last month, if they can’t remember important information or processes, I get testy.

The condescending questions start insidiously, “Why aren’t you getting this?” and “Why is this difficult for you?” They’re asked innocently enough, but they are the START flag to the race. My kids commence looking down at their papers, doodling, looking away from me. In their own ways, they’re trying to avert this situation, too, although it’s usually counterproductive.

So when I see myself explaining something multiple times, I know I’m on thin ice and I have to make sure I’m using every single adult neuron in my brain. I know if I don’t change my past behaviors, we will not move forward in any way, shape, or form. And that’s not okay. When the sign says, “Bridge out.” It means the bridge is out! When the signs say, “argument coming.” That’s what they mean!

Evaluate the fear in the situation.

Why do I deteriorate as a teacher and parent when my kids aren’t “getting it?” I have tried my hardest! My kid (yes, whether I believe it or not) has tried her hardest (as she perceives it). Why are we both so frustrated that she’s not getting it?

FEAR. And it is said that fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate. Whether it’s hating me, hating our homeschool, or hating writing, I don’t want my child to have anything to do with hating anything!

What fears do we have?

Mom’s fears:

  • My child is getting behind and is not keeping up with her peers.
  • Grandma and Grandpa are keeping tabs on our education, and here is another example for them to say I’m not doing a good job homeschooling.
  • My child won’t perform well on standardized tests (and college admission tests).
  • My child might have a learning disorder.
  • My child will never get this!
  • I can’t think of any more ways to teach this!
  • My child does not listen well and is going to grow up to be an absent-minded or insolent adult.
  • I must be a bad teacher.
  • My child does not try and will be lazy and not get a job in the real world.
  • My child will not be prepared for college.
  • I’m running out of time to get lunch made.
  • I’m running out of time to help brother and sisters with their homeschool topics.
  • I’m running out of time before we have to make this appointment.

Student’s fears:

  • I’m letting mom down.
  • I’ll never get this stuff. I’m not smart enough.
  • I really can’t remember what I’m told.
  • Mom is mad at me.
  • I won’t make it in college.
  • I will do badly on standardized tests.
  • I won’t have time to play with my friends if I have to do all this stuff.
  • Mom is going to give me more homework if I can’t figure this out.
  • Mom is disappointed in me.
  • Mom and Dad won’t love me if I can’t do school right.
  • I’m not as smart as my parents or brothers and sisters.
  • I’m going to have a late lunch because we’re working on this, and I’m so hungry.

That’s a lot of fear going around! Once I identify the fears, I come from a place of compassion for myself and my child–and not anger. That’s a healthier place to parent and teach from.

Conclusion

To summarize today’s post: 1) If you have homeschool tears and yelling, well, join the club! 2) Try the usual suggested things to head them off. (Take a break, change curriculum, find a friend to teach your kid, modify the environment, etc.) 3) Know you are responsible for finding a peaceful way through this homeschooling dilemma. 4) Identify the signs that pop up every time you have homeschool tears and yelling and heed them! 5) Give words to the fears behind the tears and yelling!

Kids are amazing. And so are you. Figure it out! You can do it!

Part 2 on Monday!

Terri

 

For a Mother Who Finds Mothering is Taking a Toll on Her Health

Mothers don’t have time for self. They don’t have time to chew (their food). They don’t have time for exercising. They don’t have time for God. They don’t have time to take a shower. They just don’t have time.

Motherhood is hard. And while I hear those words tossed about so often, I really, really don’t think that as a society we respect and internalize that truth. Maybe because so many women do it. Maybe because moms listen to each other’s stories and think, “Yep. I do that, too. Yep. I have that, too.” Maybe because we forget as our kids grow up into adults just how hard it was.

For too long we’ve belittled the frustration of motherhood and the toll it takes. It IS a big deal. It IS a huge, overwhelming job. I completely empathize with you! I’m there with you! Look yourself in the mirror today and say, “I AM doing a HARD job.” And then smile at yourself and say, “I can DO this HARD job. I LIKE this hard job. It IS a job like no other. And NO other woman can do this job for my household like I can.”

While I know that motherhood is hard, I know there are so many other women out there that have it harder than I do. Maybe harder than you do. And sometimes that is helpful to hear. It pulls me out of self-pity when I have one kid vomiting on the couch, one throwing herself on the ground screaming and sobbing because the neighbors cut the trees down, one walking in the door with a broken nose from gymnastics practice, and one asking what’s for supper. It helps keep me focused and motivated to remember these are passing moments, and others have “real” problems.

But, well, you know what? At other times, this only serves to drive home to me how frivolous and incompetent I am. Then, whammo, guilt monster, judging, and belittling set in. That is not productive, and it is not health-promoting.

We’re not here to see who can raise their kids better. Who can clean better. Who can cook better. Who can yell less. Who can do more and more while still raising kids.

Listen. Some of us do cook better. Some of us do clean better. Some of us are more patient. Some of us enjoy toddlers more than others. Some of us can work and come home and have energy to help with homework. Some of us can help teach Sunday school without dreaming of the game Whack-a-Mole at night. Some of us do love to shop with our kids.

But nobody can be YOU to your children. Nobody. Ever. So encourage yourself more. Let go of the judging and belittling of yourself and other moms. Find humor. Encourage another mom. Humor another mom.

You are amazing! You have a wonderful skill set! Embrace it! Love it! God did NOT make you like anyone else. Clean house or messy house. Food from the farm or food from the box. Introvert or extrovert. Medical doctor or GED. Award-winning kitchen designer or self-proclaimed artist.

Yes, I know that in motherhood you’re always interrupted! Interrupted you. That’s the story of a good mom’s life! For several years, you may be forced to give up WHAT YOU DO while you mother your children. Today’s world argues against that. For me, it was necessary to give up what I DO in order that I didn’t give up on WHO I am. Does that make sense? Doing too much robbed me of WHO I was. I was losing touch with myself.

Well, I’ll close. But today I would like you to consider if there are a couple of things in life that you might want to give up so you can be the mother and person you want to be. Maybe it’s as simple as not answering the phone when it’s that best friend who talks for an hour. Or maybe it’s the frequent trips to visit your sick relative. (I know that sounds very harsh.) Maybe it’s the extra class you’re trying to squeeze in.

I just don’t want you to lose YOU! And I also want you to have a great relationship with your children! As two of my children have entered the teen years, I am just so struck by how they are so amazing. And I’m so glad they like being around me and even confide in me at times.

And I know I am temporarily giving up a lot of WHAT I do. But because I have kept true to WHO I am, I know I can look forward to a future doing what I want to do. And doing it as healthy as ever, inside and out!

Have a super weekend!

Terri F

 

 

Why Can’t I Do Both?

Lazy and lame. Someone scathingly wrote to me that I was lazy and lame because I quit working as a medical doctor and instead chose to stay home with my four kids and homeschool. The words stung a little, but it’s nothing my own mind hasn’t wrestled with over the last seven years since staying home. I mean, there ARE moms who actually do BOTH homeschooling and doctoring! I know it IS possible. I’m a pretty capable woman, so I have often wondered why I “couldn’t” do both! In my life, I have confidence that I can handle most challenges thrown at me. In fact, a sure-fire way to guarantee I do something is to tell me I can’t!

Why, then, could I not “handle” work and homeschooling simultaneously? I mean, deep inside, I romanticize about being the mom who runs kids, always has extra kids around, has fresh meals on the table, volunteers in the community, is always there for her friends, desires her husband each night, pays the bills, exercises, keeps a neat house, attends social functions, reads good books, and is loved at the workplace. Other women say they do it successfully and happily!

No Satisfaction in Both

I know I’m not “other women,” but I curiously, deeply wondered what it is about me that prevented satisfaction when I did both. (Because I can sure tell you there was NO satisfaction or good humor when I did both, despite the fact that I LOVED doing EACH!) I just can’t be that, and I have to keep forging a life that keeps me true to my inner core. (I think that’s a unique thing in life. To step INTO yourself and say, “Yes, I feel really good. THIS fits me.” And to find a way to make that work for you, your family, and society.)

Back to my meanie accuser. I realized that this person and I may never see eye to eye because we simply do not have the same wiring, the same mother board, the same values. I am not here to tell moms to quit their jobs. I have a best friend who I told to get back in the work force—get back in there! Go for partnership. This woman needs to work or she’ll drive herself (and me) crazy. Work keeps her grounded and focused, even though she has four kids at home.

But not me. I pondered this now that time has passed and softened the emotions surrounding the transition from practicing medical doctor to being a stay-at-home mom. What is it about my wiring and my mother board that won’t allow me to peacefully work and homeschool?

Run Back to the Convent

My mom must have sensed something strange about me, because she used to tell me I should be a nun. “You’re running the wrong way, Maria,” I would have screamed as The Sound of Music‘s heroine danced and sang herself back to the Von Trapp home. “You’re running towards chaos! Go back to PEACE and ORDER! Go back to the convent, I say! When they tried to solve a problem like Maria, the nuns must have subtracted wrong. They got the wrong answer! You’re doomed! Return to the inner sanctity of order and quiet!”

No. Kidding. I didn’t really need to be a nun, but there definitely is something appealing about those quiet stone halls and methodical rituals! I love being a mom and teaching my four daughters. They’re bright. Loving. Talented. Kind. And I get to teach them every day! We can run into a lot of chaos homeschooling, but introspection has taught me that at the end of the day, I must have–or be moving towards– peace and order in each area of my life:

  • my kitchen
  • my stack of bills
  • my laundry room
  • my purse
  • my relationship with my husband
  • my relationships with my kids
  • my relationships with my friends
  • my relationship with God
  • my teaching
  • my health
  • my schedule
  • my text message and e-mail in-boxes

I’ve been called a perfectionist before, which I see now is somewhat of an error! I see how I and others could confuse them. For me, it’s not perfectionism, but it’s the pursuit of peace and order which makes me feel good inside. The house doesn’t need dusted as long as it’s picked up! I’ve been called controlling before, too. Again, maybe. But not really. “Honey, you didn’t put the garlic press back where it goes. It’s out of order…”

When I Was Working and Homeschooling

Anyhow, when I was working at the hospital as a medical doctor, I came home exhausted. I hadn’t lunched, supped, peed, or pooped. I carried two pagers (the code pager and the on-call pager) and the “house” phone. I was busy. I ran to codes, sick patients in the ICU, and had 5-7 patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital from the ER. It was fun. It was hard. But when I came home, my core value need could not be overridden. I needed order and peace.

Instead, I was greeted by sticky hands full of love. Couch cushions on the floor and blankets draping the chairs to create imaginative tents. And mail partly opened and tossed haphazardly on the counter for me to organize. Once, I even came home to find that tiny, nimble fingers had moved my great-grandmother’s fine china dinnerware all around from its protective nook.

School was expected to run on my days off, yet I hadn’t had time to organize my lessons. Get art supplies. Run through a craft or activity to see if it would work the way Pinterest said it would. My child didn’t do school the way I wanted. We (are supposed to) start at the left and we work to the right. We (are supposed to) fold our papers in the middle. And we don’t scribble-scrabble all over them!

PEACE. ORDER. Those are intrinsic needs for me and drive how I interact with life, my environment, and my people. No matter how many different things I tried, I couldn’t align my deep needs for peace and order with working and homeschooling simultaneously. Since family and education are other values that I cannot compromise, fully embracing motherhood and homeschooling and forfeiting professional goals (which don’t seem to drive me as much as peace and order, family, and education) felt much more comfortable and fulfilling. I do not regret my decision.

Conclusion

I hope you know that what you do is important. How you do it is important. How you feel when you do it is important. Strive to find out what makes you tick, and create a wonderful life which fulfills you and makes a difference where you want to make a difference at! If you’re struggling and you can change your mindset and that takes care of it, go for it! But if you try different routes, different techniques, and your mindset just won’t budge, maybe you should have been a nun. No. Kidding. Maybe you need to find out exactly what it is that’s not able to compromise deep within you and honor it.

How about you? Do you have greater needs for peace and order than other people? Does this need affect your work-home relationship? Do you fervently seek peace and order in all areas, including your own head? What happens when you have to be exposed to too much disorder and chaos? How does it make your body feel? How about your head?

May good blessings fall upon you today!

Terri F.

Image attribution: St. Lucas altarpiece, Andrea Mantegna, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_019.jpg

 

 

My Experience With Working and Homeschooling

For two years I worked as a physician (as a hospitalist, if you know what that is) and homeschooled. It was a crazy time of life for me, and I didn’t like the chaos. Some of my best friends with kids say that working keeps them sane. Or that it makes them better parents. I kind of wondered at first what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I a happy and working mom? Or a happy working and homeschooling mom? Was I somehow weak or flawed? Was I just not capable of being a modern woman?

Nah. I know I’m as capable as the next man or woman. But I didn’t want to do it. Homeschooling, “mommy-ing,” and working concomitantly didn’t make my heart happy. It didn’t add to my life. I don’t like frazzle. I don’t like chronic chaos. I don’t like being spread thin. And, notably, I could not make the transfer from work to kids. In some ways, I feel more “man” in this regard than my husband (who is what I call “all guy”), who can walk in the door and be fully vested in us, granting hugs all around.

Not me! Me? Point me to the nearest man cave! After a 12 hour day of work back in the day, I was like, “I’d prefer it if I didn’t see anyone until the Queen (me) has bathed, fully supped, checked her written correspondence, and then, perhaps then, she’ll grant kisses on chubby little hands on their way to bed.”

WHOA! Who wants that woman for a mom? WHO wants to be that woman? Not me! I didn’t like that me! I’m a good, kind, loving, and compassionate mom, and I needed to create the environment that allowed the real mommy-me to shine.

So when people ask me, “Can you work and homeschool?” My answer is, “Of course you can! I don’t want to, but you sure can!” I thought I’d share myself as a case-study for those exploring this question for themselves. Perchance, by seeing some of yourself–or NOT seeing yourself–in me, you’ll be better prepared to answer the question with awareness of yourself.

Yes, this helps…

First let’s look at the properties of my life that allowed me to feel comfortable homeschooling and working for a while:

  • An exceptionally supportive husband
  • Very flexible hours
  • Kind co-workers
  • Only homeschooling one child at first, who was in her early years (kindergarten through about second grade)
  • I kept the curriculum basic and felt 90% free to adapt it to how she learned (which wasn’t how I wanted her to learn…).
  • Living in a warm climate which allowed lots of outdoor time
  • Good friends already in place for my kids to hang out with on weekends and evenings (These friends went to school and were not homeschooled.)
  • A strong homeschool co-op for activities as we wanted them and where we could (and did!) meet new friends when I wasn’t working
  • I sent one younger sibling to a wonderful morning pre-school which she loved, leaving just the baby who still napped, so we could homeschool during morning nap time on my days off.
  • My daughter was young enough to cooperate with some weekend and evening work if we didn’t get things done.
  • My female doctor friends from medical school encouraging me to follow my heart

Mmm. That doesn’t sound pleasant…

Now let’s look at the other side which really began limiting a positive homeschooling and life experience:

  • I was tired all the time and very forgetful. I physically felt bad and wondered what was wrong with me.
  • The part of me that needs alone time to recover was battered, raped, and abused.
  • Work called more and I could give less. I felt guilty because my co-workers were good people who worked too much themselves, and here I was telling them “no.”
  • My kids needed me more and I felt guilty.
  • My husband wanted me and he was last on the list.
  • Physical messes in my home affect me greatly and with me gone working, there were more physical messes.
  • The schoolwork started requiring more time and effort.
  • It just didn’t feel like there was time for the refrigerator to break, the air conditioning to need fixed, fleas to get in the house, doctor’s appointments, sick days—-in general, no time for life to happen.
  • Schoolwork didn’t happen well without me there to guide it or push it along. (I had a recalcitrant student who has now blossomed incredibly.) A sitter or grandparent just didn’t have the same effect as mom.
  • I had a toddler. Toddlers are very demanding.
  • I had a nursing baby.
  • I was perpetually irritable.

Why do I need this?

When working and homeschooling became more than I wanted to piggyback, then I stopped and looked at WHY I wanted to work:

  • I had loans to pay off.
  • Because I had put SO much effort into getting where I was at! Twelve years of my life and tons of delayed gratification!
  • I liked being a hospitalist doctor a lot. Taking care of hospitalized, acutely ill patients is usually very rewarding.
  • Work offered rhythm, constancy, and community. When I walked into the hospital, I knew exactly what to expect. (Yes, each day and patient was different! But the rhythm of the system was the same.)
  • It worked a whole different part of my brain than child rearing and housework, and that felt good. Kind of like a back rub for the brain!
  • To provide a sense of equality with my husband in our household. (I’m a wee-bit competitive.)
  • I felt respected and well-liked.
  • I felt it was a service still being asked of me by my God.
  • I didn’t want to be “just” a stay-at-home mom.

Maybe if…

I often sit around, just for fun, and wonder what would have allowed me to homeschool and work. I think maybe I could have done both if:

  • I had immediate family living in the same town
  • Someone else would have been as good as I was at getting my daughter to do her work
  • If external chaos didn’t faze me so strongly
  • If my life situation necessitated it
  • My husband had a knack for teaching young children
  • The kids weren’t so young
  • I could have lowered expectations in all areas of my life
  • Monkeys flew and unicorns swam

Closing

Many people find my little spot here when they are searching about homeschooling and quitting work. I liked working as a medical doctor, but once I had kids, the same overachieving, perfectionist, benevolent tendencies that allowed me to succeed in medicine are the exact same traits that demanded me to achieve success my way in motherhood. I wish I could have it all: work, kids, homeschooling, a happy me, a happy marriage, exercise, three real-food-meals a day, friends, a clean and tidy house, sleep, a well-decorated house, church, a new kitchen, a dog, a blog, flying monkeys and swimming unicorns.

But I can’t. For me, I decided I didn’t need professional satisfaction or resting on laurels. I did need to keep learning and sharing (so I study and write little articles for this blog on alternative health). I needed to know I could work if necessary or desired (so I keep my licenses up). I needed to know that I was providing safety, security, and a strong psychological, emotional, educational, and spiritual core for my kids (and me!!!!). I needed to have time to foster a relationship with my husband. I needed some semblance of order.

No matter what—I don’t need aeronautical primates or aquatic, horned equines that just don’t exist.

Good luck to you! It’s a “live, studio audience,” so feel free to ask questions or leave comments on your experience.

Terri

Photo attribution:  Sonarpulse. origenal:Huji [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Questions My Husband Asks Me

postcards2cardsnewyearsresolution1915So, how’s the family togetherness stuff going? Insanely ready for school (and work) to start again?

Here? We’ve had more family togetherness time here, too. Meaning, dad’s been around loads more. And boy, has he interrogated the heck out of me. This man is full of parenting questions.

I hope today’s post makes you smirk and smile as you head into the new year with kids and a spouse. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

On kids and socks:

“Put your socks on! You can’t go without socks! Does your mom let you go without socks? Honey, do you let them go without socks!?”

Yes, sweetie. Socks are optional. I mean, I wear socks. You wear socks. But if my kids don’t want socks, then who needs socks? Five people times two socks per person equals 10 socks. I can’t keep track of that many feet. And they’re wearing snow boots, for heaven’s sake! Tsk. Tsk. You really shouldn’t have married outside your social class if you wanted your kids to wear socks.

On kids and sleep:

“Its 9 o’clock in the morning! They’re still sleeping! When do you make them get out of bed? I mean, how are they going to learn that in the real world you have a job and responsibility?”

They were spontaneously up at 5:15 am on Christmas morning. How early does it need to be for you need to feel reassured they can pull themselves out of bed with an alarm clock? Come on! Parenting 101: Never wake a sleeping child.

On kids and getting ready:

“It’s 10:30 in the morning now. Kids, go get out of your pajamas! How long do you let them stay in their pajamas!?”

Babe, you have four girls. Sixteen. Just remember the word “sixteen.” Mirrors. Make up. Flattening irons. Sweet sixteen. Your girls will get out of their pajamas. I promise. They don’t stay little forever.

On a homeschooling mom still in her pajamas:

“Well, when do you get out of your pajamas? You wanna’ go change?”

I receive friends, plumbers and electricians in these clothes. I teach grammar and algebra in these clothes. I cook gourmet lunches in these clothes. No. These clothes are fine. Thanks. I’ll change when I have time.

On getting kids out the door:

“It’s time to go. Why aren’t they down here? I told them five minutes ago it was time to go! How’s come they can’t get into the car? Don’t you make them get into the car?”

Never. I found it’s much easier to stay put in the house and be weird recluses. No, no. I’m joshing. We actually follow the “Three-Yells Process.” First yell means nothing. Second yell means move downstairs. Third yell means, you got it—- go to the bathroom! When the house is silent that means mom’s in the car backing out of the garage shrieking about being late—and you’d better get out there shoes in hand if they’re not on your feet already.

On kids and forgetfulness:

“That one forgot her book for violin and that one forgot her shoes for basketball. Why can’t they ever remember their stuff?  Do you always take them their stuff? I never forgot my stuff. My mom didn’t just pop in and bring me my stuff. I had to remember it.”

Good. That’s all I say: “Good.” Dead-pan flat. (This is a good technique for touchy subjects. One word. Dead-pan flat. Try it. It won’t work if you have any reaction, though. You  have to be flat. Think flat.)

But, if I’m pressed, I use the nose picking explanation. Kids forget stuff. It’s what they do. Just like little kids always pick their nose. No parent wants their kids to do it, but they do. We teach them patiently how to do things differently, and slowly they conform.

On spouses wanting a warm welcome home:

“Why don’t you hug and kiss me when I come home early from work?”

Just be glad I didn’t hand you the diaper, the spatula, the craft, the math, and the toilet plunger. I’ll be happy to give you a hug and a kiss, but you’re fifth in line. Stand over there till your turn.

On coffees and play dates:

“You’re having another coffee and play date?”

Did you really want to play Candy Land again?

On taking on too much:

“I thought you said you had enough to do! Why did you tell her ‘yes’?”

Glare.

On family movie time:

“Honey, we’re watching a movie. What are you still doing up here? I thought we were going to watch it all together. We’ve been waiting to start it.”

Aaah. Family movie time. My husband has the kids held captivated in one spot. What a good time for a peaceful bath. Oh, yes. I’m coming. I’ll be there. Just a minute. Go ahead and start it without me…

Closing

Happy New Year to you! I’m going to go get people out of their pajamas! And scrounge up some socks. At least in 2017 it’s socially acceptable for them to not match! When I was a kid, I was ostracized by a clique for not wearing matching socks. I can still hear the words, “Your socks don’t match.” Oh, the times.

Family life is joy. Find the humor in the situation. Face each new day, and yourself, with a bit of laughter and a smile. Blessings on your 2017.

Terri

Image source: Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_resolution) Attribution: “By not known; one on left is published by “Chatauqua Press”, as stated near the bottom of the card in tiny type [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons”

 

Tips So Kids Don’t Waste Meat

2048px-foodmeatIf you want your kids to eat meat, then you’d better give a little effort to make it look enticing.

This Christmas, my husband roasted the best tasting roast beef. I usually frantically try to plate my kids’ food for meals, not because I’m a control freak, but because observation has led me to see they don’t eat unsightly plated food as well as attractively plated food. So foods they might not eat so well, I work extra hard to make look tempting and plate for them. Sometimes presentation alone gets them to eat things they normally wouldn’t.

Well, I wasn’t the one to plate their food this time around. And that perfectly prepared, rare roast beast dribbled juicy, pink trickles linearly in each direction–and that “don’t fly” with most kids. That, to kids, is blood. I could have been reliving my childhood:

Eat that meat.”

What’s wrong with that meat?”

“There’s nothing wrong with that meat.”

“That’s expensive meat. Don’t you waste it.”

“Here, give me that meat.”

Oh, my dad would get so mad at me as I stared at my plate, pushing food around with my fork.

Meat is a valuable source of easily absorbable zinc, vitamin B 12, and iron. Certain kinds and cuts are rich in DHA and vitamin D3 and different amino acids. I’ve noticed among my four kids, one will eat meat like it’s candy. One will stare at it like it’s still alive on her plate and I’m making her eat it. The other two are kind of in the middle.

We are an omnivorous family, and to make life more simple, the kids need to eat what’s for supper. Sometimes it’s centered around meat. And sometimes it’s not. But I don’t like it to be wasted, particularly meat. It makes me super sad to waste meat.

Tips so kids don’t waste meat:

  1. Cut it into bite-sized pieces for them.
  2. Give them the most savory pieces.
  3. Serve them with flavorful, attractive drippings. (For example, when I roast a chicken, I drizzle a little of the drippings over their cut pieces, being careful to keep it right over the chicken itself.)
  4. Important: Sop up any unpleasant looking trickles, dribbles, or pools before giving them the plate, so you don’t have to answer the “Is that blood?” question.
  5. If you know they don’t like a particular meat, then don’t give them more than 3-5 average bite sized pieces.
  6. Get them to eat it while it’s still hot.
  7. Have them try it with a bite of something else that complements it.
  8. Sauces, sauces, sauces.
  9. Explain that meat has vitamin B 12, a nutrient that is very important for our brains and nerves to function. A nutrient difficult to get anywhere else.

Closing

I wish you the best in leading your kids toward eating real, whole foods. Some people feel best eating a meat-rich diet, while others can’t tolerate it. I see all sides from a scientific standpoint. You don’t need to defend your stance to me. But please try to eat real, whole food. Avoid chicken nuggets breaded with maltodextrin and milk protein and fried in vegetable oil. Avoid cold meat laden with potato starch. Try to steer towards unprocessed meats and include a broad range of cuts so your kids are getting the best array of amino acids. Don’t just eat the muscle meats.

And so important: Include an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables!

Let’s encourage our kids to eat real and try not to waste! So, what tips do you have that I left out?

Sincerely,

Terri