Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bleurgh, Bleurgh, Bleurgh!!!

So, as I'm trying to blog daily, I guess I'm going to have to include the good, the bad, and the darn right ugly.  If you are searching through looking for blogs full of positive inspiration of how home-education can work, this isn't a good post to read.  Feel free to skip this post and read further down, there are lots of good days I have shared with you.  If instead you are here searching for a blog to tell you how it is home-educating 4 and a bit children in the real world as a real live human being, well grab yourself a cuppa and pull up a chair.  

Today has been a bad day.  Perhaps that's too strong a phrase as nothing bad has happened, maybe a disappointing day is more how I am feeling. 

I guess I had set myself up for failure from the moment of waking as I had such high expectations.  After discussions with the children about what they fancied studying/looking at/working on/reading about, last night I was full of hope that I would be in a place where my plans and ideas would be achieved and completed. 

As you can guess, I wasn't.

What I did have was a teenager who didn't rise from bed until 12.15pm.  Another teenager who was happy to just tidy his bedroom or watch the news.  A 6 year old who politely refused to do anything we had talked about doing last night. And a dear 9 year old who would have been happy to do whatever, but had her head behind a book for most of the day.

Being totally honest, I was really struggling to stay awake.  10 month old Taisia has been restless in bed for 3 nights in a row now and it really hit me hard today.  My week has been a busy one, with plenty of driving and out of the house visits, and on the days that I have been at home I've not stopped "working".  Lee (my precious husband) has been working so very hard these past few weeks. I've been dropping him off at work at 7am and he hasn't been returning until 7 or 8pm some nights.  Long days doing physical work.  In the faint hope of relieving some of his normal weekend at home chores for him, I've been doing jobs around the house that I don't usually do, such as cleaning windows and mowing the lawn.  With the addition of often having Taisia in her sling to do such work, you can imagine it's quite tiring.  With the lack of sleep, my body just gave up today and told me enough was enough.  I just wanted to curl up on the sofa with Taisia and sleep when she slept. 

I am actually feeling a little sheepish after my over enthusiastic status update on Facebook and Twitter this morning, an excerpt of which I'm placing here to haunt me... 

" Today we are, at the children's request, Ancient Egypt studying, Edgar Allen Poe discovering, Korea exploring, story reading, nature walking, cake baking, butter making, possibly film watching (with the all important popcorn eating), and we shall be breathing! Phew, sounds like a busy one!"

We did nothing on that list except the story reading.  We are re-reading the Lemony Snickets series, and we read Chapter 10 of book 12.  

Instead I spent most of the day on the sofa fighting off a tiredness headache, only leaving such comfort to hang washing on the line, wash dishes, cook food, change nappies, hoover floors, make tea, drop off and pick up husband to and from work, empty bins, hoover floor again, clean the bathroom sink and toilet, put more laundry in the machine etc etc.  All of the usual day to day household chores without any "home-ed" stuff thrown in.  So what did the children do? 

Callum spent a lot of his time to-ing and fro-ing from the garden (trampoline jumping, scooter riding, playing with the dog, and bug hunting) to the laptop.  He visited various websites including counting games, storytelling games, paint and draw sites, and problem solving games. He doesn't need my intervention very often when using the computer, he uses google to search for what he wants, occasionally asking me to check on a spelling or two.

Tiegan spent her day reading, visiting and playing with her rabbit Misty, reading some more, playing on the trampoline, bug hunting with Callum (watching grasshoppers is so engrossing), playing with Taisia, brushing the dog, and amusing Harry (was kitten, now adult cat) with various moving things for him to chase after.  She went to Brownies tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed being back after the summer break. 

Joseph tidied up his room, made me cups of tea, read a bit about the Titanic, played various games on the computer, watched TV, read a few pages from a British History book, spent more time on the computer chatting with friends, discussed the Libya conflict with me, played with Taisia in the garden, and annoyed Chelsea with awful music found on Youtube :)

Chelsea.  Dear Chelsea missed half the day due to having trouble sleeping at night too.  She spent much of the day reading various chapter books, but also went on the computer where she did various things such as chatting with friends, creating digital art, playing strategy and problem solving games, and writing emails.  Chelsea also did a bit of pencil sketching and helped me with a few chores.

Actually, writing it all down makes me feel better about the day.  Perhaps it wasn't such a failure after all.  Instead it just wasn't as I had planned, which had led to my disappointment.  But, does that matter?  Not one little bit  We have no timetable to fit around.  We don't have a curriculum to follow.  My children have the freedom to work at their own pace, following their own interests, with no pressures.  Left to there own devices with little intervention from me and they still manage to learn something - even if it's just "Mama is better left alone when she looks like her eyelids need propping up with matchsticks and it definitely isn't a good time to squabble loudly with your siblings over nothing of any importance."

At the end of the day I've had children laughing, children smiling, and children hugging me.  I've answered questions and had in depth discussions. I've been there to support them and to see to there needs, but they have also gained independence.

I have to let go of control and trust my children.


  1. "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." - John Lennon

    Looking at your entire list, it looks like both you AND the children did a lot today! Big hugs to you - we've all been there, though, feeling we've failed ourselves or the kids. Rest assured, that from this outside Mom's perspective, you're doing wonderfully!


  2. This day isn't a failure at all! All of your children were happy and engaged in their own activities - sounds pretty perfect to me. You are allowed to be tired, especially when you have a 10 month old, and you are allowed an 'off' day, although I disagree that this was an off day at all. It was a lovely day. :-)

  3. Thank you Nikki and Deb, after writing it all down and seeing what the children did by themselves I knew it wasn't a complete failure. So often I just see the kids staring at the laptop screen and forget that they are fulfilling so many "subject" criteria by doing so. There are so many opportunities online, with games for numeracy and literacy practice, problem solving, strategy building etc, they aren't just sitting behind a screen, they are doing much more :)
    Love and blessings
    Jules x

  4. Sounds like a *normal* day to me! :)))

  5. So lovely to read your open and honest post Julia. In all the (5? 6?) years we've been HE I find I've panicking over and over that my children aren't learning what they should be learning and that they're sitting in front of their computers doing "nothing". Everytime though I discovered this really isn't true - the things they tell me (I'm probably being taught far more from them now than any other time in my life!), the "work" they produce that pleases them because they've managed it all on their own is fabulous. Well done you, and your children, you're all doing brilliantly. Elaine x

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for sharing!!

    This week I actually inquired about a school place for Benedict and was also told that, he should have been offered tuition from the authority when he first became so unwell ove eighteen months ago.

    My head has been all over the place but as I have relinquished the panic attacks I've slowly begun to realise that, the System would probably break him and that on top of everything else not good.

    He definitely needs autonomous learning and since I'm a slight control freak, i will have to bite my tongue, offer activities and have the grace to accept a "No" from him!!

    Letting go is real hard.

    Big hugs San xx

  7. I find that one of the best things about keeping a daily blog is that even on the days I think we have done nothing actually it is near impossible to do nothing with a house of inquisitive small people. I notice you are on the radical unschoolers network. Do you read Sandra Dodds daily inspiration? Todays is good


    It would help if I gave you the link