Monday, December 7, 2015

When is too much, too much?

As homeschooling parents today, we really do not realize how nice we have it.  Can you imagine homeschooling 30 years again?  Even 20 years ago?  The limited amount of curriculum choices that you would have had.  No internet to "google" information.  The struggle to find extra-curricular activities for your children.  The life we live today is completely different.  This change has brought on a new set of challenges for us.

Homeschoolers now have unlimited activities.  If they can't find it, they generally can create a club for that interest and it will take off.  But when is too much, too much?  Is it really beneficial to have such a full schedule.

We had that wild schedule just two years ago.  I didn't say no to any activity or club.  I wanted the kids to have all the experiences we could fit in.  Trouble is, even when you are car schooling with workbooks and worksheets, your kids could fall behind academically.  We spent a lot of time traveling to activities, usually two hours a day just in driving and sometimes more.  That does not count the time spent on said field trip or club.  Yes the kids were learning a lot at these clubs, but they were falling behind in subjects that they needed one-on-one help in.  There is really only so much one-on-one teaching you can do while driving down the road.  Some days I just didn't see a way out.  I was stressed and purely exhausted.  I didn't know how to get out of or slow down in the world I had created.

Fortunately that life came to abrupt end due to job changes with my husband.  We were thrown into a different life style that prevented a bunch of club activities.  It really woke me up to a way to get back to homeschooling our children and yet still provide them with the amount of hands-on experiences that I wanted them to be involved in.  It forced me to relinquish membership in several co-ops and clubs that we were involved with.  I was really upset at first.  But then realized how much stress I had given up.

Sometimes we get so involved in our schedules that we don't even realize the stress we are experiencing.  We are just going through the motions because we know that if we stop, we will never catch back up.  Well after our changes, I did my best to make sure that I didn't drop a bunch of stuff.  I know I missed things, but our changes had to be done.  And now to be honest, as stressed as I was in the beginning, I do not miss all the activities.  The kids do not miss all the activities either.  Even though they didn't want to stop, they too were now realizing how nice it is to just stay home some days and get our work done and relax when we are done.

My schedule was easy for me to change, because I was forced too.  But what about those who realize they are over committed and need help getting out of a few of them.  Here are a few things to look at:

First thing, what are you kids/family's interests?  Do they really enjoy some of the clubs they are signed up for?  Sit down and list them by order of importance.  Start eliminating the lowest interest clubs and activities.  If your kids are involved, then you know what they really want to do.  Don't forget if you lead some of these clubs and activities, to find someone who is willing to take on the planning for the meetups.

Second, Once you have eliminated the low-interest clubs, look at your calendar.  Write up a weekly schedule that includes table lessons, music/gym activities and clubs.  Have you eliminated enough yet?  How busy is each day still?  Can you move some items around and maybe make one full day for lessons, clubs and errands?  We do that on Fridays.  That is a no-table lesson day, unless the kids choose to spread their work out over 5 days instead of 4.

That brings up my next change that we made.  I started planning lessons 4 days a week.  I have the 5th day as an errand and activity day.  Unfortunately a couple of the girls activities are not usually on that day, but I leave that day also for field trips.  It might be Fridays some weeks, and Thursdays other weeks.  In my lesson planner I make sure to keep a list of the activities so that I can plan around the two once a month activities the girls still have.  Trust me, actually seeing it written down will really help you in the elimination process.

Definitely make this a family decision.  By sitting down with your family and really looking at your schedule, you can alleviate a lot of stress on both yourself and your family.  Really look at each activity and club.  Ask:
  • What are my kids getting from this club?
  • Are they enjoying the activities?
  • Will this club help in my child's future education choice?
  • Are they learning a future career choice? 
  • Is there something else that they really want to do, that we keep putting off because of a full schedule?
As homeschoolers, we do have the unique opportunity to present our children with so many options for learning, both academically and through life learning.  But those opportunities can also have their drawbacks.  We just need to find that balance.   It will not happen overnight, it will take you a few months to get into the new groove.  That's one of the greatest abilities of homeschoolers, our ability to change and make adjustments.  So take advantage of that because that extra found time to spend with your family or even (gasp) spend a little "me" time on a new hobby, you will greatly appreciate.

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