Picking Favorites

When I think about the teachers I’ve had, I first remember the ones who embarrassed me:

  • The fourth-grade teacher who caught me giving bunny ears to my best friend as we filed into the classroom and then caricatured me walking in giving bunny ears in front of the whole class as punishment.
  • The high school science teacher who punished boys by making them sit next to me.
  • The yoga instructor who warned the classmate who was going to spot me while I attempted a handstand, “Careful…she’s beyond clumsy” (which was true, but he could have said it in a gentler way).

This is strange, though, because I’ve actually had some really great teachers. My third-grade teacher introduced me to creative writing (“Remember, don’t exaggerate; describe the details.”) and let me stay inside during recess so I could read instead of navigating playground dramas. My eighth-grade English teacher once gave me a ride home so I wouldn’t have to brave the walk to the bus when a bunch of girls threatened to jump me after school because I wrote a short story about their ringleader.

Then there are my two favorite teachers, Mrs. Huettmann and Susan Carpenter, the first and last teachers I had during my years of formal schooling.

Mrs. Huettmann always gave our kindergarten class awesome crafts to do. My favorite was a large tissue-paper goldfish. She gave me extra work when she realized that I needed a challenge, and she went to bat for me and encouraged the principal to let me skip first grade. When the Navy moved us out of the area the following year, she gave me a copy of The Secret Garden, which I still have. (She also once gave a talk to the boys in our class about how they needed to pee in the toilet, not beside it, behind it, or on the walls. I’m not sure why I remember this so clearly, but clearly it made an impression on me.)

But none of this explains why I’ve kept in touch with her all of these years or why I make a point to visit her whenever we’re in California. The thing that really stands out about Mrs. Huettmann is how good I always felt when I was around her. Whether I’m six or thirty-six, she always gives me the impression that I’m important—to her, for sure, but also inherently important. I’m confident that, to Mrs. Huettmann, I have a place in the world; I’m worth listening to.

Susan Carpenter taught my undergraduate Senior Writing Seminar. Susan never romanticized being a writer. Writing wasn’t some magical, mysterious thing; it was work, and if we paid attention and put in the hours, our writing would get better and better. This is a message that I find increasingly encouraging as the years go by. Susan listened to her students, and she cared. She gave honest criticism with a gentle hand, and she helped me learn to give better criticism to my fellow writers. And she occasionally took me out for coffee and a talk when I was going through a particularly bad time (which I made worse by being so melodramatic about it, but she was kind enough not to point that out to me). I still value her opinion about my writing more highly than I value anyone else’s.

I don’t have any self-contained anecdotes about the great teachers I’ve had like I do about the less-than-great teachers. I think this is because the teachers who made the most positive impression on me didn’t do it by having one stellar interaction with me or giving one awesome lecture or one stand-out piece of advice. They made an impression through their consistent support and warm presence. They did it through their example, day after day after day.

This isn’t something I can wrap up in a blog-post-sized anecdote, but it’s what I try to emulate when I’m in a teacher role. It’s these teachers’ compassion and warmth that I strive to bring to the girls in my Girl Scout troop, the preschoolers for whom I lead activities, and my own children. I hope I’m succeeding at least a little bit.

This post submitted as part of the Remember the Time Blog Hop.

Homeschool – A Day in the Life: Thursday

Fourth in a series of prose snapshots of a day in my homeschooling life. This is a reflection of an ideal Thursday. An actual Thursday will likely end a lot less clean than this one does. In fact, an actual Thursday frequently ends with the house looking even messier than it did when we started. And starting next week, we have an American Sign Language class on Thursday mornings for six weeks, so our Thursdays are going to look much different than I’ve described here.

Thursday is the day that usually kicks my butt. Not only is it a regular homeschool day, it’s housework day, too.

I get up and exercise as usual, but on my way upstairs I bring the laundry baskets, and after my shower I gather my towels and sweaty clothes and all of the rest of the laundry I can find around the house and sort it, with the help of my children, into the baskets. This involves my son sitting in one of the baskets and laughing as I toss dirty clothes on his head. Then I pretend the laundry basket is a car and motor him down the hallway, stopping and having him de-basket at the top of the stairs. He’d like me to motor him down the stairs, but that’s just not going to happen.

I start a load of laundry, and then we eat breakfast and get started on lessons.

More Chemistry: merging water drops

More Chemistry: merging water drops

On Thursdays, we do math, flute, Latin, grammar, writing, chemistry, and handwriting, punctuated by my taking clean wet clothes out of the washer and hanging them on drying racks near the boiler and answering for the 78th time all of my son’s questions about how the boiler/hot water heater system works. My daughter and I do our lessons while my son attempts to build his own boiler system out of bath toys in the bathroom sink.

Finally, we eat lunch, do our walk, and read books. Then it’s time to rush around trying to get things picked up and then vacuum before the floor is covered with toys and papers and crayons again. I try to get all of the vacuuming and dusting and straightening done within an hour, but it usually takes me more like two hours to get everything done. By then, it’s just about time to start dinner.

The rest of the evening proceeds as usual, except that Thursday is usually a meeting night for either my spouse or me, leaving the other to do dishes and manage the bedtime routine. We go to bed irrationally excited that the following day is Friday, as though there’s likely to be a respite over the weekend.

Homeschool – A Day in the Life: Wednesday

Third in a series of prose snapshots of a day in my homeschooling life. This is a reflection of an ideal Wednesday. An actual Wednesday might look a little (or a lot) different. For example, an actual Wednesday may well end with me swearing that we’re not going to watch anymore videos (EVER!) if the kids are going to yell at me and shove each other after they’re done with screen time. However, I prefer to dwell on the ideal rather than the real.

Wednesday is my children’s favorite day. It begins like any other day, but after breakfast, we get dressed, gather our library books, make our list of books to check out that day, and head to the town library.

CIMG9968

The kids pick out books until it’s time for the storytime and craft. My daughter has aged out of storytime and craft, but they grandmother her in because she enjoys it so much and wants to be with her brother. The kids dance and sing and listen to stories and get glue and glitter on themselves and me, then we finish picking out books. By 11:30 or 12:00, we finally leave the library 2.5 to 3 hours after we arrived.

CIMG9973At home, lunch is macaroni and cheese because that’s what we eat on Library Day (at least, that’s what my kids eat. I eat a green smoothie, like I eat for nearly every breakfast and lunch). If we drove to the library, we take a short walk around the neighborhood. If we walked, we skip right to the reading. I read a few books, then my daughter and I do a tiny bit of homeschooling—a chapter or three from Life of Fred and flute practice.

Then the kids get to watch videos. I try not to let them watch videos except on Wednesdays. Usually it’s Sesame Street or Super Why! for my son then Wild Kratts for my daughter. I try to encourage them to compromise; I don’t let them watch more than one screen. My son is less choosy about what he watches, so his sister usually gets her choice. While they’re watching I make phone calls or blog or read, then I start dinner.

From dinner on, it’s business as usual: dishes, books, bedtime routine, lights out, mom staying up too late, etc. Or sometimes it’s dishes, books, bedtime routine, mom passes out while putting the boy to bed and wakes up after 11 hours with a crick in her neck and a sense of lost time. Either way, it’s soon on to another day.

Homeschool – A Day in the Life: Tuesday

Second in a series of prose snapshots of a day in my homeschooling life. This is a reflection of an ideal Tuesday. An actual Tuesday might look a little (or a lot) different. Not pictured: the chaos of Legos, train tracks, books, plastic zebras, wooden alphabets, and construction hats that’s strewn across my floor by the end of the day. And now that my daughter has started softball, we’ll go straight to practice from flute lesson and then have a super-late, super-scroungy dinner after practice ends at 6:00. It’s only been one week, and I’m already ready to be done with the softball season.

Tuesday begins much like Monday does except that we’re on our own without our stand-in grandma to entertain my son.

Tuesdays we do math, Latin, grammar, writing, spelling, and chemistry. We don’t practice flute most Tuesdays because we have flute lesson, but we need to work diligently because we need to eat lunch by noon so we can get ready and leave for flute lesson by 1:00 p.m.

Chemistry: water and pepper

Chemistry: water and pepper

Chemistry: water and pepper and a drop of dish detergent

Chemistry: water and pepper and a drop of dish detergent

On the drive to flute lesson, we enjoy a variety of audio books: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series; E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web; myths, legends, and classic tales told by Jim Weiss; Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books; Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series; Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona; Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. We are big lovers of audio books in our house. Sometimes the kids even let me listen to a podcast of To the Best of Our Knowledge, one of my favorite NPR shows.

With a 45-minute one-way commute, a 45-minute flute lesson, and transition times, we don’t arrive home until nearly 4:00 p.m, but we’ve consumed a lot of audio programming. The audiobooks help distract me from the thought of all of the fossil fuels we’ve burned.

Back home, I get the kids inside and start dinner, my trusty three-year-old sous chef by my side. His latest thing is to tell me what he’s going to do when he’s a man. “Mommy, when I grow up to be a man, I’ll use a big, sharp knife like that one,” he’ll often say while we’re making dinner. Other things he’ll do when he’s a man include wear glasses, drive a car, read books like Sister does, “go to a work,” and pee standing up. Manhood is going to be just one party after another for my son.

My spouse arrives home around 5:30 p.m. and we eat together. Then we tag-team the bedtime routine for both children, unless one of us has an extra-domiciliary activity (like a church meeting or a Girl Scout Leader meeting), in which case one parent ushers the kids to bed and the other makes his/her escape.

Once the children are in bed, the evening proceeds much like any other evening, meaning I go to bed way too late. Every day I promise myself I’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and every night I stay up until it’s technically the next day, playing around online, eating hummus, and (sometimes) reading. Much like Alice, I always give myself such very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.

Homeschool – A Day in the Life: Monday

First in a series of prose snapshots of a day in my homeschooling life. This is just one view of an ideal Monday. Some Mondays involve meditation before breakfast. Others involve me attempting to sleep in until 7:30 while my son whispers in my ear and tries to put his finger up my nose. I posted photos of a recent Monday here

Monday begins when my spouse wakes me up around 6am. I put on my workout clothes before I can talk myself out of it and head to the basement to do an exercise video. About three minutes in, I hear my son upstairs asking his dad to get him cereal. By the halfway point of my video, my son is downstairs alternately getting way too close to me with the fireplace tools or enthusiastically trying to follow the moves Jillian Michaels and her on-screen cohorts are leading.

After we’re done exercising, we head upstairs where I take a shower, get dressed, make the bed, and wipe down the sinks and toilets. By this time, my daughter is awake, and we all head to the kitchen for breakfast. After we eat and I take a cursory stab at the dishes, it’s time to brush teeth, get dressed and get ready for our day.

On Mondays we do math, flute, Latin, grammar, writing, handwriting, and history. (For details about the materials we use, see Homeschool – A Day in the Life, Part 2: Curriculum.)

Around 8 a.m.—to my son’s delight—our stand-in grandma arrives. She plays with him tirelessly for 3 hours or so. My daughter and I do her lessons together with the sounds of giggles and games and books being read aloud in the background.

By the time our friend leaves, we’re done or nearly done with our morning homeschool. We eat lunch then take a walk around the neighborhood. If we’re lucky, no one falls and hurts himself.

Back at home, I read a few books (books about the Middle Ages, to supplement our history lesson, and Berenstain Bears, to satisfy my son, and sometimes a chapter or two in a just-for-fun book). The rest of the afternoon is open. Sometimes we do crafts or write out cards or letters to friends and family. Sometimes we work puzzles. Sometimes my daughter retreats to her room with her books and journals and spends a few hours acting out the stories she makes up while my son and I find fun mom-and-son things to do. Sometimes we just get on each other’s nerves all afternoon. Anything to while away the hours.

Around 3:30, I start dinner. We need to sit down to eat by 4:30 so my spouse can take our daughter to her flute group class and then to the grocery store for our weekly food shopping. After they’ve left, my son and I do dishes, pick up the toy room, read books, and go through his bedtime routine. If I’m lucky, I get an hour or two to blog or mess around online or read before I need to put away groceries, usher my daughter to bed, and try to convince myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Eventually I turn in and try to get rested up for another day.

Another Voice on Homeschooling – Mindful Homeschooler

For my last “Another Voice on Homeschooling” post for this month, I’m sharing a post from Mindful Homeschooler, an online, self-described “primarily secular” homeschooling magazine. Mindful Homeschooler brings together posts about a variety of homeschooling subjects from a variety of authors.

In his post, “The View from Here: Wearing Socks,” stay-at-home-dad Ryan considers one of the potential social benefits of homeschooling in light of his realization that his son is completely unfazed by going out in public dressed in an unconventional manner.
“I think there is something about homeschooling in general that lends itself to kids not having to worry so much about appearances and things that feel so important to kids herded into public schools.  Isn’t some of societies [sic] perception of homeschooled kids as odd really just a reflection of a societal uneasiness with true individuality? When thinking about this, I often reflect on the quote by Albert Einstein regarding his decision not to wear socks in which he said, ‘I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to.’ Ultimately, the question really is, should we make them ‘wear socks’ even when they are not old enough to make this choice?”

I found this article interesting because it addresses an attitude I’ve noticed in my own children.

My seven-year-old daughter went to church one January day with tights on but no skirt or pants. I left the house early, so I take no responsibility for this occurrence, but blame aside, when we were sitting in the pew waiting for service to begin and I pointed out that she was wearing no pants, she just shrugged.

When our babysitter cancelled at the last minute last week, my three-and-a-half-year-old proudly attended a Girl Scout meeting wearing his sister’s old Daisy tunic and her Brownie beanie.

At the same time that I love that my children don’t seem to define themselves by their appearance, I also feel a little concerned that maybe I’m not teaching them the self-awareness necessary to avoid ridicule later in life. I think, “So what? There’s no harm in being a little eccentric.” But then the little voice that’s always pointing out where I’m screwing things up pipes in with a dose of doubt: “…is there?”

In his post, Ryan echoes the ambivalence I feel about my children’s self-assuredness. His post also reminds me of a blog discussion I had with a mom who posted about her choice to let her young daughters (ages 3 and 4) cut their own hair (the original post seems not to be up any longer, but the link to my post includes a bit about the original post and a brief quote).

How much control do we exert over our children as they’re trying to discover their place and their identity in the world? How much do we try to protect them from what other people might think about them, and what does this teach them about their value as individuals?

To read Ryan’s full post, please visit Mindful Homeschooling…and please consider leaving a comment while you’re there to let him know what you think. (And after you read that one, check out this post, by Angela Wade and also on Mindful Homeschooling, about the path that led her to Unschooling.)

Related articles

Homeschool – A Day in the Life, Part IV: Socialization

In Part I, I gave an overview of our homeschooling lives. In Part II, I provided information about the materials we use and how we chose them. In Part III, I tackled the thorny issue of maintaining balance while the kids are learning at home. In the fourth and final post in this series, I write about what’s probably the most commonly asked question about homeschooling, “What about socialization?”

I didn’t really want to write about socialization in this series because I really hate the subject (or at least the frequency and manner with which it’s tossed at homeschoolers), but it comes up so often, I thought I ought to say at least something about it.

Basically, I have two suggestions for those who worry about homeschooled children being adequately “socialized”:

CIMG83821) Get clear about what it is you mean by “socialized.” It’s an impressive-sounding word, but most people don’t really seem to have a clear idea of what they mean by it or what value it holds for children. Once you’re clear about your definition of “socialized,” look at the way schools are typically run and see if this meets your definition of “socialization.”

How well does being with only people the same age as they are prepare our children for jobs and community roles in which they will interact with people of a wide range of ages? How well does it fit or train our children for a social environment?

The vast majority of us have grown up in schools—either public or private—in which children spend hours every day with only children who were born within twelve months of each other. We have the sense that there is something important and valuable in this state of things, but is this because there really is?

Number 5 of “Manifesto, by Susan Cain” (formerly Sixteen Things I Believe, from her blog, “The Power of Introverts”) says it well:

We teach kids in group classrooms not because this is the best way to learn but because it’s cost-efficient, and what else would we do with the children while all the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there’s nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the model.

And for another perspective on grouping kids by age, check out the series of blog posts by Peter Gray on his Psychology Today-hosted blog entitled “Freedom to Learn.” Here’s Part I of his “Why We Should Stop Segregating Children by Age” series.

I wonder if maybe we want to believe that grouping kids together by age is beneficial because it’s how we were raised and how most of us are choosing to raise our children. Maybe we don’t want to consider that perhaps grouping children by age in school is done for expedience rather than because there’s inherent value in the practice.

2) Ask real-life homeschoolers about the interpersonal interactions in which their children engage, rather than making assumptions about how much or how little their children socialize. I recommend that you do not ask your homeschooling friends how they “socialize” their children, but rather ask more open-ended questions about what types of activities their children enjoy. A lot of homeschoolers are really sick of the “S” word, and you’re likely not going to get on their good side by using it. If you don’t know any homeschoolers personally, try reading The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole. In fact, even if you do know homeschoolers personally, this is a great book to read.

So, what social activities do my children enjoy? Well, we’ve got tons of mixed-age activities: Sunday school, flute group class, Girl Scouts, birthday parties, sports activities, homeschool classes at Mass Audubon, play dates, library story times and crafts, dinner gatherings with friends of all ages, and loving caregivers that come to play. Come summer, we’ll have hiking excursions and playground trips and softball games and Girl Scout day camp and trips to visit extended family in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. My kids have the benefit of social interactions with not just their age-mates, but with babies and octogenarians and everyone in between.

Socialization is something that happens when each of us interacts in a real-world situation with other people and learns the give-and-take involved with being a member of our community. The community we have built is rich and varied, and my children are an active part of it. I am confident that they’re being socialized just fine.

So…how do you socialize your children?

Other Posts in This Series:

Another Voice on Homeschooling – Homeschool Planet

Last week, danamelana commented on my post about curriculum. This led me to her homeschooling blog and her page about why her family homeschools. I decided to share this page in my “Another Voice on Homeschooling” post this week.

Here is a homeschooler who comes to homeschooling after a career as a classroom teacher. “I never intended to homeschool,” she writes, echoing so many other homeschoolers. And yet (like so many other homeschoolers) here she is.

From “Why Homeschool?” on Homeschool Planet:

There are very few homeschoolers where we are now and it seems like everyone raves about the public school.  It’s small and quaint with excellent teacher-to-student ratios.  I’ve met the principal and several teachers and they are equally wonderful. My children’s friends go to public school.  If I taught there, it would be a dream: involved families, small class size, great hours, no commute.  However, in the meantime, we have become hooked into homeschooling.

I know a rather large number of public school teachers who have become homeschoolers. It is a transition that interests me a lot. Every now and then someone suggests that, once my kids are off at college, I should get my teaching certificate and become a classroom teacher. This implies that the experience of homeschooling somehow prepares me for a career as a classroom teacher, but based on what I hear from friends and relatives in the field, I don’t think the skills I’m learning homeschooling my children would carry over well to classroom teaching. While I’m certain that many teachers develop close bonds with their students (the fact that I still keep in touch with my kindergarten teacher is part of what I use as evidence for this claim), teaching a classroom of other people’s children seems like a dramatically different animal than sitting one-on-one with a child I have known from birth (actually, even before that) and with whom I spend essentially 24 hours a day. Moreover, I don’t think I’m cut out for classroom teaching; I like to be able to go to the bathroom whenever I need to and not have to spend my day in front of dozens of little eyes.

So with this in mind, I find it especially interesting when someone goes from teaching in a classroom to homeschooling his/her own children. I wonder how well classroom teaching skills transfer to homeschooling.

If you have a moment, please check out Homeschool Planet and leave a comment to let her know you stopped by. And while you’re there, read some more of danamelana’s posts about homeschooling her two boys in a cabin in rural Texas.

Related Posts:

Homeschool – A Day in the Life, Part III: Balance

In Part I, I gave an overview of our homeschooling lives. In Part II, I provided information about the materials we use and how we chose them. In this post, I tackle the thorny issue of maintaining balance while the kids are learning at home.

One of the biggest difficulties I have with homeschooling is balance.

There’s the balance between child-led activities and parent-led activities. There’s the balance between the time I spend with my daughter and the time I spend with my son. There’s the balance between education and play. And then there’s the oft-neglected balance between the time I spend with my children and the time I spend meeting my own needs. Some of these are easier for me to manage than others.

Child-led vs Parent-led Learning

Child-led versus parent-led is one about which I feel fairly confident at the moment. At my daughter’s age, things are naturally more parent-led, and my daughter makes this fairly easy. She’s enthusiastic about learning, and while she has subjects that she prefers to other subjects, so far she accepts that they’re all part of the package. I provide the basic structure and clear expectations, and my daughter has her wiggle room within that basic structure. I encourage her to give me feedback on and input about subjects and materials, but I avoid changing things too quickly. When she doesn’t really like something, I encourage her to stay with it long enough that she can distinguish between an actual dislike or lack of fit and the natural ebb and flow of her interest and enthusiasm. Sometimes we can’t rely on our initial reaction to a new experience and need to give it some time to grow familiar before we can judge whether it’s a good fit for us or not. I try to encourage this type of reflection in my daughter. It’s like when she or her brother tries a new food: I tell them to try three small tastes before declaring it “yucky.” I have them take these three tastes every time they try that food, too. I want my children to be flexible and to allow themselves to respond to change in their own tastes and preferences. This is also my primary goal in balancing child-led and parent-led activities and education.

Son-Time vs Daughter-Time

The balance between son-time and daughter-time is more difficult. Ideally, I would like both of my children to feel like only children in regards to the time they spend with me and their father while at the same time experiencing the benefits of a sibling relationship. This is, I realize, unrealistic. If one has one-on-one time with me during the day, the other one is going to be on his or her own during that time. Most days, this means that my son has a lot of time to play by himself while I do instruction with my daughter.

CIMG7809For a while I was using each evening to plan activities for my son to do the following day. For a while I tried to follow the weekly activities in June Oberlander’s Slow and Steady Get Me Ready, mixed with ideas for independent activities from parent blogs (like Hands On: As We Grow) and Montessori resources. I would set up an activity (for example, tongs + pompoms + muffin tin, or  painters tape shape outlines on the floor + cars and farm animal toys) so he could “play school” at the same time I worked with his sister.

This, however, proved too labor-intensive for me to do regularly. Now I occasionally set up a project, but mostly I just let him do his own thing. He’s much better at entertaining himself than his sister was at the same age. His imaginative play is rich and varied, and he can occupy himself for stretches of time that aren’t incredibly long but which are usually long enough that I can get through a subject with his sister before he needs anything really involved from me. Still, I run back and forth between helping my daughter with math or Latin and helping my son with a fire truck puzzle or with a phonics activity he’s requested. Sometimes this back-and-forth frazzles my nerves…and sometimes I pay for a quiet moment by later cleaning paint off of the walls or mourning the toys that have been permanently personalized with a Sharpie pen, but it’s all part of the price of homeschooling, I suppose.

On Mondays, however, this is different. On Mondays, a friend from church comes over and acts as a stand-in grandma, playing with my son so my daughter and I can focus on our lessons. This allows me to devote my attention to my daughter for a couple of hours. It’s so much fun for my son, and I love that we’re all deepening our relationship with a trusted member of our community (and a very fun person to be around). It’s a huge help, and really reduces the pressure I feel to be more to my children than I am.

Kid-Time vs Mom-Time

And then there’s the toughest one: the balance between kid-time and mom-time. I used to have this kind of figured out. When we were in Utah, we had a lovely young woman come over and watch the kids for two three-hour stretches each week. I would run errands, work out, or just go to the library or a cafe and write. And then we moved, and I’ve not been able to find someone to do this same regular babysitting for me. We’ve tried to arrange for Mommy Time on the weekends, but even that has fallen by the wayside as our weekends have become busier and busier. Saturdays are now Daddy-son and Mommy-daughter time, which is fun, but which doesn’t meet my need for balance.

What I’ve been doing that helps to a degree is getting up early and exercising each morning. I had been meditating, but I’m less likely to fall asleep while exercising, and it gives me an endorphin boost to get me through the morning. I get up and immediately put on my workout clothes, have a drink of water, and head down to the basement to do a 30- to 60-minute exercise video. It’s not as nice as getting out for a long walk in the woods would be, but it helps keep me sane.

I’m also active in several church activities. I sing in the choir each week, and I facilitate a small discussion group that meets once a month. This month, I hope to try out a local mothers’ group. It’s not ideal because it’s yet another evening activity, but I hope it might yield a stronger sense of connection and community.

I also get in some alone time by staying up until 1:30 or 2:00 a.m each night. However, I do not recommend this technique. It’s fine in the short term, but it’s not sustainable, especially when I’m getting up at 6:00 a.m. or earlier to be able to exercise before my spouse goes to work and leaves me at the mercy of our children. After several consecutive nights of this, I need two or more nights on which I fall asleep with my son between 6:30 and 7:00 in the evening.

Balance, it seems, is a moving target.

What do you do to maintain balance, whether it’s between parenting and alone time or between work and personal time or between time for a spouse or partner and time for yourself?

Related Posts:

Another Voice on Homeschooling: Music, Mayhem, Motherhood

I so liked my impromptu idea of linking to Allia’s post about the nuts and bolts of homeschooling at her house that I decided to repeat it with another blog this week.

My friend Stacy wrote a post a little more than a year ago that I really love, and that I thought showed a lot of the good, the bad, and the ugly of homeschooling, especially in the first year. She has more recent posts about homeschooling, but I think this one encapsulates the experience quite well.

A highlight from her post, “Homeschool Halftime Report” (divided into “The Good” and “The Hard”; this is the opening paragraph of the latter section):

“So I’m realizing that the above paragraphs make our life sound fairly idyllic. Let me assure you, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops every day. Far from it. There is a lot of hard. I’d be flat out lying if I told you I didn’t frequently wish to send the girls to school for a day so that I could find a few minutes of downtime. It’s difficult to be on duty as both the mom and the teacher all day every day.”

Her blog—Music, Mayhem, Motherhood—isn’t primarily a homeschooling blog. Like I do with my blog, Stacy writes about what’s going on her life, and since she homeschools, that’s one of the things about which she writes. I love her writing style. It’s always sincere and nearly always chortle-out-loud hilarious (and when it’s not, it’s at least smile-and-nod familiar).

Please consider dropping by Music, Mayhem, Motherhood for the rest of the post and leaving her a comment to let her know you’ve been there. I recommend you seek out her more recent posts, too.