I’m in two minds today, I don’t particularly want to offend people, but I’m getting a bit narky about certain things, it’s not just now, it’s something that’s bothered me for a while now…
Children, more specifically, our attitudes towards them. I have lost count, over the years, of the times people have said to me things like ‘don’t worry, they’ll be in nursery/preschool/school soon’ or ‘they’ll calm down once they’re in school’ or many other remarks. I am a stay at home mum, or to put it very un PC like – a housewife. I am not ashamed of this, I count myself as very privileged to be in the position where I can do this. I also very much dislike the attitude that they ‘hamper you’ or ‘get in the way’. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had dreadful times (as well as lovely) over the years, whilst learning to do this whole stay at home thing, but I have found that attitude counts for a lot and also that a lot of the problems when they occur, happen because I’ve just been thinking of myself, rather than anyone else.
I also disagree with the whole premise a lot of people seem to have had over recent years (including people I’ve encountered when I had post natal depression), which is of ‘love yourself’, but that ‘love yourself’ seems to encompass – it’s ok to stay in your pyjamas all day, it’s ok to not do any housework or chores ever, it’s ok to watch TV all day every day… and indeed it is…ok….but it’s not good for you.
What I have found in my personal experience, is that if you do all that, it actually makes things a whole lot worse, not better. I am talking life on the whole here, not the odd day or two, or if you are so bad that you literally can’t move. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed, do the basic chores, do the washing, sort the clothes, plan your meals, then you are able to function because the clutter is gone, the stuff you need to do is gone, Then you can actually focus on other things and people, like your kids. If you don’t like this, I’m sorry, but it’s the truth of what I’ve found to be true.
My personal experience is that I have a grown up daughter of nearly 25, and two sons of 5 and 2. When my girl was little, I did my nurse training and she therefore did spend a lot of time in nurseries, with family members etc, then I qualified as a nurse and ditto, it got better when I chose to become a District Nurse. Since then she has obviously grown up and is independent. With the boys, I gave up nursing just before the 5 year old was born and stayed off, we’ve then obviously moved to Ireland. We’ve been in Ireland about 15 months now I think and we’ve been pretty isolated in a lot of ways. It takes a while to make friends and get to know anyone, especially since it’s a very rural area. I’ve thought about homeschooling ever since the eldest boy was born and then finally decided on it at the beginning of this year, before we even had in inkling that the schools would be closed. The main reason being, I thought and still think it is better for my eldest than going to a ‘proper’ school. I did not particularly think he would flourish at a school and am still of that opinion.
On the whole, we have loved it, I had a very brief period where I almost felt grief that I wouldn’t have any time to myself, so to speak, but that feeling soon left. I actually found it a lot less pressured and very exciting! you don’t have to get ready for a certain time, pack anything up, physically get in the car to take them anywhere. You can have your day how you want it. I also found that the boys seemed to benefit and seemed to be spending more time independently playing and that they got more creative, so I did and do get moments alone and time to do other things I need to do.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I chose to actually do some teaching for approximately a couple of hours a day to give us some structure. Some home school families do not do it this way. This tends to be about 10-12 ish, but it’s moveable. J (eldest) seems to love learning now, he’s started writing numbers, doing his own puzzles, trying to understand words and writing random letters, he’s writing his name all of a sudden. I’ve varied between a structured ‘package’ approach to just informal and playing games, he particularly likes matching games, matching numbers up with dice spots for example or whatever we can think of really. I like thinking of different, interesting ways to involve numbers and letters and just doing life together seems to mean they both just learn, almost without trying sometimes.
So, it’s good, but it’s also hard, I’ve found it’s very good for me in a lot of ways, it exposes a lot of ways in myself which aren’t that great and enables me to bring them to God. So I get it’s hard, I get no one with the school closures chose to do this, but my main advice is (as I have heard quoted by Elizabeth Elliot) is ‘refuse self pity’ and I would add onto that, stop moaning. Then, start from there… I really do want to reiterate, I have learned this from experience and there are days when I am shattered and have just sat in a chair and have cried. But try and just take it day by day, try to have some fun and try to see them for the wonderful and complex little beings they are.
This life, that some are moaning about is actually the life (in some ways) that I have been living for the past 15 months. This is the life that people have said they wish they could have, remarked things like ‘what a wonderful life your children are having’ and other things. So try not to worry, let them let off steam and have some exercise, movement is incredibly important to young children, and spend time with them as well as leaving them to it sometimes. I’m sure you’re doing a good job and that you do love your kids, and that being caged in the house isn’t exactly ideal, it’s just easier when we don’t see it so much as a burden.