When my oldest children were 9 and 8, I began having extreme fatigue on a regular basis. For about two years I muddled through – crashing into sleep at least once daily. Thankfully our family doctor and my husband discussed this during a well child check-up for one of our children. He encouraged my husband to schedule a sleep study for me. (My OB believed it was pregnancy related and had brushed off concerns.) During all this time we kept on homeschooling. Though many things remain as foggy memories, there are some things that I learned that I trust will help you.
1. Prioritize what is important for your family – Accept that your days will not be scheduled and smooth for this season, but aim for a simple routine based on the priorities of your family. Start with the most important things first. For our family that would mean Bible Time followed by math and reading. If your children keep moving forward with math concepts and read good books voraciously, you will be amazed with what they learn.
2. Stay focused on God. At the very minimum, you can listen to an audio Bible or Christian radio. Pray about specific needs consistently. If you are able, I recommend keeping a journal of how God meets your needs. Remember that God does care about what is happening in your family.
3. Don’t skip math. Ideally you can continue on with the same curriculum that you have been using. If you cannot, here are some free options found online.
themathworksheetsite.com – Printable worksheets on almost every math concept you may be working through are available here.
khanacademy.org – Free is good. Online grading and recording is superb!
xtramath.com – Daily practice for math facts.
Even if the progress is slowed down, you do not want to have to re-teach what was learned previously. Little bits of progress are still progress….which is HUGE in the realm of math over your child’s years of education. (Remember how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)
When I went through my health crisis, my two oldest were the only ones officially in school. By middle school we found that they were still behind in math. When life regained normalcy, we had to work very hard to catch up in high school. This was difficult. Because of what we learned during this time in our lives, we have a different math plan for our kids. (I will save the details for another day though.)
4. Always READ – If you are just totally worn out here are a few options.
*Let dad read when he is home.
*Have grandparents read with the kids if they live nearby.
*Have older children take turns reading aloud on your bed.
*Watch read aloud books on youtube. There are a many options! (I have read aloud playlists on my youtube channel, Learning In The Home.)
*Use librivox.org to listen to audio books. (We are listening to the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew right now.)
5. Retain authority and respect – Have expectations for behavior. Focus your energy on character development. If you let this go, you will have to work very hard to reestablish your authority and deal with attitudes when the hard time lessens. Save your family from bad habits and attitudes as much as is humanly possible.
6. Put effort into relationships – Try to snuggle and have purposeful conversations with each family member every day. Use texting or facebook to contact friends and family each day. Perhaps you can set aside 15 minutes for this purpose. We all need the encouragement.
7. Utilize video lessons and movies to teach.
So you woke up with great plans but don’t have the strength to follow through. What can you do?
1. Watch a Bible story video. Let the kids draw pictures of the story.
2. Snuggle for awhile and talk.
3. Play educational math games on the computer.
4. Have a break to play with legos and listen to music. Enjoy!
5. Watch a Science video (Magic School Bus is a possibility.)
6. Turn on a history movie. (Liberty’s Kids or Drive through History.) Let the kids act out scenes or just tell you about their favorite part.
8. Teach your child life skills – You will have good and bad days. On a good day teach your children to cook a simple meal, to do laundry, or another skill that will help your home run a little more smoothly. You will not regret it.
One day when I felt a crash coming on, I took the baby with me for a nap. My oldest made lunch, and my second son taught his two younger siblings how to make brownies. It was such a blessing to wake up to lunch, brownies (!), and children working together.
9. Accept help from others – It is humbling to have someone come into your home and help you when you encounter a difficulty. If someone offers to assist you, they are boldly showing that they care a great deal for your family. It is worth the experience to make life gentler for your family. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to pay it forward for someone at a later time.
In 2005 when my 6th child was born my parents were out of the country. My aunt and uncle offered to come and help our family after the baby was born. This was a huge blessing. My aunt fixed our meals every day, cleaned my kitchen, and organized my cabinets. My uncle played with the kids. When they saw me wearing out, they sent me to rest and kept the kids entertained. When my husband came home from work, we all ate dinner together before my aunt and uncle left us for their RV. After it was all said and done, they stayed nearby for 6 weeks helping us since I was just beginning to get help with my sleep apnea. I am so thankful for this gift of love. It made a huge difference in helping us get back into a good place with homeschooling.
10. Utilize a playpen – For your children’s safety, you can have your child play in a playpen right next to you. Even preschoolers can play in a play yard or playpen with their toys to contain the mess. Utilizing these tools will assist in keeping your family safe and supervised.
Due to my constant sleepiness, I lost awareness of how much time had passed. It would have been helpful to give the younger ones specific groups of toys to play with in separate places for a set period of time. I could have set a timer on my phone to change activities for them throughout the day.
I hope that you don’t have to go through a huge trial that throws your daily life into confusion. If you do find yourself there, I trust that one or more of these 10 tips will keep you from being overwhelmed and help you in your homeschool journey. If you are experiencing a trial right now, feel free to send me a message. I will pray for you!