Entry #5: Homeschooling Edition

Hello friends! I hope this edition of the Diary of a Blah Mom finds you well, in the midst of such unusual times. I’m finding it hard to stay my usual blah self with all the distressing news and information out there in the world. Not to mention all the stress in here (inside my brain). If you have a brain that is highly skilled at looking for danger (just hypothetically…not speaking from personal experience here) then the constant news stream, designed to get our attention, is a recipe for panic. Plus, I’m feeling a lot of disappointment because I was planning to attend 6 shows for Sweetgood this spring and as of now only 2 of them are still on the calendar and I expect those to be cancelled sooner or later. I’m not supposed to leave home anymore to drive patterns, fabric, cut fabric pieces, finished garments, etc, around LA. So Sweetgood production is at a standstill. For a brief moment I thought I had it figured out: Since I can’t focus on the spring shows or the manufacturing of the spring pieces, it makes sense to just stay home, relax and focus on the online aspect of the business. YES…PERFECT…GREAT IDEA!  But wait…I’m now responsible for homeschooling 3 children!!!

Newsflash: Homeschooling is not as easy as I thought it would be. That’s because I’ve never done it before! If any of you reading this are teachers or homeschooling moms, let me say that I have a new appreciation for you! Not that I didn’t before…but now I’m really scratching my head and asking all the experts I know, how exactly someone like me is gonna make this work. I’ve never thought thoughts about how to homeschool before. The only thought I’ve thought about homeschooling is: “you’d have to be a special breed of mom to have the patience, enthusiasm and devotion to do it…and I’m probably NOT that special breed of mom…” At first when school went remote, I thought, “Great, Arnor will be home too so he can totally help me! He’s a teacher and he’s great with the kids! Two parents can somehow manage to do the job of one capable homeschooling mom. Then I realized that he needs to teach all of his classes from home! The only option was to squeeze him into the corner of our upstairs bedroom, to remove him from: “the chaos.” In case you’re not catching on here: “the chaos” is ME homeschooling the children. So the past week of homeschooling (AKA: “the chaos”) was a good occasion to reflect on some of my unhelpful thoughts about myself and my capability to manage my children’s education here at home…or lack of capability in this case. Of course, thoughts like that will tend to create the exact chaos I’ve been experiencing…funny how that works.

I feel like I’ve been thrown back to a time when the kids were little and not in school and they needed my near-constant attention. While Theo and Elise are moving out of this phase, Gus is still very much in constant need of my attention (at least HE is 100% sure of this). Plus Elise needs a lot of help with her math and reading and Theo needs someone keeping an eye on his progress. So there aren’t any real breaks in this schedule, except for the occasional and all too fleeting moment when everyone is playing peacefully together or the dreaded yet beloved screen time…just like when the kids were little (I think anyone with multiple little ones knows that nap times never coincided in a way that could be used as work time…unless that was just me?) So there’s very little time for me to do all the work I was planning to do on Sweetgood over March and April. Just like back when the kids were little, there was little time for me to work on all the creative/business endeavors I wanted so badly to do. 

The thing is, when I look back I realize I used to be so hard on myself. When the kids were little I basically chose to put them first while choosing to hate myself for not putting my creative/business endeavors first. So I would either beat myself up for not getting my own work done while taking care of the little ones all day (and night) and not giving myself ANY credit for it…or I would get my own work done…which usually meant staying up all hours when I was already exhausted…which was really just another form of beating myself up. It was like I could not accept that this was a time in my life when I wouldn’t be able to achieve these lofty goals. Or maybe I just wanted to be mad at myself? Was it a good distraction from other emotions I didn’t want to feel? I’m not really sure but what I do know is, I would set the goals and then use them as a reason to hate myself. I could feel all this creeping back to me last week when I realized my Sweetgood goals were slipping away in a cloud of educational apps and instructions for their use, workbooks, worksheets, zoom calls, teacher emails with ideas for what we can do at home, classroom texts, instagram posts about creative homeschooling ideas, and so on. And I felt the self-hatred kind of creeping in…because now I’m going to be an entrepreneur who puts her real dream aside…again. 

So I happened to hear the perfect coaching call the other day in which Brooke (Life Coach School) said, “When we take something quality and good and important to us and we do it, and then we put ourselves down by saying it’s not enough, we ruin our own energy stream when we could utilize a contribution that we’re making to energize us. ‘I did this and this is amazing, I did this and this is amazing’…enjoy your contribution….It’s important that you allow yourself to be proud…that will shift and energize you.” This almost gives me the chills because I’ve spent so much of my life doing the EXACT opposite, especially since having kids. And I have so recently gotten out of my negative thought loop (putting the kids first and hating myself for it), because the kids grew up and eventually they were all in school. But I never really learned the lesson I needed to learn…I just felt better and more appreciative of myself as I had more and more time to do my own work. So I’m finding it so interesting to get this bizarre opportunity to relive the same circumstances and to make a different choice than I did before. I’m so disappointed to put the business goals aside, but I’m choosing to do it because the immediate needs of the kids are more important right now and I know the lofty goals I have for Sweetgood can wait. I’m learning to make homeschooling work and I’m learning to appreciate THAT as my contribution right now. I know THAT is the lesson that’s in this for me. My brain SO WANTS to tell me why I’m a horrible entrepreneur because the only thing I’ve accomplished for Sweetgood this week is….THIS blog post…and it took me a l l  w e e k…and my brain is telling me: “This blog post isn’t enough”…but I’m going to choose to give myself credit for it AND all the educational assignments and projects completed….all the walks we’ve taken…all cookies we’ve baked together…and all the quality time we’ve spent together in the lovely moments when I wasn’t a banchee….if I can create more moments like those, I will be so appreciative of myself! And I would like to come out of this feeling like I created a stronger connection with my kids, my husband and myself.

So right now I’m practicing thinking these thoughts about teaching, homeschooling, the kids, my life, etc:

“I will get back to my Sweetgood goals when the kids go back to school. And whenever that is, it will be the exact right time.” This helps me relax about my own stuff…and create expectations for myself that make sense…and be present in the NOW.

“I give my kids permission to be cranky, grumpy, angry, to fight with each other and to argue with me as much as they want.” This is a great little thought…it’s almost a trick, because (as you may have noticed) there’s nothing I can do as a mom to fix a cranky, grumpy, angry kid…at least not in the moment, even though I SO WANT TO! So giving them permission, helps my brain relax and gives me space to move along and not mirror those exact feelings and behaviors back to them (not that I’ve ever done this but…hypothetically…).

“When they all ask for my help at once, I will think about baby birds squawking for a worm and then help them one at a time.” I don’t know why this popped into my head one time, but I like it.

“Being this important person in my little ones’ lives is the best thing ever.” It really is amazing that they love me as much as they do…especially given all of my “human-ness.”

“I can create a balanced and calm environment.” If my thoughts are calm and balanced, everything around me feels so much better.

“It is fun to be a part of their education.” I mean…it IS fun to see what they are working on and what they can do!

“I am doing a good job at homeschooling, especially for a beginner.” Little credit please…appreciate myself for all the little things and build on that.

“This is the most important work I can do right now.” That’s why I’m doing it so I might as well value it and be proud of it.

“It is fun to have everyone at home all together.” For example, Arnor is trying to cancel a flight now and singing along to all the 80s songs playing from the phone while he’s endlessly on hold…he’s on spring break this week so I’ve got extra help…for now…

“It’s so fun to catch them completely immersed in their OWN discovery of the properties of materials and how things work.” I picked this one up from my favorite nursery school teacher! I love how it moves me from my own experience into thinking about the kids’ experience…and reminds me to really notice these moments and how special they are.

“Let the children lead, then pay attention to what captures their attention most…that’s your cue of where to go next.” Same source as above! Since the schedule is a bit more open now, why not think about what the kids are interested in and try to direct the learning to that?

“It’s amazing to watch them develop and facilitate this growth.”Ditto and thank you! (if you’re reading this…) It’s helpful to remember that the whole point of school is to help kids learn and grow…when I pay attention to that aspect, it becomes a lot more fun.

Maybe something in my story will resonate with you. I would love to hear what your experiences are. Please leave a comment or email me back or text me or IG message or FB message me…at least we’ve got OPTIONS for communication even if it’s not in person. I want to wish you all health and safety. I also want to wish you a special time with everyone at home all together. I ALSO want wish you much success with homeschooling if that’s what you are doing too. I ALSO ALSO want to wish you toilet paper, butter, eggs and spaghetti noodles. May we all come out of this healthy, stronger and more appreciative of each other and our lives as we used to (and will again soon…hopefully) know them. Thank you all for reading…you are the best! 

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