Do you ever get tired? By tired I mean utterly exhausted; the kind of exhaustion that can't be cured with a good night's rest; you can't even get a good night's rest because your body has reached the ultimate level of fatigue so you lie awake at night.
I think we've all probably been at that point at one time or another. As I sit here typing my 9 year old daughter wants to show me everything! She has tons of energy and wants my full attention. Nearly every time I sit down to do something for myself I have a child come over vying for my attention. Of course, I always want to give them my all. But when does giving them my all switch to not giving them enough?
I have almost always stayed home with my kids. Years ago I thought I would "get a break" when they each trotted off to public school like society said would happen. And, I suppose, for a couple years it wasn't so bad. I just had 3 kids with 1 in school and the 2 littles still napped a lot so I could get cleaning done while they slept.
Then we decided to homeschool and our family continued to grow. I started having moments, hours, days, even weeks of frustration from being with my kids literally all the time. It always feels so strange when I say that because I love being with my kids all the time. They are amazing people and I am so lucky to be in a position that allows for me to stay home with them. But, kids have hormones; sometimes they get a little crazy. Sometimes I get hormonal and crazy. We can all play a part in getting on each other's nerves. Then my husband would get home. Who knows how this goes?? He'd been around adults all day so he just wanted to see the kids then watch TV. However, I've been with the kids all day and just wanted to talk to an adult, HIM, for awhile!
Perhaps, that's why I have seeked out school for my kids at various times. Sometimes, they asked to go because their friends were going but other times I was the one actively looking for a good school for them to try. Really, though, I think it was my exhaustion doing that. Caring for 5 kids, homeschooling and also taking care of all the household chores, cooking, laundry.....making sure that I take the kids to events....I mean yeah....zzzzzzzzzzz......
Unschooling is unlike other types of homeschooling in that planning can be difficult. There are no lesson plans to follow, no curriculum to make sure you get through, no defined milestones to hit. For me, unschooling 5 kids, trying to meet each of their interests, making sure they each get enough of my attention, well, it's hard.
My 4 oldest kids tried a charter school this year. My 2 middle kids are back home now after about 2.5 months. My other 2 are on the fence. During their time at school I was able to relax a bit and reevaluate what I want for them. Seeing them in a defined school setting allowed all of us to see some positive things to incorporate into our days but we also see how they just don't fit into that mold. Of course, we knew this all along, but I allowed my exhaustion to take over.
Over the next few weeks we will be doing some reorganizing in our house and really get the kids set up with some defined work spaces so they can dive into their interests more. My 8 year old son is a LEGO guy. Since he was 3 he's been building very intricate things. He also wants to learn more about programming. So, we'll be creating space for him to focus on those areas. My 9 year old daughter is my artist. I want to set her up with a mini studio so she can expand her creations.
I am the one in control of my exhaustion. This is where I need to rely on my husband and my tribe. My husband works from home now which has truly been amazing for me. It's so helpful to just be able to escape to him for a few minutes. He helps me recharge so I can continue with my kids. I have to be willing to reach out to my tribe as well because they understand the trenches of motherhood. When I don't give enough to myself then I cannot give enough to my kids.
Unschooling isn't easy. When I was first started looking into homeschooling I remember a homeschooling dad telling me, "It's not easy. You are with your kids 24/7 and that can be challenging." I really didn't believe him then. I sure do now, though!