Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Educating the kids is the easy bit

When I tell people I home educate, often the response is 'Wow, you're brave' or 'That must be hard work' or 'I could never do that'. And what I want to say in reply (but rarely do) is that educating my kids (or facilitating their learning, which is more our style), is actually the easy bit. It's all the other stuff that is hard.

This term I have been doing three courses. On Thursday evenings I'm doing a 2-year part-time diploma course, on alternate Monday evenings I'm doing an online course and on Friday mornings I'm doing another course. This equates to five 'homeworks' every fortnight, and one 2-3000 word assignment every term, plus working towards a larger portfolio and an exam. That's without actually making uninterrupted space for thinking time. I belong to a writing group, which meet every fortnight. It's my turn to lead the session tomorrow.

Two evenings a week during term-time I work from 7-10pm. The money isn't just handy, it's pretty much essential.

I try to home cook. I try to home bake. (Though at the moment the kids are living on Cream Crackers and Pot Noodle). I grow our own veg and I ignore our almost-abandoned allotment plot and feel guilty about it and continue to ignore it. I sell stuff on Ebay and Amazon to pay my late-payment credit card fines.

I do housework. I clean. I wash. I mend. I tidy. I cook. I shop. I cut grass and hedges. I scoop poop. I nag. I do it all over again. And still this place looks like something out of the series 'How Clean is Your House.'

Agreed, there are no dead mice in the wardrobe or cat pee stains on the carpet (there is no room in the wardrobe even for mice and we don't have a carpet). But it is a good demonstration of why hoarding stuff is A BAD THING and why pretty much everyone I know, except me, has a cleaner or an obliging mother who lives nearby and who cleans and babysits their kids every week, and why there are moments when I hate stay-at-home women whose kids are in school all day and who moan that they can't fit everything in. What I actually want to say is 'What the **** have you been doing all day? Writing a bestseller using alphabetti spaghetti?!' But of course I don't.

So, where does this leave us? Well, the crockery cupboards are full of dog hair and crud, the fridge has something growing in it, and the leaning tower of art and craft materials is now topped by a leaning tower of tablemats and books and clothes to mend and clothes beyond mending and weird things that the kids want to keep that I can no longer be bothered to resist, and one day it will topple down and bury us all and no-one will find us until the council break down the door to investigate the bad smell.

So when I start thinking about the home ed side of things, that is actually the easy bit. Or it would be if I had nothing else to do. One evening a week the boys have home ed fencing club, and middle child has cub scouts. This has to be juggled between work and courses. And then there is the kids' daytime activities - weekly fencing, monthly home ed group, monthly geography group, weekly/fortnightly Explorers Group for the younger ones. (We keep the activities to a tolerable level, but when you top up with play-dates and inpromptu meet-ups it all adds up.) And there's the time we spend on projects, research, library visits, outings, workshops.

But really, if someone - anyone - would step in and do the rest of the c**p, the boring, menial, essential stuff that is truly hard work, the home educating would be a doddle.


C said...

I really loved this post and you are right, life and the daily grind really does interfere with home education terribly!

Ruth said...

I do agree. H.E is the easy bit. I don't have the outside commitments you have but I work from home in a way cos of the rescue. It's a full time job on top of running the home with 10 people in it. I was doing an OU degree at one time but have had to stop for now. Also we do have cat pee stained carpets :)( and a sofa that became a litter tray at one time)

A said...

Ikwym... If I could just home educate and outsource everything else it would be easy!

Anne B said...

Brilliant post. We are finally decluttering as my 2 leave the autie pack-rat hoarding stage, but it seems to be taking forever.

I work from home too, and the juggling isn't easy at all.

kelly said...

I recently got told that I need to put my ten year old daughter into school so she can meet boys. BOYS. Ten. Years. Old.

I struggle to seperate the home ed from everything else....so that tidying ends up being a lesson in organisation ;)

Anonymous said...

When the family is so busy and everyone's needs are being addressed some things just have to slide and the house is usually one of them

I have no cleaner and no mum down the road either and the only way we keep even slightly on top of the insanity is for us ALL to do something about it.

You have four other folks in your house that can pick up some slack without it killing them and perhaps it's time for a proper mummy melt down to bring this to their attention.

Carol said...

OMG you always make me laugh :-)))

I constantly feel like a headless chicken...if I'm on top of one thing everything else goes pear shaped and I'm forever trying to cook up new ways of "getting organised". I think I need to roll over and just accept the inevitable....!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely empathise with this - I remember the feeling well! I always said HEing was more about managing the other stuff than it was about the learning. I suppose it's all part of the tapestry of life etc...and your kids will have a great insight into how to manage that when it's their turn!

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