the majority of homeschooling families,
it is Mom who does most, if not all, of
the teaching, planning, and scheduling.
Mom does the cooking and the cleaning
and gets up in the night with the baby.
Hmmm, I think this is probably true for
most families, not just homeschoolers.
Mom is truly the Keeper of the Home! So
what if Mom is sick, and not able to do
it all? When the illness is something
that can reasonably be expected to go
away soon, like the flu, you can just
coast a few days. But pregnancy-related
or chronic illness is more of a lifestyle
change. It doesn't necessarily mean that
you have to give up homeschooling.
years ago, I was given the gift of chronic
pain. Trust me, this is not a gift I asked
for! If God should choose to take it away,
I won't miss it. Nevertheless, it is working
out for the good of our family as a part
of our total education. And because I've
been given this challenge, I can share
with you how we manage when I am too sick
to do all of the things that some other
homeschooling moms do.
are a few "tips and tricks"
that have helped our home school survive
Make two schedules.
Post a "Regular" schedule and
an "Alternate" schedule where
they can be seen by all family members
(don't say "well" and "sick".
Attitude is half the battle). Our alternate
schedule is designed to pick up anytime
during the day. That means wake up time,
meals, snacks, nap and playtime are all
the same as the regular schedule. So if
the morning goes smoothly, then the afternoon
is a challenge, I just announce, "We
need to go to the alternate schedule now."
And my kids kick into gear.
Our alternate schedule is just the basics:
keep the little kids clean, dressed, fed,
and happy, give them a nap (happy and
nap don't always go together), load the
dishwasher, and keep the ever-present
pile of laundry moving. Teaching comes
with Dad in the evening or independent
study during nap time. Sometimes the older
kids do school work in shifts. Mary will
watch the little ones while Elisabeth
does her lessons, and vice-versa. The
older ones sometimes like to do educational
things with the little ones, like review
letters, numbers, etc., during the regularly
scheduled "preschool" time,
but that's up to them. Whether I have
to go to bed for a few days, or just need
to rest a while, the kids know what to
do and do it without me. I am still in
the home so they can ask questions, or
in case of emergency.
course, this only works because I have
two older children who each could run
the house by themselves, if need be. It
wasn't always that way. Before our older
ones were old enough, my husband and my
mom would take turns caring for the kids
if I couldn't. That brings me to the next
Get help. Let family members and close
friends know of your needs, and accept
help from them in whatever form they offer
(childcare, cleaning, cooking, shopping).
"Each one should use whatever gift
he has received to serve others, faithfully
administering God's grace in its various
forms." (1st Peter 4:10). If someone,
even your own child, has a gift that can
help you, don't feel embarrassed or guilty
about letting them serve you in this way.
It is part of God's grace. You have gifts
that you can use to serve, too.
four out of five of our children, I was
bedridden for part of the pregnancy. Again,
thankfully, both my husband and my mom
were able to take off work at times and
care for things. With our fourth child,
the oldest was twelve, and able to pretty
much handle things on her own; but we
didn't want to place all of that responsibility
on her shoulders, since we knew it would
be a few weeks. We also wanted to be able
to save my husband's vacation time for
after the baby was born. So we hired our
teenage niece to come in and take care
of the kids and keep the house picked
up. Our oldest, Elisabeth, helped; but
the "sitter" had the responsibility.
She just followed my schedule until my
husband came home from work and could
take over. When the kids needed me, they
could come in and talk to me in my bedroom.
Train your children. This is discussed
more in depth in the section on Scheduling
[in Homeschool Survival Kit]. Basically,
you want your children to learn to be
as independent as their age and ability
allows. On the days that you are well
enough, take time to show them the proper
way to do things that need to be done
on a regular basis, like laundry. Practice
giving them assignments and letting them
do their schoolwork on their own, only
asking questions as necessary. Don't feel
guilty about this, it's good for them.
You are training them to be responsible
Take acceptable shortcuts. Yes, you
can figure out the answers for third grade
math, but if you buy the teacher's key,
it will be easier. If that's not affordable,
you can use a calculator to speed things
up. My favorite short-cut is buying precut
veggies and salad in a bag. I know it's
more expensive, and it doesn't take that
much time or energy to wash and rip lettuce
(when you are sick or in pain, though,
washing and ripping lettuce seems like
a monumental task). It encourages me to
know the salad is already made. Some things
you can't cut short: Bible reading, prayer,
time with your children and your spouse.
When you don't feel well, cut time and
energy corners where you can. Prioritize,
and do the important things, letting the
rest go. The more time you free, the more
"well" time you will have with
Focus on the things that only you can
do. Use the energy you have for the
special things you can do. Anyone can
wash dishes, make dinner (PBJs are OK
sometimes), clean house, grade papers,
etc. Only you can give that special look
to your husband, that word of encouragement
to your child, make that silly joke. Only
you can rock your child to sleep in that
special "mommy" way. Only you
can pray as earnestly for your family
as a wife and mother. Your talents and
abilities are not limited. They are as
God gave them to you. Use what He has
Get some sunshine. "Light is
sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see
the sun." (Ecclesiastes 11:7) Some
studies have suggested that exposing the
eyes to sunlight (not looking directly
at the sun, just being in the sunshine)
increases the production of the chemical
seratonin in the brain, which helps people
feel more healthful, cheerful and energetic.
This is important for everyone, but especially
when you are not feeling well.
Nurture a cheerful heart. Proverbs
17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is
good medicine" Sometimes when I am
feeling especially ill or discouraged,
and I retreat to my bedroom, my husband
or children will come in and just be silly.
They make me laugh in spite of myself,
and I feel better. Maybe you don't have
anyone to be silly with you, but I hope
you do. You can always sing praise songs
out loud or in your heart, think about
happy things, listen to uplifting music
or watch a funny old comedy on TV. It
isn't just a platitude. It makes a difference.
Take it a day at a time. "Therefore
do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow
will worry about itself. Each day has
enough trouble of its own" (Matthew
6:34). Don't fret over a few missed days
here and there. The standard number of
days in a school year is 180. You have
365 to work with your child. Just do today
the best you can. If you allow yourself
to worry about it, the stress could make
your condition worse, and you'll end up
missing even more days, causing more stress...
This is often where homeschool survival
is threatened: not by a true inability
to do the job, but by the worry that you
won't be able to do the job. If you have
to take some time to rest, just pick up
where you left off, and press forward.
FOR COPING WITH PREGNANCY-RELATED
fresh lemon or orange wedges in
your refrigerator. Take a sniff
when you are feeling nauseated.
cooking smells make you sick,
you can fill a slow-cook pot in
the morning, and plug it in on
your porch. Just be sure it isn't
where children can get burned.
Add salad and bread, and you have
dinner ready, without the smell.
tea can help with the nauseated
small sips of very cold (with
ice) Coca Cola helps some women.
Our pediatrician told me it can't
be Pepsi, or any other cola.
about Coca-Cola. You can buy Coke
syrup, without the carbonated
water, at pharmacies, and keep
in the refrigerator, to use as
from Homeschool Survival Kit, copyright
2001, Kathryn A. Frazier, all rights reserved.
Used with permission. Visit Kathryn's