I hurt and I’m tired and I don’t want to homeschool today. I don’t want to adult today. That’s okay because we are home and can just take the day off right?
Taking a day off was nice when I wasn’t so sick. Back when taking a day off truly meant I could restore my health. Now every day will hurt. I will be sick. I will have doctor’s appointments and specialists and in-home care stopping by. Taking a day off is no longer an option when you are a chronically ill homeschool mom.
For us, sick enough to take a day off is not even hospital level. I have plans for my husband to just keep going. I’m in the hospital too much to use that as a reason to stop homeschooling. You see my kids have autism and their own issues. They want to stop too. They want to hit the pause on life and hope their bodies will just get it and start working.
Part of my homeschooling is teaching my children how to work (chores and self-care), learn, and continue with the fun side of life in a way that doesn’t compromise their health. These goals will not be found on your average yearly chart but they are worthy goals.
I’m showing my children how my tired broken body can still find great worth and meaning in being their mother. In the midst of my disease progression, I have refound my love of writing. Again I am showing my kids that the Lord has a bigger picture than this microcosm of today and the ups and downs it brings.
Survival Tips Beyond Taking the Day Off for Chronically Ill Homeschool Moms
I certainly hope you are not as sick as I am. This has been a long road to get here. Years of disease progression. Along the way, I have homeschooled my five lovely kids who all have the same disease. Each are unique and wonderful in their own ways of learning. Here are some tips that have helped us along the way.
I am a BoHo homeschooler by natural bent but, when I found I needed to hand off my teaching to others to get us through stretches in the hospital or on bed rest with a pregnancy, a lesson plan was vitally necessary. It kept learning going and kept the kids from pulling puppy dog eyes on daddy saying, “Hmm maybe we should wait for mom before we take that test. I haven’t done all the work.” With the lesson plan in place, he could raise that eyebrow and give them the parent stare . . . “Ok. So maybe I can take the test.”
Structured Curriculum Choices
This goes with the lesson plans. Curriculum choices that come with a teacher’s book or had a very good outline for teachers are helpful. They cut down on what I have to research to get the most out of each lesson. This does cost more money but in the end, I found that the free or very cheap material online is nice if you have time to adjust and make it work. There are times that I don’t have it in me to do more than mark out the next week’s material. Having professionally laid out lessons helps those rough times.
Now here is where my BoHo happy homeschooler revels. I have fun options for our homeschooling in our file folder planner. If it’s a holiday like Thanksgiving I have a unit study, lap-booking material, books, recipes, a list of movies I put together. Or I go find these fun supplemental ideas and have them ready for those days when we need a break or or for when energy is overflowing and two o’clock comes and the kids are still rarin’ to go.
Household Chores and Responsibilities
This is a family unit. All members of the family should participate to the best of their ability in making it run smoothly. If a toddler can toss the pillows off the couch on the floor in a fit then when you have them calm down they can help you put them back. If your teen is eating you out of the house (all mine are preteen to late teen, so I understand) then they can help make dinner and shop for food.
Responsibility for Their Own Health
As our children grow they need to start taking over responsibility for their own health needs. When you first got you little one glasses you had to remind and maybe even nag to get them to keep on their glasses but as time passed they took over that responsibly. As your children become teens and grow fast toward young adult status, have them mark on their calendars dental appointments, eye appointments, specialists if they have them. Have them involved in any medication they have to take, like an asthma puffer and keep track of when it needs to be renewed. We keep careful watch over all these things but move the outward tending to our teens as they are able. This takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders as I am already dealing with my own demanding medical needs and it wouldn’t be wise to let either my health or my kids’ health slip.
Energy is Precious
So is family! Do be aware of where you are putting your time and effort. Is it important to you and your family or is it something that another person can be doing? I used to run my church nursery. As my health began failing I felt trapped into the position. I wanted badly to help my church and its people have a safe, wonderful church time but I was getting too sick to hold up my end of the job. I finally stopped being the boss and shifted to helping. The time and effort I was pouring into a job that I was no longer able to do then shifted to my family and it felt like a ton was lifted off my shoulders. My energy to work with the kids and start new homeschooling projects zoomed through the roof and I knew I made the right choice. Tend to your limited energy carefully, friends.
Life has gone on and though I am chronically ill with a disease that has now reached its terminal phase, we continue to homeschool. My children all have this disease in its earlier stages but they are doing well right now (thank you, God!)
I have graduated my oldest and she is a wonderful young adult that brings me joy. I have teens lined up to graduate the next few years one after another and I can’t wait!
So you see, my friends, I know you can do this. We did and are making it work. God bless and may your homeschooling path be uniquely and wonderfully your own.
Heather Laurie is a veteran homeschooling mom blessed with a great husband and 5 lovely children. Heather and her children have a genetic disease that makes life difficult but they choose to look on the brighter/snarkier side of life and laugh. Trusting God to guide them through the ups and downs of life, they are homeschooling successfully in the wilds of West Virginia and roadschooling during the spring in order to speak at a convention near you. You can find Heather and her book on special needs homeschooling, Homeschooling When Learning Isn’t Easy, at her blog SpecialNeedsHomeschooling.com.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.