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Ways to Homeschool When Your Life Is off The Rails

Ways to Homeschool When Your Life is off the Rails

A CASCADE OF EVENTS

Six pregnancies, six children. Our seventh pregnancy ended up in our first loss. Due to our birth order of girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, we decided to name the baby Felicity Gertrude, or Baby Gertie. The trauma of the loss can not be understated. We found out just two days before Thanksgiving. To give our family time to recover, we suspended school until after the Christmas holidays. We regrouped and started again in January. The joy of an eighth pregnancy announcement would evaporate within days of finding out we were expecting; loss number two. We would name him Michael Christopher. From November 2014 until now, even, our family has come to adapt to upheaval as part of our lives. Two miscarriages, four ER visits, two hospital stays, one for three weeks, another for an emergency appendectomy. Most recently as this past Sunday, we have been to the ER for a suspected and confirmed {very large} blood clot with more doctor visits on the horizon to treat and gather more information. 

IN THE BEGINNING

I have come around on homeschooling. As someone who still embraces “me time” it’s only taken me six short years {snort} to find that balance! I used to shudder at the idea of homeschooling, often feeling like I could never manage my needs with my kids’ – and that was under what I used to define as normal circumstances. Oh, I of little faith! I had no idea what God planned on showing me along the way. I should have known better when I heard ominous, yet difficult to place hearty laughter coming from no particular direction…oh, God, You funny funny Guy. 

Sure, our little homeschool {aptly named Kreitzer Family Academy} had its share of built-in challenges, like weaning the kids off public school classroom habits, working around the demands of toddlers and newborns, enduring flying books across the room when frustration levels reached critical mass, or getting used to being together in small spaces for indefinite lengths of time, broken up only by naps, the occasional outing away from the house and grocery store trips{why, oh WHY did we decide to downsize from our 2800+ square foot home to one that is just under 2100 square feet???}. 

I had somehow taken it for granted that I would beg for our usual challenges when late 2014 would bring with it a relentless storm of trauma, some of it tied together and other events completely unrelated. 

We are no longer strangers to medically induced family upheaval.

WEIGHING THE OPTIONS GOING FORWARD

For a time, I strongly considered the pros and cons of putting the kids back in school. The stability of a reliable schedule while I could sort out the details of our upside down family life seemed awfully tempting. But, I soon realized that it would be more work for this girl to enroll the kids across the span of high school, elementary, and preschool, making the decision too expensive and time consuming. No, we would have to muddle through this, all in, and all together. Though we are still in the middle of upheaval, I have since found out that homeschooling doesn’t have to be an either or situation. For some, it makes complete sense to take a break from homeschooling and put the kids in public or private school. Whatever the case may be, it’s a decision that is best left to each couple and family to prayerfully discern for themselves. My list is derived from our own circumstances and is designed to be a reflection of just that. At the end of the day, our family needed to be ok with the decisions we made, and it might not have included homeschooling…and that would have been perfectly fine.


PRAY

If prayer wasn’t the anchor of your day before, start now. Rote prayers, off the cuff, conversation with God, the rosary, a novena {or two or ten!}, Adoration. Whatever your prayer choice is, make sure you start your day by connecting with your Father. He’s waiting for you.

CALL ON YOUR PRAYER WARRIORS

The moment your family goes into crisis mode, alerting friends and family of the situation – while may require a dose of swallowing ones own pride – can go a long way in providing a solid channel of graces. 

ALLOW YOURSELF TO RECEIVE

and allow people to give to your family. I quickly learned saying yes when people offered a meal or babysitting allowed me to take care of my family in a different way. I had to get over feeling like I was burdening people by our circumstances and allow these amazing people to be the Hands and Feet of Christ for our family. 

KNOW WHERE TO OFFER IT UP

Though my head and heart were often clouded by our circumstances, it became easy to see and think of others’ particularly difficult situations. I found myself texting and calling friends with their own trials and letting them know that we were praying for and offering up our suffering for them. Give your suffering a sense of purpose by assigning it a location – or just let God know it’s all His to relieve where He sees fit. 

VISIT JESUS…FREQUENTLY

If possible, pop into church and say some prayers before the Tabernacle. If you have Adoration or your church is blessed to have perpetual Adoration, make use of any time you have to give to bring your heart to Jesus in the Eucharist. 

KEEP GOING TO MASS

It may feel like the most difficult thing to do – giving praise and honor and glory to God when your life is completely upside down…but there is quite literally no better way to place balm on your soul than to make Mass top priority. 

TAKE YOUR VITAMINS & GET REST

I had no time to see a therapist, so I made sure our family went to bed at a decent hour, and I was diligent about taking vitamin D and magnesium citrate. These things helped to alleviate things if even by a little bit. While I am no doctor and my opinion is simply that – mine – I can tell you that the reading I found online all pointed to magnesium helping with stress levels. 

TALK TO YOUR PRIEST

I spent a considerable amount of time talking to various priests and asking for prayers, support, and advice. If possible, carve out some time to talk things through with your priest. 

CALL A LOVED ONE

Don’t forget to stay in touch with family as you move through crisis mode. They can be a font of support for you and help guide you through things. 

GIVE UP YOUR ORIGINAL VISION FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR

Now isn’t the time to berate yourself because you had set expectations for the year. If you’re like our family, you may even have to ditch the rest of the school year and start from scratch like we ultimately did this past year. We finished some subjects, but others we just couldn’t catch up. I have noted those adjustments going forward for this year, though. When you’re in crisis mode, you’ll have to learn to let things go and settle for something a little less glamorous, which leads me to…

BRING IT BACK TO THE BASICS

Math, English, reading. That might be all you can attempt to do…when you can do anything at all! In fact, those three subjects may just be pushing the envelope, too! Decide what you can do and don’t get caught up in planning for the day when the school day looks “normal.” This is where you need to be right now and kids are like sponges. They will get caught up. Promise. 

LIFE LESSONS HAVE VALUE

There may be times when you want to keep schooling to retain some semblance of normal in your family, but you just can’t. Those will be days when lugging out the books may feel like some insurmountable challenge. It’s ok. Life in and of itself is full of lessons and sometimes the best lessons are learning how to deal with life as individuals, as families, and with Christ at the center of it all. Never underestimate the daily lessons that come with moving through crisis.  

KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

Or borrow someone else’s. You will need it, trust me. The perpetual black cloud that is over our family right now gives me pause, wondering if it’s the fast track to heaven or hell. Some days, it’s honestly hard to tell the difference! Don’t let your bleak circumstances cloud your ability to have a good chuckle here and there. When a family member lovingly teased and asked if our patron saint was Job, I had to laugh. It sure feels like it is some days!! 

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU’VE HANDLED HOMESCHOOLING IN CRISIS MODE?

 

RESOURCES TO KEEP YOU GOING

General Homeschool Resources

Catholic Homeschool Curriculum

Catholic Homeschool Resources

Games to play 

 

 

 

By Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife to Neil, and mother to eight kiddos here {and three in heaven}– 4/96-12/19. She decided to homeschool the kiddos in 2010 after many years in public schools and is currently transitioning out of homeschooling. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. She is also a Seal of Approval evaluator for the Catholic Writers Guild. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina has enjoyed getting out into the community by serving on the Pastoral Council from 2010-2013. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the Austin diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor.

2 replies on “Ways to Homeschool When Your Life Is off The Rails”

Nice post! Well-said. Points about “life lessons” and “giving up original vision” are well experienced here, also! We call it “Home Education #101 ” . So sad about your losses…I believe they are with my 3…God bless you all! Ann

You know Martina, these things are helpful even to the working mom. Applying these tips to that context works pretty well. Thank you for this. I would add that exercise helps immensely. I’m not always so good about taking my own advice, but when I’m able to take that half hour and go for a run– either outside, or on the treadmill– it clears my mind and helps me recharge.

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