One of the best parts of being part of this whole blogosphere is the sense of community. I know that some can’t understand how I would want to give and receive suggestions from total strangers, but…it doesn’t feel like that. Of course you have your occasional bad apple; however, most of the time the words are shared with genuine help in mind.
So I have a question for all of you…
I am not new to parenting. I have been a mama for nine years. I love my son and I love being a mom but some days are hard…maybe it is just harder for me than most. It seems like that after I scan all the happy Facebook pictures of wonderful summer vacations and picnics and water play.
What is new for me is being a homeschooling mama. Many of you know the struggles that resulted in pulling My TBP out of the neighborhood school and then working really hard to bring my happy, clever, engaged boy back to me.
I am okay with the education part; it helps that I’ve been a teacher for 20+ years so I understand the planning and teaching and curriculum aspects. Been there…done that.
The part that is hard for me is the number of hours in each day… there’s a lot.
My son wakes up full steam ahead at 7:00 and while I appear to be awake, I’m not fully among the living until 8:00. He plays video games while I slowly begin my morning. Mid morning is when school begins and we are consistent about doing math, science, and reading everyday. We add other social and learning opportunities throughout the week too. On most days, he finishes school before lunch and then we have the afternoon together.
Now, I love my son, but this later afternoon time is when I begin to struggle.
I need a break.
I don’t know if it is because he is an only child or not, but I am exhausted with all the chatter, the attention, the questions, the energy. I have tried to encourage “quiet room time” but that hasn’t worked. I have tried implementing quiet mama time, but that results in just more video games for him and I’m trying to avoid that so…
What do you do?
How do you keep your only child busy, entertained, or just contained for a little bit so that you don’t lose your mind. This used to be only a summer issue, but now it is a year round issue and I’m getting a bit freaked out about the many all day, everyday, days ahead of me.
As I write this, I’m partially joking but mostly…I’m really not.
Any advice for this mama with the intense, quirky, always questioning singleton?
Have you made your “I’m Bored” List yet? Maybe you can use it for your breaks – tell him you are going to take 30 minutes for yourself so you can be a good mama, and he needs to do something from the list, quietly, without bugging you.
I am finding that it works okay until about 3:30 or 4:0o and then that’s when things fall apart.
Maybe I need a morning and an afternoon list…
I have homeschooled my own TBP since last Christmas. For us, getting her engaged in long chapter books has been a lifesaver. We have some book series we read together (Erin Hunter’s Warrior series, Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series, Jane Yolen’s Pit Dragon series) and other books that she listens to on her own with audiobooks. She listened to the Harry Potter series, Watership Down, and many others on audiobooks. The audiobooks introduce her to books that would be too difficult to read alone but that meet her where she is at in terms of imagination. After we read a book together, she often re-reads it alone. She never really deeply enjoyed reading (and was a late reader) until we found much more complex texts and involved plots that emerge over a series.
Funny you should mention books on tape…we have used them before and he seemed to enjoy the time but didn’t choose it on his own.
Until now, we started one he loves about zombies 🙂
Mine is an excellent reader and we read 2-3 chapters daily together
(we are currently on the last of the five Gregor the Overland series) but again not something he craves.
What is TBP
Short for “twice baked potato” in reference to my twice-exceptional son
I tend to send my TBP outside to play in sprinkler or ride bike in cul-de-sac if it’s not too hot. I can sit on porch and read or keep an eye on him. When it is too hot or rainy, I tend to let him pick a science show to watch. He likes Cosmos and he also likes a show called Engineering Connections (BBC2).
Thank you 🙂 We watched Cosmos but I’ve never heard of the second one you mentioned! I will have to look it up. We are fans of Nature and Wild Kratts 😉
I so relate – and actually trying to find solutions deepened the homeschool experience. An audio tape I got from the library, a story about mozart made us both realise how much my son loves to listen to classical music and opera – we can now put on some music to listen to or he will watch an opera or ballet on DVD. – that is a nice long break when a 40 minute science show isn’t enough! Also swimming is a nice break for me. I think it’s also important (and hard) to try and train them to do things without needing your attention and encouragement – this is obviously a long process and needs to be carefully judged especially when the most important part is healing the wounds from his school experience. – I also tried to do things I enjoyed or needed to do eg clothes shopping – turns out my son can give great fashion advice ! – take care of yourself and good luck !
Thank you for sharing 🙂 I appreciate it!
Currently, I am preparing my son’s fourth grade curriculum which we will start in Mid August. I am thinking of ways to include music and PE.
Mine is 4, but I completely recognize this struggle! I will say “we have had lots of together time and now we’re having alone time.” She will try to engage lots of times but I keep reading. Eventually she will find a puzzle or book, pull it up alongside me, and engage herself. It doesn’t always work and it doesn’t always last, but I thought it was worth trying!
Yes…I think it is good to put words to the quiet time-I keep trying. I will say that I was happy when mine listened to a book on tape for 1 1/2 hours. It was a great change and something I hope to see more of 🙂
I have three children, but my oldest is my only girl. She is 12 and has always been homeschooled and very intense. We have found some academic contests that keep her occupied–4-H Dog Bowl and Bible Bee are two examples. Please understand this isn’t because I want to turn my child into a trick pony that wins ribbons, but it fills a need. She has deadlines for learning different material and gets to meet kids with similar interests. After she blasts through her school work, then she has something to keep her busy. She also enjoy the goal setting aspects of these contests. Just an idea.
I completely understand and think those are great ideas. Maybe it is my son’s age, but he still wants me to be part of his activities, talking about the progress and struggles throughout. Some of it is good, but too much and soon it is our project instead of his 🙂
The fact my 8 year old is a voracious reader helps here. I also try to keep art supplies around for those times. Diy.com has provided some new activities too.
Oops, that’s diy.org
Thank you 🙂
I wished that mine loved to read like that! He is a very good reader, but he doesn’t choose it for fun.
I have a 25 things to do when I’m bored list as well! I also try to put an online class or some particular project at the end of the day. Check out diy.org. I also hunt down library summer programs, hit the pool or even just go to Target and wander around. My only is almost 12 now and we have been homeschooling 4 years. The afternoons are the worst time for everyone- I called it the Witching Hour when he was a baby. That cranky time before dad gets home and we have dinner? Ugh! I’ve finally learned to plan ahead and put stuff in that window so I don’t go crazy.
I am relieved to hear that the afternoons are hard for others too. Mine is a bit of a naysayer, so that takes more energy too.
Started a list and somedays it is received well and other days it makes him mad 😦
I have had the same problem with my 10 year old (only child) son, especially trying to keep up conversations and answer questions on the subjects he is passionate about. He does Taekwondo 3-4 evenings a week and a group violin class one evening a week, which have both been great outlets for him. He also has a group of approved Skype friends from his homeschool classes who share his intense interests in computer programming, so they so they sometimes Skype and build things in Blender (a 3-d modeling program) or play Minecraft or Roblox sometimes.
I have never heard of Blender but we are very familiar with Minecraft and Roblox. 🙂
We have strongly suggested Karate or taekwando, but he refuses. He played piano for over a year and quit.
I want to get him involved in other areas and other activities, but I get a lot of push back. Somedays that is harder than others.
I agree about audio books. A few other ideas to consider: Helping you prep for dinner, some handwork-type thing — sanding and sawing wood, knitting, potholder making, magic loom, clay creations, duct tape creations, definitely some sort of physical activity. I wonder, too, if once the school year starts and some homeschooling groups start up you might find yourself involved in more of those types of activities during the mid-morning and thus your afternoons are more for your own school activities and thus contain a bit more structure. Also, I think it is absolutely fair to set out a certain amount of time that is “alone time” and to sketch out and negotiate the possible activities that can fit in that time (and to say that video games can’t, if that is the way you lean), and then to say that you need that time and he shouldn’t interrupt you except for x, y, or z. I remember that you invented a chore system at one point…perhaps completing the quiet time also “earns” your TBP something? Afternoons are so very hard. I feel you! (Oh, and we definitely do more than our fair share of afternoon Starbucks visits in order to have a change of pace, something that someone else makes for us, and a needed caffeine infusion for one mom or the other…)
Super ideas! Yes…we have a system in place where he has 8-10 things to complete and adding quiet time could be great.
Thank you for the help and great feedback!
We use documentaries on the computer/DVD or Youtube for ‘down’ time. We also have quite a few ‘educational’ computer games that cover our curriculum, so there isn’t as much guilt (mine) at letting the kids play. Games like Dragon Box, Civilization III-V, Cities in Motion 1 & 2, even Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon all have great historical, geographical and mathematical aspects that really help with school-work, but are ‘quiet-time’. Another I do with my toddler is playdoh or painting time, where they occupy themselves on crafting activities while I loosely supervise.
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