The following is a guest post written by Lisa Kremer of Life is a Journey.
I can’t think of many things in life more stressful than selling your house and moving.
Add to that six busy homeschooled kids.
Add to that the fact that this is our second move in one year. (Military families, I salute you …)
The boxes were piled up and the toys had been sifted through numerous times, me continually asking the kids (and myself): “Do we really need to hang onto that?”
We had a garage sale and took items to the local thrift store. We sold stuff online. We downsized in every way we could possibly think of and packed up the majority of our belongings so the house could be clean, uncluttered and appealing to potential buyers.
Everything we could do to prepare for this major life event was taken care of.
What I didn’t count on was the stress. And it wasn’t just my stress as we walked through this transition — it was the acting-out, the emotional outbursts, the temper tantrums and so much more that my kids displayed constantly.
I understand now why spring is a preferable time to sell your home — because then maybe you can avoid moving at a time when life traditionally becomes very busy — with school starting up and so many activities resuming after summer’s lull.
During the last couple months I have learned a few things about kids and stress. Hopefully my experiences can serve the purpose of helping others who might be going through a similar journey as a family.
1. Mama, just calm down.
There is a direct correlation between my response to stress and my kids’ responses. The more I yell, the more they yell. The more I run around the house like a chicken with my head cut off, the more mayhem and chaos I see in my kids as they begin to act out and terrorize the place.
The more I seemed stressed, the harder it is on them, and it seems to have a snowball effect until everyone is crying and falling apart!
2. Mama, slow down.
Understand your season. Let go of unreasonable expectations, and realize that even though your kids may have the physical capacity to do schoolwork (time, space, etc.), they might be emotionally unable to carry on as normal. (This certainly applies to the mom, as teacher/mentor/advocate, as well.)
If that means we only get one question done in a book before someone falls apart, then I just let it go. I am trying to focus on more “fun” learning in the meantime, to give myself and the kids a break. (More of that in No. 4.)
3. Think outside of the (moving) box.
When one of my daughters was having an especially hard week with her schoolwork, and I had been moved to tears numerous times in attempt to get things to work (but felt like I was going to fall apart), we moved school out of the house and went on a coffee date.
It was amazing to me how a little one-on-one attention, and a cup of hot chocolate in a local coffee shop had the makings of a perfect hour and a half of school-time. She felt special — not pressured — and I got to enjoy a good latte while we successfully completed some of the work that she had been struggling with.
4. Be creative.
Stressful times are not the right time to tackle challenging, long-term projects that require tons of prep work and concentration. We’ve tried to make the moving process more enjoyable by adding school in less traditional ways.
In our commutes between our current city and the one we are moving to (about a 2 1/2 hour drive) we listen to books on CD and work on our Social Studies by listening to “Story of The World.” This gives Dad a chance to get involved when we pause to discuss an interesting point in history or we talk about the meaning of a word.
When we were forced out of our house for a showings, we would take a trip to the library, science center or enjoy a family nature walk.
Stressful times can arrive in a variety of ways: the birth of a new baby/adoption of a child, moving, career changes for mom/dad, illness and/or financial struggles.
The point is, our stress as parents while we try to maintain our role as educators can and will have an affect on our children.
Kids respond in a variety of ways, depending on their personalities and age. For example, my 4 year old is continually packing his backpack after every nap — I’m not sure if he knows where home is since we’ve had to travel around so much in the past few months!
As homeschooling parents, sometimes we have to make some difficult decisions and adjust our expectations in consideration of our kids’ emotional well-being. When it comes to priorities, my kids’ hearts trump their “need” to memorize times tables and complete a book report.
For we don’t just teach our kids facts and figures, history and geography … we also teach them emotional health — when to slow down and learn to find calm in the midst of chaos.
In the end, sometimes we just have to reassure them, hug them tight and let them know that it’s going be okay.
Has your family experienced a stressful time in your homeschool? What ways did you find to cope?