December 4, 2009
Anyone who suffers from a chronic illness knows that day-to-day living can be challenging. Adding an intense activity like homeschooling seems like a recipe for disaster. However, with the right planning, support, and expectations, you can homeschool your kids.
Planning - Your capacity for activity has changed. Now is the time to take inventory of what you can do, when you can do it, and how it can be done. Figure out what your big rocks are everyday. Big rocks are the activities that need to get done each day. Examples may be homeschool activities, making meals, or paying the bills. Once you have established your big rocks, you can slot them throughout the day. Decide when you have enough energy for each of your big rocks. You may decide to homeschool first thing in the morning, taking breaks in between each subject. You may choose to make all of your meals for the day while you get lunch going because you know that your energy will be low at dinner-time. Paying the bills can be handled on Sunday afternoon when your spouse is home.
Support - Research shows that those with chronic illness who find a good balance between accepting the reality of their illness and remaining as engaged in life as possible are happiest. Talk with your spouse and decide which items you need the most help with and then… let him help! For example, you know you can handle daily dishes, dusting and laundry. Doing the bathrooms, though, puts you over the edge. See if you can offload that chore to a child or spouse. A spouse can take over one piece of homeschooling, as well. Maybe Dad would love to do science or history with the kids. The result – great bonding time for them and quiet time for you at the end of the day.
Expectations – Anyone who has lived with chronic illness for any length of time knows that some interests and activities may need to be postponed to a different season of life. Expecting your body to behave as it did before you became ill can only result in frustration. Lots of it. Instead, realize that although you can't do what you used to do, you CAN do other things. For example, reading to your children is a great activity that results in bonding and learning for them and rest for you. Keep your expectations realistic and positive!
These are baby steps on the road to homeschooling with chronic illness. Starting small gives you a sense of control over your life. Taking on a goal that is important to you can be terrific medicine!