I had an assistant for months, in hope of alleviating some of the stress and helping with the schoolwork. The only one who truly benefited was my daughter. The boys avoid having anything to do with the assistant, they always seek me out. 8 yo refuses to work with her, except for rare occasions. 10 yo has really been down to very bare-bones learning, and I do not have energy or desire to figure out what is the next big thing that I would like him to do. He has not been taking an initiative in his learning as I had hoped.
I am exhausted. I do not end up with time for myself, as inevitably something or other comes up. Moreover, my husband is not planning on assisting in teaching the kids anything on a consistent basis, and he is unable to provide relief at night, as he is always on call, something always comes up, and I am stuck with my dashed hopes of a "night off". Add to all of this the fact the that baby got into a habit of waking up at 5 am, and I am ready to pull my hair out.
A few months ago, I was struck how people glibly were encouraging others to homeschool. Single parent? You can do it! Working full-time? You can do it! Kids with special needs? You can do it! Can't stand spending time with your kids?..
Maybe there are circumstances when homeschooling is not the answer. Maybe, even if homeschooling is in the best interest of a child, it is not in the best interest of the family. I have shared some of my doubts with the others and one of the first questions was: how firmly am I committed to the ideals of homeschooling? Well, I am committed, and I do think that for each one of my children individually, it is the best thing. What I am having hard time with is, how to synthesize everyone's needs, and then not to overlook my needs completely.
Case in point: taekwondo. It has been singularly the best activity for both boys. It teaches them commitment, discipline, self-control, physical mastery. It forces 8 yo to focus and to control himself. It is also horribly inconvenient for me. The boys are in different age groups now, so their classes meet from 4:45 till 5:30, and from 5:45 till 6:30. That means I am out of the house from 4 till 7. If I am lucky (and I have been very lucky lately), my MIL comes over and watches the two younger ones during this time. But coming home at 7 and only then serving dinner is very late, not to mention that is it hard to prepare dinner when I am not in the house. Last summer, when we tried combining taekwondo with camp, it was too much and the boys were too tired. I am sure that if I do send them to school, the attendance would have to decrease, if not cease altogether. Yet, who wins? And who loses? If we stop going, I gain the time back, but I also get extra-fidgety 8 yo. And if we continue going, I am running myself ragged.
10 yo is adamant that he does not want to go to school. He keeps telling me how he would do anything to stay at home. Conversely, 4 yo is excited at the prospect of school. 8 yo flatly told me that he thinks he would not like it (translation: I will not cooperate if I don't want to). I oscillate between making this one year of school for the kids so that I can get my bearings, the baby can grow up a bit and calm down (hopefully), and between sticking it out, getting more help (maybe an au pair) and generally cutting more corners. I need to arrive at the decision, and just stick with it, but in my current kotzer ruach (shortness of breath) state, I am not thinking clearly. I do not want to make an emotional decision based on one bad or one good moment, but the time to decide is now!
I know that many homeschoolers have similar dilemmas and also harbor secret fantasies of sending kids to school. My ideal would be to send them for a month, so that we all decide whether we like it. Unfortunately, school is a one-year-at-a-time proposition. So chime in, jeer at my weakness, add your helpful advice, and tell me what you would be doing if you were in my place.