Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

The Meanest Homeschool Mom

And thus has the devil-may-care, relaxed lifestyle to which my children have become accustomed come to an abrupt end.

Recently, some of the parents that I share a homeschooling discussion chat list with were talking about being overwhelmed as a homeschooling parent. I was going to chime in, but decided to put my contribution in blog form and post it here, because it would be a long post and I enjoy monopolizing the conversation.

It seems like since my FIL died, we’ve been thrown off kilter. For whatever reason (nothing directly related to his death – just the time frame), we have not been able to get back into a good, consistent daily routine. I came to the realization that we have simply got to make some changes around here a week or two ago when I lost my schmidt ( with a nod and a wink to Rants from Mommyland) after dealing with whiney, uncooperative and lazy children for several days in a row. I need to clarify that this wasn’t a mere moment of frustration; this was the final straw on a huge pile of hay. I completely and utterly lost it and in one of those spectacular displays of Mommy Mayhem, announced to the children that a New World Order had arrived.

From now on, I declared, there would be no more luxuries they have come to expect – no recreational television viewing, no video games, no dsi playing. It wasn’t that they are ‘grounded’. Being ‘grounded’ implies a punishment of some sort that, after whatever time limits have passed, shall be lifted. No, I explained in the Mommy Has Had It voice, this is more that they are simply no longer have any of those privileges. At all. And so shall it remain until I see a dramatic and sustained improvement in attitude and application of self to schoolwork and basic picking up after self-ness.

This may seem a bit extreme to some, but Loverly Husband and I see this as an overall positive step for our family. It got to the point that I was outright angry irritated all the time about having to try to get the kids to do their work and pick up the mess they made. They’re not incapable, they’re unwilling – and that doesn’t work for me. It seemed like every day, I was cajoling and pleading and threatening and bargaining with them to accomplish even the most basic of assignments, or reminding them several times to do a task (like: put your shoes on the shelf. – 15 minutes later – Put your shoes on the shelf. -15 minutes later – PUT YOUR SHOES ON THE FRAKKIN’ SHELF!) and then whining when I say that they can’t play/watch/do until XYZ is done (but Mooooom… that’s not fair!!). That sense of entitlement and no work ethic was buggin’ the crap outta me.

We tried things before this: chore charts, a stapled packet of school work, timers, attaching chores to money/video game time – nothing has worked consistently. And no matter what I asked or required, there was always – always – something that had to be done before they could do whatever task (no matter how small). LBB is the Champion of Stall and his tactics are legion. When the physical stall tactics run out, he has mental check-outs that he engages in, better and deeper than anyone I’ve ever seen. Makes me insane.

So we took a drastic step to see if we can curb some of that. We’re two weeks in, and though The Stall is still around, I’m in a better mood and we’re accomplishing more school work (though it still takes LBB all day sometimes). We are using the timer still – a reasonable amount of time is given for an assignment and when the timer dings, we move on. If you haven’t finished it, then that’s your ‘homework’ – for you to do on YOUR time while the rest of us are enjoying whatever leisure activity we have planned for that day. Doing it this way sucks for whoever is indulging in The Stall on their school time, but doesn’t punish the one who did do his work that day (and amazingly, they both have their days – it’s like Goofus and Gallant tag-teaming Mom most days… le sigh). It also keeps me from feeling resentful at having to skip whatever field trip we’d planned on doing – we don’t skip it; approximately 137% of our field trips are in some way school-related and I don’t want to skip them because someone prefers to make sound effects rather then write his paper. What this means is that someone may have to do his remaining schoolwork that evening while the rest of us play, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles, Chief. I’ve been stressing Time Management in a big way lately and though the situation looks bleak, I remain hopeful that this lesson will one day sink in.

The other, known but forgotten, benefit to the ‘no TV’ thing is that I just plain enjoy my children more when there is not a constant stream of television in the background. It’s not like they’re allowee to watch all that much to begin with, but I know how convenient TV can be, and I am not above letting the TV engage the kids for an hour while I get a break from the never-ending chorus of mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom,mom,mom,mom,mom,mom. I’ve realized it in the past when we’ve banned TV for whatever reason, but it’s always surprising to see how much more creative and more willing to try new creative things when they aren’t mentally calculating how much longer it will be before they can watch TV or play that next level.

Like I said, we’re two weeks in, and though life is not perfect, I think we’re on the right path. They’re slow to adjusting, but they don’t ask ‘now can we watch TV?’ 6,000 times a day, so I’m calling that progress.


~h (aka: The Meanest Homeschool Mom)

Things that are Not Banned: bike riding, board games, swimming/slip-n-slide/sprinkler play, play dough/modeling clay and other sculpting mediums, wood carving and burning, helping Grandmother and Grammie and Gramps (all of whom live next door), visiting with friends, going to the park, fishing, hiking, art journaling, reading, trampoline – anything that requires physical or mental effort, engages the mind, body and spirit… so I’m not a total ogre.


3 responses

  1. Love, love, love it! Have been there SOOO many time! 🙂 Great post!

    March 29, 2011 at 11:47 am

  2. Amy

    Adore this post. You go, meanest mom homeschool mom. I’m right there with ya!

    March 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  3. Karin

    Found this post when I searched “homeschool grounded punishment”. Thank you. I grounded my 10-year old today to a day in her room with this week’s unfinished assignments because I just could not take one more whine, slump, or drama.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

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