About Rest for the Weary

I hope you will find this little spot a place of rest and refreshment for your soul. My intention is to build up women in the trenches of homeschooling. This includes veterans who are burned out and former homeschooling moms who have decided for one reason or another to put some or all of their children in school. Thanks for stopping by. Take a deep breath of refreshment for your weary soul.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to school: Backpack station

I know having a large family, organization is the key to sanity and not being swallowed up in stuff.  With all of the shoes, books, and uniforms we have for school, I needed some form of system in place to manage it because I become grumpy when junk is everywhere.  Last year, the four in school would come home and just drop their backpacks on the living room floor, kick their shoes off there, and drop their uniforms where ever they changed.  I knew I couldn't live in that chaos.  So, I searched my friend google.  Like my posts on a lunch box station and managing school clothes, I did not come up with this original idea.  I took it and modified it for our family's use.
Just inside the door, I set up 2 IKEA tables in a small nook that isn't too visible.  I had my husband hang three large hooks for my 3 biggest kids' backpacks.  I have the tables just under the backpacks, supporting the weight because my kids' bags weigh a lot!  My 2 youngest slip theirs under the tables.  Then I had him mount 4 smaller hooks above the others for their PE bags.  My youngest does not change yet for PE thus only 4 hooks.  I am also having the younger ones slip their shoes under the table as well.
As far as clothing, as soon as we get home they are to change and take the uniforms including PE clothes and put them on the washer.  I decided I wanted to teach them responsibility so I will not nag them to put their clothes in there.  If they don't have clean clothes because they forgot, they will wear dirty ones. I know I will have to be vigilant about training teaching them to put things away.

Here are a few similar ideas of backpack stations that I found on the web. There are many more out there.
Back to school with a backpack station  (this one has links to other backpack stations)
DIY chalkboard backpack station
Simple ideas for family organization
Built in mudroom for backpack station

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to school: Clothing organization

School clothing can be a big deal for families especially for those that require uniforms.  Most private schools use them and more and more public schools are beginning to or have standardized dress. 
My big problem came in how to organize all of the school clothing. I knew if I let my children keep them in their dressers with their regular clothes, they would have a mess on their hands each morning while they dug for outfits like buried treasure. Of course, after they were shuttled off to school, I would be left with the remnants strewn across the floor.   I came up with a nice solution for the clothing issue which could also be used if you have standardized dress as well.  In addition, this can be modified for children with no dress code but who have a difficult time deciding on clothing or for quick and easy access in the mornings.  (More on that later).  I bought one of these lovely 4 drawer items from IKEA.  Actually, I bought 2 because I have 5 in school.  The top ones are for their school clothes that don’t need to be hung.  These include school socks, ties, undershirts, sweat suits, and PE uniforms. Basically, anything that doesn’t need to be hung goes in these.  I labeled them so they can quickly grab the items they need to dress and/or pack their PE bags. 

 This is located in my laundry room so that I can fold them and put them right in the dryer.  As well, I have a hanging rack in this room so right out of the dryer I can hang pants, skirts, and shirts. I have a section for each child so in the mornings they can just grab a uniform and dress.    This method has really streamlined our clothing issue. 

I found too, that my children tend to lose clothes during PE changing or after school changing so I got some iron on label tape to use in my label maker. I found that the iron on labels I got at the local store didn't stay on and the pen faded.

What about those who don’t have uniforms like most public schools?  Here is a neat idea I came across while looking for ideas on how to solve my monstrous laundry problem.  Why not try out an idea like this (scroll to middle of page), using hanging clothes storage or even something like I use from IKEA to label with the days of the week and fill them on the weekend with a week’s worth of clothing. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back to School: Homework

One of the many areas of out- of- the- home- schooling that may be unfamiliar is homework.  As homeschoolers, all school work is homework to us.  In reality, homework is different from homeschooling.  This was something I learned just from experiencing it and you may too. 
As homeschooling moms, we were/are a very big part of the education of our children.  Now that they are in school (or possibly going) we have to learn to be cheerleaders, encouraging from the sidelines, instead of being the coach, the one calling all of the shots.  Homework is meant to be a skill to teach concepts but also to teach organization and responsibility.  Too often we see that homework has become a family affair whereas when we were children, homework was a child’s activity with very little parent involvement with the exception of the parent checking up on the child’s grades once in a while. 
As a new-to-school-parent, I hovered too much when my children first went to school because I had been so used to being in the center of their education.  I quickly learned to stand back so they could learn those valuable skills listed above.  I have seen many homeschoolers who put their children in school get flustered over homework because they were too involved.  They said it took way too much of their time.  At first this is true because your child will need a bit of guidance on how to do homework.  But after they have been taught, we need to step back and allow them to succeed on their own. 

I found Ending the Homework Hassle and Fail Safe Formula for Helping Your Child Succeed in School  by John Rosemond to be extremely helpful.  In this book, he lays out a plan to teach our children to take on the responsibility of homework.  He discusses setting aside a place for homework, preferably in their room, giving them a deadline when it must be done but not when to start how to motivate, and more.  I like this book so much because he is so down to earth and encouraging.  He really points out how different parents are raising children in our present age and how much the typical parent hovers and its effects vs. how most of us were raised. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to School: Lunch making station

Over the course of the next three weeks, I will be doing a back to school series, mostly geared at families sending their previously homeschooled children to brick and mortar school but may be helpful to homeschoolers as well.  BTW, two of my kids start August 14 and the other three August 18.

Having 5 children in school, I will be making a lot of lunches.  Even last year with 4 in school, I felt overwhelmed, with the need to somehow streamline lunch making.  I scoured the internet and of course there are tons of ideas to help.  I am amazed at the number of creative people out there so I will be including lots of links to give you an idea of the many ways to do this.

I began with wanting to have an area to keep everything together that is needed for lunch making instead of running back and forth from cabinet to drawers to fridge, etc.  I had a small area in my kitchen that is mostly a gathering place for clutter that I cleared off and made available as my lunch station.
Here is a view of it.
I have a silverware tray to hold plastic, reusable spoons, forks, and knives (bought cheap at IKEA).  In the front I have my homemade reusable lunch baggies and disposable ones for the messy things.  Next to that, I have a magazine holder with my press n wrap, foil, waxed paper, and large plastic bags.  Right next to this, in a drawer I keep my reusable containers for fruit, sandwiches, yogurt, etc.
And although I have yet to set it up, I am going to put a plastic three drawer set under the empty desk area for snack items, drinks, etc.  Check these two out for the wonderful ideas.  Lunch creation station and
Another idea I am going to implement is a refrigerator box with lunch items so that the older kids can easily find what they need.  
Here are a few more lunch box making stations:

Do you have a way to organize your lunch box items and food?  If so, please share links in the comments.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who is in control?

I have mentioned before that I am a recovering control nut and have suffered through some depression.  I wanted to share something I wrote about this issue but never blogged about it. 

When did I think I became the author of my family’s life?  Why did I think I could write the script with a happily ever after ending?  In my little mind, I had the whole manuscript laid out before they were even all born.  Down to the year they would be born?!?

I like predictability.  I enjoy a bit of suspense and action from time to time, but by and large, I like consistency and safety.  Part of that is because I have always been a fearful, anxious person.  I don’t trust enough.  So, I want to compose the story so I know what will happen and won’t have to face the uncertainty.  I don’t want to have to look in the mirror and think You messed that up.  Like a rejection letter from an editor, I take on the burden and think I am no good, don’t mother well, etc. if my children choose differently than my preconceived idea of a story. 

The God who planned and created the universe has this all under control and can write a much better script than I can.  But sometimes we don’t always like every story, and I find that I don’t like how he writes mine quite often.  Because I don’t like the sad, painful points.  I like my happily ever after to run through the whole story. 

How can I learn to let Him be the author of my life story?  Like so many other areas, it is a matter of trust, of slow finger-prying-off-the-wheel-letting go.  I need to remember that He has the big picture in mind, and I can’t see into the future and definitely I can’t read ahead in the story.  Can I hold on and look forward to how it is played out, waiting for each thrilling chapter in the book of life?  Can I savor the joy, the pain, the loss, the good, as one all-encompassing, beautiful story ?  Isn’t a new story, one we have never encountered more exciting than one where we know the ending?  The God who created the universe and keeps it all in balance is the best author with the best selling stories. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Feeling trapped into homeschooling

Realistically, for some of you, brick and mortar school may not be an option even though you long for it.  I know because I was there about 7 years ago.  Too many school aged children made private school not an option (I had 6 in school then) and where we lived at the time the public schools were not an option.  So, for several years I trudged through homeschooling, thinking I would bog down and never make it.  I felt trapped, like a caged animal at times, and I often resented homeschooling.  I begged and pleaded God for an answer because I knew this was not a good situation for me or my children.
But what if God doesn't change things or answer your prayer the way you want?  How can you manage to continue homeschooling when you never want to open another teacher's manual again? I hope I can share a few tips and anyone else that has some sage advice, please leave them in the comments.

First off, I would start off with some of my suggestions for burnout.  These give you some ideas of things you can do to help you physically, mentally/emotionally, and spiritually.  Burnout is very real and needs to be tended.
Second, I would somehow find a way to lighten the teaching load especially if you have middle school or high school age children.  At this age, most of them need some sort of accountability person of some sort, and it gives you someone to put the flack on!  This can be done by joining co-op classes, using a correspondence school (I used one that had teacher assistance/video classes for the students), tutoring in a difficult subject, or even a relative like a grandparent or dad step in with that difficult child or difficult subject that is stressing you out.
Third, if you have one (or more) children that causes a lot of stress for you because of bad attitude or whatever, have dad check in on them to discuss their behavior.  Have him come up with some consequences and rewards for behavior.
Fourth, stay plugged in to a real life support group or at least a person or two.  Some homeschooling moms get really lonely, and if you happen to be suffering from depression (maybe because of homeschooling when you don't want to) you will need someone to call on when you really struggle.
And last, quit reading homeschooling message boards and blogs about homeschooling if they drag you down. I know for me I would look at those lovely blogs with all of the neat things these moms were doing, and it would make me feel bad. Yes, I got caught in the comparison trap which is easy to do especially if you are not wanting to do what you are doing and you feel bad about the job you are doing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How we afford private school on one income

I thought I might share how my family is able to send our five children to private school with just my husband's income.  I thought we never could afford such a thing as my husband is a public school teacher/coach, but once I started researching it, I decided it might just be possible.  As an aside note, my youngest is going into 4th grade and my oldest at home is going to be a senior.  This probably would not have been possible when we had seven at home and many young ones.  So, here is how we do it.

1. Scholarships.  Our children attend a Catholic school and several scholarships are available.  We receive one through the diocese and the church itself.  Although I have not pursued these, there are other scholarships available to those looking for help to fund private school.  This page links many different types of scholarships.

2. Multi-child discount. Many private schools offer significant discounts after the second or third child.  We have three children in a K-8 school and with my discount and scholarship, we are paying what equals the amount if we had just one child attending there so basically a three for one deal.

3. Grandparents. I know this is not a possibility for everyone, but we are fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents willing and able to assist financially.  Together they pay about 1/4 of the cost that we have after scholarships and discounts.

4. Used uniforms. I take full advantage of used uniforms.  Some people are even willing just to give you their outgrown uniforms. This is another area that relatives have helped us out with as well from time to time.

5. The children.  No, we aren't into child labor, but we do expect the children to help pay for the extras of school (which come with public school as well).  They save their money for after sports meals, little gifts for parties (including birthday parties they are invited to), and more.  We also have a big jar we all throw our change into each week and about once a month I cash it in.  This is used to pay for field trips, teacher gifts, once in a while lunch at school etc.

6. Pack a lunch. This is an easy way to save money.  Lunches at school are expensive. We do allow them to purchase lunch at school once a month from our change jar.

7. Tax refund. Since we have a large family and a modest income, we usually receive a nice tax refund each year.  This always goes towards school.  What we get back pays for about 1/4 of our part of the cost.

8. Other work. Since my husband is a teacher, he has the summers off.  He takes this opportunity to make some extra money doing some sort of work.  This work usually pays for another 1/4 of the fee.  I know this is not available to most people, but maybe there is the possibility of mom working part-time on weekends or dad taking a second job on the weekends.  I have a friend whose husband has the opportunity to take on extra work once in a while.
Eventually, I may need to go to work to help pay for work, but right now I am staying home to rest and refresh after so many years of homeschooling.