Friday, September 6, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets

I have officially been homeschooling for a week now. And no...I am not very good at it yet. Preparing lessons, feeding children, cleaning the house, keeping the little ones from making messes, and teaching three homeschoolers makes for a hard day. And this is my every day. It isn't called easy, it is called life. Taking the easy way out is not fulfilling. is easy, but that isn't always a good thing. This is my challenge, this is my calling. I was meant to be my children's mother. No...I am not very good at it, but I am trying.

I have gotten to the point where I can do two meals, a load of dishes, and teaching in one day. house is a disaster. I didn't have the money to buy curriculum, but as a wonderful friend of mine put it, "All you need to do homeschool is the internet and a library card." I thought she was crazy...but it turns out, she was right. On the internet I found some old curriculum that is out of print...but it is free. The McGuffy Readers are free on google, and Rays Arithmetic, is also free. I downloaded them to my computer and printed out the first books. My father knows Spanish, and has agreed to do a Spanish class every other week with my children. Free of charge. I do have one paid subscription to a worksheet website that I love but the price is very low...and my awesome friend gave me a subscription because she loves me. But I when it is time to renew, I am SO going to do it. Love the website. It is called enchanted learning for those who want to know. But typically, I let the boys pick a subject, and then i research it, and then we have a lesson on it. At this age we are mostly concerned with learning to read. As they get older I will probably buy curriculum.

I'm not telling you to homeschool your children, we do this for our family because this is where we feel they will thrive the best. But today...well today was a "I need chocolate" kind of day. Unfortunately I would have had to take all six of my kids to the grocery store to buy a candy bar...yeah, I didn't need to spend that dollar anyway. So, I made cookies. It takes more time, but with a little bit of milk, it is just as good.

Being a new homeschooler I went online to find some tips on how to teach more than one kid at a time, and where to store all your homeschooling supplies. Almost every homeschool room I found was totally straightened up and full of expensive storage equipment. I couldn't do that, I couldn't afford that. I needed better I kept searching. Every mom who posts a video, posts it when things are clean. I don't know about you, but my house only gets clean after the kids go to bed, then first thing in the morning it is a disaster again. I know lots of people who feel like they are failing at one area or another in their life. Don't dwell on what you cant do, change your circumstances. You have more power on the world around you than you know. Don't sell yourself short. But take baby steps. Today I went running for myself, today was a success. This is what success looks like. So now, if you have made it this far, I give you my dirty little secrets.

(Edit: I didn't change myself at all before I started my video, I JUST came back from running my five k course, so my hair is in a gross ponytail, I'm sweaty and in grunge clothes.)

Yes it is a mess, but do you know what, it is getting better. I have gotten rid of STUFF, free stuff is great, but too much free stuff ISN'T WORTH IT. Don't live like that. If your house is always a mess no matter how much you clean, you have too much stuff. If you haven't used it in a year TRASH IT. If you feel like it needs to be donated, then donate it. But if you put it in a bag to donate it...and it stays in your house for more than a week, TAKE IT TO THE TRASH. Don't leave it in your house. I have taken out garbage bag after garbage bag from my home. Nine bags or more have gone out of my house, to NEVER come back. Now just look at the room you are in for a moment. Think of nine kitchen sized garbage bags full of things, toys clothes, random books and DUMP THEM IN YOUR FLOOR. It is too much stuff. People get things because they are cute, and shopping is fun. I have serious hoarder tendencies. I love getting things. Shopping has always been something I love doing. When I feel bad, my first impulse is to go buy stuff. When I'm having a good day, do you know what I feel like doing? I want to shop. I love finding usable second hand things. The only problem is, when you have too many usable second hand things, they get buried and NOTHING gets used, and you get abused. No one likes living around clutter. You get used to it, but your soul still needs something, so you feel it with more material somethings....and compound the problem.

Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me, "I will improve my quality of life. I control my surroundings. If there is something I cant get rid of, I don't control my life, my STUFF does." Believe it or not, when I first moved into this house, it stayed clean. But I hadn't acquired things yet. We had a friend in need, we let her and her family move into our basement. Living with others is what did I do? I shopped. I loved bringing home a new toy and giving it to my children. Seeing their face when they got a neat motorcycle made me feel better...but only for a moment. Then the moment would be over, and I would be back in a stressful situation. After the family moved out, I had a newborn. So naturally, I wanted new things for the new baby. Bought more stuff. Then we had another surprise and thirteen months after our son was born, we had our first little girl. But now, two years have passed, and I had collected, and stashed, and bought. And I was buried.

Do you know one reason why I run? Because it makes me feel good, and the feeling lasts. Do you know what I do now when I get the urge to go shopping and fill my house with more things, I spend time with my kids, and we run. I still get the happy faces, but not from giving of things, but from giving of time.

My wonderful mother helped me more than anyone. She would come to my house, and it would be a total disaster, but she knew that just helping me clean for a day wouldn't help me the next week. I needed to change, and I needed it fast. When you are the one living with piles of things every where and someone offers to help get rid of things, don't get offended. All they want to do is improve your quality of life. Next time someone offers help, take it. I admit, had my mother not pushed me, I probably would have spiraled downward. You get to a point where the mess is too overwhelming and you cant see a way out. And when you don't have a lot of money, you store things like clothes and toys. I had clothes for my boys stashed for five years down the road. Overkill...I didnt think so, what If we didnt have the money to buy clothes when they got that age? Do you know what...most of the clothes that I have, were given to me. People are generally good, and when they know you have a need, they are ready to help.

I have been fortunate to have a mother who wanted to help. She started slowly, by introducing me to a tv show, of all things. (no it wasnt hoarders) It was a show called clean house. And as I watched it, something clicked. Having your home overflowing with things is FOOLISHNESS. A house is a place for you to come home and feel at peace. I used to think that the only people who kept their houses clean were people without kids, or people with a lot of money to pay for cleaning ladies. Now, the kid thing is valid, but it isn't an excuse. If your kids get into things too much, get rid of some of the things they get into. Invest in locks for your closets. As evident by the video, I still don't have a total handle on this. But for me today was a success, my children were fed, I did something to improve my quality of life (running), I scrubbed my dishwasher so there were no more sticky finger prints on it, and I made cookies. No I didn't finish everything on my list, I needed to do a load of laundry, and a load of dishes, and I needed to sort my file cabinets, I needed to organize my school cabinet, I have to fix the bookshelf my children broke or find other places for things to go.....the list goes on and on...STOP IT. Don't dwell on what you haven't done, look at what you accomplished. Are your kids fed, happy, and loved, are your home circumstances slightly better today then yesterday? If so, then today was a success.

Mothers of the world, you control the future. Our children will inherit the earth after us, revel in the fact that you can change everything. If you want to make an impact, first make an impact with yourself. I'm on the up and up with my life, and I am not going back. I encourage each of you to join me. Join me in finding the joy in the journey, join me in re learning how to have a fulfilling life instead of a life full of stuff.