My Bedtime Cleanup

My Bedtime Cleanup

You know what I love, one of the best parts of my day… it’s when I finally drag myself to bed at night and I have to pick up a bunch of random things off my bed. Tonight it was a wooden fish and a little white straw hat. The other day it was a couple of books, a rosary, and a Hot Wheels tow truck.

It’s the one mess I really don’t mind cleaning up, the one mess that makes me smile. Every time. Because I suddenly see before me the little faces of the little people who made that mess. (It probably doesn’t hurt that they are all quietly tucked into their beds by this time and have been for a while.) And I realize how blessed I am to be a mom, to have these precious little ones in my life. And they even call me “Mama”. Even Ben.

I will never be one of those moms who banishes her kids from her room so that it can be a pristine sanctuary. I don’t blame those who do. I know everyone’s needs are different; if you need that sanctuary to stay sane, then by all means seize it with both hands and enforce that embargo with an iron fist. But for me it’s one thing that always makes me happy at the end of a long day. Even if I’ve just finished griping about the mess in the living room.

I don’t know why—maybe it’s the memory of their little pajama-clad forms, the memory of their playing pre-bedtime tickle games with daddy, the memories of the cuddles and stories and prayers—but those traces of the little ones playing in my bed melts me. And now I really am going to go to bed.

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  • This is a well thought out and objective post.  I have so much to say about it I’ll probably have to make it a post.  I have traversed the homeschool universe, and have some observations.  I won’t clog your combox with my thoughts, but I can say I think your approach is very reasonable, your humility in this task will see you through, and I have terrific confidence that you will make the right decisions for your children. 

  • well thought out and i agree whole heartedly. i would argue that, for me, homeschooling HAS preserved the family. not in an “us vs them” way, but in a i really love my family and i enjoy hanging out kind of way. i try to stay clear of generalizations – they are so. general. – yet, in the last year my 3rd grader has been exposed to a good portion of the girls she would be “hanging out” with in our public school and there was a brief struggle (i’d like to think we handled it gracefully and gently and the right way?) with an attitude.

    interestingly, my friend has experienced something similar in her only child who was private (Lutheran) to public and now back to private – the “attitude” has slowly melted away in these first three weeks of school.

    I’ll stop now. good post.

  • I always laugh when people talk about teaching children at home – as though I actually sit down and teach a one-on-one class.  Part of what attracts me to homeschooling is the degree to which the kids teach themselves.  Yes, I set things up for them, discuss and correct their work.  But they do the work themselves.  I am no longer a believer in listening-based learning (at least not 100%).  For me, learning occurs because they read, write, and solve problems.  If I were better at crafts, we might do more of that kind of work – but I farm out art because that’s not what I’m good at.  With the number of resources available, it’s fairly easy to find a way that works for each child.  My senior in high school prefers an online math class.  My freshman prefers working his way through problem sets with minimal written instruction (although he’ll have less choice after next year because he is very advanced).  The older one tried high school for two years and found it cramped her style.  The younger one took math and science classes at our (very cooperative) local public high school and swears he’ll never go back.  Boredom can’t be eliminated from life, but it certainly can be minimized with regard to schoolwork.

    It seems to me that the objections you cite are mostly due to a very unhealthy family structure rather than to homeschooling.

    (And if you join CHIME, I’ll get to meet you!)

  • I think that you maek some great points. I feel that my biggest hurdle was realizing that a lot of things would be the same regardless of educational choices. I am still attracted to the idea of homeschooling, I LOVE being around my kids, and I want to believe that I would do a better job than my parents did. It’s still kind of raw issue for me (that’s why I haven’t responded to the comments on my own blog.) I feel that homeschooling would allow me to slip into perfectionism again, I wonder how I would make it through subsequent pregnancies, since I remember school either being on hold or taught by me when my mom was ill. There are alot of issues to consider, and I have by no means made my descision yet.

  • Renee, I look forward to seeing what you have to say.

    scotch meg, I’m still very much in the air about HOW we’re going to do things. But I’m definitely not going to be doing a lecture-based schooling. If anything I lean much more towards the unschooling end of the spectrum—though I also definitely need more planning and structure than that. Probably something more like Laura Berquist’s Designing Your Own Curriculum or Charlote Mason. Plus just doing whatever works.

    Evy keeps pressing me to join CHIME and I plan to. But all the get-togethers she tells me about keep happening at times that are just darn inconvenient if not downright impossible for us. Still, one of these days I’ll get around to it. 

  • Young Mom,

    I can totally see why with your background the very idea of homeschooling would be emotionally fraught. It’s so hard to untwine what was negative and unhealthy in your individual case with the basic idea of homeschooling.

    I actually feel kind of the same way with institutional schools. I know there are some good ones out there; but they’d have to work very, very hard to convince me my kids weren’t going to run into the same kinds of issues I ran into or my siblings ran into.

    I do think you are right that many of the things are going to be the same regardless of educational choices. I understand the fear that homeschooling might unleash your inner perfectionist. I have the same fears myself. How to find that balance? And pregnancy? I wonder about that too since I can barely keep up with getting everyone fed and basic laundry (forget about keeping a neat house!)

    I think that’s one thing that reading homeschooling blogs has helped me with: being able to visualize different ways it might be like, different strategies to cope with different situations that might arise.

    I suppose that’s one thing that attracts me especially to the Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschooling—at least according to the way it’s practiced by many of my favorite homeschooling bloggers—it seems like I could still get quite a bit of schooling in during those low energy times because it is so very literature based and it’s easy to snuggle up and read and have the kids narrate while you’re laying on the couch. I think it would suit my personality as well.

    On the other hand my sister-in-law uses Seton and Mother of Divine Grace and really likes the structure they give her and the fact that she doesn’t have to think up lessons for the kids; but it all comes to her in a neat package.

    There are so many different options out there that there does seem to be a method for everyone.

    Best of luck to you as you continue to ponder. At least you’ve still got some time before you have to decide.

  • Given where I started, homeschooling a solid nine years into life with school, it’s hard for me to say what it would be like with an oldest child in the early grades.  But I have seen others around me working in the same ways I worked with the youngest three children, who were in third, first, and baby stages when I started.  What I learned was to work around (with) baby naps, do things in the same room with baby (mostly reading) and not worry too much about structure until kids were old enough to want to work independently.  I was too nervous about learning “enough” not to want structure, but I never did a whole curriculum like Seton, and I skipped a lot when I had more little kids.  Now I can do EVERYTHING with my youngest, but I have to say that it doesn’t make up for the companionship the others had from each other at his age.  I have so much more sympathy for my youngest sister now!

    As far as CHIME goes, no scheduled activities work well with baby/toddler schedules.  But at some point, the balance shifts, and just as the older children work with the baby/toddler schedules now, someday babies and toddlers will work with older child schedules.  Seems impossible now, but it happens.  I think it was my third child (middle of the middle) who gave up her nap earliest, because I HAD to pick the others up from school at a set time.  If you homeschool you won’t have that particular issue – but there will be a comparable change somewhere along the line.

  • Hi Melanie,
    I really enjoyed reading all your thoughtful responses here. It seems like the years you have spent reflecting on this topic will really help you to be an effective and intentional homeschooling mother, and I wish you the best of luck with it!

  • Hi Melanie, I thought I’d let you know you inspired me and I have a series of posts about my home school journey.  The final installment will have more “what I have learned” type parts to it.  FYI

  • Dear Young Mom,

    You are very brave to so honestly address the challenges and struggles that seem to have been intensified for you through the homeschooling path chosen by your parents. I pray for you that you can sift through the good and the bad, figure out what was inherently healthy or unhealthy, and discern the best path for your own children. We are not the sum of our pasts! But as a Christian, you already know that. Keep trusting your loving Father in Heaven to guide your choices based on His will (not on your own or your parents. smile) {Hug.}

    Melanie, I’m honored to be mentioned in such wonderful company! *You* of course inspire me in so many ways.  Thank you for a beautiful post.