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Home > Support > Family Life > I can't seem to find the time to get as much "quality" school time in as I would like...
Question: Blessings. Let me begin by saying thank you for all of your support and prayers. This year I have fallen more in love with homeschooling than ever (thanks in part to your loving curricula). My problem is that I can't seem to find the time to get as much "quality" school time in as I would like. I began the year with high hopes of doing some really fun projects with my school-aged children, three wonderful girls ages 8,9,and 10. Instead of immersing them in the saintly messages in your rosary project or beginning with morning Mass I usually find myself in a hurried mess trying to get school done, and when I say done, I mean just the core subjects!! I find that the task of trying to occupy the little ones (ages 5,2,1,and 4 months) long enough to even begin a project is often so stressful that in the end the fruits of the labor are not good. My husband and I are thinking of hiring an au pair for a year but I struggle with the idea of sharing motherly duties. I want to be there for my babies and teach and love my older children too. Could you please give me some direction for this discernment? How do I know what God is calling me to do? Thank you and God bless.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for taking the time from your very loving and most certainly fruitful day to write. You are so correct when you describe the feeling of falling in love with the homeschooling lifestyle. Your holy witness and words serve to underscore the great feelings of peace one feels when one is walking within the Lord's will. As I have often said, "This peace does not mean that there will be no difficulties yet it insures that the difficulties will and can be faced with confidence and trust in the Lord's care each step of the journey". Being in the embrace of Jesus is peace whether you are facing extreme hardship or challenges of the every day nature.

Let us talk about an au pair. In my understanding this is a person who will help you raise the children as if you were leaving the house daily for employment outside the home. I have always thought of an au pair as a type of Nanny. Of course the term nanny conjures up a modern day Mary Poppins. I have been reading about this type of care giver and think that if one can afford such a person and if one finds the person more than able to understand and respect the parenting style of the mom and dad then certainly it would be a blessing.

There is a woman in our neighborhood who has 4 girls between the ages of 11 years and 2 years. She, like yourself, is a homeschooling mom whose life is full of all the joyful events from swim team to 4 H. She often times will call my daughter, age 15, to dash down to babysit for an hour or two while she teaches a lesson or runs to the grocery store etc. It is good for my daughter to earn the extra money and it appears to be good for this mom as well. Because my daughter has always been homeschooled she understands that when the mom asks that the girls get on task with their studies, she knows what that means and how important it is to her that the work be accomplished. My daughter is able to keep the older girls on task and that means so much to this mother. The down side of course is that I do not want my own daughter's school work to suffer as a result of babysitting during the school day. I prefer if our friend schedules the times she wants my daughter's help but sometimes that is not always possible, for example if one of the children is ill etc. So far it has been good for both my daughter and our friend but that is owing in large measure to communication between the mother and myself.

The advantage of course to having an adult who comes regularly each day or such is that you would know each day that a certain amount of time would be devoted to your schooling children and the other children would be totally cared for in much the same manner as you yourself would care for them. I am going to assume that your 4 month old is still totally breastfed. If this is the case then it would mean that no matter who cares for the baby, the baby is going to demand your attention. In this case maybe what would serve you better is for the au pair to monitor the tasks of the older children while you are totally mommy to the younger ones. I have found that a baby will demand the attention it needs and that in lovingly answering this need you are better able to foster a spirit of trust and comfort for the infant. Your older children may actually prefer the undivided attention of another person as long as you are near. They will see their time with the other person as truly their time and will find this to be a rewarding experience. Of course the children and the au pair would have to clearly understand that the couple of hours every other day or so spent with someone doing their school is not a time of play but a time of disciplined work.

I can think of many advantages to have an extra pair of hands when caring for your family. Remember that according to the caring and loving philosophy of CHC, the curriculums are provided to guide your work not dictate it. This is why there are core subjects versus the extras. The curriculum is designed to serve you and to such a way that you are able to tool it to fit your family's needs. For example, with spring so close and the thrill of the fresh beauty of the out of doors, you may find that you and your helper will find that a day spent under the trees at a picnic table doing school while you entertain little people nearby is far more productive. A picnic in the afternoon before the au pair leaves would be the end to a wonderful homeschooling day. You may discover that given a few months to adjust to the new baby with the added help of the au pair is all that you need until you get in the saddle again full force.

In other words, pray for peace and the Lord will guide you accordingly. Recently I read in a book about a saying of St. Francis of Assisi that I want to share with you. "First pray to be able to do what is necessary, then do what is possible and with the Lord's care you will find that soon you are doing the impossible." Jesus only asks that we be faithful to the tasks for one day at a time. Jesus honors our desire to place people and their needs above things. Jesus honors our desire to love those He has entrusted to our care. Jesus promises His empowerment if we will but call upon Him.

You are a loving and faithful mommy. Keep praying and do not worry or be anxious as I believe you are doing the best that you are able to do. Thank you again for your lovely letter. It is surely a blessing to others.

Let us pray our prayers this morning for all those moms who feel that they are backed up in a corner with no options to serve them. Let us ask the tender Jesus to surround them right now at this moment and give them the empowerment that is necessary to see that there are always options and that empowerment is as close as prayer. Let us ask that the Lord open our eyes to the needs of other moms who may not feel that they can ask for our help. Let us ask the Lord to empower us to speak up and be the hands of Jesus. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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