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Question: My house is a chaotic mess. I worked very hard this summer to prepare for homeschooling. Everything that I do seems to get undone. I need time to get things in order, but my family works against me. I feel a lot of bitterness and irritation towards my husband. I cannot work peacefully in disorder and I am afraid that someone from the state will show up at the door when the house is presently in poor condition. I can't take it anymore. What steps could I take to improve this and possibly get everyone to participate in the clean-up? I do everything, including the family finances. I have no time and people even show-up at my door unannounced on a regular basis. Everyone seems to need me for something outside of the call to my children and home. I have been a pushover. I have nothing to give anymore. I am depleted physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. Should I just give up on homeschooling and focus on our homelife and finding a full-time job?
Answer:

Dear Mom,

I hear your pain (as the teenagers are oft to say!) Remember that homeschooling is a lifestyle and in such we are teaching lifestyle skills as well as academic skills. After all what is tutorial's compensation if the teacher is destroyed in the process? Anxiety, bitterness and frustration with situations is the Lord's tender mercy in action. When we begin to feel this way and our emotions are ruling our life then it is time to take action and head towards a positive change in our life. Jesus allows that we begin to feel these emotions as a signal that there needs to be a change in our way of operating. Jesus does not want us to feel negatively but to take the negative, turn it over to Him and allow Him to inspire and empower us to make a positive step forward.

You are very wise to access the situation from the standpoint of depletion. You state that you are depleted physically (do you think that you may need a physical or to speak with a health care provider?), spiritually, mentally and financially(the tips that I am going to pass on shouldn't cost you a dime). This is quite a bit to take on and your situation requires action. Spend time in prayer. I know this may sound like simplistic advice for such intricate challenges but bear with me and see what you think. Take time after Mass to sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament and give your sorrows and frustrations over to the tender Jesus in prayer. Pray for 10 minutes and then listen for 10 minutes. You will hear the Lord speak to your heart about His great love for you and His overwhelming desire to empower you to work through the challenges that you face.

I firmly believe that many women with young children and busy households who take on homeschooling are probably the most overlooked population. It is my personal ministry to bring the message of hope and renewal to these, the front line soldiers in the battle for souls. Where do we draw the line and say enough is enough. I have often felt the way you describe and it can be one of the most challenging experiences in the homeschooling journey. Let me reassure you that in order for the 'state' to show up at your door they would have to have strong evidence that you are an unfit mother whose homekeeping actually endangers the health and welfare of the children. I have been in many, many homeschooling homes and the one constant that I see are homes where there is a lot of active work taking place. Children are busy with projects, school and any number of activities. One of the unique and wonderful situations that homeschooling moms must realize is that their kitchen, their living room and nearly every corner of the house is a classroom and as such there are going to be times when the activity of the children and the needs for an uncluttered house are in direct competition with each other. I can pass on some of my personal tips and you can see if they work for you but let me encourage you to continue in prayer and allow the good Jesus to inspire you in your situation.

Designate one area of the house a no school zone. For us we always made the bedrooms such a zone. It was ok if the children wanted to go there to do personal homeschool study but it was understood that before the day was started, their bedrooms needed to be picked up, beds made and laundry brought down to the laundry room.

At the end of each homeschooling day I have what I call 'checking time' and during this  time I see how much work has been accomplished and what needs to be rolled over for the next day. I also have a time called '5 o clock clean up'. This was a time of day (which didn't necessarily need to happen at 5 pm) that was set aside to put up school books, projects, and toys. We go through the house and get it cleaned up for supper preparation and dad's arrival from work. Even to this day my 26 year old daughter will call for '5 o clock clean up' in her own little household. It is a great time to put the present chaos to an end and prepare for the evening. This time shouldn't take more  than a few minutes. School books etc. need their own place or basket. Each child needs a special chore that he or she can do and be depended upon to do well. This will take some patience and time to fully appreciate but it is a wonderful teaching moment.

Go through your house and eliminate, eliminate, eliminate..... and then eliminate some more. Have the children cooperate with you in this endeavor. Let them have a grocery bag and tell them that only the toys that fit in the bag will be out for them to play with. All other toys will be stored away in sealed plastic boxes. When it is time to rotate out the toys, those stored away toys will be like a Christmas present. You do the same with all the nicnacs and pretties that are sitting about. Do not let your house keep you, you keep your house. Once, not too long ago, a friend visited me to share a cup of tea. She remarked on the spare nature of my decorating (except for our family altar) there are no props, if you will on the stage of our home. I am a true minimalist. I love the monastic nature of pure clean lines, no frills, and certainly no clutter. However, my teen aged daughters are quite the opposite. Their bulletin boards and rooms are monuments to their love of saving every little tidbit of memorabilia they can amass. For me it is fine if it stays in their rooms.....out of sight out of my mind.

Sit quietly and talk with your husband. It is often true that when moms begin to homeschool they see priorities in a much different light. Your dear husband needs to know that you are slowly changing your family's lifestyle to meet the needs of the higher priority of homeschooling. He may not be aware of the frustration and irritation that you are feeling. He may not be aware that the old standard has changed and it is time to meet the current challenges with a new set of rules.

Please make time for family prayer in the evening. If this is a custom that you have not been active in then now is the time to change that as well. The time together need not be long but just enough to ensure that each family member feels the peace and quietness of that moment tucked within the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Please know that you are now in my daily prayers. I want to ensure you that each mom who reads your heart felt letter will be praying for you as well. You are among kindred spirits when you come to this forum and we are praying and uplifting one another daily. I truly feel the power of these prayers and believe with all my heart that the good Lord empowers and inspires us in our faith walk to teach and guide our children through homeschooling. Go forward into the work ahead.

Let us offer up our prayers today for all those families that are in the middle of being evacuated from areas of danger. Let us pray that they know the goodness and kindness of Jesus in action through the persons whom the Lord will send to help them. Let us pray that they are not displaced too long and that their homes will be safe for their return. Amen. Our Lady of the Seas, pray for us.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

 

   
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