Way back when we were just starting the homeschooling journey one of the many benefits of homeschooling commonly touted by the veterans was how flexible homeschooling could be when life pitched you curve balls. Back then I couldn't imagine that I would need this flexibility, but in 2006 I faced a serious health crisis and a diagnosis of a chronic disease, in early 2007 my grandfather passed away, and in fall 2007 my mother died after a couple of months of hospitalization.
It was about that time that rhythmic homeschooling fell by the wayside in our home and we started to go with the flow of unschooling. It certainly has its benefits but I have written time and time again about the importance of rhythm to my family. We finally tamed all the chaos and got ourselves back into a solid homeschooling rhythm.
But last month another curve ball came our way. My grandmother had a (second) massive stroke and we made the decision to move her to my sister's for hospice care. Needless to say we weren't thinking about homeschooling. My grandmother passed away peacefully eight days later, and then there were plans to make and a trip to her old hometown so that she could be buried with my grandfather. Then I came home, but the work was only just starting. Only today was I even able to contemplate getting back on track with focused lesson work.
It hasn't been all play and no work for the boys; they have kept up reading, had their science lessons with Papa, attended a performance of The Tempest, watched several episodes of The Cosmos, practiced singing Christmas carols, played geography board games, knit a little, listened to audiobooks, worked on baseball skills, drawn, done some writing, discussed the most recent findings about the building blocks of life, and more. It is truly amazing how well unschooling works. Indeed, I find that it works really well for just about everything, excepting math and that rock solid rhythm that I like for us to have.
It is true that the flexibility of homeschooling can be a benefit in these cases; I was able to take my boys with me out of town without worrying about them missing school or keeping up with homework. But it also creates issues. My boys lost their daily rhythm and I had a hard time choosing between my responsibilities to them, giving the necessary help needed to my sister, and caring for myself. And as we all know, we tend to put ourselves last and that certainly happened with me.
So here I am with two weeks to go in what was planned as a short block to begin with. We lost the last week of our November Ancient Cultures block (but that was a four week block so we managed fine), had a week that was planned off anyway, and lost the first week of our first North American Geography block. I sat down today to do some planning and realized just how very depleted I am. All weekend was spent catching up on housework that hadn't been done while I was away as well as driving to my grandmother's storage unit and moving all of that to my house (five hours in the car yesterday after very little sleep). This morning I went for groceries, came home, and realized that I have nothing to go on.
For next couple of months I will be juggling being a full time homemaker, a homeschooling mother, a wife, and the executor of a living trust. Not taking care of myself isn't going to be an option; what sort of works in the very short term won't work at all with the added responsibility and stress I will have until my job is finished. I have to find a way to make it all work.
So now I have to decide what to do for the next two weeks. Get back into a basic rhythm but give up on the first geography block for now, rearranging our schedule to add an extra three weeks to our school year? Drop the Ancient Geometry block planned for January and move the geography block there? We've done some of it already and geometry will be thoroughly covered using Life of Fred, but this block looked fun(!). Keep Ancient Geometry but drop one Botany block since we did so much with it during the 2008-2009 school year? Go on full holiday now and start everything again in January, or get this next month of mathematics in?
Reading all those choices (which I just came up with as I was typing) I think the best choice may be to condense Botany into one block (knowing we've done some of it and that it will come up again in biology), giving me space to move the first North American Geography block to January and the Ancient Geometry block into February. We can spend the rest of this month reestablishing our morning rhythm with holiday crafting in place of the main lesson. That gets us back on track with daily math and spelling. I can breathe a bit and take my time planning the geography block rather than doing it by the seat of my pants, which is good because breath is what I need right now.