Yes! It can be done!
Not only can it be done, it may be easier than putting them back into school. Now, each case is different for sure and putting them back into school may be the best option for your situation. Only you truly know your situation and what is best for you. For us however, continuing to homeschool was the best and easier route to go.
We'd been on our homeschooling journey for five years when I became ill. It was frustrating for this once energetic homeschool mom. I did not know what was wrong with me, just that something was terribly wrong. Initially, I slept a lot (as in 'fifteen to twenty hours per day, every day' slept a lot).
I was so weak.
The brain fog was immense.
I was a mess.
We had just moved to a new community and therefore had no family or friends to help out. Not only did our church not help, they raked me over the coals for (in their opinion) not being a good enough mom. It was my husband, myself and our three kids.
The hours I was awake were spent going from Dr. to Specialist to test, without any answers. It was unsettling and upsetting. Beside my over extended sleeping, my overwhelming weakness, my pea-soup-thick brain fog, my many Dr. visits, I still had a house to and a family to look after. Cooking meals, doing laundry, taking care of them was enough, but in addition to that, there was the homeschooling.
At first glance, it was, what many would deem, our worst year of homeschooling. After all, we had only completed half of our year's work. I must admit, these were my initial thoughts as well. The fact we weren't covering the amounts of book work we had others years, was extremely upsetting to me. After all, every year at the beginning of of the year, I'd make a plan. I knew how many pages each child needed to do in each subject, every day and we always stuck to it. That was, until chronic illness came to visit. We just kept getting further and further behind.
I wish I knew then what I know now but hindsight is 20/20 and you learn as you go. When you're too sick to do ____________(whatever is on your list), you're too sick! There's no amount of anything that will magically make it happen. It just doesn't.
After I came to the place of acceptance of our situation (acceptance of situation is an ongoing process), I was able to re-frame how I looked at the whole situation. I was having difficulty doing even the most basic of tasks and so out of necessity, had to involve the kids. They aided in (sometimes took completely over) a lot of the cooking, the clean up and the laundry. They were able to help out with all the other household stuff too, like cleaning. (Thankfully, I was able to supervise a lot of this from my bed!). It wasn't too long before I came to the important realization, I wasn't a failure, but they were learning life skills. Valuable life skills they'd need in their future.
They may have only covered half of their book work, but gained a lot of practical skills and knowledge in many other areas. Looking back, I see even more benefit in the "other" and "extra" things they learned that year!
During that time, I was quite often asked about putting the kids back into school. On the surface, it may seem like sending them off to school each day is a lot easier than having them around all day. For us however, that was just an illusion.
My answer to those naysayers, was always a resounding NO. I knew how much more stress would be added to our day if we had to have the kids up at a certain time, lunches made by a certain time, out the door by a certain time and then all the extras that come along with going to school. Things like homework that *has* to be done on a certain night. Extra curricular activities that require a lot of effort on the parent's part. The list goes on and on. Before we homeschooled, we'd had our kids in school and found it very daunting -- and that's when we were healthy. I just can't imagine trying to keep up with all of that when I was so ill. With homeschooling, we could set our own schedule and if the work didn't get done today, there was always tomorrow. No pressure whatsoever.
Again, as I mentioned at the beginning, this what was right for us. Obviously, we're all different with different situations and sometimes, sending them back to school may be the best option.
For those who do choose homeschooling while chronically ill, my tips would be:
- Don't sweat the small stuff. If it doesn't get done today, there is always tomorrow
- Putting them back into school is quite often NOT easier (because of all the extra work and expectations that get put on to families)
- Simplify as much as possible (your homeschooling routine, your daily routine. Simplify everything!)
- Look for ways to conserve your energy. When I was at my sickest point, I did a lot of homeschooling from my bed. They'd sit on the bed beside me and we'd read together and then go over the lessons. We even set up a desk in the corner of our bedroom so the youngest could work there. That way, he was close enough to ask questions if they should arise and I was able to keep an eye on him to make sure he was always working. *wink*
- Learning to do school work on their own encourages independent learning which will be of huge benefit to them in college or university
- If you are fortunate enough to have family and/or friend support around you, take advantage of this. Having a meal brought in or the kids taken out for a few hours can do wonders for everyone. (If not though, it can be done solo. We did not have any outside support, so had to do it all ourselves.)
- Helping around the house, whether it's meal preparation, cleaning, answering phone calls, making a grocery list or taking care of the ill person *IS* also learning. It's not book work, but it is important life skills and real life. What better way to learn about than by doing it?!
- If the children are old enough, meal planning can be incorporated into the learning day (and this can also be done from bed!)
- Prepare larger batches of meals. Have one portion today and freeze the other for a day when energies (and nerves!) are running low.
- Remove or distance yourself from toxic people and toxic relationships. If all they can do is rake you over the coals for the things you aren't able to do, you are better off away from them..
- and finally, don't sweat the small stuff (did I say that already??!? It bears repeating...) It is what it is and no amount of being upset because the work didn't get done, will actually make the work get done. No. In fact, it will make things worse. It will make you feel worse (which is exactly what you don't need...you are already sick enough!) and then everything else will spiral downward as well.
You've got this!!
Balance....despite the Chaos!!