Dealing with Doubt

Does anyone else struggle as much as I do with whether they're DOING ENOUGH?  Sometimes the day goes whizzing by, and we don't seem to have accomplished a lot.  It's so much work just keeping up with household chores that to sit down and "do stuff" with my kids adds an impossible amount of pressure.  After groceries, meals, dishes, laundry, mail, answering phone calls, planning, organizing, cleaning... the day is GONE!!!  Some days are absolutely wonderful and the kids keep themselves busy, moving from one thing to another... I stand back and marvel at their ingeniousness.  But other days, they need me to intervene, constantly.
In theory, I believe so much in what we're doing, but in practice, I'm constantly second-guessing myself!  No wonder people are paid a full-time wage to educate the world's children!  IT'S A FULL TIME JOB!!!  I just need to know that we're doing "enough" and my kids aren't going to be failures because they aren't early readers or doing much academics!
Am I the only one who struggles with this?


Hoo boy, yes. I have MANY days when I feel totally inadequate and I'm absolutely certain that I have not done Nearly Enough.  On those days I try to make a mental list of what I DID accomplish... maybe the kitchen is still a wreck and the living room needs to be vacuumed, but I did rock a sick child or do a puzzle or whatever.  I am convinced that my children are not going to grow up and have as their main memories the messy house (although it is almost always messy), but that they will have in their memory banks those times we spent together.
I have been rereading some organizational type books that have helped me lately.  The author is Deniece Schofield.  Books are "Confessions of an Organized Housewife" (just finished rereading that one), "Confessions of a Happily Organized Family" (buried somewhere in the garage) and "Escape from the Kitchen" (next on my list).  These books are written by a real mom with 5 kids (4 boys).  At times she is a bit TOO organized for my tastes (she has her kids clean/straighten their junk drawer once a week), but she does have some very good ideas in there.
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One thing that helped me was...I sort of "automated" the meal planning chore.  I picked out about 14-16 dinner menus that were reasonably quick/easy to prepare, that everyone liked.  Then I put those recipes all in one place handy, and when I shop once in 2 weeks, I plan two weeks worth of meals.  Write 'em on the calendar.  Buy the ingredients.  And now I don't have to think about "what's for dinner" anymore, just look at the calendar each morning and defrost what I need.  I figure if we don't have the same thing more than once in 2 weeks, we won't get too tire of it!
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When we look back at our day, we know exactly what we have done, and we think we know what the kids have done.  I know for me, if I really stop and write down everything they have done in a day, it is some list.  Don't stop at 3:00 either.  They didn't stop until bedtime; think of what happened in the evening hours also.
Another thing is to remember what has just been going on.  Did they just come off a major learning or growth spurt?  They need to stop and mull over the things they have just done.
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Well, you have now described my life.  Add to that the guilt of having to leave my family at 4:30, 5 nights a week to go to work, and we are exactly the same.  But...every day I look at what God has done with my kids and I thank Him that I have the opportunity to have them home with me.  I think that it shows what a great mother you are that you are concerned if you are doing enough.  I try not to look at it on a day by day basis, but more like on a weekly or monthly basis.
Writing down their strengths would help you to see what you have accomplished in God's eyes.  Are they generous?  Do they know how to communicate?  What does each child excel in?  Of course, my guilt got the best of me and my kids work out of books too, which makes me feel guilty...sheeeeesh!  What a great gift God has given us moms, this feeling of GUILT!  Or should we call it "conscientiousness"?  I read an essay by Cafi Cohen where she described a day in public school and the actual time they spent "on task".  It was only like an hour.  Boy did that make me feel good.  When we hear, and I noticed this especially with homeschoolers, all of the projects, trips, accomplishments, etc. that other homeshoolers are doing, we tend to measure ourselves against them.  Actually, if I took and summed up the things that we have done, it would sound pretty impressive.  But then, we took the last 3 years to do it.   I quit comparing because I try to look at my kids and the results.  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  The greatest accomplishment is that they grow up to love the Lord and to serve Him in whatever they do.
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Yes, all the time.  Next question? : )
Seriously, I do worry about it from time to time and that's when I stop and read a bit of Dumbing Us Down, or I stop and think about the cool things my kids know that they wouldn't be learning in school.  If it's really bad I pull out a scope & sequence and reassure myself that they really are picking up A LOT.
I, too, hate the days that speed by when it seems that I'm working & they're playing in our separate worlds.  But I think that independence is good for them and teaches them as much as anything I could do with them.
One other thing I was reminded of by an unschooling friend last week when I was worried about the "if they had to go to school" question is that every classroom is full of kids at all different levels and abilities in reading, writing, math, etc. And if our kids had to, they could catch up very fast.
Jane -- whose friends don't get it. They wanted to know if the kids were taking "snow days."    : )

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When I start thinking about doing enough, I remember this statistic (I have no recollection as to where I acquired it):  If your child is a disruptive male, he is more likely to receive 15 minutes of specific instruction from the teacher.  This is opposed to no specific instruction from the teacher.  Specific instruction is referring to one on one time with the teacher.
Now if you add that up for all school year and hope that your child is a disruptive male (for sake of this statistic) then your child could have gotten 45 hours of specific instruction (180 days @ 15 minutes per day).  How much can you do for your own child?  The above statistic is not including the group instruction that is suppose to include all of the differing level of students.  Who, if they don't complete their seat work they get to take it home (?) -- to you.
When you feel that a school system could teach your child more, remember how much actual instruction to your child takes place and then ask yourself if you can do better than that.  Don't most kids learn by their own means????
I do feel the way that so many of you feel but I hope I've given you something to up lift.  That's all I usually want when I feel this way...someone to empathize with me and then some good advice.  But mostly someone to cry on their shoulder <g>.
Kroeker in Alaska
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Just thought I'd refresh everyone's memory of a typical class in public school.  Let's try 9th grade with Suzy Strutter:
6 am - alarm clock rings.
6 - 8 am - hygiene, eating, traveling time to school.
8 am - school starts (varies of course)
8 - 8:20 am - announcements, lots of talking among students.  (Filthy language, sex talk, who went to bed with whom, what drugs are available, who had the best party over the weekend, one upmanship re: various accomplishments, when is the next concert, how much parents suck, who hates whom, who is a slut, and who is not.)
8:20 - teacher yells at class to come to order.  Bob in the back belches loudly, half the classes is in giggles, teacher spends another few minutes sending Bob to the deans office.  Another minute is spent questioning the rest of the class whether anyone would like to join Bob.
8:25 - Class is quiet.  Teacher pulls out role book.  Takes role.  Where are Bif and Buf?  Suzy saw them in the hall before class.  Hmmm.  Must be skipping.
8:30 - Role is finished.  Teacher requests homework from last week.  Five more minutes spent collecting papers, and listening to excuses as to why several of them don't have homework.
8:35 - Teacher pulls out text.  Monty and Taffy raise their hands.  They forgot their books.  More time spent moving chairs/desks to share with classmate.
8:40 - Teacher begins lesson.  Some kids listen with enthusiasm, participate, and join discussion, some sleep, some write notes to girlfriends/boyfriends, some doodle, some read hidden books or magazines on the sly, some snack out of their desks or purses, and some carry on their own conversations despite the fact that the teacher is lecturing.
8:53 - Homework is assigned.
8:55 - Bell rings.  Time to change classes.
8:55 - 9:00  Time to see and be seen, run to the bathroom, brush hair, check outfit in mirror, some grab a quick smoke, some take this opportunity to neck with boy/girlfriend of the moment, some do drugs with friends, some race to their next class so they won't get a tardy slip.
Of course, every class in every school is different, but if you really break down the amount of time your child was actually learning/studying in school, you would just cry.  Cut that down by 3/4's for a non-compliant student.  Maybe even more.
We are not trying to fill our children with knowledge!!!!  We are trying to instill a love of learning and the know-how to track down any information they might need to succeed in anything in life!  Without motivation to learn....YOU HAVE NOTHING.  With motivation...the world is yours.
To be frank with you, we all have good and bad days.  We even have many bad days strung together!  Today was a "bad day" if I try to look at my children as containers to be filled.  I worked last night, and usually would have been awake by 12, or 1pm at the latest, I neglected to set my alarm, and didn't wake till after five.  Whoops.
Do you know what my kids did today?  The oldest went to college after getting herself up, dressed, and fed (on time.), she came home and practiced violin for about four hours.  Then she went and tried out for the youth orchestra in our county.  (She made it ! Yippee! )  The second one slept in, then climbed in bed with me and her brother and watched the Veggie tales singalong, (she's 15!), then she cooked eggs, wrote a paper on Greek Gods, wrote in her journal, went online, wrote some letters, washed the dishes, went to karate, went to the gym, came home for dinner, played one or two games of Playstation and fell asleep.  The third one slept really late.  Then she worked on her Solar System book, adding several pages with the help of the encyclopedia.  She tried to go online, but erased part of the saved password, and all she could get out of me was it was something to do with sandwiches!  What?  I must have been dreaming!  Never ask sleeping people questions.  Then she did a page or two from her math, wrote in her journal, and helped clean the house.  Afterwards, she went to a friends, and they both attended an aerobics class.  She came home, had dinner, watched Nick at Nite, and went to bed.  The youngest watched Veggie Tales, wrote his paper on "The day I broke my teeth," forgot to do his math, played on the computer and Playstation, wrote in his journal, visited with a friend, went to karate, went to the skate park and watched a skateboard demo, came home ate dinner, and watched Nick at Nite with his sister till he fell asleep.  We didn't get around to reading...I forgot to correct his spelling and grammar errors...and on and on.  No day is perfect except for the ones you read about in books!  There is always more you could be doing.  Praise God that you are able to be with your children, and exert a strong influence in how they grow.
When days pile up and it feels like nothing is being accomplished, maybe you need to stop and decide WHAT you are trying to accomplish.  When I stopped trying to create rocket scientists out of my children, I relaxed a lot. Whatever they decide to do, I want them to BE HAPPY!
When it comes down to brass tacks, what do we really need (besides a personal relationship with God) to survive, and flourish in this world?
We need a love of learning, a motivation of some sort to accomplish what we want in life, the knowledge of HOW to access information, basic math, the ability to read and write, the ability to communicate our thoughts, a strong sense of who we are, genuine kindness, consideration, honesty and a sense of humor.
There are many individuals lacking in one or more of these areas that have "successful" lives, and I'm not saying you can't be a success without these things...but when I think of what I want for my children, THIS is what comes to mind.  Not "six figure income, expensive car, house, clothes, impressive degrees, intimidating titles etc."  We as Christians, are not to be a "part" of this world, rather "apart" from it!
So we change the rules and raise our children the way that God says is important, the way WE say is important.  Not the way the school system deems it is important.
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Wow Carol.... I think your post sums it up.  I, too, often feel we don't "do" enough.  Yesterday, we didn't get around to "doing" school at all, but every time I checked in on Arwen, she was working on a project.  She brought home a box of fair ribbons from a farmhouse attic and went through those: all for some woman named Blanche Dear who raised chrysanthemums and got trophies, awards, and even flowers named after her.  Arwen is poised to do a whole project on Blanche Dear, including trying to locate her (which might end up in a cemetery, the ribbons are 28 years old) and possibly locate her mums.  My daughter who hates gardening is interested in a stranger who perfected mums.  Later, she was sitting on her bed with 3x5" cards, making notes for her Louisiana report (self-imposed, again).  And she practiced clarinet.  Of course, my logical brain tells me she's just doing all of the above to get out of doing what I TOLD her to do, i.e. clean her bedroom -- the dishes, the dirty clothes have piled up again and I refuse to do her laundry or dishes... (I have no idea what Levi did yesterday, read about war on the Pacific Ocean all day)
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Bravo, Carol!  I agree with your characterization of public school having a lot of wasted time.  When I was in college getting my education degree, we were flat out told the stats on "Total School Day" vs. "TIME ON TASK".  (Filed away somewhere, but something like 6 - 7 hrs vs. 1 - 2 hrs.)  The point was for lesson planning/pacing so we wouldn't plan too much.  (This was geared to teaching ps.)  Funny thing, when I taught ps I worried more about "doing enough" because there were so many darn interruptions, schedule deviations, testing, parties, etc. :-)
When I sit down to do structured hs stuff, boy, do we get thru the material.  I always feel insecure that we are going too fast because I know it took soooo much longer to cover one math page w/a class of 25 in ps!  Then there are all those unplanned teaching moments -- when one of my kids helps me cook/bake, or we stop to watch insects outside, or my son drags out a bunch of electrical parts and makes different circuits or we discuss some event/issue they hear on the news, etc.  Then what they learn on field trips (not one or two a year, but 1 - 2 a month!)  And the numerous family outings to museums and the park and camping and free festivals.  These are luxuries ps teachers can rarely afford.  Thanks for focusing my attention on the positives of hs.  This 1:1 or 1:3 stuff is pretty great!
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