Acceptance and Integration

I got one, just one, response to my call for help, via Facebook: have everybody who is old enough do their own laundry.  Fair enough, and a technique I’ve seen used in other large families but haven’t tried here.  Since we are coming up on camp season, I will start this program when everybody gets back from camp.  I will get new towels and washrags (which we need anyway) in separate colors, so everybody can do their own of those, too.  I’ll handle mine, Brian’s, and the two youngest kids’ laundry.  No more arguing over what is or is not done, or how things are folded.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of contemplation this week, and have come (or been led) a couple of conclusions.

First, it’s about time I stop fighting the flow of life around me and start working with it.  Instead of trying to stop a river altogether (doomed to fail), or even damming it (dooming the lands behind the dam), how much better does it work to channel the river, keep the flow going but direct it where it needs to be…change the boundaries?

Second, for the first time since having kids, I have an altar that is functional and has remained undisturbed by them.  It’s time to try to set up another one to share with them.  I’ve gotten some great ideas on this, including LED candles and dolls.  There are elements of our school curriculum for the youngest two that can easily be rolled into altar devotionals and maintenance, and I hope that doing this will help avoid the problems of disrespect I’ve had in the past.

Finally, I need to establish some new physical boundaries, in particular a fence for our yard.  I think it may be time to have a little party for that one!

And Now for Something Completely Different

somethingdifferentSomething needs to change around here.  I’ve been making little changes, here and there, but the big picture is not improving. We homeschool, but I am not getting my end of the schoolwork done, and half the time the kids lie and say they have done theirs when they haven’t.  Laundry piles up.  The kids’ rooms are trashed.  The floors are dirty, etc., etc.  The yard tends toward unkempt, the gardens not fully stocked each year.  The kids have a relatively short chore list that doesn’t take very long each day, but getting them to do it is like pulling a tiger’s teeth without anesthesia.  I think Kender needs more 1-on-1 time with us to work on skills, but I’m not sure where to add it in.

So, I am going to provide the existing parameters of my life, and seek crowdsourced suggestions for how to run it better.  The parameters I give are generally things that cannot be changed, either because of medical conditions or personal ethics, although help making them work better is always good.  You can see my current daily routines on my “How We Do It” page, to reference how we are trying to do things now.  It is a system that used to work wonderfully for me, but now it is in shambles. Rather than continue on in the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting different results, let’s try something completely different.

Please feel free to share this around.  The more input I have to work with, the better my chances of success, I think.

Here are our parameters:

  • Family of 8, including a blind husband and 6 children ages 13, 13, 13, 10, 7, 4.
  • The 4-year-old is blind and autistic, and developmentally not quite 2…maybe…almost.
  • Food in our home is free of modern wheat, due to mine and Kender’s sensitivities.  We do use gluten-free products occasionally, but we prefer to home-make items using spelt flour to save on money.  I prefer not to even buy wheat products for those who can eat them because it is too easy for Kender to get into them.
  • My husband works a very difficult job with lots of overtime and working-from-home expected, in order to be the primary income provider for our family.  I do not expect anything from him when he is home as far as daily chores and home maintenance, although I appreciate his help when he can.  I consider the home and kids to be my job.
  • My daily routine includes prayer and meditation.  I would like also to include daily religious study time.
  • I need daily exercise time.  Currently I am cycling with light yoga on my off days.  The exercise keeps my metabolism and energy up, improves my endocrine function, maintains my strength, and helps in dealing with my chronic pain issues.  Saturdays are rest days because of rituals and other planned activities.
  • We homeschool.  Although some of our children may attend high school if they choose, for the younger ones this is non-negotiable.  Currently we are using an Oak Meadow curriculum, which I really like (and already paid over $1,000 for all six kids for this year), but I am open to suggestions, including the possibility of having Oak Meadow’s teachers monitor my older kids’ work.
  • Money is perpetually tight.  I try to keep a close rein on the budget, but I have to balance that against the time I need to spend with the kids, etc.  Ideas that are cost-neutral are much preferred, although if an expense makes my life enough easier, I can ramp up my work-from-home activities to cover it.
  • The kids are difficult to motivate.  They love their computers and books, several of them are on the autism spectrum, and they have a tendency to half-do jobs and then get grumpy when this is pointed out.

As responses start coming in, I will work on implementing every suggestion that I can, in the spirit of trying everything and ruling out nothing.  I will report back on my results on a regular basis, posted under the new category of Run My Life, so be sure to check back!