In many ways, we live a relatively simple life - we're not involved in 10 million activities, we own our own business, we live in a small town, we fancy ourselves homebodies, and we homeschool. So, what gives?
Here are some possible explanations:
1. I'm spread thin. Yep, that could be it. I may not have one main full-time gig, but I do a little of this and a little of that and it all adds up. How do people with loads of kids do it?!? I homeschool my kids. I work in the business. I do some side jobs. I cook. I clean. I run errands. I bake. I keep track of things. I email. I text. I run a homeschool group. I organize a lot of things (like, a freaking lot). I maintain a lot of social/educational relationships for myself, our family, the kids' schooling. I am in two book clubs. I run teen nights for our homeschool group. I do home projects. I like to make things special for people. I keep up on dentist/doctor/therapist/car/groomers/vet/home maintenance appointments. I research an insane amount of information for myself, the kids, our family. I throw amazing birthday bashes. I try to take care of my mental health (no small feat). I plan some activities for some community groups in which I'm involved. I make sure to spend quality time with each of my children as well as my husband. I try to do the same with my friends when I can. I worry. I think a lot. I analyze. I am politically active. I try to meditate and exercise (but am not good at getting to either of those). I try to be well read and up to date about what's going on in the world (i.e., I read a lot of articles). I troubleshoot so many technical issues at home, it's mind boggling. I mean, yay technology and all of that, but holy cow, every camera, phone, computer, laptop, tablet, ipod, printer, DVD player, small appliance, large appliance, wifi connection, bluetooth, speakers, and gadget of some kind seems to need some kind of update, fix, reboot, research, attention, wire, app, charger, upload, download, and back up of some kind. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
2. Homeschooling is work. For years I've said it's not that much work and I've meant it. I still think I do less than a mom who sends her kids to school. Like, hands down. That being said, for everything I don't do, there's an equivalent task. I don't pack lunches, but I essentially cook/heat/organize 3 meals a day and do the dishes for said meals. Mark does a ton around here and our kids are both teenagers and pitch in like rock stars, so that helps. We have flexibility. We aren't beholden to a bus schedule or a school schedule, which is awesome! We can stay up and we can sleep in. We can visit places when they're not crowded. We can get more learning done in a more efficient amount of time. We can follow our passions and learn about whatever we want! All that being said, we do a lot of talking, learning, researching, enriching, listening, watching, going, attending, participating, volunteering, working, etc. To make sure our kids have a well-rounded learning experience, it's all on us. We don't just keep them home and away from school and away from the world. We homeschool to GIVE them the world. That all takes effort, coordination, and time. I wouldn't trade it, but it's work, yes indeed. And since our kids don't get what school extra curricular programs provide, we must organize those ourselves, too. Any and all social, educational, enrichment activities are on us to research, find, and set up. That takes an enormous amount of time, too. Again, totally worth it, but yeah, this is pretty much a full-time gig. The awesome bonus is that I enjoy it and get to spend a TON of happy time with my kids, husband, and dog. Woot!
3. I'm a woman. I've read a lot of articles on emotional labor recently. There's just a lot of stuff that people take for granted and that society has taught us to assume women will do. And there's a lot of expectations placed upon women that simply take more time. One of my favorite articles I've read on this topic is here. I think it's wicked cool that a guy wrote that article and to see how enlightened he is about the topic and how well he portrayed "a day in the life." Love it. I'm immensely grateful to be married to a feminist man who is my best friend and partner. He is always seeking to know more and do more and I appreciate him more than I can say. I highly recommend two more pages to read: this one and this one (which resulted from the discussion on the previous page I linked). And then there's this - time poverty.
4. Mark and I are talkers and analyzers and overthinkers, so we're not always terribly efficient. Again, we wouldn't have it any other way, but oh my god, everything takes ten times longer than it does for more impulsive, quick-deciding people (though our theory is that those quicker deciders are going to have to likely re-do something or regret their decision or fix something that they did too quickly). :P We bought a fridge a few months ago and it took us forever to research, talk about, and choose one. We discussed and analyzed and price compared and hypothesized and wondered and talked for weeks. Eventually, we chose a fridge and we've been SUPER happy with it ever since. We've recently been decorating and organizing our basement - more talking, deciding, moving things around, questioning, thinking, adding to the list, analyzing. More hours of work. It is looking terrific! Now we've got to figure out what to do about a second car (and boy, are we needing one!). Mark's car went kaput a few weeks ago after giving us 17 great years. Now we are down to one car (the van) that has 140,000 miles on it. If it goes kaput on us in the same number of years as the Saturn (and keep in mind that the van has far more miles on it than the Saturn did), that means more car shopping in just a couple of years. So do we get a car now? Or do we get a newer van now and then when the current van needs to be replaced, get a car then? Which car? Which model? How much? New with warranty or used? What year? Where to shop? We're overwhelmed and not even sure where to begin. Decision making overwhelms me. Some days I don't even want to decide what to do for dinner. We so rarely have a meal made for us, so these are constant daily decisions (first world problems, I know). Now deciding on a car?!? UGH. We've had so much going on, we've hardly had time to really look much beyond some initial research and browsing. Our daughter just got her permit so we're taking her out to practice driving, too. She is also job hunting and looking at college classes she can take. More hours. More time. All good things. But yeah, challenging to do it all. So, yes, we're a GREAT team and it's nothing short of remarkable what we can pull off together, but yes, we take our time talking and analyzing to get there.
5. I have my own emotional health challenges that makes every little thing seem so much bigger. I hate mental health stigma and I've never been quiet about the fact that I've struggled for what seems like forever with various emotional challenges (depression, anxiety, etc.). Not a day goes by that I'm not trying to learn more and be on top of these things. It takes work and time and a great deal of effort. Staying on top of this is no joke! These issues also make every little thing in life take a bit more time, energy, and effort. Whereas someone who isn't anxious could just make plans and decisions "like a normal person," someone with anxiety thinks of ten thousand contingencies and back ups and all kinds of additional things to think about by extension! That all takes so much more time and energy. Someone who doesn't struggle with depression probably just gets up and dressed and goes about their day. Someone dealing with it struggles to do even the most basic tasks and everything she does accomplish takes significantly more energy, leaving her depleted in other areas. Maxed out. Worn out. So, even getting through a day is about a hundred times harder, because it's like you're doing the "normal" stuff while carrying around a few extra bags of rocks and boulders.
So, there you have it. Me, sitting down to write before tackling yet more projects and to do lists. I love sitting down to write. My head is spinning and sometimes taking time to write like this helps. Here's hoping!
Also, here are a few recent pictures of our family, because posts are always more fun with pictures:
|Because she's freaking adorable.|
|My hipster kid taking pictures like a pro.|
|On St. Patrick's Day (hence the green shirts), we visited the aquarium as a family.|
|My studious daughter got a cute haircut.|
|Saturday Night Gilmore Girls Dates with my boy!|
|He is growing like crazy . . .|
|This awesome guy cooked me a great meal on my birthday several weeks ago.|
|And he took the kids to see the Blue Man Group!|
|Kate had a fantastic visit with her fangirl friends.|
|Meeting at the airport in Philly|
|And at our house with the Winchester brothers|