Many women in their forties are faced with an interesting challenge, rearing young children while caring for aging parents. My sister and I are both in this boat. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. The children benefit from a warm and wonderful relationship with their grandparents, and the grandparents benefit from the vitality and energy a child brings. However, the situation does require flexibility (not my strong suit) and creativity.

Peck and I stay a week with my mom and dad every month or so. Here are some ways we balance homeschooling while visiting my parents.

Outings as Field Trips

When I first moved, I envisioned completing a bunch of projects around my parents’ home. But I found that wasn’t what they needed. Mom and Dad needed fun–lunches out, shouting Wheel of Fortune answers, and interesting activities. Mom misses traveling, and we are trying to incorporate day trips when we can. A few months ago, we hopped over to St. Augustine. After enjoying perusing local boutiques, we visited the Colonial Quarter (a living museum), the Greek Orthodox National Shrine, and the Castillo de San Marcos. We combined shopping, eating, and education to create a lovely day for all of us.


Just the Essentials

In the beginning, I loaded all of our school in a big crate and carted it down to my parents’ house. Due our hectic schedule, we never finished all the school I brought with me. As a result, I felt guilty and stressed, pushing Peck to make up work when we returned home. This was fun for no one. Now, I only bring our core subjects. These can be completed in the morning, leaving plenty of room for other things in the afternoon.

Waiting at the Doctor’s Office

Peck is a highly distractible kid, and a doctor’s office teems with bright and shiny new things. People come in and out, televisions hang on the wall, and gadgets abound. Trying to teach a fresh concept in this environment is impossible. That doesn’t mean school can’t happen in the waiting room, but it must be chosen carefully–review sheets, coloring pages, and flash cards work well. Also, bring along a clipboard or hard folder. Not every doctor’s office has tables.

Outside Help

Accept that you are not superwoman, and you cannot do it all. The concept that any woman can is ridiculous. I guarantee you that the Proverbs 31 woman had servants, who watched the kids and cleaned the house. Sometimes you need to reach outside for help. My brother, nephew, and mother have all facilitated Peck’s schooling at different times, while I took my father to a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy. When my mother had knee surgery, I hired a local homeschooler to babysit. She guided Peck through his schoolwork as well as taking him on educational outings. This is another reason to only bring our core subjects with us. I can’t expect another person to direct hours of school, but they can easily oversee some language and math.

Year Round School

When you are juggling life from both ends of the spectrum, you can toss any concept of routine out of the window. Emergencies happen, throwing your homeschool out of whack for days or, in extremes, weeks. I also find that after the emergency is over, I need a day or two to relax. It’s not so easy to jump right back into school after spending a couple nights at the hospital. Homeschooling year round leaves room for life’s little bumps in the road and mental health days.

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