One day we were at Legoland and my son was telling anyone who would listen, “today is the best day of my life.”
Twenty-four hours later, we were in the ER. The kids were being shuttled home by my mom, who fed them pizza and tried to comfort them.
My poor son is cursed with a brain like mine that picks up on obscure medical facts and holds on to them like song lyrics. He was worried. I was too.
Excessive thirst, blurry vision — I knew before we knew, but then we really knew and crap — diabetes in no freaking Legoland, I’ll tell you that much.
And so we’re learning, every day, how to take care of this guy we love so much.
We’re homeschooling diabetes management. My daughter is a carb-counting savant. My son averages blood sugar numbers to find comfort.
All is OK now. It is.
But for almost two weeks, we’ve just been doing the best we can, and I’ve been learning a lot too.
I’ve learned that we have an amazing support system in our friends. So many people have stepped up with offers of help and support. Our baby-sitter offered to watch the kids for free.
I didn’t feel right taking her up on that, but it did reaffirm what I already knew — that she is just the best and deserves more fancy coffee right away.
And my kids, who have had their world rocked a bit — who last week spent more time with friends than at home — have shown me again that learning happens no matter what I do. I literally can’t stop these kids from acquiring new skills and information like spongey little knowledge ninjas.
Here are a few other things I’ve learned about homeschooling when life gets a little messy:
You’ve got to prioritize.
Some things need to get done — eating, laundry, showers, pet care. Other things really aren’t that big of a deal if you have to skip them for a few days, even making beds and getting the mail. Stuff can wait.
People come first.
Always, but especially in a crisis. Focus on feelings and not on getting things done. Kids need comfort in situations like these, not curriculum.
leverage your resources.
My mom can’t cook. There’s no point in asking her to bring a casserole. But she’s an awesome nurse, with tons of experience to draw from.
Our library has recently been switching to a lot of electronic books. I’m not always crazy about that, but during the past few weeks, we have downloaded our fair share to get the kids new reading material without having to drive to the library.
You’ve got to let some stuff go.
It used to be that in worrisome moments, I would become hyper-vigilant, trying to control what I could.
But this time, I knew that trying to control everything was going to leave me more stressed. So I gave people jobs and assigned tasks and tried not to worry too much.
And guess what — it all worked out.
One thing at a time.
Usually, even when things are kind of bad, you don’t have to figure everything out at once.
Most things can be broken up into smaller pieces, and there’s plenty that can wait. Really.
Make some compromises.
Paper plates. Take-out. Right now, a lot of my time is being spent figuring out how to feed us in the long-term. So in the short term, three of us are having frozen pizza for lunch.
I think in a mess you can be perfect or sane. Not both.
Take care of yourself.
It seems super counterintuitive, but it’s important. Vent to your girls and your sister. Say the things you need to say.
Make yourself a haircut or pedicure appointment for a distant date in the future as a reminder to yourself that whatever is going on isn’t forever.
Give people specific, manageable tasks.
The kids have been doing more around the house, which was actually a goal I had for summer, teaching them some more life skills — it all just came a little sooner.
My deal with them has been that I won’t ask them to do anything beyond what any other 7- and 10-year-old would be asked to do.
I asked my dad to bring dinner for the kids one night. Time, date, place.
“Is pizza OK?” he asked, and I actually said no — they had had pizza the night before. “How about pasta and a salad from the Italian deli?” I suggested, and I think he appreciated me just being straight-forward and not getting too hung up on social niceties.
Stick to the basics.
Give the kids books and audiobooks and have them read together and try not to worry. Two weeks is a traditional school’s Christmas Break, not a Summer Break.
Everything is getting back on track already here. No knowledge was lost, but I am in catch-up mode, ordering butterfly larvae and helping with pen pal letters.
Don’t worry about being impressive.
Guess what I brought to the end of the year homeschool co-op potluck. Nothing.
Know that it will get easier.
It will. In time. It might be days, weeks or months.
But it will be better. Until then, just do the best you can.
I promise that it’s enough.
Things are already feeling a lot more normal here. We’re figuring stuff out day by day.
We’re all feeling incredibly grateful for so many things — good care, good friends, good medicine, good food …
And each other.
I like to say that homeschooling is more than a way to educate your kids — it’s a lifestyle.
And for a little while, our life here was rocky.
But we got through it, and we’re so appreciative for this adaptable, flexible, wonderful way we live and learn.