I posted a few weeks ago my list of what worked for me in 2017. The less fun list is here: what didn’t work for me.
I don’t necessarily have solutions for these, which is maybe why it’s taken me a few weeks to post this. I like solutions, but maybe some of these don’t have answers. These problems are just going to sit there, like the neighbor’s cat on my fence who taunts me and runs away when I yell at him at the window, and then comes back an hour later. I’m not going to move; my neighbor isn’t going to keep his cat away from my chickens. We are at an impasse. Also, I don’t particularly relish talking about things that bug me; it feels like whining.
Here we go.
I used to have a small group of homeschooling moms with whom I met regularly. For a few years, we met each month to discuss a reading. In other years, we got our kids together to hike when the weather was nice or do crafts when it wasn’t, and then we’d talk. As the kids have gotten older, a lot of them have transitioned into formal schools, and some of my friends have moved away. I no longer have a homeschooling mom community, and the kids’ day at their homeschool school is my day in the clinic, so I’m never the one doing the drop off, pick up or volunteer hours. It’s hard homeschooling high schoolers, and I could use some advice. More than that, I miss my friends.
Too much screen time
As my kids have gotten older, we have increased their access to the internet and screens in general. This has led to my own increase in screen time, and the perils of that (for me) have included a feeling of hopelessness from too much news. I want to talk news and politics and current events with my teenagers, but I find it overwhelming. (Plus, my daughter put Cookie Jam on my phone and I quickly developed an addiction to it. I have now joined Cookie Jam Anonymous and am working through the twelve
Not enough outside time
The increase in screen time and the decrease in outside time have gone hand-in-hand. As my kids have taken on tough online, AP and college courses, we have become more tied to a schedule, which has made long afternoons digging in mud at the side of the lake nearly impossible.
Our house is a mess. I am grateful when we have friends over, because it temporarily pushes cleaning up to the top of the list. It’s gotten so bad lately that Owen has taken to cleaning up.
(This photo has nothing to do with anything, but I like it. I wonder who took it, since I’m usually the photographer.)
Getting together with our refugee friends
We had our refugee friends over right before Christmas for breakfast and games. It was not great. I realized we hadn’t spent significant time with them for almost a year, and that’s a really long time when you don’t have much history together. I want to know them better and get past the awkward smile-a-lot-because-that’s-all-we-can-really-do, but we have so little time in which to do that.
I think that’s what most of this list boils down to: time. I don’t have more than 168 hours/week and never will. I used to be manage our 6 schedules and plan them to our best advantage, so that swim team for 3 kids happened at the same time as a swim lesson for child #4, during which I could take a run. Then we’d have three hours to play outside, or take a hike, or volunteer every week at an ESL class.
Now, child #1 is on campus from 8-2, child #2 has a music lesson from 2-3, child #3 is in dance class from 4-5:30, and child #4 wants to be home all afternoon so she can play with her friends. I can’t streamline it, but I still have to be the driver, which means that my time is chopped up into all sorts of little sections that are too small for what I want time for.
Last January, Sam and I went away to Mexico for five days. It was stunningly beautiful, and we were so grateful for the friends who stayed with our kids to make this happen. We wanted to minimize decision fatigue, so we went to an all-inclusive resort, thinking it would be delightful to be able to eat any time we want and spend the rest of our time on the beach. We learned really quickly that we were not resort people. I felt like I was trapped on a cruise with a bunch of drunk strangers, and the only people I really wanted to talk to (other than Sam) were the restaurant and housekeeping staff, who were lovely. (The whales were also lovely, but harder to talk to.) In the future, we will skip the resort, even if it means we have to cook for ourselves.
We did manage to get away for a weekend in October (thanks, Mom and Dad!), which did work for me, and as time with our oldest (and money for vacations) will soon be very limited, I think we will have to plan more short road trip-type getaways.
Your turn: what didn’t work for you in 2017?