Fall of 2011, I had three surgeries in four months... complete with vicodin and a 6-9 month recovery time. Immediately after the first surgery, I was forced to address the issue of “what do you do when you can’t do school?”
My children were engaged in no education time at all. They were spending way too much time viewing Hulu movies... while I slept... or staggered around in my vicodin-induced trance. Ideally, I would have hired a sitter, but that was not financially feasible. And my mother, my usual help, was out of state for an undetermined amount of time to care for my aging grandmother.
I actually wondered if I ought to, for the children's sake, seek other educational options. But then my sweet friend, Nicole Davis, reminded me that they are learning all the time... even when we are not intentionally teaching them. This got me thinking. What I really needed was a way to channel their energies into more productive activities. Even if I wasn’t capable of performing as teacher.
Let me share with you what I tried that worked (I won’t share what didn’t work, but it did take some trial and error!)
1) I gathered books together from around the house... that contained activities they could do without my help... or that they could read without my help. I kept these in a row on the ground beside my desk. That was my where I sat when I wasn’t in bed... I didn’t want to have to wonder if the books were getting lost.
2) I searched the net for educational videos, games and audio books/stories to substitute for the Hulu movies they had been watching. I knew that weaning them off such media would be a challenge... this gave me options other than Batman and Superman cartoons.
3) I made a list of their school subjects, prioritized most important (the 3 Rs) to least important. Then I listed any possible activity I could think of which was associated with that course. I typed it up in a document and printed a hundred. Two boys times 5 days a week equals 10 sheets per week. My supply would last me 10 weeks.
After the 10 weeks, I could reevaluate my system. Adjust if necessary... or toss the whole thing if I didn’t like it. But I did like it. In fact... I plan to keep using it!
The beauty of the schedule is in its flexibility. If I woke up one day and I wasn’t feeling so well, I just circled math and english workbooks. The children would do the work, check it off and bring the sheet to me, in bed, if needed. If I was up to it, I would correct it. If not... well, at least they weren’t finished with Superman episodes and watching Spiderman, right? But on days I was feeling well, we could do lots more. I would choose our classes in the morning... then the children knew what to expect. It was so much easier to get school done if they had an idea of what I actually expected of them!
The best part for me is that the list includes classes I want to do, but usually forget about... such as art and music. This sheet allows me to include them. In fact, today we are not even doing math and english. We are behind on Bible and spelling. So I decided to do those today instead. But I know they are getting enough of the other classes. Because I have saved the schedule sheets to remind myself of the progress we have made!
It’s like a schedule for a free-spirited teacher. Yup, that’s me! I’d really rather go to the beach today, wouldn’t you? I’m sure there is something we can learn there too....!
4) My most recent addition is a Bored Board. It is hung in my livingroom. It has a list of activities they can do. Some require supervision. All require permission. But it gives the children ideas of what do... so I don’t have to hear things like, “Mom, I am so bored my boredom is bored”!
5) On the very worst day (thankfully, they were very few), I let my children crawl in bed and read me stories... sing songs... take a nap.. or just snuggle. It was so sweet to see my children offer to get me pillow to prop up my post-surgery wrist... and get me breakfast... and make sure I was warm enough.
My only regret was that their discipline (especially listening to momma) went way down... still trying to recover from that one. I will let you know when I figure out “How to discipline and train a child when Momma is too sick to get out of bed!”
What about you...do you have a secret formula for when Momma is sick? I would love to hear your ideas. Please pass them along to email@example.com