When Mama Has Limited Energy

I have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have four children 8 and under. There are days that my energy level and pain are quite bad and I really struggle through school. I don’t think that putting them in school is the answer. I know you can understand from your difficult pregnancies to your kidney stones. What do you do on those really bad days? More importantly what did you do on those days when the oldest was only 8?


I have lupus (SLE) and fibromyalgia, four children (8, 4, 2.5 today and just turned 1, still nursing) and a deployed husband (gone 11 months with 4 to go). I feel I have a pretty decent handle on the housework thanks to FlyLady’s book (website was too crazy for me!), but the other aspects of homeschooling, trying to eat and feed the kids healthy, etc..., are just overwhelming me right now. I see so many areas where I’m lacking as a mom/teacher, primarily in character building/Christian training, because it seems like it’s just a struggle to make it through each day with the kids fed and schoolwork done, let alone adding anything.


Kimm and Catherine asked these questions a long while ago, which is testimony to the fact that I can't do everything, either.  And then some!

Yes, I do have pregnancies with long bouts of illness and no energy.  I also have spent a fair share of my time with three of my children in the hospital over the past eighteen months.  I have ideas to share, but I find it is very hard to practice what I preach.  It takes the encouragement of Scripture, the support of friends, and the patient reminders of my husband, who is also my biggest cheerleader.

Turning the topic on its ear for just a bit here, please hear me-- if you have a friend who is struggling because of a physical ailment, pregnancy, a hospitalized child (particularly those who spend exorbitant amounts of time there with sick kids), a difficult marriage, or a host of other situations that put an irregular strain on homeschooling, would you please take the time to email them and encourage them?  Having friends and sisters do this for me was often the difference between lifting my eyes to heaven for strength and falling apart in utter despair.

That said, I think it's easy to forget that classroom teachers go through the same things. I had two pregnant teachers in high school, one whose baby was stillborn.  It was a rocky year, to say the least.  She did her best, and we did fine, but I'm sure she felt that she wasn't the best teacher she could have been, either.

In second grade I had a teacher who was going through a nasty divorce plus the illness of her father, and she relieved her stress by throwing erasers at us and dumping our desks over.  See?  It could be worse.

So what are some practical things you can do to make schooling at home a reality even through the tough times? I've pinpointed strategies we have in place in our home, but I'd love for others to chime in so that you can glean lots of ideas.

1. Planning. There is nothing like a well-planned school year, period.  With spring break and then summer coming our way shortly, I'd encourage you to start jotting down what each child will be doing next school year and get to planning.  I've written about mega-school-planning before hereThere's more here.

2. Workboxes or Workfiles. Quite simply, the schooling of my six-year-old continued while I was in the hospital with our eight-year-old only because I had pre-filled her workfile.  I cannot say enough about this approach for the youngest students in our home.  Dana has done essentially the same thing, but in a binder.

3. Identify the most important things to accomplish each day. For me, laundry, meals, and schoolwork are what I can handle during four months of morning sickness.  Everything else goes on the back burner.

4. Even so, minimize the commitment. That means that children will have to pitch in and help with laundry, dinner will be simple, and school will be on autopilot.  This is not the time for field trips, unless you need a gulp of fresh air and a nature walk fits the bill.

5. Ask for help. And so, if all I'm doing are laundry, meals, and school, who's cleaning the toilets?  Again, this is where a little forethought can be helpful.  I'm kinda into clean toilets.  And somewhere along the line my husband saw me struggling to mop the kitchen floor while hugely pregnant and decided he'd take over the job.  Love that man!  But sometimes people don't see our needs and so we simply need to ask.

6. Utilize the incredible resources on the home education market. Including online classes.  Boy howdy, when our firstborn took his first online class I about jumped through the ceiling with joy.  I wasn't overseeing his assignments.  I wasn't the one who gave him a B on his final.  Lovely!  Off the top of my head, there's Veritas Press Scholars Academy, Memoria Press Online Courses, Schola Tutorials, Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens (the first course my son took, and we were so impressed), and local junior college online courses that have also been terrific for us.

Switched On Schoolhouse is a huge help to many families.  So is Robinson Curriculum.  I take advantage of audio courses that we all listen to, as well as audiobooks.

7. Lastly, remove the pressure on yourself. There is no right way to homeschool for every family.  Ask the Lord and your husband what the goals should be for your children, and then steadily work toward them.