Sunday, November 30, 2014

Working From Home, Homeschooling, and Making it Work

Being a homeschooling, work from home mom has both its challenges and also its very unique perks. I honestly feel like I was handed my current job as a wonderful gift. It was a little over three years ago and I was out hiking with a friend and she presented me with an offer I absolutely could not refuse. It was to do some online marketing for a homeschool site that I was already familiar with, because it was the curriculum that we had been using even before my children's third grade online curriculum. I am able to work from home for Time4Learning AND I get to feed my passion for books by being an admin for To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. (years later I still am!)

A few years ago I was also blessed to do homeschool curriculum reviews for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. We were able to try out all kinds of fabulous curriculum and I did not have to spend much money at all for a couple of years on our curriculum. I've never really posted about this in my own blog but both my husband I also dabble in Doterra essential oils. Yeah, we are oily people. ;)

Here are just a handful of benefits I have found being a homeschooling, work from home mom-

1. I can set my own hours

2. I'm already a homebody so this helps me to able to stay at home sweet home.

3. I do not need an extensive wardrobe.

4. If a child is sick I do not have to call in to work...I just adjust my schedule around my family's needs.

5. I get to spend lots of quality time with my family.

6. I can pick what hours my children work best at and work it into my own hours.

7. To some extent as long as I have access to a computer I can bring my work with me if we take a short trip.

Of course there is also the other side of the coin-

1. I have no insurance as I only work part time. This is probably one of my biggest stressors. Fortunately I am pretty healthy and I am currently not using any medications but paying for health care out of pocket when I do need it is not fun.

2. Sometimes too much family time, hahah! There are definitely times when all of us need a short period of time away from one another.

3. Not being able to leave a building. What do I mean by this? I work from my computer and there are times I admit that I'm looking at work related stuff when I should be doing home/family things.

4. I do not need an extensive wardrobe BUT there are times I should probably dress up more. No, I do not wear my yoga pants everyday,haha, but I live in jeans and a t-shirt. I am now realizing that my daughter is picking up on this and it is hard to get her to wear anything else. Nothing wrong with wearing jeans and a t-shirt but it is fun to dress up every once in awhile.

This isn't for everyone but there are some key tips in making it work for my family-

I am not a real stickler for a seems like every year I try to adhere to one but it never ends up working in the end. Yet still with the many activities we have- school work, athletic events and practices, field trips, music lessons and work, I do have a bit of a relaxed schedule.

Most every week day I carve out at least 2 hour chunks of time in the day to work. Tuesdays it is 10 am- 12 pm but most days it is 3 pm- 5 pm with an occasional midnight work hour thrown in as I am definitely a night owl.

Our 13 year old daughter is an early riser and ends up getting up before us and doing a majority of her work before we even wake up. (did I admit that?) She does a lot of interest led activities in the afternoon and also reads a lot. In the evenings either hubby or I will help her with her math program which is an area she needs extra help with. After that she practices her violin.

With our 15 year old son with Prader-Willi Syndrome and autism I supervise his computer work with about a 2 hour chunk of time either in the morning or before dinner depending on what part of the day I work. In the afternoon he has a short quiet time in his room followed by working on some self help skills. (I will admit here to my special needs friends...when my son has a quiet time I typically take a short is what it is!)

Also, most every day unless it is REALLY cold we will either go walking or hiking for 3-5 miles.

Housecleaning? Well I'm finally coming to the realization that my house is not going to look like the pictures I see in magazines. I am always working on de-cluttering but with having two teenagers now, I have a lot of help around the house. I try and keep the living room, dining room, and kitchen especially as neat as possible.

It also is very important and beneficial to connect with other homeschool moms who work from home. An awesome way to do that is through this linkedin group called Homeschooling and Working ParentsWhat better way to get advice than from other homeschool parents who work from home?

I can't tell you how much I appreciate a particular friend who on occasion will take Z~girl with her own daughter to swimming. We all went last time to the homeschool swimming but I think it is good for her to get away from us and also from her brother too on occasion. I hope to reciprocate that in the future!

I feel blessed as my hubby is often home too and able to watch the kids so I can go out to coffee with a friend, or a hike....this month I'm looking forward to going to a mom's cookie exchange!

The way I do things may seem hectic but that is what works for our family and that is the key, finding what works for your own individual family. Having a child with special needs demands flexibility in scheduling.

What are some things that I will be working on in the coming new year?

There is definitely room for improvement in how I do things though. The main thing I want to do after Christmas is find a better space to work at that is quieter as I am easily distracted. Of course this would mean an additional computer as a lot of the kids school work is done on the computer.

I want to prioritize going on a date with my husband at least once a month instead of once a year. Our daughter is about old enough to stay home alone but I know she wouldn't be comfortable doing so. Our son requires near constant supervision so finding someone to watch him is no simple task.

I really want to get back into doing some of the hobbies that I love but have not done in a long time like sewing and art. It's easy to put me time on a back burner but I need to change that.

Is working from home and homeschooling easy? No, but it is definitely doable and I am thankful that I am able to make it work for our family!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Ways to Make the Holidays More Enjoyable For Your Prader-Willi Syndrome Family

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone but for a family with a child with Prader-Willi Syndrome it can be extremely challenging. Time off from school, anticipation of presents, decorations, the hustle and bustle at stores, and all of the extra food and treats that go along with this time of the year can be absolutely overwhelming! There are things though that can be done to help life go on as calm and peaceful as possible. Of course what works for my family and I might be different than another family but I would like to share some things that we have discovered over the years.

1. Routine- Our children do not go to "school" as we homeschool but I have learned that time off, beyond a few days, only results in behaviors and anxiety. When a child with PWS gets bored...bad things happen, LOL. (laughing but NOT as it is the honest truth!) This is why for the most part we homeschool year around. We do take July off and a few days here and there throughout the year but keeping a routine going has only proved to be beneficial. Whether it is a first grade online curriculum (or whatever grade you child is at), learning games on an iPad, puzzles, workbooks, or even work boxes. (do a search for workboxes on Pinterest for lots of neat ideas!) We also have both children keep up with their daily chores such as taking care of our many critters, doing their own laundry, and helping around the house.

2. Food- Yes....the F word. I try and keep up with eating the same type of diet we normally eat. I usually only make a couple of desserts for Thanksgiving (easier to pick from two than say....6 choices) and he gets one piece that day and one the next. During Christmas we normally make small batches of a couple of kinds of cookies. For both Christmas and Thanksgiving meals we keep the food very basic. When I was growing up the counters in the kitchen were covered with every holiday food imaginable! This is just not a good idea for someone with PWS. Truthfully all that food is overstimulating for even me!  We will have ham or turkey, some type of potato, dressing, a couple cooked vegetables and always a tray full of raw vegetables. Often I prepare A~man's plate (I do not let him do it himself but he gives me input in what he would like) in the kitchen. (we do not place the serving bowls on the table) It helps to start with the raw veggies as they take up a lot of room on his plate and then add the other food. The only seconds he ever gets is a few more raw veggies. That sounds kind of strict but that is the way we have always done it so there are very rarely any complaints. After eating we try to put the food away as soon as we can as having it sitting can really cause him to feel anxious. He will actually remind us to put the food up if we do not right away.

3. Exercise- We walk daily (3-5 miles) and we especially try and keep up with it this time of year. Just this week though it has gotten bitterly cold so we plan our big walks for the days over 50 degrees...and on the other days we go walk at the mall. A~man LOVES to walk at the mall as it also gives him the opportunity to people watch. Our mall is never really busy but if it was it is also open before the stores are so people can walk in the winter. Another idea is swimming. A couple of winters ago we took the kids to an indoor pool and they swam laps (which they actually love) and played 4-5 times a week. We also have a treadmill which our son doesn't mind but we only have him use it if we cannot do any of the other options.

4. Activities- We keep things pretty simple with presents and make a lot of them ourselves. Shopping can be hard for our son as he gets so excited to be getting something for other people AND he sees so many things that he wants. Hubby and I normally take him out once each so he can buy a present for each of us but most of the shopping I do is online. I'm not a big fan of crowds myself.

There are a lot of extra fun activities that happen this time of year. We try to limit it to one a week and what works for our to only tell him the night before if we are going the next day. I know some people do well with calendars with the events happening over the month but this only causes our son to obsess, repeat what's happening, and get anxious about it. Of course telling him the night before doesn't always work as he has eagle ears and sometimes figures it out before hand. ;)

5. Last but certainly not least we talk about why our family celebrates Christmas. We have lots of books and videos that make this time of year very special for all of us. I'll share more on that later.

I'm hoping to do another post when I think of more things that work for us but I would love to hear what works for other peoples families during the holidays!