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Comments

Sara

You know how people with 7, 8, 10 kids do it....the same way you and I do lots of things....benign neglect. Alas, it doesn't always work with school. I don't have any real advice because my kids always managed, somehow, but I want you to know I feel your pain. I hope someone else has concrete ideas.

The only thing I can suggest is pairing up the kids to help each other, but I don't know if that will work with school.

Becki

Carmen, I only have two kids, AND another very helpful adult around at night, and I get overwhelmed. You're walking such a fine line--sure, you want your kids to be independent, responsible and self-sufficient. But you also don't want them to f*** up irretrievably before they're fully able to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Sink-or-swim may indeed work for some families, but it doesn't in this one. I wish I had a magic bullet for you, but all I can do is give you a huge pat on the back for all you do, and tell you you're not alone.

Angela

I have no idea which kid is which but the one that is bored - have you had him or her tested for ODC? Just a thought. Usually the gifted ARE bored which leads to an incredible lack of motivation.

Stacey

Did I just post that? Seriously, that is my life as well.

Well, for us, things changed a bit about a year and a half ago when I just couldn't take it anymore. We couldn't figure out why #2 couldn't 'get his act together'. It turned out that he is dyslexic. Then we had #1 tested; yep, he was, too. Since then we have had two others tested and they are as well. The other two school aged ones are being scheduled to be tested since it runs in families.

I still have to be on top of them to do certain things, because they don't think the same as others. Their intelligence is not effected, it is just that their brains are wired differently.

xenia katie

Hi Carmen,
I'm so sorry you are overwhelmed. The principal at my kids' school has started talking a lot about executive function. It's quite helpful to read about, actually, on behalf of my kids, and even as an adult.

I think-- no, I KNOW-- I struggled with organization (and executive function) as a child. I still struggle with it, but I'm getting better, and I truly think I was a "late bloomer", or developmentally delayed, when it came to these types of things.

You are doing everything in your power. I remember my mom (and dad) doing everything possible to help me... the assignment planners, the constant questioning, and assisting with hours of homework. Yet, amidst the A's and B's, I still got a few Cs on each report card, and the occasional D. I wish I had known more about executive function, though, as it would have helped me understand it was a learning disorder, and not just be being "dumb."

Kid A is fortunate to have a mom like you. I hope this helps, even just a little bit! As for Kid B? I'm not sure :) That was never an issue for me.

Lisa

I had to laugh--when the teachers complained my 12 yr old twin boys were disorganized, I said "that's ok! they are kind, compassionate young men and that's what's important" (didn't go over real well! )
anyway, the only way I barely keep my head above water is no tv, no electronics, no computer, etc. on school nights. helps some.

Jenny

Maybe you can enlist kid B to help kid A come up with an organizational system that make sense for him or her? I know my son is doing the same thing - doing the work, just not turning it in, and we're working really hard to help him dot those Is and cross those Ts without having to do it for him. My oldest has helped him come up with a new way of thinking about it, and it made them both feel good.

Karen

No kids here (so take whatever I say with a huge grain of salt!), but I am planning a wedding, working full time, preparing for the holidays and attempting to function with a major panic disorder so I am familiar with overwhelmedness. I do it by realizing that sometimes SOMETHING has to give and by knowing when to ask for help. If accountability is an issue, could you buddy the kids up and help them keep each other accountable? Sometimes it's easier to motivate/help someone else than it is to do it yourself. Lists are helpful for me, so if your kids are visual maybe if they each had a board or list of tasks that needed to be completed maybe that would help keep them on track.

Hugs to you. It won't always be like this. Eventually they grow up and move out. :-)

Christy

Ha! I just grounded my 5th grader for a late assignment. So, I'm sort of in between sink/swim and micromanage at the moment.

Does the school have a counselor or learning consultant? If so, it might be super helpful to talk to that person for ideas. Even a 15-20 minute conversation might get you a fresh perspective.

Dawn

I can relate. We have five kids at five schools in two counties. One is a fourth grader in a school for the gifted, who has more homework, and more challenging homework, than the sophomore. One who has to do every assignment electronically (school rule). We have two who play instruments, and after school activities three nights a week, and a screwy visitation schedule. It sucks. My kids either get A's or F's...very little in between.

What I have tried, with various degrees of success? We have a no TV or electronics rule on school nights, and I am a huge fan of the online grade book sites that the schools use- I am always able to check to see what work has not been turned in, and how grades are shaping up. My kids know that I check it before saying "yes" to any requests for sleepovers, etc. I am a big fan of accountability, and taking away all extras when the grades start to slip. It's hard. I have often thought that homeschooling would be easier than this!!

addy

A planner, flash cards, loss of privileges and lots of checking up and following up. Most of which you do now. No magic - maybe the older ones can help with the younger ones? maybe? Umm have you considered more lemon drops (you know just to to take the edge off...)

Headless Mom

You're not drowning. You've been here before and gotten through it. You can do it again this time.

I suggest daily check lists for the littles that can handle them, when they are done with their list you check off totally, then they are free. (Covers responsibility and mom's double checking.) I would try to make them as generic as possible, with room for personalization. Maybe lines for them to list each assignment? Add chores, etc.

Then that should free you up to help the other ones that need a little more help.

You could always pin the completed assignments to the shirt of the one who isn't turning them in. I've found that embarrassment (or merely the threat of,) can be a huge motivator for some. ;-)

Or just have a lemon drop and call me.

suz

Sometimes, kids are better motivated by people other than their parents. Does your school have any tutoring available? Homework clubs? Study halls? I know at our school, they have homework clubs manned by teachers for about an hour and a half after school every day, and the kids who struggle with the organization, etc., reap great benefits, get all their homework done, and stay better organized. We also have teachers who offer tutoring for very low cost. There may also be programs at the high school where older students will help out for school credit (no or low cost).

jadine

No advice, just empathy from me. I have two boys (11 & 14), and am experiencing what you describe - albeit on a much smaller scale. Parenthood is much harder than I'd imagined it would be. I just want to do a good job, but it seems I'm spending a disproportionate amount of my time directing everyone/thing, and very little of my time enjoying ANYthing. I'll be reading the comments to this post to see what others have to say. Maybe it'll help us both. Maybe it'll just be the feeling we're not alone. Feels like drowning, doesn't it?

Jen

You're gonna hate hearing this, but the easier kid is Kid A. Schools recognize that there's a problem there. Kid B very likely IS bored. I'm going to guess that Kid B is late elementary/early middle school (though I'm probably way off base), because that's when gifted kids who've coasted tend to start having problems. It's no longer easy peasy for them, and because they haven't had to struggle or learning studying skills, they hit a wall. Perfectionism, too, can be a huge issue. I can't fail if I don't try, that sort of thing.
I doubt I'm making any sense. My brain is toasted today; I'm in awe that as crazed as your life is you still manage to sound coherent. Not so much over here...

Megan

I don't have much advice for you. I have no kids, and I'm lucky enough to work a job that doesn't require much overtime, and I often feel overwhelmed. I wonder how my co-worker who's a single mom with two kids does it, and I certainly wonder how YOU do it.

The only advice I have regarding Kid A, the one who's having organizational issues, is that you step back. Really. I know that's hard to do, but I say it because I remember having the same problems in elementary school. Homework done but not turned in, project forgotten, etc., and when it happened I'd freak because I knew I was in for it when my mom found out. Somehow when she finally decided she was done, the organizational issues all but disappeared, my grades shot up, and I started caring and taking pride in my work.

I know you can't just stop caring, but I can almost guarantee your kids are going to be just fine, because you are a good mom! You care enough to go to the conferences and stay on top of them for their grades. People take many paths, sometimes winding, to success. They may not all go to college, or they may go to community college when you know they had the potential to go to Ivy League. That's OK. They'll make mistakes and they'll learn from them, and they'll be wonderful adults.

Kelly H

I think we all as moms feel like what you wrote so please do not think you are alone!

My only advice would be to scale back on non-school activities. If I recall, your kids are heavy into sports or other interests that happen after school or in early evening. Perhaps you need to slow it all down. Everyone comes straight home from school and homework is done ASAP. Once homework is done, everyone helps prepare the meal or makes their own lunches for the next day. Then it's chill time but without TV or video games. Read, play quietly, board game, etc. I know it sounds pollyanna-ish but I tell ya, when I get to feeling like you do, I need my kids to focus in and start helping out mommy in doing things they are capable of doing themselves (lunches, pick up around the house, sort laundry, fold laundry, etc.)

Hang in there...you care about these kids succeeding!! Many kids can't say the same for their parents.

Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

I think kid # A maybe distracted because he is being bullied. Think about it? Won't you? I fully understand this feeling of being overwhelmed, this academic year my afternoons are all that homework, homework, and more homework.

Gina

My husband is not home on weeknights at all, either. I also have a couple of kids who need quite a bit of hand holding at times in the homework department, and two others that quite frequently need entertainment in the evenings to keep them from being pests and fighting. I can definitely relate. Is there anything that would motivate your kids to work a bit harder on their own? It sounds like you are already doing things right. :)

elz

Homework is hard now and I only have 1. Well, I have 2 school -age kids, but the little one is still in Kindergarten. I have no idea how I would survive homework with more than 2!

DebB

I remember much of the same experiences and feelings in the not-so-distant past. "What do you mean you didn't turn it in?!" The only advice I have is to talk to kid A and ask them for ideas of what *they* can do so *they* can be more successful in remembering what they need to do. That this is *their* job to do and that you know they can fix this. Give the responsibility to fix the problem over to them, but let them know that you will help with their ideas (ie, making checklists with them on the computer to print off so they can check off things themselves, sticker charts (if young child), a prize to work towards, etc.)
Otherwise, all I can offer is a reassurance that this is temporary and will get better. Overwhelming periods seem to go in waves. You are doing great and your efforts will shine through soon! Like in the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin, realizing that you are on a roller coaster ride makes it easier to handle the lows and enjoy the ride. You are a great mom and have a beautiful family!! Enjoy the ride.

online ged

you are a great writer i am very happy to write you this is more knowledgeable for me i appreciate it . it cannot express my feeling in words. thanks for sharing...

Carly

First of all, you are allowed to feel completly overwhelmed at any time you want. You are also allowed to have a pity party any time. And for anybody who has a problem with it - Bye Bye!! The only reason anyone would have a problem with it is because they have problems with theirselves! We all can/have/will feel overwhelmed about something at some point. And that's ok. Thats what I keep telling my self anyway.....

Pretty much, my advice would be - what she said up there. Everyone has said everything I was gonna say.

-Have an older kid help a younger kid. It frees you up, and if you step away, someone else suggests something, it might work better. That whole theory, our kids act better/different without their mothers around. And thats how the Duggars do it on TV. Madison loves that show. And they have a whole village to contend with! :)

-I also agree with the checklist, printable, written reminder helper paper. Something they see everyday immediatley when they get in their backpack. For when they get to school to turn it in, when they come home to do it.
-Its the kid that doesn't care just going thru some stage? Pre-teen? Hormones kicking in? Or I also agree with the too smart, bored part or the bullying is effecting them way more than you realize.

- And can there be some reward/consequence at the end of the checklist for remembering to get it all done? No electronics on weekends either if you don't get it done. And if you do then maybe 20 mins during the week? Encouraging them to get it daily and reap the rewards.

Just thoughts, I could go on forever.... :)

Lesli

So much of this sounds familiar (with 3 kids, though), and I've often felt frustrated, as well. One thing that worked with my "coaster" (smart, smart middle-schooler, who has yet to meet a real challenge scholastically though he's in advanced classes two grades above his age), kind of a combo between micro-managing and leaving it be, is the plan that he gets to play his games/program/whatever, even on school nights, only after his homework is done, neatly, and grades stay at "A's" across the board. So, it's his choice; barely coast along, get marks off for neatness/lateness, and lose the games, or get it done. After one bad mark last year (a "C-" on a spelling test....he learned to read so young that he kind of skipped the sounding out/spelling phase of it, and always needs to review for spelling tests), he whipped himself into shape and there it goes. Had he not, I would've had to revise the plan as I, also, would not be able to stand by and watch grades continually plummet. Lest I sound harsh, once he meets his match, i.e. a real challenge for him even with hard work, that "A" criteria may change, since it's really about how seriously he applies himself, but he doesn't know that. Other challenges, such as a daughter who is SO SLOW to get ready for anything that we are always, always, ALWAYS! running out the door at the last minute, I have yet to conquer. I've used timers, incentives, punishments, everything, no dice yet. Of course there's also my 6 year old fellow who I still need to tell that it's time he went to the bathroom as he's a last minute dasher...too much fun to be had to waste time in the bathroom, I guess! (That, thankfully, has gotten much, much better. The last minute dashes and stops at public restrooms were driving me crazy!) My mind is always stuffed with my people's schedules/needs/whatever. Good luck, you're not alone!

Lesli

One clarification on the homework being done neatly....I'll glance at it while he's working, and if it's messy, I'll say, "You think that's neat enough? OK, then, but I can't read it." His choice to hand it in (thus far, he's chosen to re-do it.)

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  • Carmen Staicer is a whirlwind of energy and execution, who never sleeps and drinks way too much coffee. She works from home as the Programs Manager for BlogHer, and is the mom to six kids, most of whom play instruments, sing or dance and all of whom are much smarter than she will ever be. In other words, her house is never ever quiet or still. A concentration of food allergies, spectrum disorders and learning disabilities means that she spends an awful lot of time second guessing herself and Dr. Googling, as well as learning to cook everything the family might like to eat. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, boxing (she has her Black Belt in Muay Thai), sleeping, exploring coffee shops, photography, ballet class and cooking. She excels in being a smart mouth and has her major in sarcasm, with a minor in BS studies.