Friday, February 26, 2016

How to Get Teenagers Out of Bed!

Okay, look. I remember trying to get out of bed in the morning as a teenager. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t like doing it. But I’m pretty sure my parents never had to all but sit on my head to get me to school in the morning!

Fast forward a dozen years or so, and now I have the teenager that doesn’t sleep well, doesn’t wake up to an alarm and waits until the last possible second to roll out of bed in the morning, often making himself late in the process. This year has been the worst. It used to be we could poke him to get him up somewhere between 6:30 and 7; that way, even if he dawdled, he’d still be ready in time. This year he insists on staying in bed until 7:40 when school starts at 8. 

Honey, I understand completely.
The winter weather has been…well, winter in the Northeast. I can’t say it’s the worst I’ve ever seen, but it certainly hasn’t been warm and toasty. Since he’s at the high school and can’t ride the bus anymore, we’ve been giving both the boys a ride to school in the morning. That way, G-money only has to make the scoot from the house to the car instead of standing at the bus stop, and instead of walking almost a mile before the sun’s had a chance to warm everything up Mr. A can catch a ride in a vehicle that’s at least slightly warmer than the outside.

This morning he wasn’t doing it though, and with company to get to school on time (we babysat for a friend last night) I just gave up. Dad drove the three that were ready up to school, and Mr. A walked when he was ready.

It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. The problem is, the school’s been lenient with his tardiness so far. So much so that even though I spoke with the principal earlier this year and encouraged the school to begin implementing some consequences for his tardiness, it hasn’t happened yet.

If the school doesn’t care if he’s late, why am I making myself nuts in the morning?

Yes, I know. It’s a matter of good habits and ethics and all that good parenting stuff I’m supposed to be doing. I get that. But honestly? He isn’t five anymore. I can’t pick him up out of bed and carry him to the door, and short of that I’m tired of trying. I figure today’s going to become the gold standard, with a few changes. 

I think a new alarm clock needs to happen, and he needs to get himself out of bed. And I think we need to implement a time past which we will NOT be making the drive up to school. Being driven to school is a privilege he needs to earn, and if he doesn’t want a ride I see no reason to roll myself out the door in the morning…no matter how entertaining driving into the school parking lot in my PJ’s happens to be.

Moms with teens, am I missing something here? Does someone out there have any awesome tips for getting teenagers out the door in the morning? Or are we all in this together?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Homeschooling is Exhausting

You know how sometimes you have this idea in your head of how something’s going to work, and then it works, and it’s just how you thought it would be? And you know how the other 99% of the time, it’s a giant mess and you’re left scrambling to adjust your expectations and figure out how to pick up the pieces and put together something that’s going to get you through?

Yeah-that’s me and the story of homeschooling right now. 

It sounded like such a good idea when it started. Princess C was diagnosed last spring with dysautonomia-borderline POTS, to be precise. I know I haven’t said a lot about it here. When it happened we were barely keeping our heads above water, and I'd be lying if I said I was any saner now. To be honest, it’s been a struggle. She’s sick one day out of three every month, and while it’s getting better we’ve still got a long way to go.
Image found at, and created by, It's a PERFECT representation of a POTS flareup.
POTS flare ups are awful. If you're not familiar with the disease, it involves a disorder of the autonomic nervous system-the one that controls your heart rate, breathing and digestion, among other things. So when things go wrong, they go terribly wrong. She’s dizzy. She’s sick to her stomach. She gets headaches, and walking the ten feet from her bed to the bathroom leaves her absolutely exhausted. And she has to have someone standing right next to her when she makes that ten foot trek from the bed to the bathroom, because if she doesn’t there’s always the chance that we’re going to find her unconscious on the floor.

It took us almost four months from the first time we found her unconscious to the time when we finally got a diagnosis. I’m not complaining-we’ve been blessed as far as that goes. The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis for many people with POTS is five years or longer. Ironically, it was a referral to a teen clinic for depression associated with being sick and isolated at the height of her illness that led to the diagnosis in the first place-one of the doctors at the clinic was familiar with the disorder and diagnosed her immediately.

Months of pain and dizziness, accompanied by endless visits to specialists and therapists, made school attendance a nightmare, however. I’m going to spare you the details of listening to me rant and cut it down to this-homeschooling her this year was a better option than trying to go ten rounds with the school system, especially because she’s still sick as often as she is. I was kind of excited when we first decided to do it. I could pick her reading lists, decide what subjects she studied (with an eye toward state requirements, of course), and help present the information in a way that would make it interesting and fun.

What I didn’t expect was the uphill battle homeschooling was going to be when you coupled it with nursing school, going back to work part time while still picking up freelance writing gigs, and still having two other children to take care of. She ends up doing a large amount of the learning on her own, and while academically she’s doing very well the isolation of being home rather than with her friends (for her) and the stress of trying to keep up with everything (for me) has made it more nightmare than blessing some days. 

I’m glad we have the opportunity to homeschool her, I really am. And from an academic standpoint the decision has been the right one. Unfortunately, her frequent illnesses and my insane schedule mean it’s difficult to take advantage of many of the homeschool activities and groups around here. The cost and the amount of time she’s still out sick makes it very difficult to commit to various homeschool group activities and workshops, since we never know what she’s going to make it to vs. when she’s going to need to stay home.

Maybe it’s just a bad night at the end of a bad week, but right now I’m tired and looking for something-anything-that’s going to keep this homeschool boat afloat. Moms who homeschool multiples, I tip my hat to you. You’re amazing.