Four years ago, I was given an answer to a lifelong question. The answer was an autoimmune disorder and the question was “Why have I been sick my entire life?” At that time, I was in the homeschooling trenches with my 2nd grader, preschooler, and new baby on my hip. Truthfully, the answer gave me so much relief and comfort that I could finally see how I could juggle life with an illness. Before I began my monthly blood treatment, I was sick more often than not. When the treatment finally began, I could focus on the side effects of the disorder as opposed to just being ill all of the time.
My health has dramatically improved over the last three years; however, the afflictions that come with the disorder make themselves known. I battle constant fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and other internal ailments. Some days, getting out of bed takes all of the energy I can muster. On those days, I know school is going to be on the lighter side.
How can I cope with a chronic illness and maintain a homeschool schedule? The easy answer is that I plan for it. I know there are days that I am not going to be able to jump into a big project or experiment. Fortunately, we use a curriculum that requires as much involvement as I want to give or as little as I can spare. On a normal day, I have two boys working on their Time4Learning lessons at the same time so I can answer questions, read to them, or offer any clarifications. On the days I cannot monitor them as closely, they work on reviewing lessons or moving forward with self-directed learning that doesn't require as much of my assistance.
I also have a checklist of activities for us to do when I need to be able to rest more. I have set aside books to read together and keep some interesting documentaries in our Netflix queue. We enjoy crafts, so my oldest son will work with his younger brothers on some easier, seasonal projects. I save some of our homeschool favorites for those days, as well, like Play-doh, wax sticks, puzzles, etc.
Most importantly, I realize that I need to allow myself some grace. I remind myself that a day here or there is not going to be so detrimental to my children that I won’t be able to make up the time lost. If they need some additional help from Dad due to my increased need for rest, I've got to ask for it. I know that science may have to wait until Dad comes home from work or the social studies project of the old west frontier may be put on hold, but my sons are learning something books cannot teach them. They are learning to be compassionate and understanding. They are learning to have empathy for those that are sick and learning to care for the family around them. Isn’t that one of the best parts of homeschooling anyway?