WOH and SAH: the debate

So I am trying to make a momentous decision.

One that will influence my entire family, my entire future, my entire life.  But mostly, my kids.

In another life, I had a career.  With five years of university education under my glossy, pride-shined belt buckle, I became a professional in the working world – and I loved it.  I was an educator, with about 120 junior high students under my influence every single day, teaching subjects about which I had great passion (language arts and social studies), developing professional relationships with my colleagues in which we discussed all manner of academic/education related issues, and filling up my bank account with happy dollar signs (in Alberta, teachers have it pretty good.  I do realize this is not the case everywhere and am grateful to be part of a province that values its educators).

Then came my wee blondies.

And now my life is filled with, like most SAH’s (stay-at-home moms) and, dare I say it, WOH (working-outside-home moms) too – though not to the same extent, perhaps – poopy diapers, tantrums, pop-mommy’s-head-off hugs, arts and crafts (blech!  there’s a reason I didn’t teach elementary school!), tickling tummies, giggles and laughter, discipline issues, nap times, and meds (okay, that one’s not normal for everyone else, but it’s just routine over here).

And suddenly, my stay-at-home, homeschooling mom future is shattered by one phone call.  And I have to choose between staying at home daily with my children and taking the perfect career opportunity for a wannabe stay-at-home mom (team-teaching, which can be beautifully flexible and allow for the best of both worlds).

So I’m starting to engage in this debate.  HOW do I decide?

It’s an interesting debate to hop into, incidentally.  Most stay-at-home moms, myself included, feel strongly that staying at home is the best choice for our family (some of us believe it’s the best choice for every family, but that’s a discussion for another day).  I know there are so many, many incredible pros to staying at home.  Such as:

  • Remaining primary influence over my kids for as long as possible
  • Keeping the home less busy (instead of using weekends, valuable time with kids, we can clean during the week and have family time on the weekend.  Ideally.)
  • Time to cook healthy meals/snacks
  • Witnessing first-hand most of my kids’ aha moments, tragedies, triumphs
  • Doing what I totally love – being 100% there for my children and my husband, showing them they are the most valuable “things” (you know what I mean) in my life

Okay, I know there’s a million more – those on this side, send’em my way.

And there are incredible pros to going to work (part-time – at least, in my case):

  • Advancing my career – so when the kids fly the nest (‘cuz they will) I am still involved in something that gives me joy
  • Influencing tons and tons of kids (hopefully for the good)
  • Making some money (okay, I’m not a materialist, but you have to admit the draw)
  • Doing what I totally love – and showing my children how to choose a career they take delight in, and that Mommy is a person with skills and strengths outside of the home

And I know there are more to this side too.

What do you think?  Why did you choose to be an SAH or WOH?

Fall Fun with Nifty Nippers

Well, fall has fallen upon us here in North America’s seasonally uneven northwest, and with it the beginning of preschool and activities and all those fun things.  We’re busy with dance class (Sara is soooo excited), Bible study (with the most amazing children’s program that both my girls love), youth group (mostly my hubby’s opportunity to serve God and the youth of our church, who he so loves, and I get in on it whenever I can), tutoring, etc.  And as the days go on, and I realize that Sara no longer needs nap time and she gets more time with me, I realize how much stuff I could teach  her in these glory days!  And how much time we get together!  Being a stay-at-home mom has its difficult moments, frustrating moments, hilarious moments, and boring moments (yes, those too), but the best part of it is that I get to be part of so many of her teachable moments.

So here I am, dreaming and hoping and planning for homeschooling, when I realize how much I have always dreaded arts-and-crafts.  And how much of teaching little nippers is about arts-and-crafts.  And about how I chose not to be an elementary/primary school teacher largely because of arts and crafts.  And how I seriously cannot even draw a stick person.

Well, with a fairly disgruntled sigh, I decided to start doing some research.  What can we do together these days that is fun, inspiring, and enriching?  Here are my ideas (pictures coming as we accomplish them)…

CRAFTS

A fall tree poster.  Draw a tree outline on a board of paper with black felt marker.  Using fall-coloured construction paper, tissue paper, or actual crumbly leaves (the latter being, probably, the messiest), glue bits of these pieces to the tree (encourage child to remember falling leaves, too!).

Ladybug Margarine Lid 

Materials:

  • CD Rom (or margarine lid)
  • printer
  • glue
  • scissors
  • something to colour with
  • a piece of paper

Instructions:

  • Print out the template of choice.
  • Colour the pieces as appropriate and cut them out.
  • You can cover the CD Rom with a piece of black construction paper if desired.
  • Glue the red wings onto the CD Rom.  You can make them together like he’s sitting or spread apart a bit like he’s flying.
  • Glue the head onto the CD Rom (over top of the wings).
  • Glue on the spots.

Apple Printing

Using an apple cut in half and apple-coloured paint (red, yellow, various light greens), create prints on any kind of palet – white t-shirt, paper bag, paper plate, paper, etc.  You could use carrots, squash, turnips, etc for a fall vegetable/fruit medley!

Leaf Sun Print Mural

Place three colours of construction paper (preferably fall colours like yellow, green, red, brown) taped together one one side on the ground where they will get lots of sun.
On top, place leaves of various types, in clusters or singles.
Use pennies or small stones to hold them in place.
Let them sit for 3-4 hours in the sun (check after one hour to make sure the leaves aren’t curling or blowing away)

Leaf Rubbings

Oh, this was fun!  Find some leaves, place them under thin paper, and use the side of unwrapped crayons to rub on the paper.  Really pretty and easy – Sara loved this!

Fall Fingerprint Tree

Using watercolour paints, paint your child’s arm and hand brown and have them make a print on the paper (as the trunk).  Then they dip their fingers in fall coloured paints and make fingerprint leaves all over the top.  Gorgeous, easy, but kinda messy!

ACTIVITIES

Fall Sorting

Materials: 4 egg cartons, 12 acorns, 12 maple seeds, 12 pine cones, 12 leaves, or other fall objects small container.

Description: Place objects in small container on table. encourage children to sort the objects into the egg cartons.

Pile-Up

The obvious: have kids pile up all the leaves and jump in, slide in, toss, search-for-ladybugs, etc.  (Sara did this with friends for an hour yesterday and couldn’t stop talking about it).

Scavenger Hunt

Make a list (picture list, if you happen to have time – or you could probably find one online) of fall things for the kid(s) to find.  Example of items:

  • Red leaf (or another colour) – make sure it comes off the ground and not from a tree
  • Acorn/nut
  • Pine cone
  • Really tiny/large leaf
  • Piece of smooth bark
  • Piece of rough bark (don’t need to remove these from the trees)
  • Two different types of grass
  • Flower

Sara finding her purple flower on our scavenger hunt

Thanks For Collage

Just got this idea now…so excited to try it.  Sara is an avid photographer, and we are going to go around for the next few days snapping shots of the things she is thankful for.  I’ll try not to guide her too much!  Then, sometime next week (before Thanksgiving) we’ll print the pictures and she’ll make a collage of things she’s thankful for.  This will be fun!!!

I’m sure we will come up with more in the near future.  But the ladybug is tomorrow’s activity, I believe, so we shall see how that one goes!

Do any of you have some fall ideas – particularly for activities (crafts are usually easy to find)?  What have you done with your own “nippers” that has been especially successful?

Confessions of a (sometimes) wannabee homeschooling mom…

In my previous life, I was a teacher.  That is, I stood in front of 30 pairs of eager eyes that shone with the desire to learn, and imparted my vast amounts of English literary/grammatical wisdom upon their motivated teenage brains (somewhat a biased version of my past, perhaps…).  I have a somewhat ridiculous love of education – and I don’t mean the sitting-in-class-listening-to-someone-lecture-you-while-you-feign-interest kind of education, but the life-is-learning-let-me-help-you-explore kind of education.  That’s why I still love tutoring so much, maybe.

With that in mind, I suppose it wasn’t too much of a shock when I went from completely denying I’d ever homeschool (Bob’s always asked why I was so against it and actually was shocked when I changed my mind) to saying I’d definitely consider it.  And then became profoundly enthused by it and started gobbling up the homeschooling literature (this tends to be my pattern: totally against something, re-read and hear about it, and jump trains loudly and enthusiastically).  But that’s a story for another day.

So today I baby-sat another little girl, age 19 months, which by the way makes for a very full and entertaining and hair-raising day when combined with a 15-month-old and a three-year-old.  We headed toward a school playground near our house in the morning.  As the older two girls scampered through the open field under wide blue skies toward the very-busy playground, the bell rang, and all the primary school kids ran hollering to the doors where they lined up for class.  And I was reminded how much I love love school (geek).  Especially in fall!  I love the excitement of backpacks and class lists and school supplies.  I love watching children walk in small clusters to school, hearing their lively voices, thrilling them with the excitement of what’s to come that year (in elementary school it is thrilling).  I love the buzz of classrooms as kids work on projects, laugh together, get something at last.  I love leaving the school on warmly golden autumn afternoons.  Can I steal that from my kids?  (I know the lists of positives about homeschooling – again, another day – but this does seem like a big loss for them).

Anyway, the schoolyard emptied and my three little ones and I romped over the bridges and slid screaming down the twisty slide until the preschool kids from the community school toddled out, holding onto a long blue rope.  It would have been Sara’s preschool class, actually, but we took her out in favour of dance class (plus we go to Bible Study Fellowship once a week, and the kids’ program is very much like preschool but with a God-focus, imagine that).  And again my heart had a twinge of ahhh longing, as I watched the cute 3-year-olds climbing on the play structure with all their little friends, hanging onto their teacher’s hand, and heard the teacher explain that next was circle time and then was snack time.  Oh, the joys.

And then, wonder of wonders (and kind of annoying wonder at that), I got the phone call.  The one I looked for all last winter while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do this fall.  That’s right – I was offered a teaching job-share position at my old school.  With a friend, whose teaching I greatly admire and appreciate.  A gem of a job-share (if the teaching assignment is good).  (Let’s be honest, most job-shares are incredible opportunities to work part-time, no weekends, good benefits and salary, and summers/holidays off.  Teaching is awesome that way).

Oh, man.  Oh, it hurts.  Can I say I really want to do it?  And can I say I still really want to be at home with my kidlets and, in the future, homeschool?

Good thing this is months before I have to make any decision, because seriously, I have no idea at this moment what to do.