Welcome to Day 26 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
Homeschooling in our home is 100% my responsibility. My husband has confidence I know what I’m doing and doesn’t get involved. However, that means I take a lot on my shoulders.
When we first got started, I thought it was natural that I do everything myself. Being home I surely had to be on top of it all before the weekend rolled in.
3 Reasons sharing the responsibilities is crucial
It took me a long time to change my perspective on things and slowly share some of the duties with my husband.
There are several benefits:
1- In sharing the load, I ensure I don’t burn out.
2- It makes my son’s dad a part of the process he may have unwittingly felt cut out from.
3- Our son gets a fresh perspective on the same goals.
If you are the main homeschooling parent, you likely have a lot on your plate as well. In this post I share ideas for getting the other parent involved. (Note: These ideas work even if you have shared custody of your child.)
3 [Non-pressured] contributions the other parent can make in raising and homeschooling your child with special needs
1- Physical activities: Since my son requires a lot of physical assistance, it’s very hard on my shoulders and neck. While I can handle the daily transfers and short physical exertions, I struggle with things like taking him to the park. This is officially dad’s job and my son knows it. Even if we walk by a park, he doesn’t expect I engage with him in the same way as he does with his dad.
What physical load can you share with your child’s other parent?
2- Travelling to appointments: We can’t take vacation easily, so my husband uses up his vacation days to help me out with appointments. He does the driving and parking. I worry about getting us ready, speaking with doctors and therapists, and looking after my little guy in the back seat. It seems like nothing, but it’s a huge help to not have to be concerned with being late because we can’t find parking in a big city.
How can you share travel with your child’s other parent?
3- Practice activities: Even if the other parent doesn’t fully support homeschooling or the homeschool philosophy of choice, you can have him/her participate with short activities in the evening or on the weekend. I like to keep a few main activities on a table or play area. My son eventually gravitates to that space with his dad, and dad ends up “playing” with him without fully knowing this was part of this week’s goal! I don’t make a big deal of it even if he does it differently. He’s interpreting the activity in his way and expanding and reinforcing the learning in a new way. Because I don’t make it a “to-do” for dad, he never resists and always thinks he came up with the idea himself! (Sneaky, sneaky!)
How can you share some of the weekly activities with your child’s other parent?
Getting over the guilt
For a long time, I couldn’t easily hand the tasks over to my husband. I experienced an enormous amount of guilt mostly because I felt I was letting my son down.
Over time I realized that our son has two parents because each parent has something to contribute. Sharing the tasks doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother. It just means I know my limits. Each time my husband takes over, I get a little break or get to work on other things, and vice versa. In the end, our son gets the best of both parents [mostly] each time he interacts with us.