I Lost the Snickers, But I Have the Planner
By: Rebecca Miller, The Sandwiched Homeschooler
Since I have been a little kid, I have had a terrible time with short-term memory, being easily distracted, and a tendency for forgetfulness. I don’t know, it may have been that I was easily distracted and suffered from undiagnosed ADD—something I don’t think there was a name for when I was a kid. From about the time that I was in the third grade I realized that it was problem, and so I would draw little “Xs” on my hand to remind me about the things that I didn’t want to forget. When I was in school, I didn’t need that many Xs (perhaps a reminder to bring something to basketball practice or to study for a particular test); but when I worked, I would come home with 5 or 6 Xs on my hand. Of course this was before it was so common for women to have visible tattoos, and my Xs would stick out noticeably like a sore thumb. Customers and family would always ask me, “What are the Xs for?” I probably should have been embarrassed that I had to put “reminders” on my hand, but I wasn’t. “Oh, this one is to remind me to buy detergent today; this one is to remind me that I have to stop on the way home and pay my electric bill; this one…” and so on. I would be able to tell what each and every X represented. And I wouldn’t forget what I needed to do because at some point I would see the Xs on my hand and be reminded of them.
Little reminder notes didn’t work; I forgot to gather them up or where I left them to begin with. My husband suggested that I keep a notepad in my purse to jot everything down on; but most times I would forget that I had the notepad. Or if I did use the notepad, I would neglect to bring it home because I forgot to put a X on my hand to remind about it. And when I left the notepad at work, it didn’t help me to remember the things that I needed to do in preparation for the next day. Even though I knew that the notepad system and “sticky” system wouldn’t work for me, I occasionally tried to use them—especially when someone called me on the telephone. I would immediately jot down on whatever paper I found handy the important message. And it never failed that I would gather up all of the little pieces of paper that were annoying me at my desk and then absentmindedly toss out the important message with all of the scraps of paper. Or if I didn’t toss it out, it would be a long time before I found it again because I wrote the message on the back of a paper that I filed away in the filing cabinet. I would later find the message when I pulled out a file to check about our car insurance or health insurance. You would think that by now I would just search those folders first when I am missing something, but I forget to do that.
So far the worst episode of my forgetfulness was the year that my kids were small and my mother bought them little religious rings. I didn’t want my small kids to lose the rings, so I gathered up the rings for safekeeping, “Let me put them away in a safe place for you.” We didn’t find them again for 5 years. My putting something in a “safe place” or holding it for “safekeeping” has become a joke within our family, because when I put something away to be “safe”, it is—from everyone, including myself. Now when I lose something, my kids will say, “Good thing you put it in a safe place.”
In October of 2008, I was in a car accident and suffered what my husband and I were told was a post-traumatic concussion. I’m not really sure what that means other than my increased forgetfulness was supposed to be temporary. I haven’t found that to be the case.
I shared with another homeschool mom recently about my latest episode of forgetfulness. Last week I bought some Snicker minis candy bars at the grocery store. They were on the table after unpacking the groceries. I then picked them up to go put away; but in the process, one of my kids asked for help with something and I set them down. I haven’t seen them since. (Of course, my kids deny eating them.) I checked the kitchen, the pantry, the garbage, and all of the rooms (including the bathroom and my bedroom). They’re gone. It will probably be months before they are found again.
While most parents I encountered told me that their biggest worry at the beginning of homeschooling was their concern in regards to teaching subjects that they were not comfortable with (their own level of understanding on a particular subject), I worried about how my forgetfulness was going to get in the way of our homeschooling. I knew that I needed more of a fool-proof plan than marking Xs on my hand; but as a new homeschooler, I was overwhelmed in so many directions in general.
From the first year of our homeschooling, I made weekly planning sheets which were very similar to the weekly planners used by private and public school educators. The difference, of course, was that I made mine very specific to the subjects and activities that my kids participated in. I had not heard about FlyLady or FlyBabies at the time, but I did realize that I needed to do certain things each day—if not weekly—to make sure that we stayed on track of the schedule that I put together. At the end of our homeschooling day, everything needed to be put where it belonged. I had modified our daily planner to include a place to check off the completion of our daily assignments. Sometimes I would highlight the things that I had overlooked and we had missed that day so that they would be completed the next day. At the end of the week, I made sure that all of the kids’ grades were logged in and any lists that I had (reading, material, or field trips) were prepared for the next week of school. Keeping the weekly planners in a file at the end of the week allowed for me have on hand the information that would be needed in a portfolio for my kids.
As my kids grew older, I relied more on them to help me to stay on track. For the most part, they are good about it. I still keep a daily schedule which notes the pages and topics to be covered on a particular day and it is available for them to use as a guide on their own—even if I should become distracted or forgetful.
Homeschooling is not just about trying to figure out how to accommodate the difficulties that our children may face; but its sometimes about working past ours. I have encountered quite a few homeschooling parents that suffer from physical, mental, and emotional difficulties. And while these difficulties can cause their homeschooling to become a family project, in the end most seem to find that it really helps to build strength in their individual family unit.
So the good news is that I have the planner for our school day. Now if I could only find the Snicker minis.
Then Sandwiched Homeschooler
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