Friday, September 27, 2013

Homeschooling with Chronic Illness

This is a post I've been wanting to write for quite some time; however, every time I started I just didn't  know where to go with it. As I sit here faced with another bout of pain, I thought I'd share my plans for the day and hopefully show how you, too, can still homeschool through chronic illness.

First of all, my diagnosis. I have a handful of what are considered "invisible" illnesses. This simply means that I most people can't see the symptoms of said illness like you would see the runny nose, cough, and watery eyes of seasonal allergies (which I also happen to have every spring and fall). I regularly fight juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Raynaud's phenomenon. The symptoms are always there but don't always effect my ability to school.

My symptoms include:


  • joint pain & swelling
  • stiffness & difficulty moving after sitting or lying for long periods
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • concentration problems
  • depression
  • headaches (gotta love those migraines)
  • morning stiffness
  • sleep problems (have a hard time getting into a deep, restful sleep)
  • numbness in hands, feet, and legs
  • tender points (all over dull aching with random pinpoint shoots of severe pain)
  • numbness in hands, feet, and nose from poor blood circulation
  • effected areas get ice cold and turn white/blue
  • effected areas turn blue then bright red when trying to warm up often with painful tingling

In addition to my invisible illnesses and seasonal allergies, I'm also pregnant with our fourth child. Each pregnancy has brought on severe morning sickness that lasts from about 8 weeks until birth. This time around has been no different in that area.

As you can see, I face a whole host of obstacles in my homeschool journey. So how do I do it with all of this going on? Well, to be honest, there are a lot of days I don't. School often gets cancelled because I'm utterly exhausted or fall asleep without warning from the fatigue. (Funny story: Just last week Big Girl woke me up because I fell asleep in the middle of reading a science lesson. Big Boy thought it was hilarious!)

In all seriousness, though, here's how many of our "Mommy is sick" days goes and what I rely on to get through.

Netflix of all things has been a blessing! There are so many documentaries on history and science that I can easily put on for the kids to watch while I rest.

School in Bed. There are some days I just can't get out of bed. These are admittedly my worst days, but they do happen more frequently than I'd like. Big Girl will run downstairs and grab all of our materials for a given subject. Then she, Big Boy, and I cuddle under the covers while I read to them. Baby Boy gets to play in his room on these days, so we are often serenaded by the Jake & the Neverland Pirates theme song.

Cut our work in half. We'll start a bit later in the day and only do the basics - reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Just push through. I know this is probably the least helpful of everything I said, but there are days when the symptoms are there but not as severe. Those days, I just have to pray for an extra dose of patience and energy and push through the pain and fatigue. By the end of the "push through" days, I'm often in bed by 8:30pm with the kids.

Do any of you out there face physical obstacles in your homeschooling journey? How do you work through the tough days? I'm always on the look out for new ideas!


  1. Thank you for posting this! I have wondered how I would get thru the day at times. I also was sick with all four of my boys from 6-8 weeks until they came out of my body. Even at the hospital waiting to have them and sick the entire time. Praying blessings on your home schooling adventure.

    1. Although it's nice not to be alone my severe morning sickness, I always hate to hear when others experience it. I'm so glad this post helped!