There are lots of things wrong with our evenings. Homework isn't the only one.
But now Gabriel has daily math homework that must be done that day and turned in the next. Between the math, the spelling, the English worksheet, and the reading, it takes up the entire evening after dinner. I'm OK with homework in general, and I'm even OK with a lot of homework. But 6-year-olds who need to go to bed at 8:30 just don't have time for that much. It took 50 minutes to get the "10-minute" portion of his homework done tonight.
The math homework wasn't even the easy worksheet of equations that he can blow through himself in a few minutes. Instead, it was to list things around the house that have dates on them. Gabriel spent 10 minutes sitting in frustration trying to think of things until we were free enough to sit with him and help.
That's another thing -- a first-grader is apt to have young siblings in an un-self-sufficient stage of life, and we're frequently interrupted. Tonight, we were lucky that Julian and Katrina were playing very happily together, but other nights, we really have to come down on Julian for bugging Gabriel to play. I hate doing that.
Getting homework started before dinner, in theory, would be the answer, but there's absolutely no way that can happen. When I first walk in the door with all 3, I am on duty, dealing with making dinner, unpacking lunch sacks, changing Katrina, feeding Katrina (she insists on being spoon-fed now, and even when she doesn't, she still requires constant attention), putting things away, and maybe if I'm really really lucky, taking a few minutes to change my clothes and put my hair back. I can't possibly sit with Gabriel to help him with homework.
But even if I could, I don't want to push him through the door and right into the homework chair. The kid just got home, he'd like some unwind-time too. So it has to wait until after dinner when presumably things are calmed down. Yeah right: dinner cleanup, lunch prep, changing Katrina, herding Julian away, attending to assorted bumps and toy malfunctions, baby-bath, setting clothes out and maybe even sneaking in a moment of play with the younger two.
Our rental house is set up so that the "family room" is the large room off to the side when you first enter the house, and the "living room" is right off the kitchen. All the kids' toys are in the family room, and they play there, away from the kitchen. Overall this works well; we can eat dinner in peace and toys aren't scattered all over the living room.
But now, working-mom guilt creeps in. I don't have time in the evening to sit and play, and often they don't even want me to -- but I do wish I could watch them, talk to them, insert myself as I'm invited. Our reconstructed house will have a family room, eating area, and kitchen all together. I had doubts about that, but now I'm looking forward to it. Except we'll need to find a homework spot where the homeworker is protected from siblings and toy temptations, yet still accessible to the parent-partner-participant.