Dear frazzled, sick of the morning routine, overworked, busy parents of school aged children:
I recently read an article on Scary Mommy where this understandably tired out mama listed off the reasons why she didn’t want to homeschool, or be made to feel guilty about her decision not to. To her I say, I support you in whatever you need to do for your family… but just because your morning routine is a mess and your 3.5 yr old isn’t potty trained, doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool.
Homeschooling is not an option for every family. I 100% understand that; I am so thankful that there are kind and intelligent teachers who are willing to teach other people’s children. Even if it is a real, viable, option for your family and you choose not to homeschool… I respect that! I’m all for freedom of choice. I think it’s important to understand when making that decision, that homeschooling does not look like the crazy mornings, jam packed weekends, or even the summer breaks of schooling life. If it were that hard all the time, none of us would do it. Really.
I went to public school for 11 years. I went to private school after that. I had lots of good and bad experiences with both, but we made the decision to homeschool. When I gave birth to my daughter, I realized my life was structured in a way that was completely clashing with the life of a stay at home mom, planning to homeschool her kids. I remember feeling shocked that all I could accomplish in one day with a newborn was a trip to the grocery store. I wondered if something was wrong with me because I had so little energy. In reality, I was just a brand new Mom, who was not yet adjusted to the life and routine of round the clock infant care while recovering from giving birth.
What I had to do to adjust to this new lifestyle I had chosen was adjust my perspective and my priorities. This involved some tears and fighting and lots of hard work, but eventually I did it. Or am still doing it, daily, because life doesn’t stop and just as soon as you think you know what you’re doing, you have to potty train or introduce solids or something else that throws off your routine.
One of the biggest challenges for me was that I was a “runny around / have a busy life” type of person. I liked to wake up and ACCOMPLISH. This was probably because of my many years having to do this for school, but whatever the case may be, I had to unlearn it. Nothing happens fast with a baby. Her father is much more laid back thanI am, and I was making him miserable too, so I adjusted. I may not be getting as much work done as I used to, but I sure feel happier. I no longer put pressure on my family or myself to DO THE MOST THINGS, but I focus on building a happy life together where we take the time to meet each others needs.
I slowed down, and I was able to focus on helping my daughter learn. I’m not filling her life as a 2 year old with work books and pre-preschool curriculum, but I am helping her learn her numbers, colors, and how to put a shirt on. I have no greater goals than getting my family fed, watered, happy, and learning.
Since I was able to stay home and facilitate this kind of life, my family blossomed. It may look like from my photos like I have this perfect life, because suddenly I have time to sew a pillow for my toddler, or decorate beautiful cookies for Easter, but really they were not the result of a packed and busy life of plans. They were the result of creating a life full of extra time. Since I’m not worried about carpool or daycare drop off or extra-curriculars, I have more time at home. Learning with homeschool happens in fewer hours than a typical school day, so that gives families more hours.
These extra hours aren’t something we fill in all the time, no ma’am, because down time with family is the key to this equation. When you have that kind of down time, and you don’t fill it with screens or light up toys or video games, it blooms into exploring new ideas, learning new skills, baking and crafting. It gives me time to write this right now.
So don’t be so quick to say “I could never homeschool, my life is crazy enough!” or “those darn homeschool blog moms look so perfect”, because we’re just muddling along changing poopy diapers like the rest of you. I fought hard to unlearn the “busy”, and my family is happier because of it. It may not be a choice that your family is able to make, or one that you even want to. It is one that worked for me, for my family, so I’ll pass it along and hope it helps someone. Happy parenting friends, we’re all in this together.