I think sometimes we homeschool families are reluctant to tell the outside world that homeschooling isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. That every project isn’t Pinterest-worthy. That sometimes we have to turn to Google to jog our memory on what exactly the Pythagorean Theory is and how you use it to figure out the length of that stupid triangle’s side.
That reluctance isn’t without reason. We have enough voices crying out against homeschooling, so sometimes we feel the need to circle the wagons and present the good side – you know as opposed to the horses’ rear-ends.
The only problem with sharing only the good days, though, is that homeschooling parents who are in the trenches start to feel alone. They start to feel like they’re the only ones who ever have bad days. They feel like maybe it’s not going to get better. They feel like they’re the only ones with doubts. They feel alone and defeated.
Thankfully, the good days far outnumber the bad and the really bad days are few and far between, but here’s the truth about some days:
Some days are hard. Some days there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Some days will involve bad attitudes, whining, crying, and temper tantrums – and those are as likely to be from you as from the kids.
Some days are awesome. Some days all the boxes get checked, the light bulbs go off, the kids are engaged, the read-aloud is amazing, and the projects turn out just as you had in mind. Those days help you survive those previously mentioned hard days.
Some days your house will be a disaster. Some days the dirty dishes will be piled high in both sides of the sink and spilling over onto the surrounding countertops. The dirty laundry will be overflowing the hampers. Art lessons can be completed by drawing in the dust on just about any flat surface in the house. And, school will only be completed after you unearth the school books from all the clutter on the dining room table.
Some days – most days – you can’t get it all done.
Some days the house will actually be clean. Every once in awhile the laundry will be caught up, the dishwasher will quietly be washing the supper dishes, while the clean pots and pans dry in the sink. The floor will be vacuumed. The house will be dusted. The toilets will be scrubbed. All the toys and school supplies will be put away.
Take a picture. It probably won’t last more than 35.5 seconds.
Some days you will sink into a pit of self-doubt. You’ll wonder if you’re cut out to be a homeschooling parent. You’ll worry that you’re not doing enough. You’ll despair that your kids aren’t learning enough. You’ll watch the little yellow school bus go by and wonder if you’d all be better off if your kids were on it.
Some days you’ll know you’re doing exactly the right thing for your family. You’ll be there for that ah-ha moment. You’ll watch your struggling learner get it – without having had to feel stupid or inadequate because it took a while. You’ll see your kids’ excitement ignite and their learning soar because you took that rabbit trail. You’ll see them following their passions and investing in hobbies for which they might not otherwise make time.
Some days you’ll hit the books hard. Some days will be academically heavy days in which you surprise even yourself with how much was accomplished.
Some days you’ll decide that an impromptu field trip is just what you all need. Some days you’ll make the wise decision to scrap the lesson plans and herd everyone out the door to somewhere other than home – a museum, a park, a play, a zoo, an aquarium, a pond, or some really cool event that you just learned was in town. And, it will probably be one of those days that get stored up in the memory banks to be savored and relived in the years to come and you’ll know you did just exactly the right thing.
Some days you’ll wish you’d never homeschooled. You’ll catch yourself daydreaming about how you’d spend your time if your kids were in school. You’ll imagine what it would be like to have placed the pressure and responsibility of their educations on the shoulders of someone else – to let someone else write the lesson plans, grade the papers, and enforce the due dates.
Some days you’ll thank God you do. Some days – most days – you’ll be so thankful for the privilege and the blessing to homeschool. Most days, there is nowhere else you’d rather be, nothing else you’d rather be doing, and no one on earth you’d rather be spending your days with.
Some days your kids will even recognize the sacrifices – whether time, income, or occasionally sanity – you’ve made in your choice to homeschool them and they’ll thank you for it. Really.
Some days I am struck by how seamlessly homeschooling is woven into our lives. It’s not something separate; it’s part of who we are. It’s just that thing that we do – part of the ebb and flow of our lives. Those are the days when I am so thankful we made this choice and I know that I wouldn’t trade this life for anything, even with the bad days.
How long has your family homeschooled? What “some days” did I miss?
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.