When Homeschooling Is Hard

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: homeschooling can be hard. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not a matter of if you will have a bad day (or week or month or year), but when.

I don’t say that to discourage you, but to prepare you. I’m the mom who always told my kids, “Okay, the nurse is getting ready to give you a shot. It’s going to hurt, but just for a second.”

I like knowing what’s coming because it’s usually not as bad when you’re prepared. So, y’all, if you haven’t discovered this fact already, you’re going to have days when homeschooling is hard.

When Homeschooling Is Hard

Now that you know they’re coming (I bet you already did), let’s talk about how to make them a little more bearable.

1. Capture the excitement that you’re feeling right now.

Unless you’re just insanely burned out from last year, you’re excited right now. It’s the start of a new year. It’s a fresh, clean slate.

What are you excited about?

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Why are you feeling proud of your kids?

Why are you homeschooling?

Don’t just think about those questions. Write your answers down. You may need to refer to them later.

Write them down and put the paper where you can find it later. Or hide slips of papers with your thoughts here and there in your planner, teacher’s guide, or a book you plan to read so they’ll be there to surprise you.

(Or, if you’re like me, put them where you can find them later, forget where that was, and still enjoy the effect of being surprised.)

Oh, and that “why are you homeschooling” thing? If you haven’t worked that out in your mind yet, now is an excellent time to do so. Use your answers to develop your homeschool mission statement. Knowing your purpose not only buoys you up on the hard days, but it helps guide your decisions throughout your homeschooling journey.

2. Remember that homeschooling is not all academics.

For some homeschooling parents, academic excellence is the sole reason for homeschooling. For most of us, though, academics are only one part of why we do what we do.

Remember that this year during those inevitable moments when you have to put the academics aside and deal with a character issue. Or when a fantastic opportunity arises and threatens your well-laid lesson plans.

Remember that when life circumstances derail your home and your school. Or when you’re just not sure you’re going to be able to face one more day of whatever is going on in your life or your school.

Those moments, when met head-on, can strengthen your faith, your family, and your resolve.

When Homeschooling Is Hard

3. Homeschooling can’t all be what’s wrong with public school.

We all have our reasons for homeschooling. (And a complete dissatisfaction with public school is actually not one of mine.)

However, you can’t be homeschooling only because of what you see as the failings of public school. You must also be homeschooling because of what is right with homeschooling. Otherwise, your choices and decisions are just reactionary, and on the terrible days that stretch into weeks that stretch into months, you’re going to lose sight of why you chose to homeschool.

4. Take time with friends – mom and kids.

Make sure that you and your kids are taking time to spend with friends. Kids need to hang out with their peers. You know, so they don’t wind up all weird and unsocialized. And you need to hang out with other moms or dads who can relate to your experiences.

I can’t tell you how many times a simple reminder that I’m not alone has improved a lousy day. Just knowing that someone else has experienced what I’m going through with everything from a struggling reader to a sometimes-hard-to-live-with teen makes those struggles a little easier to bear.

Make sure you’re not isolating – intentionally or unintentionally – yourself or your kids. It’s okay to set the books aside from time to time for a day spent with friends. It will revitalize all of you.

5. Pray about it.

This last reminder should really be the first step for Christian homeschooling parents. When you’re having a bad day, take it to the One who loves your kids even more than you do and who loves you more than you love your own kids. Sometimes just handing it all over to God is such a release for me. I know He’s got this, so I don’t have to keep stressing over it.

Difficult homeschool days are going to happen. Having a plan in place for dealing with them and having a heads-up knowing that they’re coming can make them much easier to deal with.

How do you handle a lousy homeschool day?

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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.

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  1. Sometimes on really bad days or days when I’m not feeling so well, we’ll find a good movie on Netflix, make some popcorn, and veg out for the day and just relax. The one thing that has helped to decrease the number of bad days in our homeschool the most has been for me to relax about needing to get EVERYTHING done that I’ve planned out. I’m a planner- there’s no way getting around that, so while I still plan everything for the whole year at once, I don;t freak out if something else comes up. Years ago when something would throw us off course, we would double up- sometimes even triple up- on work until everything was “caught up.” It always ended in tears, arguments, and complete frustration. Now, instead of catching up, I think to myself, “Is this really vital?” If the answer is no (which it usually is) we just skip it, unless it’s something we were really looking forward to doing. Then, we’ll usually replace something else with that. I just remind myself constantly- if they’re living, then they’re learning. They can’t be separated.

    1. “…if they’re living, then they’re learning. They can’t be separated.”

      I love that. Keeping that perspective really does make a huge difference.

  2. Love this! You made so many good points! As in so many things in life there are pros and con’s to everything.Its not just about not going to public school its about what’s best for our family! Thanks for sharing! Linking up with you at hip homeschooling moms:)

  3. First, I LOVE YOUR BLOG, beginning with your name, it just makes me laugh. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, I especially love #3. I think that I struggle with having my kids home sometimes because I forget to think about the positives of homeschooling and only remember that I don’t want them in public school…it feels like a chore rather than a blessing.

  4. Thanks for the perspective. Life is full of academics. Even when we deviate from our textbooks, we don’t have to deviate from learning. We just have to be intentional about conversationally working in that math problem. Sometimes those make the greatest impact anyway since they are the ones tied to real life!

  5. Well, I think I qualify as “Unless you’re just insanely burned out from last year” because we’ve homeschooled for eight years and this is the first year I’m not excited about starting school in two weeks. And the recent meltdown by one girlie when we asked her to calculate her own score in a game didn’t help matters.

    1. I’ve been there. It was a difficult first semester. For us, it was a game-changer in January when we completely changed curriculum and went to a six weeks on/one week off schedule. Those two things saved our homeschool and my sanity. I hope you find your game-changer soon. (((Hugs)))

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