I’ve never met anyone who loves every single part of their job.
When I used to work in architectural engineering, the two things I dreaded most were boring business meetings and plumbing diagrams. And if I had to attend a boring business meeting ABOUT plumbing diagrams… well, let’s just say that wasn’t my favorite day. There’s only so long a girl (at least THIS girl) can listen to someone explain the intricacies of sanitary vent lines before she’s forced to mentally escape to Aruba to preserve her mental health.
It’s no different with home education. Not the part about the plumbing and meetings (unless you mean pulling LEGOs out of the toilet and calling a family meeting to determine the culprit).
No. What I mean is, just like every other job, the role of home educator has its downsides.
Side Note: Keep in mind, each homeschool is unique. The “not-so-favorite” parts of the job for me might be no biggie to another homeschool mom, and vice versa.
When I first started homeschooling, I thought the hardest aspects of my new job description would be:
- … figuring out how to teach and create lesson plans (since I’m not a certified teacher and teaching has never been my thing)
- … having no money for anything, including school curriculum, since we’d be living on one income in a two income society
- … having no friends since I didn’t know any homeschoolers (plus, as we’ve all heard, homeschoolers have issues with socialization, right?)
Interestingly, none of the things I THOUGHT would be the “bad parts of the job” have been much of a problem so far!
Instead, if I had to list the things that have challenged me most about homeschooling, it would have to be:
Never Enough Time
The fact that homeschooling is a lot of work doesn’t bother me too much. The problem for me is there never seems to be enough time to do the work.
If I’m teaching the kids, I can’t be planning the lesson for tomorrow. If I’m cleaning up the science experiment, I can’t be getting lunch ready (unless it’s an edible science experiment, I suppose). If I’m focusing on quality time with my kids, then I can’t be researching curricula for next year.
Honestly, this probably says more about me than it does about homeschooling. I remember feeling like I never had enough time when I worked full time with an hour-long commute each way. I also felt the time crunch when I juggled part-time work and young kids. But, especially in this stage of life and with the homeschooling lifestyle we’ve chosen, I have to admit I definitely struggle with time.
The solution seems to lie in a combination of:
- Making sure my own spiritual and prayer life are on track
- Having healthy boundaries (usually just saying “no” more often)
- Asking for help when I need it
- Using consistent, intentional time management ideas
- Using clever strategies (like saving time by not brushing teeth…kidding, kidding! I mean strategies like using audiobooks to read to the kids for me while I clean the kitchen)
Too bad being able to write about the solution doesn’t automatically make me good at doing it! *sigh*
Perpetually Messy House
One of my pet peeves is when people think homeschoolers just sit at home all day, isolated from society. So not true! But, with that said, we are usually home more than your average non-homeschooling family.
I confess, I sometimes envy all those houses out there – peaceful and still – with their inhabitants off at work and school all day (making messes somewhere else). Our house, on the other hand, has three small-but-mighty EF5 tornadoes blowing around in it for approximately 30 extra hours a week!
The tornado damage in the picture below was created in less than 30 minutes – can you imagine what they can do in 30 hours?!
Just the extra cleanup needed from snacks and lunch at home (instead of at school) is mind-blowing. How can so few kids generate such a large quantity of crumbs and unidentifiable ooey-gooey-stickiness in such a short amount of time?
Combine that with the science experiments, creative contraptions, room-sized DIY tents, art projects, school supplies and usual kid toy messes, it just about puts me over the edge.
On the bright side, as the kids get older, things do get better. They help more. Like REAL helping. Not the kind of “help” where you have to go back and do the chore again after they’re done because it’s actually worse than when they started.
I’ve learned to start training them young and have them do chores alongside you as much as possible. Of course, there’s a learning curve…
In any case, there are ways to reduce the messiness. Using routines, chore charts and minimizing clutter – those kinds of things. But, the best way I’ve found to get over the perpetual mess problem is simply to lower your expectations.
Maybe that sounds bad, but it’s just not reasonable to expect a homeschool home to be pristine given all that goes on there throughout the week!
I’ve heard from veteran homeschool moms that someday the house will be lovely and quiet and I’ll miss the mess and the noise. I’m willing to bet they’re right.
Adding homeschooling on top of the usual parental worries sometimes feels overwhelming to me. All parents have the usual parent-guilt, but homeschoolers also wonder things like “Would the character issues my kids struggle with be problems if we didn’t homeschool or are they caused by home educating in some way?” and “How is my relationship with my kids affected by our choice to homeschool?”
Although I still battle those worries myself, here are a few thoughts that have helped me overcome them in the past:
- No one can know what might’ve been if another path was chosen. So don’t worry about the “other” paths and focus on the one you’re on.
- The grass isn’t greener on the other side. Think about the reality of the other options for a few minutes and you’ll see. The problems and downsides might be different, but no educational method is a panacea.
- Any of the questions mentioned above – like character issues or parent-child relationships – could easily be asked by any parent whose chosen any educational path.
Sometimes I also wonder about the curriculum choices we’ve made. With so much freedom to create our own experience, how do I know if I’ve picked the “right” or “best” resources?
But, the more we homeschool, the more I’m finding that’s kind of a futile question to ask. Sure, there might be better fits than others when it comes to curriculum. But, ultimately, we as parents need to do the best we can with what we have and stay receptive to God’s leading.
The same God who fed thousands with a sack lunch can take the humble, tentative efforts of anxious homeschooling parents and multiply their effectiveness in unfathomable ways.
So, if nagging uncertainties are a problem for you, too, try and remember to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
There you have it. An honest look at the three biggest challenges I’ve experienced in my own homeschool and some of the ideas that have helped me work through them.
These are things that all parents struggle with to some extent, but to me they seem exaggerated when homeschooling is thrown into the mix (maybe that’s just because I’m IN it right now).
This is why it’s so important to have your reasons for homeschooling sorted out. So when the bad days come and you ask yourself why you’re doing this, you’ll have a solid answer!
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