Homeschooling is Hard

I have been teaching my kids at home for over 4 years now, and there is just one thing I have to say about the whole situation. Homeschooling is hard. Well ok, maybe that's just the first thing I wanted to say. Actually, I have a lot more to say about it. The fact is, I have learned a lot in this little adventure.

Here are a few things I have learned in our personal homeschool journey.

1. Socialization is a non-issue. When I started this journey I was rather unsure if it was the right thing to do. Mainly because (everyone say it together now!) "What about socialization???"  HAHAHA! Little did I realize back then how much of a non-issue socializing a homeschooler actually is in this day and age. I didn't know that I was going to have to STOP attending social events and play dates and all kinds of outings just so I could do what I first intended - schooling at home. Because to homeschool, you do have to actually be at home. Go fig.

And on the topic of socializing homeschoolers, can I just make a point? No adult chooses to socialize by sitting in a room of 30 strangers who are our exact age, right? Believing that kids can learn to be social and benefit from such a set-up is a little weird. Think about it. Kids (being humans, and all) socialize the same way adults do. They meet new people in different places, make friends, call them up on the phone, make plans to see each other, and so on. The school set-up doesn't prepare them to be sociable, it prepares them to ask permission to use the bathroom and run the yard. I can only think of one place where that would be useful. (Hint: I mean prison) 

2. Being with your kids is natural. I also learned how natural it is to be with your children all day, and how unnatural it is to be physically separated from your children. And then when you are reunited at the end of the day you can't just enjoy each other, you have to do homework. Which is schoolwork -at home. I know, it's ironic, right?  But you'll never realize this truth until you have been home with your kids for a while. And then it hits you how right it is.

3. Housework isn't going to get done. I don't care how organized you are. If you homeschool and your kids are still small, you cannot keep a Pinterest-ready home. I am not sure I have fully accepted this yet. In fact, nope...I really haven't. I still feel inadequate about the state of my home. Some days more than others, but generally, in my mind, it's a fail. Still, I am trying to let go of that because it means that my kids have actually gotten their schoolwork done for the day. Granted, if you judge by those standards and considering the state of my house, my kids should be Rhodes Scholars by now.

4. Homeschool is hard. This brings us back full circle to what I really wanted to say. Homeschool is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. That includes navigating in a foreign country without speaking the language, pushing a baby forth from my loins, and getting a Berkeley degree. I didn't know it was going to be like this. I had visions of sunlight streaming in through the window upon an organized desk as I lovingly instructed my quiet and attentive children in Latin and astronomy. Pretty funny, right?

The reality is much more noisy, chaotic, and exasperating than I could have ever imagined. Latin and astronomy are still part of the equation, but they take place among sibling squabbles, toddlers spilling milk, little ones asking for this, that and the other, children daydreaming instead of doing their schoolwork, mommy trying to stay one step ahead of the mess, and the ever-present cup of coffee. Every day is different. There are moments of absolute joy and laughter within that chaos, moments of despair, moments of quiet productiveness, moments of profound learning, and moments of throwing my hands up in the air and saying, "Forget this, let's go to Panera for lunch!"

At the end of a long day, which is every day, my feet hurt and my patience is worn thin. And I still haven't gotten everything done that I wanted to do. My husband always reminds me that we could just send them to school and things would be much easier on me. But I am far too convinced that these kids belong with this mom, and I am not willing to give them up. And realizing this, I have also come to the conclusion that homeschooling is not for the weak of mind or spirit.

It takes conviction and commitment. Because some days that's all you've got. When you haven't slept nearly enough, when everything goes wrong and everyone is in a bad mood and you are all stuck in the same house together, you need something to get you through it so that you can come through the other side and experience the good days. If you do that, then you have the awesome "home" moments, like snuggling on the couch on a rainy day, dancing like crazy in the middle of the living room with your kids to golden oldies, or rediscovering a subject you used to love in school that you get to relearn when you teach it. You come through the other side of the bad days to experience those moments that could never take place if you send them away for school.

5. Homeschool is hard, and that's ok. It's ok for things to be hard. It's ok for you to have a terrible day. It's ok for you to even skip a day or two of school so you don't burn out. Not everything has to be easy. But everything worth doing has their rewards. And this is one of those endeavors that have huge rewards, all the way into eternity. As a Catholic, I am not just educating my kids for this earthly life but for their heavenly life which is more real than this ever will be. I offer up my pains and difficulties for the salvation of souls, so I know the hardships aren't "wasted", as it were. It's ok that you struggle and that it's hard. Someday, you will rest. Just not today. Find moments when you can recollect yourself. Attend a retreat if possible, get away for coffee with a friend, or just take a hot shower and lock the door so the kids can't bust in. 

When I sat down to write this post I wanted to pour out a laundry list of complaints, because I have had a hard couple of weeks. At the top of my list of complaints was how noisy and chatty my kids are. I am sensitive to loud noise and prefer hushed tones and calm conversation, yet my kids cannot stop talking to me constantly and at very shrill volumes. (See what I did there? Still got the complaint in!) Somehow though, this post has become a little bit of a pep talk, hasn't it. But I'll be honest, this is not just for other homeschool moms. It's for myself as well. I am totally going to re-read this when I get discouraged! So, I guess that means I will read it every night before bed, ha! Just kidding. But really, if you are struggling, hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day!

What have you learned in your homeschooling journey?


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