A lot of people who hire me for career coaching finally tell me that what they really want is a way to make a life that will let them homeschool their kids. When they have kids. Here’s what I tell them:
1. Find a husband who makes enough money for you to stay home.
Look, if you don’t have kids yet, you should know that in most cases, one parent will homeschool the kids and one parent will work. It would be really nice if both parents could work part-time from home and both parents could homeschool, but this is extremely difficult to set up and it’s high risk because no one is concentrating on their career enough to keep it stable.
So since you already know how you want your life to work, don’t be shy about making sure you marry a breadwinner. If you know you want to homeschool your kids, then other options, like marrying a starving artist, are not open to you.
2. Make sure your spouse is on board.
Check out the photo up top. It’s another by James Maher. At first I didn’t like that the photos he took for this blog would be just me and the kids. But then I realized that it makes sense, and here’s why: I have yet to see a homeschooling operation that is lead by the dad. I see a lot of dads participating, but the moms are running the show. This is no surprise to me because I’ve already been in the special needs world, where it’s largely the same situation. There are dads who do a lot, but one person needs to run the show and it’s always the mom.
So the people planning to homeschool are most likely the moms, but having a spouse that is on board is essential, because the spouse will get as much grief about taking the kids out of traditional school as the mom. The spouse needs to be ready to stand up to the doubters and not get crushed—especially in front of the kids.
3. Live in a mediocre school district.
You will have to confront so many naysayers no matter where you live. But in a town where the parents pay top-dollar for their homes to get access to the schools, homeschooling is suddenly an affront to the financial decisions and housing decisions of the neighbors. In a top-tier school district, homeschooling is heresy.
You will have a lot less friction if you move to a not-as-great school district. And, on top of that, you will get more house for your money, which will come in handy during long days at home with the kids.
4. Practice staying home with kids.
The first time I stayed home with my kids, starting when my oldest was born until my youngest was two, I really hated it. I had no sense of who I was or what I was doing. I thought I was missing out on the good stuff in my work life because I was home with kids instead of running a cool business.
So I launched a startup. And did that for a few years. And then I tried staying home again. The second time I was better at it. I knew what to expect and I also knew myself better.
No one ever told me that I would need to practice being at home with my kids. People told me that it was natural—either you like it or you don’t. But I don’t believe that. Being home with kids might take getting used to. So leave yourself time to do that before the pressures of homeschooling emerge.
5. Find likeminded friends.
The earlier you can hook up with other families planning to homeschool the better adjusted you’ll feel. When I had a baby, I felt like I needed friends with a baby. And then I had a kid with special needs and I felt lonely until I found a group of moms who understood how totally different parenting is when you have a kid with special needs.
Now that I’m homeschooling I have that same feeling. I really need a community of people around me who are homeschooling. This blog has been that for me, and I feel lucky to have it. Make sure you feel part of a homeschooling community from the start: this support system has made all the difference to me.