A big barrier to homeschooling is that it’s very easy to envision a major downside: no more free babysitting. But it’s harder to imagine the upside. We have more examples in media of gay couples raising kids as a normal setting than we do of homeschoolers raising kids in normal settings. So it’s hard to imagine the upsides, but there are plenty.
Here are eight ways my life got a lot easier when I started homeschooling:
1. No more grouchy mornings
It used to be that I would force myself to wake up before the kids because I had to get dressed and get breakfast ready before they woke up because they were so impossible to deal with to get up and to school.
And then they would wake up and say they didn’t get enough sleep, and I shouldn’t wake them up, and they want to play before school, and they want to eat something different than I made them. So every morning I would wake up really unhappy, and the kids would wake up unhappy, and then it would be harder and harder to wake up because we all knew we were waking up to unhappiness.
If you homeschool, everyone just gets up when they want to get up. So everybody gets up happy. If they don’t want to get up, they lay in bed. One kid gets up, lays in bed and reads for an hour. I get up, check my email, and my other son dresses himself, or his Build-a-Bear, or both, and everyone is happy.
2. No more rushed meals
School takes up so much time and dictates so much of the schedule that meals have to be squashed into the perfectly allotted time for meals if you eat together as a family. If you homeschool, there are no rushed meals because you can move the meal time around to accommodate everybody’s schedule.
This also means that the kids are home, so they can look in the refrigerator and eat what they want, but if you’re rushed and have to make meals before the kids get home or if you have to make meals that you’re going to send to school, there’s no telling what the kid is going to want to eat at that given moment because kids are picky eaters and control freaks. So meals go much easier when everybody can eat them calmly and pick what they want to eat.
3. No more clingy kids
The most scary thing about homeschooling to me was that my youngest son, who is emotionally needy, would hang on me all day and I wouldn’t have a life.
Once he knew I was going to be with him all the time, he stopped caring if I was talking to him or if I was playing with him. He just likes to go and check in and say one thing to me to make sure I’m still there, and then he goes back to do his own thing.
And the biggest homeschool revelation for me of all is probably that most kids are not naturally clingy. They’re clingy after being sent away eight hours a day.
4. No more parent guilt
I had huge guilt about how I was parenting when I was making a lot of money.
Now, after people get over the shock of you telling them that you homeschool, invariably their response is, “Oh, that’s amazing that you do that. I could never do that.” Mostly that’s because they don’t know how easy it is, but it’s really nice reinforcement that you’re doing a good job as a parent.
But even if I didn’t get that, I don’t have any parent guilt because I canceled my whole life to make sure that my kids could stay home with me, and I built a new life for myself around the fact that the kids are home.
So I have guilt that I don’t go to the gym or I have guilt that I talk on the phone while I’m driving, but I never have guilt that I’m not paying attention to my kids.
5. No more homework trouble
If you stop doing forced learning, then you don’t have to do homework, because homework is telling kids to stop their life and do what someone else wants them to learn. If you let kids learn what they want, then they naturally choose to do their learning and you don’t have to sit next to them and check their learning.
Self‑motivated learning is naturally right because they’re picking what to do. Also, self‑directed learning happens all day long. You don’t have to set aside time and have to schedule for self‑directed learning. As Sugata Mitra says in his Ted Talk about self-driven education: “The human drive and hunger to learn, to create, and to grow is powerful.”
6. No more inability to sit still
This should be a tirade about 11% of grade schoolers in the US are on ADHD medicine so that they can sit still at school, but The Week reports that the medicine doesn’t even help change the kid’s behavior. But I’m not going to rant about that.
What I’m going to tell you is that if you homeschool, you don’t need to ask kids to sit still because they choose the way that they want to learn. Some kids will choose to sit still while they learn and some kids will choose to move around while they learn, but everybody is an effective learner when they’re doing self‑directed learning. There’s no argument about needing to sit still.
7. No more difficult bedtimes
Kids naturally want to go to bed at the same time every day and they naturally want to wake up at the same time every day. We know this about all people. We all have natural body clocks.
The problem is that we schedule kids’ lives so that they can’t accommodate their natural body clocks. They’re accommodating a school clock. Once you take the school clock away, kids will find their natural time to wake up in the morning and they will find their natural time to slow down at night. So bedtime just becomes part of the family rhythm when the kids slow down.
8. No more searching for time to have sex
It’s no secret that people who have kids have less sex than people who don’t have kids, and the reason for this is that the scheduling is so tight. If two people are working all day outside the home and the kids are going to school all day, then family time has to be squashed into very short periods, and marriage time and family time have to be the same thing, which means you can’t have sex during that time.
If you have family time all day because you’re homeschooling, then there’s a lot more time in the day to accommodate sex time even if one person is leaving the home to work all day. You don’t have a contest between marriage time and sex time if you have homeschooling.
It might seem unbelievable to you that so much of my life has become easier because I’m unschooling. But, in fact, the Journal of Unschooling reports that among families who unschool, their number-one problem is dealing with criticism and doubt from the general population about what they’re doing, but the rest of unschooling was actually not that difficult for the family to implement.