I’m convinced that the risks of homeschooling are not about the kids: Of course they will learn because kids do that naturally, if you just leave them alone; and of course whatever you do at home will be better than school. The risk is that parents go nuts.
The most convincing evidence that you can do it is to watch someone like me do it. I am the last person in the world who should stay home with kids. I love working. I love power and money and all the scummy things not associated with raising kids. I love being alone to think. And I love expounding to people who eagerly listen. I should not be home with kids all day, yet I’m doing it.
Here are three things that keep me from going nuts.
I have a 29-year-old brother, and my sons are fascinated that he dates women but doesn’t marry them.
“What does he say before he kisses someone?” my older son asks.
“I love you,” I tell him. In a hopeful sort of way.
“Will I be his best man?” says my younger son.
“If you are a good listener when he babysits.”
When my brother comes to visit, I’m so happy. But the truth is that my family thinks homeschooling is going to be a trainwreck. The specifically wonder how I will prepare my son to go to an earth sciences program for paleontology when we are not learning math or science at school. I am specifically wondering this as well.
But even though my family is stunned at the nonstop video games, the visits with family help me to feel less responsible. I realize that my kids are part of something larger than me. And that gives me the freedom to say to myself, I’m not good at that. It’s okay.
Hiring someone to clean the house
Burnout is not a result of too many hours of work. Burnout comes from too many hours of work that you don’t like. So, if you enjoy taking care of the garden, then you don’t get burnt out doing it. If you don’t like cleaning legos up off the floor, then you will feel burnout after just a few hours.
So instead of feeling burnt out, think about what are the tasks that are particularly draining for you, and get rid of the worst one. If you can’t hire someone to do it, you could let it go, or let a spouse do it, or make the kids do it. (Though something would have to be really really loathsome for me to pick, instead, to have a fight with the kids about them doing it.)
Also, don’t assume that just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it. Detail-oriented people like paying bills, outgoing types like managing the social calendar, logistics geniuses like planning trips. I don’t like any of those things, but I like figuring out how my husband and I can both stay home and run our own businesses and still have a long-term plan for keeping a roof over our heads. Know your strengths and focus on that for homeschooling.
I cut out lots of stuff from magazines and put them on my wall. When I was working a bazillion hours a week I had a high-end nanny who always worried that I was raising my kids to be crazy. “You are too old to put torn out magazine pages on a wall.”
So I hid them in my bedroom. For a while. But then I missed them. So they are back on our walls. And they make me happy. They remind me all the new things I’m seeing and thinking about.
The picture up top is an ad for paint that I tore out of a magazine. I liked that one for the colors. I didn’t realize that there is a palette that we are familiar with for technicolor films. I realized those colors instinctively made me think of things that are old and special.
I was surprised how sensual Judy Garland can be if you take the Wizard of Oz out of context. And I think, maybe I will be ok, even though I have myself out of context homeschooling.