It’s very scary to take your kids out of school because if your kid grows up to be a lonely, unhappy adult, everyone will blame homeschooling. So I spend a lot of time worrying that I’m doing the wrong thing. At first I worried the kids wouldn’t be socialized even though I had no idea what the word meant. And I worried the kids wouldn’t be well-rounded, even though I didn’t know what well-rounded meant.

I find that the more I homeschool, the more clear cut my worries are: now I have the worries of a homeschooler who has been at it a while.

Worry #1: It’s too easy. So I must be doing something wrong.
I saw this video about men and women at work, and how the language we use to describe what we do depends so much on our gender. For example, a strong guy is a leader and a strong woman is a bitch. A well-dressed guy is pulled together and a well-dressed woman is image-obsessed. This is true for home life as well. A woman who cuts back her career to take care of kids is a good mom. A man who does it is labeled an underperformer.

Of course it’s true for homeschool, too. Usually we practice instruments three times and day and do a little bar mitzvah preparation, but besides that, they don’t need me, except to be available to help them with whatever they need during the day—set up a Skype call with a friend, melt butter for baking, referee a ping-pong tournament in the garage.

In general I’m able to work most of the day. I just get interrupted a lot to help the kids. If you asked me how much I take care of the kids on a given day, I would say very little.

But there was a day when I couldn’t be available. I ran conference calls and webinars for most of the day. I blocked out time for practice and meals, but otherwise, I was working. Every time the kids needed something, they went to my husband.

At the end of the day he said, “I did childcare all day and I’m sick of it and I want you to put them to bed.”

And I thought to myself: If he is saying this, then I should feel a lot better about how much time I spend with the kids each day.

Worry #2 There’s gotta be a school that’s good out there. I should find it.
So what if schools are babysitting services? Maybe there are some good babysitting services. I mean, I have nothing bad to say about the idea of babysitting—it’s fine for parents to take a break. And it seems fun to have a babysitting service that has a bunch of other kids in it that my kids would want to play with.

I worry that I’m not trying hard enough. I worry that I’m too wedded to being an iconoclast or something, and my love affair with contrarian views is getting in the way of raising my kids properly.

So I start looking at schools with an open mind. But it only takes a day for things to look absurd to me.

Chicago Public Schools sent a memo to teachers telling them to ration bathroom time so kids will be more prepared for common core testing. We wouldn’t even know about this except that a teacher leaked the memo to Education Week. You have to figure that for each leaked memo there are 50 others you never hear about.

You might think, “Okay, fine, but we already knew Chicago public schools stink.”

I also have my son’s friend who is in school in one of the most highly ranked districts in the country. I wanted my son to go to school with him to see what school is like. So we tried to find a time. But between study hall, lunch and orchestra, this boy had no academic class from 10am to 2pm. It was unbelievable. (I know, maybe you are thinking: isn’t orchestra a class? But not for this kid—he’s much better than all the kids in the school. He just does it because it’s fun to be so much better than everyone.) I’m not even sure his parents are aware of this. (Though maybe they will be after reading about it here.)

Face it: parents spend a lot of money to feel like they are getting their kid the best school possible. And then they tell everyone. But the schools aren’t good. They can’t be.

Worry #3 I am not going to the gym.
Here’s why it’s a homeschool worry. Because every smart person I know who sends their kids to school knows that school is stupid and a waste of time. But smart adults are honest enough to say they worry they will fall apart personally if they are home with their kids all day.

I want to be able to tell people, “Don’t worry! Your life will be great! Be brave! Be true to your convictions! God bless family!”

But I got on the scale today and I am fatter than I’ve ever been in my life. You would not look at me and say I’m fat. Although if you were looking at me in Playboy you’d say I was fat. Well, actually you’d probably say I was old before you’d even get to fat. But honestly, they could airbrush the wrinkles in Playboy, but I’m starting to get fat in a way that they couldn’t even airbrush away.

Is it true that the first sign of your life falling apart from homeschooling is that you do a critical analysis of how you’d look in Playboy? I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure that you would not want to be as tenuously holding it together as I am. Certainly, no parent who is homeschooling is the pinnacle of pulled together. But I think a good benchmark is if the person goes to the gym. So, I don’t think I can keep telling you that homeschooling is going to be great for you if I can’t even get myself to the gym.

This would be a good time for a New Year’s resolution, but forget it. I know those are only for losers who can’t make a plan. I am determined. If I’m going to spend 2014 screaming about how everyone needs to homeschool then I have to show you that homeschooling will not ruin your life. Or your figure.

 

40 replies
  1. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    “Although if you were looking at me in Playboy you’d say I was fat. Well, actually you’d probably say I was old before you’d even get to fat.” Oh my goodness, those two sentences made me laugh.

    I am not going to speak to number one, necessarily, but as far as #2…don’t you have a million links that you share all the time about people who were neglected or went through a troubling time as a child grow up to be the most creative and interesting people? Even if you kids say you were neglected, or a bad mom (everyone says this about their parent at some point, about anything from their childhood), you can use that research you’ve done to push you through it for the time being. You’re doing them a favor on those days, right? I’m only half joking. You make your kids work for what they want to know. That’s not doing it for them, or giving them a crutch, even if it’s hard on everyone some days.

    #3…if you don’t even have a street light, where the heck is the closest gym?

    Sarah M

  2. MBL
    MBL says:

    I periodically school shop. There is a highly selective niche magnet school with a scary impressive curriculum that touts that they value the individual’s interests and I think my daughter would “find her people” there. However, she is an INTJ (which I have come to believe is the classic aspie female type) and she is entirely intrinsically motivated. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants, but often drives me nuts with her stubbornness. It has to be her idea or it is a major struggle. She definitely is more cooperative for other people and I think the structure of a routine that I am incapable of delivering could be good for her. But I just can’t pull the trigger because I am so afraid of her spirit being crushed. But I do like to window shop every now and then . . .
    #3 Oh my god I have gained so much weight since we started homeschooling! I am a total carb addict. Once sugar is in my system ALL bets are off. However, when I am doing strict low-carb I can even bake for others no problem. I just went back to low-carb 12-29 (so it isn’t a new year’s day thing!) I also started gluten free. I am making my daughter and husband (I hope) start gluten free tomorrow. I think they both have aspie sensitivities.
    Regarding homeschooling, we are always on the go, in the van, in a hurry, at the zoo/museum/aquarium and carbs are the easiest and least likely to spoil to choice. I am an organizationally challenged ADD disaster so carrying a cooler with color coordinated veggies and protein is kind of out of my league. But I’ll figure something out!!

    A disproportionately high number of homeschoolers that I know do gluten and/or dairy free. Have other people found this to be true? Do many people here do either or both?

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      We do. At least 3 of 4 of us have gluten and casein intolerance. We learned this after several years of parenting but decided to homeschool before birth and weirdness showed up in kids. Maybe it’s me.

    • Sarah M
      Sarah M says:

      I am gluten free but my kids don’t have to be. I was diagnosed celiac almost 9 years ago, so they’ve just grown up with gluten free options around.
      I will say, that is a small, overlooked benefit of home schooling that I didn’t even think of until now: the food choices. I’ve seen traditional school lunches and they are poor. I am glad kids who need them are getting them for free, and breakfast, though.
      Sarah M

  3. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    These are similar issues traditional schoolers/parents with FT jobs face. I’m away from home 12 hrs a day. Once you roll in sleep, hygiene (necessary for office jobs), domestic and parenting duties, who has time for exercise? It’s sad to admit, but me and my kids live on protein bars and shakes. I keep a Sam’s Club or Costco box of the bars in my car at all times. There are much more choices these days, but it still is not easy finding protein bars for special diets. I’m sensitive to soy, so I have to find bars without soy protein. I also look for bars with more protein than sugar. You will have to read the nutrition labels carefully to find bars without casein or gluten.

  4. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    BTW Penelope, your weight gain might be a result of hormone changes. I was eating a lot of soy based protein bars, drinking soy shakes & soy is in EVERYTHING these days. A hormone specialist tested my estrogen levels and they were elevated off the charts. Part of it is your body produces more estrogen as you enter the perimenopausal phase of life (40s) and the other can be from the estrogen in soy. Once I gave up soy, I lost 5 lbs within a couple of weeks and my PMS symptoms decreased dramatically (less bloated & the other b word).

  5. Jim
    Jim says:

    Maybe wanting to look like our lives are not falling apart, or rather that we really do have it all together, is why more people don’t homeschool. Doing things against the cultural norm is a sure way of looking like you don’t have it together, even if you really do.

    Together is largely a myth. I think we’d all be a lot happier and healthier if we all stopped worrying about what we looked like to others.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That is so true! It’s like there a national standards board for measuring who is pulled together and who isn’t. So you have to conform even to take the test. And if you’re not conforming you don’t even have the chance to be average in the competition of who is pulled together.

      Also, someone just sent this link to me — about plastic surgery and school. Kids are leaving school because kids make fun of them for what they look like. Then they get plastic surgery and go back to school looking more like everyone else. In the meantime, they homeschool. But it looks to me like school is sort of the badge of honor people get for showing that they can fit in with the norm.

      http://www.xojane.com/issues/bullied-teens-seeking-free-plastic-surgery-to-fix-their-noses-little-baby-face-foundation

      I’m not even sure what I think about this. But it seems relevant to Jim’s observations in his comment.

      Penelope

  6. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    You live in snowy Wisconsin. Skip the gym, head outside with the boys (or alone) for some cross country skiing. I grew up in rural Wisconsin, but have lived in snowless climates for 35 years. We have homeschooled for the past 9 years. Trying to stay physically fit is a challenge; I always feel like I am taking time away from my family, but I think it is good for our daughters to grow up knowing that it is important and beneficial in so many ways for women to take the time to stay physically healthy and strong, for more reasons than just image or appearance.

  7. The Homicidal Housewife
    The Homicidal Housewife says:

    I woke up at 3am Tuesday morning heart pounding ,with all of the anxieties you listed and then some.
    Taking the leap into unschooling is much different than being a non-conformist in my ill spent youth. There is so much riding on this. My son. What if? What if? What if…
    Then later that morning, my son woke up without alarms or cajoling, wide eyed and thrilled to be beginning our unschooling journey, together.
    Me, looking like the antithesis of Playboy, with roots that sound like the Dowager from Downton Abbey, “you really can’t afford to keep this whole blonde thing going, can you?” I have yet to reply. My son cares not at all.
    There is an ebb and flow of staunch certainty, then dizzying uncertainty. But so far, I have found that it is in the details of my sons day, his smiles, his comments, his freedom that bring it back to being the right decision.
    And, being able to come to this website and read, read, read. I’m leaning in, fat arse and all.
    Happy New Year everyone.

  8. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    Yes, the gym thing has been an issue for me because kid’s clubs aren’t open for kids over age 6 during school hours. Here are two ways I’ve managed to work through that without hiring a babysitter (which for me ends up being more hassle than it’s worth):

    1. Get an elliptical for your home. Bethanny Frankel says she doesn’t even go to a gym. She works out at home because it’s easier for her in her busy schedule.

    2. I take my 6.75 yr old with me to yoga studios and park him with my iphone while I practice an hour long power yoga class. The trick is finding a studio that has a lobby/check in area. We have 3 in our town that allow me to do this. One studio doesn’t because they don’t have an entryway area for him to sit.

    Thank goodness for iPhones. As a homeschooling mom who doesn’t work outside the home I thought having a smartphone was a bit frivolous until I realized they double as a babysitter so I can get in a workout.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      I know kids play outside but I wonder if including them in a “workout schedule” at home is a good way to teach them that working out is good for the soul.

      I am a fan of kids just playing and being healthy that way. But I think that I did all that as a kid and then when I became an adult I just sort of assumed that adults don’t play. So I am still trying to forge a rhythm of life where play comes included. Right now, I just have the gym. With all those fun workout classes it is like play! but again “adults don’t play” so it’s hard to just automatically weave it in my life just like brushing teeth, eating, sleeping, etc.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This seems like a great time to tell the story of how I took a yoga class and put my son in the lobby with a movie. In the middle of class he opened the door to the studio and yelled over to me, “Mom, I’m totally bored with the movie. Can we go now?”

      Penelope

  9. karelys
    karelys says:

    I think the farm has more than enough opportunities for weight training. So use them. It’d be absurd to drive all the way to the gym. And you do yoga. Maybe that’s not a ton of weight resistance for you but it’s a way to start.

    I don’t go to the gym even though I am paying for it. But my god I have come far in that I don’t go crazy for being out of shape. I still want to look hot but I don’t crumble when I look at myself in the mirror. And to me that’s just awesome. Especially with a history of eating disorders and all that.

    I love that you try to think rationally and being open minded “despite your love affair with contrarian views.”

    When I decided that I didn’t like you then I like you again because I think it’s really smart to take a hard look at ourselves and really weight the worth of our opinions. Try to be as objective as possible. And then be willing for those assumptions to be torn apart and then be willing to reconstruct.

    So I like you again and this is fun :)

    And maybe you could go easy on being star evangelist about homeschooling and just tell us more about how you see your children developing and how their thinking works. It’d be really fun to see for those of us who haven’t done it yet but will and are nervous about it.

  10. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    Regarding Worry #1. You have two sons. If I remember correctly, in your previous posts in homeschooling, your sons periodically help eachother out with whatever, school, activities, etc…which I can assume this may ease your worry somewhat. What about homeschooling an only child? I’m worried that when I become a parent and If I only have one child and I decide to homeschool, that child will not get the stimulus he/she needs especially since I’m a big I in my myers briggs type (INTJ) and my kid may end up being more like my husband, who is a big E (ENTP, he’s actually on the fence between ENTP and ENTJ)….

    • Vanessa
      Vanessa says:

      Jenn, just wanted to share that even having more than 1 kid is not a guarantee for a built-in playmate or social opportunity. Our oldest is training athletically everyday and is away from home 8 hours per day. Our youngest is happily homeschooling without having his big brother around much, even though he’s also an E (ESFP in our case). He plays outside in the afternoons with the neighbor kids when they come home from school and we get together with a homeschool group one a week. At his age (6.75 yrs) this is all he needs.
      I do think you are so wise to consider the social needs of your child, and I think that becomes much more important as they get older (I’ve heard 10 is the magic number). For our oldest (ENTJ) it was right at 9yrs that he started to need more independence from mom and dad and lots of time with peers, which he gets now while training.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Jenn I find being an INTJ makes it easy for me to homeschool my “E” children. If you mean scheduling the necessary playdates that they love, then I can understand, but it really hasn’t been a problem for me at all. It’s definitely easier than it was getting my oldest to school on time every morning and having to have forced conversations with other parents while waiting for the teacher to get to the classroom so the kids can get inside. Also, organized play dates with children that my kids actually like and enjoy is more beneficial to them than being forced on the playground at school with the chaos that goes on there, and with other kids that they may not even really like or enjoy.

      Also, as an INTJ you will find you don’t have to obsess for years finding the right school, public v private v charter, what neighborhood to live in to get into the best schools, I can’t tell you how many thousands of hours I wasted doing that research, but it was a lot. Save yourself the time and research the best ways to homeschool, and start researching where the local homeschool groups are in your area instead. :)

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        Love the discussion of INTJ problems. The full realization of how much school research I would want to do just hit me.

        You are an inspiration!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Something I have found is that it’s actually really unlikely that you can give your kid everything the kid needs. You give the kid parenting and love. The other stuff has to come from somewhere else. My social kid has to get tons of fun and talking from people other than me. And my kid who is largely similar to me loves science, and I hate science, so I have to get all the stuff he needs from somewhere else.

      You don’t need to be what your kid needs – beyond being a parent – you just need to be able to see what your kid needs so you can make sure you help them find it.

      Penelope

    • mh
      mh says:

      I’m an INTJ homeschooling E offspring.

      It’s not that daunting.

      It’s fun to train E’s. They can make ALL the phone calls. They can learn to schedule all kinds of things for the family. They can plan outings. They can keep in touch with far-flung relatives. They can pen pal. They can skype. They LOVE these social and useful activities. They generally will adopt the most beautiful manners when communicating with outside-the-family people.

      Then you have to train the I’s not to criticize the E’s or complain about dumb stuff (start with self).

      Eventually, you have to train the I’s, too — but by then you have LOTS of experience training children to do these activities, so you can train the I’s in just the short cuts.

      Presto.

  11. Kurtis
    Kurtis says:

    About going to the gym: If you are eating right, you don’t need a lot of exercise. Just a little bit of high intensity training–I’m talking about 15 minutes a week–along with moving your body during the day is enough. Look into Paleo, Bulletproof, or similar diets. Food, not a lot of exercise, is the key. Adding too much exercise to a busy life will just wear you out. It isn’t health, and it won’t make you skinny. (A lot of people are saying this, and it works great for me, so I recommend giving it a try.)

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Interesting you’d say this. I just spent about five days mostly sitting (snowed in Michigan). I ate less because I did very little. I drank a lot of tea. When I am working out and working (which is also physical — I clean houses, do Yoga Bodywork, and lead yoga classes) I eat 6x/day.

  12. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    Here is an idea for Penelope – lead an early morning online yoga class via Quistic several times a week. That way, you are forcing yourself to exercise several times a week, you can justify the time as “work” and your company is getting paid for your efforts. Even 30-45 minutes 3x per week would be beneficial. Plus, nobody would care if you wear the same basic yoga outfit every single day. I bet some of your blog community, both business and homeschooling, would sign up. Maybe you can do a poll to see who is interested.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      True. Even though there are “free” ways to do this online, it’s about the community.
      People will do a lot of things because of community.

  13. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    Oh! And if you feel you would be neglecting your kids while doing the yoga class, maybe you can involve them in some way. If either one of your boys is remotely interested in film-making, you can have that son run the camera and the other son can be your student co-star. You can adjust his yoga positions to show proper form to your audience. So now you are multi-tasking to the max and homeschooling while you are working, exercising and promoting your company.

  14. Chris
    Chris says:

    Re #3: I am fatter than I’ve ever been and I thought it was because I am 51 and menopausal and I I drink too much and I eat too much and I exercise too little. Now I realize that it’s because you homeschool. I <3 correlation over causation.

  15. ashley
    ashley says:

    I have to agree! Homeschooling has really packed the pounds on me. I gave up my five mile a day running habit when we started homeschooling our children last winter. It’s been a full year. I still have the same fears I did when we began, but they are much quieter now. At some point, I relaxed a bit on the kids, remembered that we weren’t doing this to fit in and since my kids are quirky anyways they aren’t likely to grow up normal.

    Now I’ve found my daily rhythm with the kids, picked running back up a couple of days a week, fit yoga into our daily quiet time, and every now and then when I am feeling especially content, I thank my lucky stars that I have the opportunity to spend my time with these amazing offspring.

  16. C. Messina
    C. Messina says:

    Perhaps Playboy might consider a niche: Homeschool MILFS Magazine.

    Sorry, had to go there. Now that my brain’s out of the gutter I wouldn’t mind weighing in on home school worries.

    I tried to teach my child math and language before she was 3 months via flashcards. Needless to say, it was a ridiculous waste of time trying to spark a brain that simply wasn’t ready.

    I bought videos, studied prodigy books and when she couldn’t speak by 1 1/2 I was seriously worried.

    Then came shyness.

    Then came… me nearly giving up entirely.

    Then came preschool and lackluster performance/interest on her part.

    And then came that moment. i could see it in her eyes and hear it in her language- social interaction, exponential language acquisition, abstract math concepts and word problem, puzzle solving- within two months in public kindergarten.

    I’m not giving points to public, private or homeschooling options so much as DNA and resources at hand. She interacts with her iPad constantly, her parents speak clear, concise educated English (both with advanced degrees), she lacks for nothing physical or material and is showered with love and attention. Let these things things stew and something inside these biological beings we are clicks.

    I read daily how certain forms of education are bad for children and all the arguments have convincing points, but then I weigh that with what’s inside a child we can’t predict- which is pretty much all of their academic ability. I also weight that against an ever changing society with changing needs.

    Consider this, there are engineers who barely scrape by and there are those who cashed in on the easy mortgage money of the 90’s and are living easy for life- who was better prepared? How do you even prepare for so many unknowns?

    Our society has grown to one which likes to feel in control of everything, perhaps because so much seems completely out of our control. Childhood education is one of those areas. I can only hope all sides who can claim some education on their own part can act civil toward the other sides and recognize there may be no easy answers to what we hope to accomplish for our children in such a complex, ever-changing world.

    And now, to end it all with a fun wrap up, again I say the world needs

    Homeschool Milf Magazine (a Playboy subsidy on shelves this Fall)

  17. Susan Raber
    Susan Raber says:

    Looking back at my childhood gives me perspective. I went to a local public school in elementary, but I was already reading at 3 yo, so the teachers often sent me to the reading corner or the school library, where I sat alone reading books and educating myself.

    Then I went home, did chores and homework (if I had any left) and then went outside until supper, after which I went to my room and read some more. We didn’t have a tv, by the way.

    My parents had very high expectations, and the desire to meet those expectations, coupled with neglect, gave me the best education I could have hoped for.

    Note: I use the word ‘neglect’ in the sense that my parents were not concerned with keeping me entertained. Their only worry was that I not get snakebit while roaming around the woods, and stay out of the places that were overrun with poison ivy. And that I not set any fires. They forgot to worry about what happens when a kid aggravates a yellow jacket nest though.

  18. Judy Sarden
    Judy Sarden says:

    #3 I have gained 10 pounds since I’ve been homeschholing. I’m working with a personal trainer now to take care of it but the only reason that works is because I can do it at her house and she has kids the same age as my kids.

    #2 I do visit schools – elite private ones as well as public ones. They always make me feel good because no matter where I go, I see that I am providing just as good, if not a better education.

    My husband asked me what schools are providing that I just cant give the kids at home. Socialization? Nope, we’re around kids and other people every day. So the he thinks going to school would instill in the kids a sense of competition; you know, the kids would study hard so that they would get better grades than their peers. That’s all he could come up with. I told him the kids play team sports so they are learning what competition is. Despite not being totally onboard with the homeschooling, when forced to really think about it, my husband couldn’t come up with anything worth putting the kids back in school.

    #1 I haven’t found homeschooling “easy” because we are not unschoolers. My kids are younger than Penelope’s and we cover traditional subjects with an unschool twist. But even with our more hands on approach, homeschooling is still less work than dealing with the scheduling, homework, academic, personal, political, fundraising and other issues we would deal with if our kids were in school.

  19. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Re #3 my optimal solution is a personal trainer. I have a good one who often seems to care more about my fitness than I do. He comes to the house with all sorts of stuff: kettlebells, bosu balls, weights and we focus on building muscle mass for most efficient weight loss. Also he’s good with the kids if they’re around – gets them in charge of the stopwatch and calling out motivation (nothing like exercising with your kids encouragement). You found a driver, if you can find a good fit with a trainer one less worry to deal with.

  20. Annie
    Annie says:

    I’ve finally started tackling the weight gain by going to the gym at 6:30 at night. My day’s work is pretty much done, I get dinner ready, kids pretty much all ready for bed, eat a bite w/the family, and let my husband finish up bedtime.

    It’s a pocket of time that’s like dead air. It’s not quality time, we’re too tired (yet somehow i still have energy for the eliptical, it feels so good). The kids don’t care if I’m there at that hour, my husband and I won’t see each other anyway b/c we split up the kids’ bedtime (three kids, one little) when we’re both there.

    I feel so much better now. Instead of feeling weary at the end of the day, I put my gym outfit on, and feel like I’m leaving work and doing something great for myself.

  21. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    Having just recently seen your blog, I read a few posts that prompted me to offer a few bits of feedback. I have homeschooled my son from day one, so to speak, and he is in fifth grade. I don’t have oodles of experience, but I guess have enough to make the points I am going to make.

    I’ve noticed that many people tend to want to blog when they start homeschooling. They feel like the experience is noteworthy (it certainly is) and should be shared with others. I think that the process of working our way through homeschooling necessitates the on-going process of reflection, evaluation, more reflection, seeking support from others, etc. and that the uncertainty of what we are doing propels us to have this on-going inner conversation. After all, we are bucking the system and, as Emerson so aptly put it, “For non-conformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”

    We find ourselves dealing with two difficult realities: 1) we are in a state of enormous personal flux and growth as parents and 2) we are in a state of (potentially) enormous scrutiny or criticism by John Q. Public which tends to question the whole concept of homeschooling. This is stressful. Even very stressful. Blogs can quickly become very defensive or aggressive in tone. It then leads the reader to draw the same conclusion that Shakespeare beautifully expressed: “Methinks she doth protest too much.”

    In fact, identifying one’s motivation for homeschooling is a deeply personal process, like love or faith, and navigating your way through it is deeply personal and fraught with endless inclinations to go in various directions…sometimes at the same moment! One must come to the point where the greater vision of what you are doing is finally developed and then you can make your choices based on that foundation. That foundation does not happen over night, however, and the process of building that foundation can be messy. We may feel strongly about something one day, and then, after repeated failed attempts, come to a different conclusion. We are often learning hard lessons as homeschooling parents. This is where the courage comes in. But when our personal reflections become public fodder, not only can they hurt the person whose perspective may have been misconstrued or simply given a rude response (which you have tough skin to handle, I am sure), they can hurt in other ways. The uniqueness of each homeschool story becomes less obvious. People who do not understand homeschooling read a blog of someone’s ruminations are inclined to decide what homeschooling is or isn’t based not on research but the feelings or impressions of a person at the moment. And let’s face it, if we felt completely confident, we would be so busy enjoying that the idea of blogging wouldn’t enter our minds!

    Because of the hurdles homeschooling faces in establishing its legitimacy, this type of public discourse is not helpful.

    Articles which explain principles of education, fundamentals of attachment between parents and children are very helpful. Articles which feature updates into current (generally heartbreaking at best) trends in public education which motivate us to keep up with what we started are also helpful.

    Drawing conclusions about types of homeschooling moms is counter-productive. One of the main reasons we homeschool is so that our children don’t have to walk around with labels. (That said, I am a big admirer of the MBTI and have used it for years with a lot of gratification.) There are not 5 or more categories of homeschooling moms. There are no categories when you really know people. We are all completely unique, as are our children. And we don’t tend to do things one way and just cruise on down the road. We constantly modify. We can take different courses from semester to semester, depending on our circumstances and our children’s needs. Having categories like this may confuse people who think they should fit a category (which is what our public school system teaches so adamantly.)

    I offer these words sincerely as a word of caution. I know the feelings of self doubt, confusion and fear combined with conviction, inspiration and enthusiasm that characterize anyone who is in for the long haul.

    These are the conflicting emotions that we must grapple with from the beginning of the homeschool “journey” (corny as that sounds, but it is definitely a journey…an internal journey) and it is best, for the sake of the homeschooling as an educational option that may not always be possible in this country, to experience them privately. I do not say this because I believe that there is no point in admitting weakness or frailty. I say this because in an attempt to comfort or encourage ourselves, we can make blanket statements that we later regret. I have seen quite a few homeschoolers begin with such passion and eloquence, only to discover that they (for one reason or another) end up quitting homeschooling completely.

    And while these conflicting feelings are not fun, we cannot help ourselves – we continue on. We see the beautiful moments with our children and we treasure them. It is enough to tell anyone who is interested, “It is very hard, and it is very beautiful…anything worth doing is hard.” And then let us have the “glory” of figuring out what that means for ourselves.

    For my family, we cannot imagine anything but homeschooling. It would break my heart not to homeschool. But it has been extremely hard sometimes, and it still is hard. Anything worthwhile takes effort, right? I know, however, that I should never say never…I, like the animals on your farm, would not like to suffer from hoof in mouth disease, and it can happen. It does happen. Too often.

    Seasoned homeschoolers know that it is a year by year journey and for some people, they choose to homeschool only some of their kids and not all. This is the beauty of homeschooling: it offers enormous freedom — freedom to choose as a parent what is best for your child and your family.
    This is the freedom of spirit we want to nurture in our children so that they can grow up and have the fundamental idea in their inner beings that they can build a meaningful life for themselves. This freedom is a great blessing and it should be nurtured and regarded with a sense of obligation to protect its integrity.

    You have a wide audience and have offered many helpful insights and resources to encourage people to think about homeschooling. Thank you for taking the time to do so! I offer my words with sincere best wishes.

  22. Amy
    Amy says:

    I was school shopping just a couple of weeks ago too. We’ve been homeschooling for around 3 years now and every now and then I freak out and think I am ruining my kids by not sending them to school. They cry at the thought of going back. After a week or so I get over it and recommit to homeschooling.

    I still worry. And I’ve gained ten pounds in the last year. So I know what you’re going through a little. :)

  23. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    All I am saying is hoopla hoops. Get yourself a fantastic weighted hula hoop for adults, turn on the jams, and…..spin,spin,spin. A lot more fun than a gym membership.

  24. Karen Loethen
    Karen Loethen says:

    I think it is the bane of parenthood to constantly fear that we are screwing up our kids. While I homeschool NOW, when my kids were in school I was fearful that I was screwing them up because of the school. Now as a hs mom I wonder how I am screwing them up now.
    I don’t think we can escape it!
    In the meantime, I just stay off of the bathroom scale.

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      I think it’s just better not to own a scale. However, you’re so right. I don’t think the job of parenting ever makes you comfortable. As much as I support it, unschooling is a real challenge for me because in the back of my mind I wonder will my children be equipped for an overly structured path if they so choose to take it. I’m sure it’s the same for school parents who wonder about the regrets.

  25. Amy C
    Amy C says:

    Thank you for using the word, “fat!” It’s so un-PC. Just like the word, “cheap.” I love your honesty about your struggles. So often I am a walking contradiction unto myself…

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