It’s true that sometimes taking care of kids is like watching paint dry. If the paint was also screaming at unpredictable intervals.
When I started homeschooling, my main goal was to not lose my mind while I was home with the kids. I tried to make time for myself. I tried to get the kids to go places or do something where they wouldn’t need to ask me questions. I tried to avoid at all the things that generated a MOM LOOK AT THIS so that I didn’t have to stop what I was doing 400 times a day.
Now I am trying to train myself to stop what I’m doing when they talk to me. They approach me pretty infrequently during the day. They are independent. And I have a lot of time alone. Not like I did before kids. Or when I had a nanny. But I have enough time to stop, notice my kid is not bugging me, and also notice that it’s a good picture.
I learn so much from conversations with parents who have to downshift their career to spend more time parenting. What I hear is that it’s so scary to spend more time with kids because it’s so boring. And so many parents I talk with have a history of being highly capable at work, and they fear they will have nothing to do at home.
I had this problem too. The disorientation I felt homeschooling was big. (The first two years of this blog is often difficult for me to read because I was so lost and unsure of myself as a homeschooler.) It turned out, though, that homeschooling kids is as complex and challenging as it is to run a business – but only if you know how to do your job really well. Here are three things I wish someone had told me when I was worried homeschooling would be boring and I’d be unmoored.
1. You aren’t at home to change your kid’s life. You’re there to celebrate it.
The books about nurture vs nature are impressive because the research about nature is so strong. Parents don’t even influence the date kids lose their virginity.
Something parents do impact is how enjoyable childhood is. Many kids can spend their childhood struggling to hold on to who they are in a system that pushes kids to be “normal” (in elementary school that’s “manageable“; in high school the pressure to conform is traumatizing)
You can make a difference by helping your kid focus on their strengths and find their talents and their passions. This doesn’t guarantee they’ll have a happy adulthood. But helping kids be their true selves surely makes for a fulfilling childhood.
And just like you make decisions at work to have a fulfilling career, when you decide to make decisions for a fulfilling childhood, you make decisions for fulfilling parenting.
2. If you were great at defining and meeting goals at work then you will enjoy having that responsibility at home.
Kids are born with very high abilities. They can commit and explore within the range of their talents. There is no proven benefit to spending time on what we are not good at. And there is proven awfulness if you parent a kid who is doing stuff they are not good at.
So instead of being the school’s gopher, you can take your kid out of school and you can manage your kid’s childhood yourself. It is really boring teaching your kids to be a cog in the school wheel. It’s exciting to tell your kids they can choose what they do, and then see what they do — because no matter what you will have to learn a lot to help.
When I started homeschooling I panicked that I was meant to lead things and build things, not stay home with kids. But I realized that when you homeschool you are building and leading a family. Like a team. And all the workplace skills apply. Whereas when you send your kids to school you are an admin, waiting for orders from the school.
3. Being in the dark at work makes life boring and being in the dark at home makes life boring as well.
After college it really hard to figure out how to navigate the work world. It takes time and persistence, but the people who put in the time to figure out work got good at work. Similarly, if you put in the time to figure out parenting you get good at parenting.
And in both cases, the more you understand about yourself and the job, the more interesting things become.
Find out your kids’ personality types. You can figure them out really early — and you can get help if you need it. Taking a course about your kid’s personality type because it’s a clear way to see the strengths and weaknesses your kid will have forever. Find out everything you can about your kid’s type and then you can help your kids be the best version of themselves.
That’s fun. For real. And it’s mind-blowing when you learn about your own type and how your type interacts with your kid’s type. It’s fascinating to me to see my own biases play out in parenting. I started companies for a living before I had kids. So I treat my kids like startups. That’s my best version of parenting. You will figure out your own type of parenting by understanding your own type from working:
- Goal oriented
- High achieving
- Research obsessed
- Big-picture problem solving
- Highly creative
That’s a list of traits of someone can succeed at work, but it’s also the list of ways you can parent a kid. If parenting is a way to express your best self, then it won’t be boring. But if you decide parenting will never be interesting enough for you, then it won’t be. Nothing was ever interesting until you learned how to do it.