This is a guest post from Kristin Hayles. I met her here, on this blog, and our sons started playing Minecraft together. Kristin and her son came to our house to visit, and I learned so much hearing her talk about her homeschooling decisions that I asked her to write a post. Here it is.

I decided to homeschool my son after third grade when my third child was born, using the excuse of maternity leave to start this new chapter in our life. I had grand plans of doing projects with my son, taking him places, following his interests. I had a math curriculum picked out, a history book purchased, and classes at the science museum scheduled—my head was overflowing with ideas for this poor child. But what I hadn’t realized was the same thing that made him hate school is the same thing that made him hate all my scheduled activities I had planned.

When the reality of having a newborn, another child in school, and a homeschooler who hated everything I put before him set in, I decided to throw it all out the window and we became reluctant unschoolers. Even though my logical mind agreed with unschooling, my conditioned mind always told me I should be teaching him more. I felt constant guilt. To make it all worse, at each turn my husband was challenging our new way of life—quizzing my son in math when he got home, exasperated by the lack of “deliverables” at the end of the day. But I kept going because over time I saw results in my son that I liked and I trusted he was growing intellectually through his own means.

My daughter started homeschooling at age 7, by her own choice. Now I had two children to stress over, to wonder if I was doing the right thing, to watch as the minutes ticked by, analyzing their every move. Perhaps the care of an over-analytical, insecure mother wasn’t the best environment for them to thrive and learn. My previous career as a geophysicist was not translating well to that of an unschooling mother, not for me and not for anyone else.

Things came to a head when I realized my staying at home was actually tearing apart my marriage. In my husband’s eyes I couldn’t do the housework, homeschooling, or house management correctly. I was accused of not wanting to spend time with my children when I suggested I go out for some quiet moments alone. To pacify my husband and keep peace around the home I found myself constantly doing housework rather than concentrating on my children. I finally decided that I had two choices: divorce my husband and make myself happy, or make some changes.

The thought of divorce was enticing. I would be free of the criticism, free to do what I wanted, to make my own choices, to have a messy house if I wanted. But what would this do to my family? There would be counseling appointments, separate bedrooms at both houses and where would my kids call home? It would be such a mess, and plus, I knew that somewhere my husband and I could find common ground.

The only place I knew I could be successful with no questions asked was my career. I thought going back might increase my self-esteem and help me feel more secure in a shaky marriage. But what would I do about homeschooling? The kids and I both wanted to continue and we were firm in our resolution to stay away from schools in their current design. I had already enrolled my two-year-old in a mother’s-day-out program 3 days per week to give her some structure, time to nap, art, stories and play time. I could enroll her for a fourth day since she seemed to like it so much there. I could find someone to care for my two older children while I went to work—it all slowly took shape.

I eventually settled on an au pair from Germany who now drives my two older children to all of their classes and hangs out with them during the day. I direct their day using a checklist system that both my au pair and the kids love. I don’t have to be there every second, agonizing over their progress, and I realize that progress happens over time in peaks and valleys just like everything else. I do miss my kids and sometimes wish I could go back to hanging out with them all day, but I don’t ever want to go back to the deep hole I had dug for myself.

Life with my husband has gotten better. We can afford a housekeeper, I am bringing home money (which I found out is very important to him), and my husband seems to respect me more now. He married a geophysicist, not a housewife and we found out that there were good reasons for this. Through all of this I have learned that my main priorities are homeschooling and keeping my family together, and everything else can be considered details to be refined with an open mind and bending rules once thought unbendable.

Homeschooling is not all about me—it is about finding what is right for my children and they don’t need to be with a crazy mom all day long.

60 replies
  1. Helen
    Helen says:

    Love this post. I also work outside the home and homeschool. It’s very atypical — I am the only homeschooling mom I know who works outside the home, and I am the only working mom I know who homeschools. (I have found the alt-school/life blog, but in real life I have not found any other parent who works and homeschools.) It’s nice to hear about others. At some point we should all send Penelope a typical “day-in-the-life” and she can post them. I am very glad I homeschool, but my life does often feel like a house of cards.

    Interesting that your husband really wanted you to work, Kristen. I think the same is true of my husband.

    • Rachael
      Rachael says:

      I also work full-time and homeschool my 2 children. Like you, I’ve never met another mother who does this. It’s nice to know there are others out there. My children’s homeschool experience is not the typical experience. We can’t do co-ops because they always occur during the day, in the middle of the day, we don’t visit many museums, etc, because I am at work and weekends are busy. We have worked out a system that works, ususally, and we may not proceed like everyone else, but, my children are learning and happy and that is what is important.

    • Robin
      Robin says:

      I homeschool and work also. And am the only one I know who does. It can be frustrating because others don’t understand why I’m not available and they have to work around my schedule!

  2. Theresa Deitche
    Theresa Deitche says:

    I really apreciate this honesty. After our three kids I stayed home full time, and honestly found myself on the other side of this spectrum. Iwas trying to keep the house clean, and the kids entertained, and my husband didn’t seem to care. He thought it was better to not “expect results” from me, but it made me feel worthless because no one cared what I was accomplishing each day. After choosing to stay married for much the same reasons, I have continued to stay home since my kids are still young, but reading this post it’s nice to hear that maybe in a few years I can structure my homeschooling to include me working part time.

  3. KS
    KS says:

    I appreciate this post so much – it is encouraging to see a mom figure out what is best for her and her family and to see that homeschooling can look lots of different ways. It is such a journey!

  4. Gena
    Gena says:

    I am a working/homeschooling mom too. Being a consultant, my work is up and down. I can see that when I am extremely busy, kids get very busy too somehow mimicking me. They are reading, researching and role playing more so there’s a nice side effect to homeschooling with a working mom.

  5. Lia
    Lia says:

    I just want to say; I think you are amazing! I cannot say the same thing for your husband and should not say anything at all, because it won’t be pleasant, but I completely understand and respect your decision to stay with him. So happy for you that you found a solution without having to put your kids back in school!!! Congrats!

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Ditto on everything you just said, Lia. All that came to my mind were expletives, so thank you for posting that.

      Kristin, you are amazing. Your kids seem lovely too.

      P.S. Neither myself, nor any of my friends are good housekeepers. If that was the measuring stick for homeschooling….

  6. jessica
    jessica says:

    I was surprised by this post. It’s always interesting to see how people make unschooling work. I have a part-time nanny and she takes my older son around the city to do things, while I’m with the little one. I have zero problems with it. My kids aren’t in school and can pursue things they want and it gives me enough time in the day to tend to both kids, since my husband works many hours. But this post left me sad. I’ve had a messy house (more than I’d like!) and occasionally have a cleaner nowadays because *I* don’t like it. My husband supports what I need to do to stay sane! I do a majority of the research into things as he’s so busy, but I come back to him with ideas and plans and we discuss them together. If the house is messy and he has an issue with it he’ll start doing the dishes as soon as he walks in the door. If *I* wanted or had the need to go to work, I’m positive he’d support that, but we would discuss the kids first. We’ve had talks about *him* staying home and me going to work, especially on difficult days! We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we do support each other.

    This post isn’t a schooling problem or even a mom problem, to me this sounds like a marriage problem. I’m happy for the kids’ sake that they are not in school, but…. He’s happy now that you are making money? He was going to ruin a marriage over your choice to be there for the kids and prioritize them?

    I would hate to have such an unsupportive and demeaning spouse, especially when it comes to such important decisions as raising a family and kids.

    -Things came to a head when I realized my staying at home was actually tearing apart my marriage. In my husband’s eyes I couldn’t do the housework, homeschooling, or house management correctly. I was accused of not wanting to spend time with my children when I suggested I go out for some quiet moments alone. To pacify my husband and keep peace around the home I found myself constantly doing housework rather than concentrating on my children. I finally decided that I had two choices: divorce my husband and make myself happy, or make some changes.-

    And, this bit just struck me as as so sad,

    “The only place I knew I could be successful with no questions asked was my career. ”

    It seems like you bent forwards and backwards to appease him. You had to save the marriage by being someone he wanted you to be and living up to his conditions. Did he have to do the same thing? What did he do to keep the marriage together? Do you make the same demands of him? Do you guys go to counseling, even though you’ve made a 180 lifestyle change now?

    “I don’t ever want to go back to the deep hole I had dug for myself.”

    You didn’t dig that hole yourself!

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      jessica! This was such a beautiful comment and I felt every word in agreement with you.

      I don’t know if I am just a lucky lady or what, but yesterday before my husband left for his crazy temporary work hours of 3pm-3am, and in a house that is constantly messy no matter how much time I dedicate to cleaning, he looked at me and told me how much he loves me and respects what I am doing with the kids by unschooling them. Oh, this was after he emptied and loaded the dishwasher too.

      • Mary
        Mary says:

        Oh please. I respected how honest she was about her imperfect marriage. It wasn’t an invitation for pity or comments about how fabulous other people’s hubbies are.

      • Amy A
        Amy A says:

        I never grow weary from hearing about awesome partners. I think it helps spread the word about what is possible in relationship. It seems you picked a good one, Elizabeth.

  7. The Trophy Husband
    The Trophy Husband says:

    I really did enjoy this particular post! I like it because you did a great job showing the transformation between being a typical parent that wants to set up and “guide” the life of their children to now unschooling. When you stop believing that you know what’s best for your child, and treat them like capable human beings that can make their own decisions in life, you actually start listening to them, and discover who it is they really are. As for your husband, I completely understand where he is coming from! I find that the internet can be an amazing voice that supports life choices or a cruel voice that just wants to rip you apart. It would appear that you husband is falling to the latter and he shouldn’t. He took a huge risk in abandoning a way of life that he enjoyed because he thought it was best for his wife and kids. I am glad that it all has been working out for you and your family.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      It would appear that you husband is falling to the latter and he shouldn’t.

      Wait, Trophy Husband. Her entire reasoning for such distress at the home was her husband’s refusal to support her. If he supported her, would her family life have been so distressful?
      She points out that, “I finally decided that I had two choices: divorce my husband (because he is a jackass- my words, not hers) and make myself happy, or make some changes (because she is strong and amazing and can bend to that type of resistance).” Nowhere does it say: Husband was supportive and kind and helpful. She lists him numerous times being the distress in the family, distracting her from the kids priorities, dislike that she isn’t a ‘career person’ anymore…

      He took a huge risk in abandoning a way of life that he enjoyed because he thought it was best for his wife and kids.

      What? Where did you read this? What was his way of life before? As far as his day-to-day it looks like he was at work most of the day and still is. Is he home with the kids now? Doesn’t appear so.

      I think she has more guts than most women to put up with him. Kudos to her. At the end of the day, the kids see the relationship dynamic which is why I completely support the idea of counseling, if it hasn’t happened yet.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        Her husband disagreeing with how she was doing things was only one part.

        And I think it’s so important that she showed that. Because many people would like to homeschool and the spouse is not on board with the set up. So this post shows creativity in making homeschooling work when it was best for their family dynamic and finances that she earns money.

  8. Terese Hilliard
    Terese Hilliard says:

    I am another mother who home schooled and worked. My son and I would sit together on weekends and plan the workbook activities he would complete during the week. If he had a question he was free to call me during the work day. After his work was done he could travel on the bus and explore the city. He spent 3 years 7-9th grade home schooling to skip middle school (junior high) because he was very uncomfortable in the environment at school. He is on the autism spectrum and knows his limits. He chose to go back to school in 10th grade and aced all the tests the school insisted he take to obtain his 9th grade credits. I have never regretted it! I wish I had been more insistant that he stay out of school – he had MANY problems when he returned. He did graduate with a regular diploma and is now employed (GREAT for a kid on the spectrum).

    • Ozquoll
      Ozquoll says:

      Terese – I’m so happy to hear you supported your ASD spectrum son to homeschool, and that he is in employment – a great outcome!
      I was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 30, and it certainly helped me understand why high school was such a nightmare for me. I am a huge believer in home-schooling for those on the spectrum.

  9. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    Au pairs sound great to me. I know more than one local homeschooler who uses help to shuttle her kids around to homeschooling activities. In one case, the help has kids of her own, who are in school (awkward?). In another case, the help is a gap year au pair, and the mother works. They get along great. If I didn’t love actually spending the day with my kids, maybe I’d hire an au pair. But I like my current job taking care of the kids better than the job I left, or any others I’d be likely to go to.

    My wife wouldn’t; she loves her job. That is why she doesn’t homeschool our kids, I do. She works all day.

    But wait… is it more accurate to say that Ms. Hayles does or doesn’t homeschool her children? Her kids homeschool, but she doesn’t homeschool them. In so far as homeschooling is transitive, she has them homeschooled by an au pair.

    Or is it more accurate to say my wife does homeschool our children, even though she might actually be in another country from them 25% of the time?

    Perhaps it’s best to eliminate homeschool from transitiveness entirely, and say that our kids homeschool themselves. I’d be concerned, though, that some people might get the idea it’s okay to go to work 8 to 6 and just leave their kids alone all day, which is a terrible idea.

    Maybe the title should be “You can go back to work and your children can continue to homeschool – if you hire someone else to do it.”

    • Kristin
      Kristin says:

      Well, I did just sneak out from work and attend an Earth Day party with them, and I did take a day off to lead a homeschool field trip to the Neutral Buoyancy lab, and I keep in touch through many unschool and homeschool forums. I know the local community well. I leave instructions with them daily, I schedule their classes, text, email and talk to their instructors, teach my son math during off hours (because he wants it), read with them, play with them, etc. Homeschooling, and especially unschooling doesn’t have to be on a 9-5 schedule. My au pair is in touch with me throughout the day. And yes, they do spend time with themselves, doing what they want to do. But they would do that with me too. So I feel very involved in their education. (this is the person who wrote the original post)

  10. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    I am the one who wrote the post and I wanted to respond to the comments about my husband. No marriage is perfect. In fact, the more I look around, the more I realize that marriage is the most difficult thing a person can do! Yes, you are right, there is a marriage problem here and counseling may help. We have thought about it and tried a couple times but it didn’t work out because it is very hard to find the right counselor. Still trying. Actually, recently, my husband has been thinking about seeing his own therapist on his own, which is something I never thought would happen. So we are all a work in progress and from what I can see he is trying. There is a lot of good in him and my kids love him so I am willing to hang on so long as he is trying. We all need help in something, and some of us have had “different” upbringings. I think the biggest problem for my husband and I is communication, and we have differences in the way we parent and the way we think homeschooling should go. It must be hard for him to watch me unschool them when he thinks the most important thing is work ethic. He thinks getting to bed early is one of the most important things in one’s life. I honestly couldn’t care about this (unless they have something early the next day). He thinks my kids are lazy because they don’t prefer to do hard work. I think our culture values hard work too much and doesn’t leave enough time for pleasure and wandering thoughts. He is from Alabama and I am from California. He thinks I should be able to homeschool, manage the household, and keep a clean house because of the work ethic he grew up with, but I just cannot live up to all that, so I changed course, altered things, made compromises, and he is still agreeing with homeschooling. I am grateful for that. So we are SO DIFFERENT yet he still lets me run the show with them most of the time (bed time is a sticking point). When we got married I was a geophysicist and we didn’t have children and I hadn’t even heard of homeschooling so dramatic changes have ensued and we are still together! There are bound to be rough patches as we attempt to change our old ways in uncertain territory, and I am certain there are many other homeschoolers and unschoolers out there going through similar troubles because raising children is just about the most important thing a person can do, and there are so many different opinions on how to do it.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      Good for you.

      You are showing a valuable example to your children of two people who have different ideas and personalities and don’t always agree collaborating to create something that’s better for everybody.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Hi Kristin,

      Thank you for sharing so much with us. Was it difficult for you to want to open up so much on the blog? I know a lot of people only want to share the good parts of their lives, so I appreciate the frankness of this post.

      My husband values work ethic like yours, but he grew up as forced child labor for his father. They had 5 rental properties and my husband had to spend his summers in forced labor. So he kind of went the opposite direction with it in our children. He likes modeling behaviors and his work ethic as opposed to forcing our children to do things. He talks about why he does what he does and why he works so hard. Our children appreciate this line of communication and guidance.

      Our children’s perceived “laziness” also bothers my husband, but only because he wants to protect me and wants our children to treat me a little better. This isn’t to say they don’t treat me well, but for F*** sake throw your garbage away, right? Why do I have to pick up garbage??? So annoying. We are working on being tidier, right now we are researching which house cleaning company to use and which tiered option we want. We are looking to donate things to reduce the amount of “stuff” in the house. I think the difference is that my husband is truly happy that I get to be home with our children.

      We also outsource several things and I am definitely not a teacher, more of a facilitator and purchaser of the “stuff” that we end up needing to donate. I would still call you and your family a homeschool family! It’s just outsourced to a trusted individual.

      • Kristin
        Kristin says:

        Yes it was difficult — Penelope really had to talk me into it by saying it would help a lot of people and I would get a lot of great feedback, and I have!

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I think you are awesome, and Penelope was right. Thanks for being willing to share.

          • Katie
            Katie says:

            I was so chuffed to read this post, and hear the story of someone who hit hard times in their relationship but stuck with it for the good of others rather than a pursuit of individual happiness. There will be a huge reward in all of this in the long term. A marriage is 2 flawed people growing learning and changing together. ..it breaks us and remolds us. Beautiful.

    • Violet
      Violet says:

      Amen. I have before gotten criticism for ways others perceive my husband being overbearing or selfish. But they cannot see how we work together, and cannot see my own soul to understand the choices I make. Marriage is a balancing act, and what is important is that the couple finds a way to live a happy life, not to be able to demonstrate a perfectly balanced list of duties and gives and takes to the outside world.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      It’s very difficult to find a counselor that works! I think individual work gives best results.

      It’s amazing how quick people are to “give advice” when a spouse seems uncooperative. What the heck guys!? We’re all a pain at some point. And we just have to work it out.

      What struck me so much about your post was how much you decided to get out of the way for your children. I was just telling YMKAS that I want to “help” my toddler so much but I have to practice patience and get out of the way. I think it reflects humility to say “being physically present I’m no help. I love them and I’m the mom but maybe someone with a different personality will be better help.”

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        It would be pretty cool if those who think the OP should leave also offered up a game plan for how to go about it. Divorce with three kids under 10 seems like a huge project, no?

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          Well not only that. The heartbreak too. Just because your partner doesn’t support what you want doesn’t mean he/she is no good at all and you hate them to the point of not loving them.

          I think at the end of it all, having a job was the right answer for her family because if it wasn’t she wokld be push for her husband to be more understanding. For him to change. But she didn’t. Not when it came to that one issue. And I think she found the answer that made everyone happier or at least less miserable.

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          And ohmygosh! Are we seriously children of the Internet??
          I just read “OP” without thinking twice about it and just now realized that before the Internet was a regular part of my life “OP” wasn’t even a term I was familiar with :)

  11. Erin Bichara
    Erin Bichara says:

    I love this blog but lately I have tried to avoid all homeschooling posts until this one really caught my eye. My husband and I opened a business a year ago and its starting to thrive. I homeschool my 10 year old son. He attends classes for homeschoolers 2 days a week where he takes California History, Physics, Speech, Art, and Literature/Writing. I teach him Latin, Math, and spelling on the other days. I keep telling him he has to go back to public school for 5th grade so Mom can work more and it just kills me. There has got to be a way for this to work. I feel like I’m never doing enough for him. He’s extremely bright, reads on a 7th grade level and I wish I could embrace un-schooling. I just don’t know if working and homeschooling is possible for a type-a personality. I have always said I was creating a life by design but inside its a challenge to make it all work.

    • kristin
      kristin says:

      You most definitely can do it! It is debatable whether you have to teach your child all these things at his age, but if that is how you like to homeschool, then you can hire someone to make sure all of it gets done and report on his progress. You might even find someone who will make suggestions for changes or new classes. It could be really good for you and your son so you don’t have to obsess over everything — you can just stand back a bit and manage the bigger picture.

      • Erin
        Erin says:

        Thank you Kristin for your feedback. If I could simply dial my brain back we’d all be fine. I often wonder about self-directed learning. If I told him to learn what he wants he would read all day about Minecraft, pokemon, and make videos.

        • Kristin
          Kristin says:

          My son does the same thing! But have you seen these games, and the brainpower it takes to create the videos? They start out trying to do one thing, and it cascades into more and their brain keeps developing. At this very moment my son is playing Clash of Clans — with his father. They are sitting together “attacking” but they have been discussing strategy for a half hour, and bantering back and forth — sounds complicated. I think the skills he is learning by doing this will be highly desirable in the future. Plus he gets some bonding time with his dad. I love that game because it spans all age ranges and requires commitment, strategy, dedication, problem solving, social skills, creativity, and I’m sure some other things I don’t know about. If you haven’t really looked at those games you mention, sit in and watch while he does it. Actually, my son started a blog when he was 10 about what all he learns from video games and how parents should just watch the games to find out more. I do know though that video games are hard to take. Sometimes I feel my son is playing too much (I’m all about balance) so I interrupt him and suggest something else. He is usually happy to oblige (unless he is in the middle of something important). I am just trying to offer my experience with video games — I think he is growing up quite well, despite of (or because of) the video games. I’m not trying to pressure you into letting him play games all day whenever he wants. Just saying that maybe it would be ok some of the time (cause intelligent kids will do great things with games) and with a nanny or au pair, you won’t have to be there to see it! It won’t drive you crazy because you won’t be there. One last thought — I drilled my son about 6 months ago in his times tables because I think it will be helpful to know them. He did poorly when I drilled him. I did not do any exercises since then, verbally tested him over breakfast again a couple days ago and he aced it! How does that happen?? How did he just absorb the times tables? I don’t know, maybe I have done it casually through the years and it finally sank in, maybe he quizzed himself secretly, but I have found that somehow the learning happens.

  12. Erin
    Erin says:

    This post resonates with me more than any other homeschooling post I’ve read. I have always wanted to homeschool my kids because I believe that it is the most flexible and sound education for my kids. They’re not old enough for any academics yet, so I (mostly) stopped working so I could be with them as much as possible. The problem is that I am going crazy doing it. I live in the country in a conservative part of the Midwest; being from Oregon and California, this is really hard for me. So I will probably go back to work eventually but am very happy to see that I might still be able to give our kids the chance to have this type of education.

  13. Ali Davies
    Ali Davies says:

    I can relate to what you are saying here. I run my own business and have been homeschooling our 11 year old son for the last 16 months. It has been a challenging process to find ways to manage the logistics of both those demanding things and to have a family life outside those things too.

    But, what is important, and your post beautifully demonstrates, is that there is a solution if we just keep on trying and experimenting and looking for what works for individuals in the family and the family unit.

    The other thing we have learnt is that it isn’t a static journey. What works now might not work in a few months or years time. Flexibility and finding unconventional ideas that deliver effective solutions are key

  14. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    What a great story! I had a big grin on my face as I was reading, as your husband sounds like my husband. While we do not have kids, I have got us on track so I can retire ‘early’ (this is still some ways away, but I dream) and my husband will have no part of it. He believes everyone should work, and when I harp on him about it, he’ll say, “Maybe but I want this house immaculate and dinner on the table every night! ” We’ll see.

    It is funny how making money can change the balance in a relationship, for years I made much more than my hubby, but recently he has been catching up. And his catching up makes me notice how many domestic duties he does, and now that we are almost equal, I feel I need to step up and do more housework myself. This summer I am determined to own mowing the lawn.

    At the time I was making more I would have swore that the difference in our incomes did not matter, but now that he is making more, I see it did matter, and does matter. I don’t know why exactly, but it does.

    Oh, and anyone who does not send their kid to school is doing awesome in my book. The homeschool/unschool/ whatever is up to your style!

  15. mh
    mh says:

    Disagreeing nicely used to be a feminine skill. Have you never watched “His Girl Friday,” the Cary Grant movie?

    Marriage is about managing confict, and whether that conflict involves money, time, sex, or inlaws, the most important thing is to be a team together.

    Being pleasant under pressure is an important skill to learn.

    Not all conflict has to be resolved immediately. And sometimes language is a stupid way to communicate.

    I applaud Kristin for her post and urge people to leave her husband alone. Their personal life is personal.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      You know what I need? Etiquette school!

      I’m going to Google stuff to see what I can do. I want people to think I’m delightful!

  16. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    Enough guys, we’d be completely remiss from a great point if we continue to rag on the husband for “not being supportive” of the wife staying at home and continue to run things as she was.

    Obviously some growth came from that. And it was needed.

    Personally, more and more I’m seeing that homeschooling encompasses more than taking care of good education for the children. I think it’s a great opportunity to retake everything stolen from the family by an overbearing education system. It’s about the parents too, not just the children. Her husband was discontent with how things were going and he had to change his expectations of self-directed learning like we’ve all had in this journey.

    She found out it’s best for her to work and have an au pair to facilitate this self directed learning.

    We should thank her for being so honest because without this honesty this blog would be like any other rosy colored blog that only makes us all feel just not good enough.

  17. Sarah Faulkner
    Sarah Faulkner says:

    Loved the post Kristin. I am really envious you can work. I think I would be so much happier working. I am married to a man from the south and they are a different breed right? At one point I asked him what the most important thing to him was for me to do. He said his laundry and making the bed. So I bought him more under ware than me (ensuring I do laundry before he runs out ), and I always make the bed. :).

    He will always expect me to run the house without him, and that has taken some creative work. I think thats a southern thing, women at home, men at work. But the home demands more hours than work. At the end of the week I use to tell him how many hours I “clocked “, state how many he did at work (always less ) and then ask him to take the kids. Worked every time! Now he works a min of 60 hours a week so I cant say much, and instead hired a house keeper.

    Really enjoyed this post. Thanks for writing it.

    • Amy A
      Amy A says:

      My kids’ dad is not from the south. But he also needs the beds made. He wanted the house picked up and dinner made prior to his returning from work.

      I don’t remember any of his household expectations in the eight cohabitating years pre-kids. We both worked full-time and cooked our own meals (I was vegetarian at the time) or ate out. If we had company, *I* chose to scrub the house for hours the day before.

      I knew I would have to give up being the kind of parent I desired to be if I gave up (going to work for me would have both been giving up on having a partner I could love and on being the mom I want to be and all my growth that continuously comes with sticking with at-home parenting). I chose to stay with the at-home parenting and leave the partner.

      Over six years separated, and three of those in my own place with the kids, all is well. No counseling for the kids or me needed; we three are thriving. Walking away from that relationship is the top of the top-four beneficial/great things I have done in my life.

      I love our life. And I love who I am (previously, in that environment, I thought I was a piece of shit). I will never regret walking away from an unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship–for the benefit of all of us, even their dad.

      To me, relationships between adults don’t have to be hard or work. It is all about finding the right match with similar values. I am in a relationship now which is so pleasant and so easy. Granted, we don’t live together (don’t know if I will want to live with another adult again); but I now know to never again be close with someone who thinks the house needs to be picked up and meals need to be cooked *for them* or even someone who cares much about cleaning (to the extent of not being able to function without the beds made, for example)–I would rather the home be my concern and to handle it my way. And I learned my lesson in picking someone whose personality is calm and content and someone who just loves the hell out of being with me (and my kids)–irrelevant of my housekeeping, my employment, and what I complete in a day. Plus, someone who understands and respects my commitment to conscious-parenting, my kids and homeschooling.

      I am glad for the author that she found a solution which works for her family. And I admire her creativity in finding a way to meet her goal of appeasing her husband plus sticking to her guns about homeschooling.

      • Pirate Jo
        Pirate Jo says:

        Also, I just wanted to let you know I totally agree with you. I am semi-retired and glad I don’t live with anyone. A commenter above remarked that her husband expects her to keep a spotless house and put dinner on the table for him if she wants to retire early. FTS. During the half of the year that I am not working, I do whatever I want. I keep my place as clean or messy as I feel like keeping it and don’t have to listen to anyone whine and complain that I could at least clean the house if I’m going to be home all day. I do tend to keep the place cleaner when I’m not working but only have to do it for me.

        My parents (in their 70’s) have the kind of dynamic where my mom is expected to cook and clean for him. If he comes into the house hungry, they both feel like she has to drop whatever she is in the middle of doing to fix him something to eat. Like after all those years living in the same place, he can’t remember where the refrigerator or microwave are. When my boyfriend is at my place on the weekends, if I am hungry I’ll fix myself something and ask him if he wants me to make something for him, too. If he’s not hungry, he’ll just fix himself something later.

        I was just curious how you were providing for yourself now, because after reading your comment I imagine hundreds of women whose husbands demean them and don’t value their contributions will want to do what you did, and they are probably just wondering how you keep a roof over your head and make ends meet now.

        • Commenter
          Commenter says:

          Sorry, this is not Annie, but I wanted to respond by saying that it is not all about what I want, and it is not about money. It is about what will hold the family together if the family is still good together. Everyone says kids are resilient, but I say that divorce is devastating. Kids didn’t ask to be born and they must react to whatever their crazy parents put before them. Of course they seem resilient because they must be! What else will they do but carry on? I guarantee that all kids of divorce carry the scars somehow, and I know that having both a mom and a dad together is best for the kids. It is incumbent on the parents to work things out if they can since they are the ones who made the choice to be together. So much of it is mental. We can all decide to work on things and we can all decide to turn it around and make compromises so that we can live together in peace. There is no reason to simply divorce because someone wants someone to put dinner on the table. We have to work with that desire and figure out how to solve the conflict rather than just giving up.

          • Pirate Jo
            Pirate Jo says:

            I don’t disagree about the kids and divorce. I believe kids need two parents who are 1) competent and 2) caring.

            I never married or had kids because I simply didn’t want to.

            But I think when someone expects to be waited on hand and foot, it shows that they don’t respect the other person’s time. “Nothing you are doing could possibly matter enough that you can’t drop it immediately and tend to my every petty need.”

            I mean here are men who supposedly wanted kids, but rather than show respect for what their wives are doing, they change their tune completely and treat them like third world slave labor. Or maybe the men didn’t really want kids, I don’t know what everyone’s situation is. I imagine it can be pretty stressful trying to support a family on one income, so there’s that.

            My mom was fine with their dynamic because she embraces fundamental religious beliefs such as, “The man is the head of the house.” Considering how my dad acts when he doesn’t get his way all the time, it’s probably what kept them compatible. And even though I don’t philosophically agree with that, it’s kind of the default position you assume when you become financially dependent on someone.

            I just never wanted anything to do with any of that. Considering I was somewhere in the popcorn line when they handed out biological clocks, there was never any reason to. I focused on supporting myself and still have love in my life – we’ve been together eight years now. We just don’t live together.

          • Amy A
            Amy A says:

            Kids need access to their parents (both physically and emotionally)—if not their parents, then a loving relationship with someone like an au pair or a grandparent who is a constant presence in their lives to bond with and attach to. Kids need a warm home (and plenty of time in it) where all the people in the home love and respect each other and themselves. Kids can have these necessities in a divorce situation. Kids can be missing these necessities in a marriage situation. In other words, marriage doesn’t automatically create a healthy household and relationships with others and self. And single parents don’t automatically screw up their kids.

            Additionally, the most-perfect, happily-married parents and households still are going to screw something up in parenting. We can beat ourselves up about it and be parents with low self-esteem; or we can grow and learn and authentically-communicate with our children as we go along—so they, in turn, will learn from us how to work through problems and to love themselves no matter what they are going through.

            I wonder if any conscious, sensitive, attachment-parenting, attuned parent says, “Kids are resilient”—especially to dismiss their children’s feelings and needs. I surely don’t.

            Wouldn’t that be peculiar if anyone ended a marriage simply because their spouse asked them to cook dinner? Do you suppose that there is way more to it than that?

            Without even knowing a person and the particulars, I myself can say with confidence that simply being asked to do something isn’t a deal-breaker for most people. I have a deep understanding that relationships have many layers, dynamics, nuances and history; there are personality types, love languages, upbringing, willingness (or lack of) for growth and learning, maturing and changing, energies/vibes, communication styles, expectations and demands, pre-kid lifestyles and dynamics, post-kid lifestyles and dynamics, and so on–all of these, and much more, come to play in a relationship. I also know that being a person without children is shockingly different than being a person with children—it is difficult to really know what it is like and how it will affect a pre-kid relationship until kids are actually in the picture.

            I advocate for and empower at-home parents; it’s my passion. I believe kids come first (as you said, *we* chose for them to be here) and that we parents have access to the maturity and ability to shift and adjust in order to make parenting an empowering, personal-growth-filled, healing and enjoyable experience for ourselves—which in turn, benefits the kids and other parent (win-win-win).

          • Amy A
            Amy A says:

            Kids need access to their parents (both physically and emotionally)—if not their parents, then a loving relationship with someone like an au pair or a grandparent who is a constant presence in their lives to bond with and attach to. Kids need a warm home (and plenty of time in it) where all the people in the home love and respect each other and themselves. Kids can have these necessities in a divorce situation. Kids can be missing these necessities in a marriage situation. In other words, marriage doesn’t automatically create a healthy household and relationships. And single parents don’t automatically screw up their kids.

            Additionally, the most-perfect, happily-married parents and households still are going to screw something up in parenting. We can beat ourselves up about it and be parents with low self-esteem; or we can grow and learn and authentically-communicate with our children as we go along—so they, in turn, will learn from us how to work through problems and to love themselves no matter what they are going through.

            I wonder if any conscious, sensitive, attachment-parenting, attuned parent says, “Kids are resilient”—especially to dismiss their children’s feelings and needs? I surely don’t.

            Wouldn’t that be peculiar if anyone ended a marriage simply because their spouse asked them to cook dinner? Do you suppose that there is way more to it than that?

            Without even knowing a person and the particulars, I myself can say with confidence that simply being asked to do something isn’t a deal-breaker for most people. I have a deep understanding that relationships have many layers, dynamics, nuances and history; there are personality types, love languages, upbringing, willingness (or lack of) for growth and learning, maturing and changing, energies/vibes, communication styles, expectations and demands, pre-kid lifestyles and dynamics, post-kid lifestyles and dynamics, and so on–all of these, and much more, come to play in a relationship. I also know that being a person without children is shockingly different than being a person with children—it is difficult to really know what it is like and how it will affect a pre-kid relationship until kids are actually in the picture.

            I advocate for and empower at-home parents; it’s my passion. I believe kids come first (as you said, *we* chose for them to be here) and that we parents have access to the maturity and ability to shift and adjust in order to make parenting an empowering, personal-growth-filled, healing and enjoyable experience for ourselves—which in turn, benefits the kids and other parent (win-win-win).

  18. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    I wanted to come back here and tell Kristin more things I like about her post and her.

    As far as I can tell kids, for the most part, emulate their parents and end up turning out like their parents…they become attached to the culture of their parents. Homeschool, while wonderful and all, is really a garnish compared to the huge plateful of an influence a parent has. And, again in my humble experience, it is simply amazing that though even divorce, death and public school may change the hours spent together, those things rarely reduce the influence.

    This is where I get to how great Kristin is. She is brave, brave enough to marry a man from someplace different than her, brave enough to have 3 kids, brave enough to become a geophysicist, brave enough to have a person from another country come live in her house and brave enough to write this post.

    Kristin just being Kristin creates a great culture for someone to become attached.

    • Kristin
      Kristin says:

      I’m trying to keep quiet because I don’t want to muddle the conversation too much but I just can’t help myself. Jennifa, that’s just about the nicest thing a person has ever said to me, thank you.

  19. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    …and lastly, I would like to hear more from Dads, specifically Dads whose wives homeschool, but also Dads in general. I work with many dads, and it seems their voice is under-represented, in a lot of different areas. I think Dads have much more pent up whining to do than they are allowed. I have heard Dads mention they want more time with their children, and often wish they could be a more hands-on parent. Where is this dialogue playing out?

  20. Annie
    Annie says:

    I really appreciated this post, and your honesty. It gave me hope. I’m not happy right now, at home with my kids every day. I love the idea of working and paying someone to hang with them, and it’s really hopeful to hear that others are doing this successfully.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      Annie, I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my life and varied careers, one of the lessons I hope to be able to communicate to my children, is that different people like to do different things. The difference between doing something you really enjoy to do and something you grudgingly put up with is immense. Yet the thing you love to do somebody else may hate, and the thing you grudgingly put up with someone else may love.

      As the most effective teaching is by our actions, not our words, it would not be a terrible thing for you to show your children that you are better off doing the work you most enjoy. You might be able to find someone for whom spending their days with your kids is a dream gig. And the sum total of happiness in your family would be increased.

      I hope you don’t feel that people would judge you poorly for outsourcing homeschooling. If a big part of the spirit of homeschooling is not doing things just because you feel you have to, even though you don’t want to and it doesn’t really help to do them, then leading with your feet is entirely consistent with the spirit.

      I hope my children are able to learn what the things are they most enjoy, and are able to focus on them for their livelihoods. I hope I can teach this with words and by example. For me, staying at home with the kids is the most natural and enjoyable job I’ve had. Or I wouldn’t do it.

  21. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    This post has come at the perfect time. We have been heavily weighing our options with homeschooling. We have a second grade boy, who according to the school, is not ‘at’ grade level. Then we have a 5.5 year old who has not yet started kindergarten but is testing at a first grade level. So in a nutshell, we have one who needs some help that he is not getting, is kept in a box that is not helping him succeed, and feels he never has enough time to just do what he wants to do. And now were worried about sending a kid to school that will, bottom line, always be in trouble because he already knows everything they are going to tell him he has to do, he won’t want to do it so he will choose to play instead, and is a huge mama’s boy who would rather sit and read books at home then do really anything else.
    My BIGGEST issue with choosing to homeschool has been that I know I will have to go back to work in the next couple of years. I thought it would be impossible to go back to work and homeschool at the same time but this post has just opened my eyes to a world that I did not know even existed!! I am still scared to be completely honest but this really helps ;-)

    • Kristen
      Kristen says:

      I forgot to mention. I am also doing Pre-Law myself! Any mothers out there going to college, working AND homeschooling?!?!

  22. not my real name
    not my real name says:

    I spent a couple hours searching for this post due to my newfound resolve to separate from my husband, go back to work and find OP who homeschools. I then saw that Kristen’s OP mainly just helps facilitate. And then I was reminded of the housekeeping conflict. THIS housekeeping conflict is the straw. Constant grumbling and complaining and dirty looks. Irrational thinking. Too unfair to even discuss with him. He hasn’t provided as a side note. I just feel that action is finally needed. I don’t want to divorce but I did like Amy A’s post and thinking a lot about it. Btw, my husband is a bonafide jackass. He harshly grabbed my little girl’s left hand when she mistakenly made the sign of the cross with the wrong hand. Just one of many examples of our pleasant times together at the dinner table.

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