When does a school year end for homeschoolers?

This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

When the kids were little we had an official first day, and a last day of school.  It is a given that children learn all the time, and don’t stop learning, but for the sake of this conversation let’s assume everyone agrees with that simple logic shall we?  The real reason we had an official first day and last was because I needed to know that I was done.

Done with finding fun things to do.
Done watching for their interests to guide them.

As the years went buy I quickly learned it was more stressful to school with a first day and last.  If I schooled that way, it meant I had to be pretty faithful through the year to school, and well, I’m not.  Have you ever thought about the way your school runs in the day, it is not always the way your child wants it to run, but rather the way you need it to run?

For example, I have one lonely J type in my oldest three kids.  He loves it when I schedule his day, different subjects for so many hours.  I can’t do it.  I have tried.  So many years I have tried, and the only one who keeps to the schedule is him.  As he got older it frustrated him no one else kept to the schedule so I had to get rid of the schedule, and instead just verbally tell him how much work.

I run our days without a schedule, because I need to be without one.  I have two other P’s I am teaching, along with me being a P.  They fight against the schedule, and I find myself agreeing with their arguments, so the whole thing goes to pot. I never realized I did that until I decided I needed to stop lying to myself.

About three years ago, during my dark days, I didn’t get out of bed some days.  I was very depressed.  I still might be, but for today I feel OK.  You can’t do school well when you are in bed all day, even unschooling requires some sort of parental involvement.  To combat my desire to die, I said we did school year round, so I could justify the dark days.

We really didn’t do school year round.  Summer would fill up and I would still have dark days.  So this year I have decided to stop lying to myself.  When I catch myself lying to myself I call me on it.  The true motivation is not to give my kids a better education.  I wish I could say that because it makes me sound better, and it makes the comments nicer, but the real reason is I keep gaining weight and I know it must be due to some reason, and I think stopping the lying is a good place to start.

All this being said, I now have to face the fact, I don’t truly school during the summer, so am I going to school this summer, and if I do what does that look like?  Do I only school, Tuesday-Thursday, giving us long weekends?  Do I only concentrate on one subject and let go the rest?

I don’t know, but I do know one thing.  I am tired to having dark days, I am tired of the weight gain, and I am tired of feeling like I fail my kids constantly.  Some how this needs to change over the summer.  I wish I knew how.

41 replies
  1. Maria
    Maria says:

    My best bet would be get your kids into a school and get time for yourself. I am not a fan of homeschooling because I cannot imagine how would that be, been every single day, most of the day, with my mom! I love my mom, more than that, my mom is my idol! I am so proud of her, and after my kids, she is the person I love and respect most in the world . But I just cannot imagine spending all the day with her as a kid. And I also cannot imagine my mom homeschooling us, she is so effective and successful, but she would not be able to keep an schedule… and I think kids need that.

    • mh
      mh says:


      I disagree with your advice for Sarah. Putting the kids into a school situation exacerbates the problems for Sarah’s family, because now the school is in charge of the family’s schedule, along with all that implies: intrusive bureaucracy, bullying, emotional damage, school control of evenings and weekends… The list goes on.

      Sarah, “normal” feels different for different people. Dark days happen to everyone, but they are made worse by electronic media telling moms how things “should” be. Try a “media diet” for a couple of weeks. Turn off all the tv, stop looking at Facebook, let the blogs you like to read and comment on go for a while. Let the kids do what they like – get a laundry basket of materials together for the one child who wants structure, and live peacefully for a while. Sweep your driveway, get some sun.

      Yours is such a great voice in these comments that you will be missed, but you’re more important than we comment-junkies are. Best to you. I like your posts.

      • sarah faulkner
        sarah faulkner says:

        Thank you MH. I agree with the media influence, stepping out of media itself, it seems if two women get together one of them starts to turn the conversation into what a good parent they are.

        • Maria
          Maria says:

          I agree we should protect ourselves from the media influence. We have to be stronger now than ever! And teach our kids to be strong as they will feel even more media pressure….

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        I don’t know Sarah personally, but the glimpses she has shared into her life make it sound like everything that is going on around her is unproductive. I think this is coming from her skewed view (depression). Under that circumstance, nothing looks good.

        I think Maria is in Spain, if I remember correctly. I get where she is coming from. Putting kids in school in Europe isn’t an ‘all-or-nothing’ thing. People there, generally, don’t look towards the school to raise their kids and impress views on the kids- it’s more about what the family values. The system is based around community (from my experience as least).

        With that said, considering our PS system in the US- I think Sarah could look into alternative forms of schooling such as waldorf or montessori. I know a lot of people here have complaints about those structures, but in her particular circumstance I can’t see how being home all day with 5 children and being depressed is helping anyone.

        Sarah I like your honesty about your relationship with your SIL, but why aren’t you finding others that support you? Why put yourself around someone that you do not like? I don’t see how that helps your depression, even if she takes over your daily responsibilities.
        Do the kids take any classes? Are they involved in local groups? I guess I just don’t see what is in their lives enough to be able to help more.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:


      My kids actually prefer self-directed learning at home. They have zero desire to go to any school.

      Teaching our kids early to be freethinkers, be in charge of their own learning, and have plenty of time to find their passions is my family’s priority. The best way for them to have that type of environment is unschooling at home with a few classes/camps/lessons outside the home.

      If Sarah chooses school for one or some of her kids, it shouldn’t be for the reasons you mentioned.

  2. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    This has been a matter of discussion in my circles lately. A colleague has voiced the view that a more natural class schedule for homeschoolers doesn’t follow the school schedule from early September to late June, but starts later in September and ends earlier in June, with a longer winter break, because so many of us take advantage of longer vacations and more travel than school families do. I know our family has frequently enjoyed travel and outings in September and June once the other kids are in school or before they’ve left.

    I find that for our family, homeschooling doesn’t end on a set date, but transitions into differing summer plans. My boy (whatever else he is, I’m pretty sure it’s fair to call him a J) really likes to have a weekly list of goals, and feels floundery without. We can tailor that list depending on what else the family has going on that week. He also really likes summer camps, and is booked from the end of June through the end of August in a series of day and sleepaway camps. There’s not a great need for goals lists at that point, as the only thing he’ll work on after camp is instrumental practice. But until he starts something else that has a fixed schedule, he likes to collaborate on creating one, and feels unhappy without one.

    When am I done? I’m never done. I’m done for the time he’s off somewhere else following that schedule. That’s about it.

  3. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    Your well-being is crucial, not just for your family, but for you. The responsibility we feel with homeschooling can be overwhelming, and when we feel overwhelmed, we have no choice but to pause and regroup. The outcome will not be good for anyone if we don’t. Your needs are part of the equation, too. Take good care of yourself. If time off is a time of building your strength again, and the kids are doing the bare minimum in terms of reading or whatever, you will begin to feel like yourself again and they will appreciate the break, too! Playing (not mindless playing, but playing) is not worthless. It builds great memories and great skills. (A brilliant early childhood educator I worked with 20+ years ago told me that part of the foundation for a healthy adulthood is a treasure trove of good childhood memories…most of our best childhood memories involve playing.) We were always organizing something when I was a kid…and I think schools are now trying to simulate that type of activity which we did naturally. I wish you the very, very best. (By the way, I am not gluten free, but I stopped eating bread and I lost weight…not to give unsolicited advice, but something so small can make a big difference….)

  4. Fatcat
    Fatcat says:

    Over the years, we gravitated towards a checklist system. it helps those who need a schedule and it is easier for those of us who just can’t follow a schedule. Get your blues checked out, maybe you need some counseling or medication, but homeschooling isn’t the problem and putting your kids in schools will only make you have to adhere to the school schedule. Only do fun things in the summer!

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Homeschooling isn’t the problem, but if you have a mother around that is not taking care of herself or is not ‘there’ enough to empathize and be supportive it does becomes a problem for everyone.

      This hits close to home for me. I come at this from experience as a kid in this situation. I was homeschooled as child during years 4 and 5 of elementary school. My mother was pregnant and depressed. She was not emotionally available during that time. We were extremely happy to go back to school when the time came because our mother was not able to support us in the home.
      The reality was that she did not *want* to do the school run because it was stressful to her. I remember it clearly mostly being about what she wanted and how she wanted her day to go. I was left to my own devices with my homeschool books. I came back to school ahead in all subjects (of course!) but behind emotionally from the neglect. I didn’t particularly like school, but it did give me hours of relief from home-life.
      I don’t know how much of my story parallels with Sarah’s current circumstance. My mother had 5 children and never got help because she refused to live on a schedule of sorts, even by her own doing. A lot of time wasted. So she just, eventually, kind of drifted off. So, what I’m trying to say is-
      At the end of the day, it is so important figure out a way to sort herself out by trying new things, trying different therapists, classes, a schedule, a school, whatever. Just try to find what works!

  5. jessica
    jessica says:

    Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and really see if things are going well or not. It sounds like you’re doing that.

    Raising kids is not easy and there are no days off. Maybe you don’t want a schedule but perhaps that’s the one thing you need. To be able to organise your days and have times to look forward to would help. I think you’ve taken on too much at the moment, by what you are saying. Sign them up for camp, get a sitter (regularly) etc. kids want their parents to be health y! I grew up with a mom that was absorbed with her own problems and refused to schedule herself time to help herself. That was a disaster for everyone.You need that time!

    I probably couldn’t homeschool without my kids getting the short end of it unless I had a class or two for my son, a sitter to be able to give each child adequate attention and other mom friends for general banter about mom stuff (relief of stress/understanding my problems aren’t unique). You need some support. Maybe list all the realistic ways you can get that support. And then try them out! Do you have a gym nearby that has childcare? That could be a good place to start.

  6. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Finding fun things to do and watching for their interests to guide them never stops for us. That is year round and ongoing. We have signed up for local camps, classes, lessons as well as traveling out of state that completely fill our summer. It doesn’t really look different than the rest of the year except that there are more offerings during the daytime for my kids when it is summer. They are doing swimming, theater, video game design, science, dancing and singing…just through are local parks and rec, nothing fancy.

    When I get stressed for whatever reason, I fly my mom to stay with us to help out for weeks at a time, several times a year. Or my husband and I let the kids stay with their grandparents and we go away somewhere.

    There needs to be time for self-care, it is SO important. I know some homeschool friends with large families who homeschool one or two, send one to preschool a few days a week, and others who send one or two kids to regular school so that they can continue homeschooling the ones that really benefit from it and manage it all.

    Honestly, if there was even an ounce of depression I would try to find another alternative for my kids, because I couldn’t continue to unschool if I had issues. We have charter schools that offer full-time classes two or three days a week for homeschoolers, can you look into that maybe? Is there anything similar in your area? The trade-off may be really great for you.

    I’m so sorry for what you are going through. Big virtual hugs and I hope that you find some answers through the summer.

    • sarah faulkner
      sarah faulkner says:

      I fly my sister-in-law to watch the kids. She loves cooking, cleaning, and being with my kids. The nice benefit is we don’t like each other, so we are both good with avoiding one another, allowing me to have alone time guilt free.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        Hahahaha this is hilarious!

        My mom was over yesterday. I told her to come over so I could go to the store but I just wanted her to come over. I didn’t want to go the store. I just wanted her company. But we didn’t have to chat all the time. She just makes me feel comfortable.

        It’s odd to find people that may reenergize you when you’re an introvert. So when you find them keep them.

        It seems you and your sister have figured out the relationship and how to make it work. It’s pretty great!

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Lol, that’s awesome! :)

        I meant to add to my first comment that I am a J in a houseful of P’s… it is always interesting/chaos. Keep it weird is my motto.

  7. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    I love the moment when you want to die and can’t take it anymore and you think “is is it. I need to end this. One way or the dying way.” And then you somehow find the strength to chart a path to get out of the pit.

    The dark days are awful. No strength for anything. Not even to take a pill of vitamin D with a whole glass of water.

    I just came out of my dark days. The sadness pushed me so hard right up to the edge and the desperation gave me the strength to fight one more time, give one last push, to do something.

    If you want to figure out what to teach the children I, personally and just my opinion, would say that choosing the summer months according to the calendar, to focus on getting healthy is a great curriculum/teaching material. Of course, self care looks different for everyone. But the basics are the same: get to know yourself, identify the problem areas, tinker with a system until it works, and never let go or the dark days will throw you in a pit.

    The beauty about focusing on getting healthy is that you can’t run far away from academic learning in terms of math, lit, biology, etc. And speaking honestly with kids is amazing. You can say “mom is sick. This is what the illness is and how it works. These are the things that help but they are hard to do because of the illness. We are going to focus on getting me healthy and everyone healthy so you can have a happy and strong mom.”

    If someone had talked to me about depression when I was a kid I would’ve learned to handle it so much better as an adult. And I’m sure that my innate interest in biology and history and chemistry have aided a ridiculous amount of research I’ve done on the issue trying, balls against the wall, to find something that works for me.

    All I’m saying is, self-care and getting healthy sounds very hallmark card-esque. But the process of getting there is very text-book plus Mythbusters style.

    • sarah faulkner
      sarah faulkner says:

      I have struggled with depression my whole life. It is ironic because I am a very optimistic person, which is probably what keeps me off of anti depressants. :) When I met my Dad, I told him how depressed I always felt and he replied, “Of course you do, you are my kid. You will always be weird.” That really helped. It’s ok to be depressed. I just hate that it’s a part of my children’s story.

      On a side note: B6 really helps also with the depression for me the majority of the time.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        Maybe we have to refrain sadness so it doesn’t mean the end of it all. If sadness is this all bad thing (“death while alive”) then if it’s part of your kids’ lives it’ll be a bad thing. Companies make a lot of money selling happiness so it makes sense that there’s like nowhere to look to for a new concept of sadness.

        Perhaps content? Like, not sad and not euphoric? Or being okay with being sad and just accepting it for what it is? Some people live all their lives with diabetes but not every day is bad. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and it’ll be with her forever but not everyday she’s bed ridden. So I’ve tried to reframe depression that way.

        I see life all the time as past, present, and future at all times. It’s hard to be present in any given moment but knowing how fleeting and irrelevant my life is in terms of the whole universe has made me freer to not care about many things and just enjoy.

        I stumbled upon St. John’s Wort root when I was breastfeeding and didn’t want to take anti depressants. Besides the fact that they’ve always made everything worse. And it worked. And vitamins. And eating meat and high fat but little to almost no simple carbs. That’s the only way I’ve figured out to stay more stable longer. And sleep and running. It has gotten to the point that if I’m not going to sleep just to clean just a bit more you bet the house will stay dirty. I’m more useful healthy and happy.

        My dad was always a grump. And he’d always try to tell me I didn’t have to be euphoric all the time and happy shouldn’t be a goal. And I hated him for it. But I’m glad he planted the seed for that thought. He knew I’d need it. Like he could see the future.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I take a nap almost every single day. Sometimes it is really short and sometimes it is a nice long one, but I love that I get that little bit of time to just go to my room and have a nap. It’s like a treasure every single day. I also try to practice mindfulness and taking the time to get some quiet alone time to reflect and do some deep breathing exercises.

      • rose
        rose says:

        I know a lot of die-hard homeschoolers will disagree with me, but after homeschooling for 8 years, with one child with dyslexia, one with tourette syndrome, and one on the autism spectrum, i was completely burnt out. Putting the kids in school was a lifesaver for me and hubby was tremendously relieved. Yes, school does dictate much of the schedule, and i am very happy for summer vacation. But I am able to be involved in school things sometimes and have been pleasantly surprised at how kind and caring the teachers have been. Yes, no one can love your kids quite like you do, but I have seen that my kids’ teachers are there because they do care about the kids entrusted to them and have their best interests at heart. I still think that if possible, homeschooling is the best thing for many kids…but it was not possible for me to do anymore and keep my own sanity. And it is ok. My kids are not damaged for life. We laid a good foundation while homeschooling, and we now reap the benefits. And my kids benefit from having a mom who is not as tired and burnt out. My kids and i are still very close–that has not changed with changing school situations. I am not a failure because I stopped homeschooling. :) Just my 2 cents, if it is helpful.

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          I think this is really good to hear. For us, homeschooling is an approach to get the life we want. What if the vehicle is causing more troubles than happiness? What then? I think there’s tremendous value in recognizing when you have to change vehicles and that just because you’re not riding the homeschooling train it doesn’t mean you have to stop pursuing the same result you had in your heart in the beginning.

  8. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Here’s what you do:
    1. Give yourself a break. Take a mental health day or two or week. Give the J a list of things to do during that time. Call it independent study – I’m a J, trust me on this one. He’ll like the autonomy and he gets a ‘list’ or specific outline of expectations. Tell the other three that this time is for play. They can work on anything they want, but play is the focus – no pressure.
    2. Do nothing during that time. Nothing that doesn’t HAVE to be done or children will starve or contract life threatening illness. Keep the actual doing to a minimum.
    3. Enact self-care mode. Take long baths, sleep in a little longer if you can, read a book – watch TV *gasp*. Just do whatever works for you.
    4. Tell the kids and hubby to deal with whatever is NOT being done during your break. Or to get over it if they can’t handle it themselves.
    5. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling during that time. Don’t try to fix it, rationalize or diagnose it. Just feel and be OK with that.
    6. At the end of your alloted time, thank yourself for giving you the space to feel without the pressure to fix.
    7. Resume unschooling
    8. Repeat as needed.

  9. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There’s a book named Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I haven’t read it. However, I have read reviews on it and it’s been well received. Along the same lines I think learning is similar – Learning, Fast and Slow. A given subject will have you buzzing through the material while other sections will seem like a crawl. Learning is not a linear process. I think homeschooling is like that. There will be days when you go to bed at night and say to yourself what did we do or learn today. Other days will be magical. A lot of stop and go at various rates of learning and practicing.
    Maybe it’s the goal setting that sometimes works and other times doesn’t. It may help to focus more on the biweekly (every two weeks) and monthly goals. That way, a few bad days won’t seem all that bad if you’re determined and you know you’ll be able to make it up over the long term. Also set realistic goals and adjust accordingly for your situation. What’s heartening in this post is it seems you’re discovering your homeschooling environment and asking the right questions that will eventually make homeschooling better in your household. You’re hacking your way through the homeschool jungle. It can’t be pretty sometimes but the end result is what matters. Stay the course and be persistent as long as your family believes it is the best education for your kids. This could be your rough patch. If so, see ‘The Dip’ by Seth Godin.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      Mark I always want to give you a hug. Or maybe it’s the coffee I just drank. It makes me feel that way. But I digress.

      You’re so smart and always have good comforting things to say that are practical and make sense. I loved The Dip but was sad that it has nothing to do with chips and salsa.

      I don’t think very many things in life are linear. Who was the guy that said that we start out life stoic and end it epicurean? Essentially, “F it! Eat drink and be merry cause we’re all gonna die guys!” <—that was Salomon in Ecclesiastes by the way.

      I think, what if my kids end up just the same as kids who graduate high school and are kinda loss, never really found their thing, and are working ho-hum jobs for the beginning of their adulthood?
      We're still winning because we has so much fun and weren't dicked around by the school schedule. Epicurean it is!

      • Liz, mom of 5 under 10
        Liz, mom of 5 under 10 says:

        I said something a tad similar to someone who was trying to figure out curriculums and asking for advice for her 2 very young girls.

        As an unschooler I said a lot, but the take home message was that she needed to decide why is the first place she was homeschooling and second what was more important..what she wanted her kids to learn or what they really wanted to learn. I said the reason we home schooled wasn’t necessarily to give them a “better education” than say a school, but that we wanted to be be our children’s #1 influence, a safe place, and most importantly give them the BEST childhood they could possibly imagine.
        Everytime we take the kids some place historical this particular friend will say “that sounds so educational”. I tell her that we are going for the purpose to spend time as a family and check new places out. I say that if they learn something while they are there or it sparks an interest than that’s a bonus, but thats never my agenda.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Karelys, thank you for your kind words. I enjoy learning about the educational process for kids of all ages. I also enjoy this community. I wasn’t homeschooled. However, I often wonder what it would have been like if I were. It’s an undertaking that my Mom would have never undertaken. It makes it all the more interesting to think of the “what ifs”.
        When I think back on my childhood, I remember the extra curricula activities the most vividly. So I ask myself the “what if” questions such as was it really necessary to be in a classroom setting for about 6-7 hours a day for five days a week. Maybe 3 or 4 hours would have been plenty. It reminds me of the infamous 500 channels on cable TV of which 10-15 are watched. I enjoy books and studying as much as any person who considers themselves to be an academic. However, the more I studied diverse subjects, the more I came to realize how much I didn’t know. It’s not the best feeling so there is an optimum level and rate to be done over one’s lifetime. All of this to say that it’s important to make learning fun. I think homeschooling certainly has that ability and very much shines as long as you believe in it. Homeschooling is a risk if you don’t really understand why you’re doing it and know the benefits derived from it. There will always be naysayers. So what. They aren’t the ones who have to live your life and pay your bills.

    • Amy A
      Amy A says:

      Mark, I just requested _The Dip_ from the library. Thanks.

      Have you read _How to Win by Quitting_? I liked it a lot.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Thank you Amy. I haven’t read ‘How to Win by Quitting’. I did, however, just look over the review of the book and reader’s comments and the book does look interesting. I’m sure it offers ideas that I didn’t seriously consider while growing up. I think everything was offered as a challenge to overcome while in school. We really were not in a position of making choices and honing distinctions until we knew better as an adult. :)

  10. Susan P
    Susan P says:

    I’ve had a lot of days lately when I have trouble getting out of bed but it is mostly to do with being very pregnant plus getting to bed too late. What saves our homeschool days is our policy that the kids must do one school thing and their chore before doing screen time. Most days they choose to do it but some days they don’t and I feel like that is a win too since they tend to spend a lot of time outside and more engaged with others on those days. For school the kids can choose the “easy” things like reading aloud to me or doing two worksheets or drawing two pictures, which I can stay in bed for :-) The older kids usually ask about once a week to do something longer like a science project or making something. To avoid burnout I tell the kids I will help the first person with a project that requires my help, but after that it depends on how I feel. This helps me get out of bed, knowing I can go back after helping one kid if I still feel like crap. That is what I can handle right now. We aren’t doing it any different for the summer.

  11. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    I was one of five kids, and two of my siblings had learning disabilities. We were all in school, but my mom went through some times like what you are describing. Summers were tough for her because she’s not a natural schedule maker, and we were of course always under foot. She tried to keep us from watching too much tv, and she tried to keep us from walking into the house full of chlorine, and she tried to keep my youngest brother from sneaking junk food. All to no avail.

    I guess I have no advice. I just wanted to let you know that it might be a common thing when you have a fierce love for your kids and you still don’t know if you can parent them with grace. Heck, I only have one kid, and I send him to a babysitter most days.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I think this comment is so valuable in that it lets people know “hey this is not uncommon.”

      I feel like when someone posts here that they’re going through a hard time people offer advice to ditch homeschooling and how people should get regular jobs, etc.

      Depression is very common. People still have to live lives and no one gets to pause the world from going around to go away and get better. It’s something that has to be done while you navigate your personal difficulties. One thing about chronic illnesses is that they will be with us for a long time. And people still treat depression as if it’s rooted in circumstances when in reality it’s rooted in one’s personal chemistry. People act like it so strange to be sad and a signal that there’s something wrong. Sometimes nothing is wrong.

      • Sarah Faulkner
        Sarah Faulkner says:

        I agree. I have no problem telling the kids it is just a “ho hum day”and letting it be one. I have always struggled with depression, and had to learn to accept it. I use to hate living in sunny places because I feel like when it is sunny you have to be happy. I have always been more comfortable in the rain/snow. Silly, I know.

        • jessica
          jessica says:


          What are you doing to treat your depression?

          It can be a lifelong condition, but it IS treatable. Please don’t give up! It’s not psychosis, which is much harder to treat.


          The posts from Sarah are months in and it doesn’t seem her situation for her or kids has changed. That’s when suggestions of alternative schooling start to come about. I think school (I lean towards alternative forms of course) is a good babysitter for those that need it. No sense in letting personal problems interfere with a child’s development. It’s suggestions with good intentions based on her situation and limitations.


          Most kids are not home or around their moms 24/7 while homeschooling. Classes, camps, sitters, (a schedule by the families own doing) is common. I think 24/7 at home homeschoolers is an extremely small percentage. P lives on a farm, which would probably be most likely to be home 24/7, and even they are not.

          Sarah, it would be great to hear an update sometime about how things are playing out. I’m rooting for you and I wish you all the best.

  12. Amy A
    Amy A says:

    I love the suggestions to take a social media break. Maybe instead of sending the kids away, send away all the messages coming at who from people you aren’t invested in, vice versa.

    I learned to say no/let go of as much as I could (schedules, obligations, things, expectations, energy-sucking & debilitating relationships, and so on) in order to keep and care for what truly matters to me (myself, my kids, our cozy home, our relaxing and free lifestyle, writing).

    Depression doesn’t scare me. What scares me is wasting one more moment not completely loving myself, not enjoying the hell out of my kids, not letting go of anything which keeps me from loving myself & feeling free (I don’t want to be past age 50 still holding on to shit–in my head or otherwise…It is a race with myself at this point; I am pretty no-bullshit about this).

    I enjoy reading Jeff Foster’s essays on depression.

    Byron Katie’s books and youtubes blow my mind. I have been helping my kids use Katie’s “the Work” worksheets (she has them for teens as well as adults) for working through (examining and questioning) some of their thoughts that were bumming them out.

    My state requires annual testing. I schedule it in June; so that is when I know we are done for a few months. But then we are never really done. We study for the areas covered in the tests (not for the test itself) so my kids are in-the-know about the basics.

    We are far from rigid. My kids are self-motivated to learn the basics but it is on their time (based on their ability to concentrate, when they are ready to drop the other things are doing, and when they want to stop studying). I have no desire to force an unwilling person to do anything. I have learned to make the one-on-one studying sessions part of our bonding (because that is how my kids see it); that makes it much more enjoyable to me.

    Learning to “just be” with myself and my kids is a life-lasting gift I gave myself and my kids. I wish I would have learned to do this right away. What struggles I created when I didn’t do this, didn’t contentedly “just be.” Thankfully, I can and am doing it now.

    Being curious about myself and what I will do and say next is helpful. I do a lot of self-observation–without judging. Life is a series of experiences and experiments. It is so simple when I see it that way.

    You can do everything I have written about above while still in your bed.

  13. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’ll chime in here and also agree with the social media break. Less specifically, the time that’s spent with technology and being connected online vs. offline. There’s a LinkedIn article with 682 comments titled ‘Is “Never Offline” Good for Business, or Life?’ ( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140918170515-22260466-is-never-offline-good-for-business-or-life ) by Erica Ariel Fox, a New York Times best selling author ( Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living and Lasting Change ) and leadership development consultant. Somewhere within the article itself or the comment section, there may be suggestions or ideas that resonate.

    • Sarah Faulkner
      Sarah Faulkner says:

      I noticed a great correlation to electronics and the children’s behavior, mine a bit too. :)

  14. Karen
    Karen says:

    I have started reading your blog with great interest as I have started to consider Homeschooling. I love your honesty and can totally relate to your dark days. Your article helped me look at my motivation for considering Homeschooling. Children are currently in a Waldorf school. My motivation to take my children out of school, honestly is that I spend 2 hours in the car each day getting the children to and from the school and a large part of husbands income pays the fees. However, I have these feelings you describe of failing my kids even at weekends and holidays and feel the pressure of being education and entertainment manager. There are days when I lie in a darkened room with a bad headache, what would these days would be like for the children with no school. I eat too much chocolate because something in me needs feeding and chocolate helps, though not the shape of my body. I have felt tired, bored and lonely in the mothering, educating and entertaining role in the holidays. To add insult to injury by the age of my eldest 12yrs old I had a summer job already, so that took care of my entertainment, I dried cutlery all summer in the restaurant of my Auntie. Perhaps I will open a restaurant and put them blighters to work, sorted.

  15. Scotti
    Scotti says:

    Re the dark days – “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It” by Kamal Ravikant. His method helps.

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