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.

Yesterday my son came into the house, crying. He had been swinging from the tree fort when he fell on his arm. I didn’t think it was broken since he could move his arm. I have had many kids with broken body parts, and he didn’t fit the bill: no swelling, no bruising, no disfigurement.

But he wouldn’t stop crying.  So I took him to the ER, which made me really annoyed. The whole time I kept thinking about the appointments I was having to cancel, and how much money I was wasting on a non-broken arm.  After waiting for the doctor for over an hour, I asked the nurse about just leaving.

At that point his arm was feeling better.  She assured me I could leave but would have to sign papers stating I was leaving against medical advice.  I irrationally wondered if it would trigger a CPS call, and how if his arm really was broken, I would feel awful.  My time is not more important than my son’s broken arm, but my time is more important than a bad bruise.  I decided to wait.

The doctor came in and said the wrist was looking good and squeezed farther up the arm.  My son started crying again.  The x-rays confirmed I made the right choice. His arm was fractured.

It was hard to wait the 3 hours for all of this to work out. It was hard to make the choice to stay when the evidence pointed to the fact that he was fine, but it felt good knowing I made the right choice for him in the end.

For me, homeschooling is like this.  It is hard to be home with your children all day and give up having any type of personal life.  I am jealous of all the moms who assure me everything will be fine as they send their kids off to public school. But who says the majority is right?

I hope my homeschooling choice ends up being like the broken arm: the right choice. I can look at the numbers to convince myself, but sometimes the only thing getting me through my doubt is my intuition saying it’s the right thing to stay put.

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8 replies
  1. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    This is really timely for me. The beginning of the school year has been a depressing time for me since we started homeschooling. It’s silly, but as everyone we know posts their back to school pics and general excitement, I always get really angsty about whether I’m doing the right thing and if I’m depriving my kids of good things. In fact, I had drafted an entire whinemail to Penelope last night because I was feeling so disillusioned about how hard it is to be home with the kids all the time, and that I’m not doing something with my life that’s for me and purposeful. Which is something I do actually need to fix before I freak out. But it’s a difficult problem: how do you start something new as an adult without getting rid of the kids? How do you give so much to the kids without disappearing yourself?

    You gave voice to it exactly: ” . . .sometimes the only thing getting me through my doubt is my intuition saying it’s the right thing to stay put.”

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I think you need a sitter. Homeschooling is not a win lose arrangement. If you are struggling as a mother it will affect the kids. Sorry to say it, homeschooling be damned, but it’s true. So start there and work back.
      Figure out a way that your SO can take the kids twice a week for an extended time so you can plan that time for yourself accordingly. You have to take care of yourself. Then find a reliable sitter that can do what you need for the kids, with or without you around. Many parents with kids in school have help. It’s more than school that we need to deal with as parents!
      Our back to school crap in the U.S. Is so annoyingly insane that I think back to our time in the UK. Simple. Not a fuss. No one or stores hounding for your purchases because it’s just a one stop shop for uniforms and bags. It’s a need not a want.
      Remember that all of it is marketing. It’s to get the kids spending more on clothes and bags and things, to benefit the corps that lead the way…

      • Alicia
        Alicia says:

        I appreciate these comments :) I agree that homeschool shouldn’t be win or lose.

        To clarify, this is our 5th year homeschooling. So we’ve been at this a while. I’m not always or even often Debbie Downer; I think certain times of the year are just hard for me because it’s hard to buck the system. It’s easy to doubt yourself. And I’m prone to anxiety anyway.

        Lately, I’ve been in a place where I’m feeling my age and feeling that I would like to do more. I’d like to launch a new career, and I’m struggling to figure out how to do that. Also, we have not been unschooling. Although we are relaxed homeschoolers, I’ve never had the courage to embrace full unschooling although it makes a lot of sense to me. I can see where I’d have a lot more time if we were.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Hi Alicia,

      I hope you sent that email to Penelope. ;)

      I am seeing a bunch of back to school and first day of X grade photos lately too. Just to let you know, homeschoolers traditionally post their “not back to school” photos on August 24th. Kids are photographed at a fun place, or at home wearing pj’s etc.

      I don’t get anxious when I see the photos or see the back to school sales ads. I don’t get anxious when I see the cars line up on my street for school drop off every morning either. My neighborhood school’s drop off line uses the street that I live on, so I get to see parents sitting in their cars moving at a snail pace to get their kids dropped off to the super rigorous fundamental school while my kids and my spouse and I get those last few hours before he goes to work, laughing, playing games, eating healthy meals etc. I get to hear all the classroom bells during the day, that doesn’t make me anxious either, especially when my kids are out riding their bikes or scooters during that time. It gives me perspective, and I share that with my kids so they know what a great opportunity they have to be home and learn and live how they please.

      To jessica’s point, self-care is such a crucial component to homeschooling. I have found that through unschooling I have the freedom to practice self-care, read, research, and write during the day as my older kids are extremely self-directed. Only days where we have to be somewhere, like theater, swimming, museums, or classes do I need extra time to be alone. But doing those things for my kids doesn’t prevent me from practicing self-care. If you find that you simply cannot do anything while having your kids around because they aren’t self-directed, then look at getting them involved in a homeschool co-op with classes a few times a week. You don’t need to sacrifice yourself and your health for homeschooling. Your kids need you to be your best self and if that means going to the gym once a day, grabbing coffee with a friend for a few hours, whatever it is, you need to find that time to focus on you. You can’t wait to do that until your kids are gone.

      • Kate
        Kate says:

        Thanks for this- I really enjoyed reading it! I’m feeling a teeny bit iffy right now too. We ARE on the UK and the “back to school’ wagon starts rolling in shops practically before the holidays start!
        We tend to go with it a little (as I’m a secret stationary addict) and get fresh new pencils and rubbers etc for September. What’s not to like :-)
        May I ask what age your kids are? Mine are 10, 6 & 2 and carving out a quiet time can be tricky except when the little one naps.
        Anyway, I’m new here and enjoying working back through posts…

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          Hi Kate,

          Welcome! There are so many great blog posts here, and the commenters help make this a great community.

          My kids are 8.5, 6, and nearly 4. The two oldest are extremely self-directed, and thinking back to when they were younger they have always been that way. I’m not sure how typical that is.

          My youngest is the one who creates a different dynamic. She is an ENTJ, very bossy, bull-headed, intense, super-adventurous, and she *is* the reason for my gray hairs. She is not quite as independent yet, but she is getting there and can hyperfocus for long strings of time.

          Carving out time for myself has just become routine. Unschooling, which allows the child to be in charge of their education with the parent acting as a facilitator and guide, offers the flexibility that many stay-at-home homeschooling parents need in order to practice self-care.

          Perhaps use the nap-time to create your own routine for yourself and let your older kids know that they will need to be in charge of themselves for the time you are spending on yourself. Or, have a family member or babysitter/nanny watch your kids while you take that time for yourself.

          Our days are really flexible, my husband works later in the afternoon so he can spend time with us and allow me to have the morning-early afternoon to myself when I need it. Whatever your family can do to make it work, rearranging schedules etc.

          You are a stationary addict? I guess I am an art supplies addict. I’m running out of spaces to keep the supplies.

          • Kate
            Kate says:

            Thanks YMKAS –
            Yes I need to pin down small areas, like quiet me time, and then let things fall into place around the pinned stuff.
            My husbands hours are v. Flexible and also totally unpredictable – and I think I use that as an excuse for having little routine (except meal times and bath/bed times) hmm.
            Also, I think I also have the art supplies problem (but is it a problem;-) homeschooling is a green light to buying some things without hesitation… Art stuff -tick; Stationary- tick; books- tick….. Fancy, elitist, rare, single plantation or overpricedforanyreason chocolate- tick
            Glad I stumbled across this site.

  2. Erin
    Erin says:

    Gah. Sorry about the broken arm. Bummer. ERs are no fun. I hate how much waiting is involved, especially with kids to care for.

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