The terrible days are part of successful homeschooling

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. 

I keep my children home because I have as many issues as my in-laws think I do.  Truly, I am a bit to the far left of sanity, but that’s because I am always bored. I think that’s why people don’t want to homeschool.  You have to be a bit crazy.

I’m not going to lie to you, being home with 5 kids isn’t always wonderful.  If you were hoping to read a nice cheery post encouraging you to get out of bed, without medical mental help, sorry.

I often wonder why I have kids because I don’t really like people.  People annoy me all the time, and being an lonely only I don’t really know how to communicate with children.  Yet, here I am with 5 kids, and some days I wish I had more. Those are the statements that confirm to everyone I have issues.

Days that are crazy, that I can’t breathe and I huddle in the bathroom with the shower running to drown the banging of on the door, those days I think. “Why even have one?”

 I also wonder how do they find me when I hide from them?  Can they smell fear?  Or is it the candy stash I have hidden, the scent of sugar betraying me?

I talked to moms all the time, who tell me they can’t do what I do.  They couldn’t have five kids, they can’t homeschool, they can’t foster care, or they could never be married to Andy.  Good.  He’s mine.  The fact is I could give you 100 good sappy reasons why you should homeschool, foster care, have kids, be married, and on your first hard day you are going to tell me I’m full of it.

See, in order to have a fun life, in order to enjoy your kids, and live with no regrets you need to be willing to have hard days.  Days where you can’t get out of bed.  You can’t have the best time of your life, without the worse times.  Nothing is so sweet like make up sex, and nothing is so amazing as a successful day of homeschooling.  Like good sex, good school days are hard to come by.  Learn to embrace the bad, learn to love it.  Dance on the wrong side of sanity, and you will have a fun life, with no regrets.

17 replies
  1. mh
    mh says:

    Great job, Sarah. I enjoyed your post.

    I have older kids. And right now our homeschool “sweet spot” is after dinner until 11:30 pm. That is when they do things. Seriously.

    Annual physicals are tomorrow and I know the doctor will ask about bedtimes and regular schedules. Admittedly, my youngest (11) needs more sleep than he’s getting. He gets pretty high strung in the afternoons. But the kids are so creative at night, and we don’t ever wake them in the mornings.

    But that is the least of my worries. We practice for doctor visits. A lot of the questions the doctor asks while looking at the screen are code for, “is anyone getting beat up at your house?” I had to explain the code to my kids last year after they said YES to the question about whether they have seen disturbing things that they can’t forget. They know and I know: it was the finger-cutting-off scene in True Grit and the cottonmouth scene in Lonesome Dove. Things on TV. But doctors just record a “yes” answer to these intrusive questions. And then I feel like these statistics will be compiled for homeschoolers in my state: 43% have witnessed disturbing violence that they can’t forget about. I represent, you know?

    Then there are the questions about guns in the house. I have a kid on the marksmanship team. Yes, of course there are weapons in the house. Do I tell them to lie and say “no?” Because we never get guns out at home… But when the doctor records a “yes” answer, well… The doctor is an agent of the state. Am I risking a visit from the state by having the kids be honest?

    Then there are the nutrition questions… One kid doesn’t eat meat. One kid doesn’t eat vegetables. One kid has a tremendous gag reflex, so he doesn’t eat “smooth” foods. One kid likes extra pepper. My kids are weird and go in food crazes, the same exact meals weeks in a row, then a complete switch. They cook for themselves mostly, and they eat fruit, and I don’t worry too much about it. They are healthy and energetic. But when they tell the doctor that dinner was cheese quesadillas, nuts, grapes, chips and guacamole – again! – well… Doctors are agents of the state now.

    So we practice. I had them make up a favorite vegetable to tell the doctor. I reminded them that doctors are like police officers. Answer the questions but don’t volunteer extra. Try not to lie, but you don’t have to tell the whole truth…

    How do other homeschool parents approach this?

    • Bostonian
      Bostonian says:

      Other homeschooling parents may not see the same problems you do, mh. Or have the same concerns. I tell my pediatrician everything she wants to know, and she is very sympathetic and wants to hear all about our homeschooling. She’s a very intelligent, competent, and fair-minded person who has never given my son crap about his weight. She sees their obvious joy, enthusiasm, and comfort (as well as their usual peppering of bruises and scrapes from active play) and knows I take good care of them.

      Maybe you need a new pediatrician you feel you can trust better, if the relationship you have so bad you feel you have to coach your kids to lie about what you ate for dinner. That’s a really weird kind of character formation exercise.

      • mh
        mh says:

        Thanks, you’re probably right.

        We move often enough that we only see a doctor 1-2 times, then it’s someone new.

        Anyway, they did fine at the doctor. No one had to lie.

    • Tina
      Tina says:


      Yes, you definitely need a new pediatrician if this is how you feel. If you think there is nothing wrong with how the kids are being raised, why not be forthcoming with what is happening at home?

    • Sarah Faulkner
      Sarah Faulkner says:


      Ha ha. I get that. Your comment was a good post in itself.

      I do coach my kids for the simple fact I don’t always like the follow up questions. Like, we wait to eat ice cream until the littles have gone to bed. Well, both littles are allergic to dairy. So my son (9) says, “We hide food from the littles because mom doesn’t like to share.” Then, the next thing I know I have a follow up with an allergist that I don’t need but look like a bad parent if I don’t go. :)

      • Rayne of Terror
        Rayne of Terror says:

        We’ve always seen a GP instead of a ped and we’ve never been asked questions like these. It’s more like, how do they eat, fine, how do they sleep, fine, school going alright, yep, playing sports or otherwise exercising, yep, and done.

        • liz mom of 5 under 10
          liz mom of 5 under 10 says:

          I agree. We see an Internal Med/ Peds guy. So he is double boarded and we all get to see him.

          You have NO idea when they will get the state involved. I had a “friend” who’s son had been seen by a psychiatrist since he was very little. They also did various therapies through this Behavioral Center for years. They were a well known family to this center.These parents were so involved and bent over backwards for all their kids, this son in particular.

          Anyhow, the kid one day says his mom threatened to “kill him”. The dad was there and is a Dr at the same hospital and assured him that the kids were all safe and this was after a heated moment. The kid has several mood disorders as well as ODD.

          Anyhow CPS was at their house that evening. 9pm that eve!!! They have many young children also. A case was never opened, but the family never in a million years saw this coming.
          So I now er on the side of caution too when answering questions as this rocked my friend’s world and trust in the mental health care profession/Drs in general.
          This may be an isolated incidence, but it was so crazy as there was no reason to call. The kid was 10 and said he felt safe etc….
          yet the poor kid then had all this guilt,then became more “wound up” and his 3 year old brother was part of a freak accident because of it and ended up in the hospital for 2 days because of an injury.

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            The mom told her kid she wanted to kill him? A child with disabilities?

            To be fair, it does look like that family needs more support

            Imagine if CPS stepped in, perhaps that 3 year old would not have ended up in the hospital (where were the parents?- which is why CPS steps in.)

            And why does the kid feel guilty? He only spoke the truth of what happened to him. Is he not allowed to say anything because he has a disorder?


          • Amy A
            Amy A says:

            Thanks for sharing, Liz.

            I don’t think this is an isolated incident.

            Check out on youtube these two people who speak/spoke up about CPS (Nancy was killed in 2010):

            – Senator Nancy Schaefer
            Her report is called “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services”
            – Attorney Robert (Bob) Powell

    • Amy A
      Amy A says:

      We avoid doctors as much as possible. The last time I brought my older kid in for blood work, we were given a little survey to fill in about her: one for mom, one for kid. And then the doc compared our answers.

      I had the mindset that the questions had to do with her low-energy concern.

      Hindsight, the survey wasn’t about her low-energy concern…perhaps more of mental health data. We shouldn’t have filled out any survey. We were there to deal with physical concerns and I wanted to keep it on that level.

      I think we parents, and our kids, need to be really careful about what information we share with people. And homeschoolers especially.

      I’m a huge believer in personal responsibility. And so that is my approach when dealing with professionals, et al. In other words, it’s none of their business what we eat, when we sleep, etc. (unless I’m seeing a nutritionist, sleep therapist, or whatever).

      I’m well-aware that a general doctor usually has very general information to offer; my personal research is always more extensive than any information medical doctors have given me (besides specific test results from labs–and even then I need to research the heck out of the results to get the information I want and need).

      Additionally, people who I hire/select to work for me, not the other way around (I don’t say that to doctors, I keep things on the down-low as much as possible).

    • Stef
      Stef says:

      mh, I really liked this comment, and I feel like I would totally be the same way if my doctor asked those sorts of questions (in fact, I didn’t know that was a thing, and I’ll be sure to seek one who wouldn’t be so intrusive). I like the rule how you are teaching your kids about not offering extra information to police and other agents of the state. That’s a good thing for people to know! Then again, I am not of the “if you have nothing to hide…” attitude. I’m more of a “leave me alone and mind your own business” sort.

  2. Marie
    Marie says:

    Wow that’s a great post! I’ll summon its wisdom next time I have a Hard Day… Because it’s true the good days are the best.

    Need for introversion, more kids, then wondering… Always good to know someone else is there getting through the same issues. :)

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Just a different perspective here, but on my worst days at home it has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling and everything to do with family dynamic issues. Two very different things in my book.

  4. mh
    mh says:

    Sarah, I laughed when I read your question , how do they find me when I hide? Yes indeed. What else is the laundry room for, anyway? I go hang out in there sometimes. Read a little. Nobody disturbs, because there’s an off chance I’m really doing laundry, and I frequently shuffle chores off to the nearest bored or persistent person.

    The other one that gets me is how they seem to know when it’s sexytime for mom and dad. They never used to notice – or we could buy them off with fresh legos. Big kids now. Go ride your bikes, or skateboard at the grocery store or something. Dad and Mom need to have a … business meeting … alone … for 45 minutes or so. / side eye / Begone. Here’s five bucks. Go get a smoothie.

  5. Kierstin
    Kierstin says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve been feeling so defeated because my super social daughter has an introverted mother who is wondering if she should send her daughter to school so she can have friends because her mom can’t handle “playdates” and the like.

  6. kris
    kris says:

    OMG so true! Also introverted. Also have an extroverted/super social son.

    But also – I believe 100% in duality. The sun is brighter after the rain (well, when I lived in the midwest anyway lol). The happiness is even better for experiencing the sadness.

  7. Anna Y Moss
    Anna Y Moss says:

    Where do you want your medal mailed? Oh, please. So sick of homeschooling parents. You ARE full of it! The only reason most people homeschool kids is because either 1) their kids have been kicked out of real schools or 2) the parents want to indoctrinate their kids into whatever weirdo cult-like philosophy they’ve adopted as a way to rebel agains their own parents. Bad days? Oh boo hoo! Get your kids in a real school and get a real job. The LAST thing the world needs are most stressed out white privilege mothers with bratty kids who are dumber than boxes of rocks!!!

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