⚠️ Warning ⚠️
Not so much on others.
I thought I knew what I signed up for. I knew this was going to be hard. But going from being independent for almost ten hours of my day to never having a minute alone has been challenging.
I once had a job in which my work was valued; I was valued. People looked to me for advice and guidance. I helped others get better at their own jobs. I talked and laughed and overall, enjoyed my work. It was demanding but I seemed to thrive under pressure. The work was hard but because I felt valued, I never questioned my path. I questioned a lot of things about school and saw myself as being the one to change the system.
As my kids grew and began school, I slowly started to realize there may be a different way to live life. I didn’t know right away it would be homeschooling, maybe just a different school, a different job for me. But eventually it became homeschooling.
God took me slowly down this uncharted path. He gave me baby steps so as to not scare me away. He didn’t even show me homeschooling until later on.
My first step was to go be with my kids instead of other people’s children. I left my job in 2020 to go teach with and be with my children at their private school. I didn’t teach them directly all day. I had them for parts of the day: art, recess, reading.
In 2021, he planted the homeschooling seed in my heart only for me to continually shove it down. Never watering it, only starving it. Rejecting it with thoughts of “There is no way I could be home with my kids every day all day long, they would drive me crazy!” or “I lose my cool with them all the time; I don’t have the patience.” or the more practical side of it, “How would we live? We wouldn’t have enough money if I quit working.”
That’s when God stepped in.
I laid all my fears bare at the feet of God. He didn’t dismiss them or me. He already knew them and told me all I had to do was trust Him.
The hardest thing for me to do is to trust. Just be. Trust that it will all work out. I’ve gotten better at it the longer I’ve lived and the more I’ve had to do it.
What happened next was that we were home for three plus weeks to start the 2021 school year. I started my work days but quickly realized I was coming down with the dreaded sickness and would need to head home. It passed around the house and even though we were able to recover quickly, we were still required to stay home. This was an opportunity to dabble with the idea of homeschool. I could test out the water without any commitment, see if my fears were valid.
I took them to the zoo and we played outside for hours. We invented weird games on the trampoline, enjoying the warm fall days. We did some reading and math but just hung out together. It was relaxing to be home, leisurely reading, doing some work, doing some housework, being able to cook and clean throughout the day instead of saving it all up for the weekend. We were calmer, slower, and more peaceful. I liked it so much I told Josh I was pretty sure I wanted to homeschool the boys. It felt crazy voicing this idea out loud. It couldn’t be farther from who I was. At the time, I was a woman on a mission to change the system of school! I talked about it all the time. It seemed counterintuitive to pick up and leave school altogether. What would I be changing then?
The answer was me. I was changing myself and my family. Voicing my desire out loud gave it roots. It grew in me silently. I still didn't think I was ready so I kept going with our little school.
We finished the 2021-22 school year and I left the idea in my heart. I didn’t make any plans to leave the school, just enjoyed my summer days. In 2022, I could feel the unease in myself of going back to teach again. I knew God was waiting and I was stalling. Our school was in a state of transition. Our director was leaving. I knew there might be an option to step back into a similar leadership role I had once played. But since I had already done that and I yielded little results, I figured it could be time to try something scary: homeschool. Josh and I made the decision to homeschool our kids the following school year. I felt immense peace with this decision. We had finally decided!
When I told my director I was planning to leave the next year to homeschool them, she told us we could start our homeschooling journey that next week. This was traumatic in many ways and this topic is saved for a different time as it is still so messy to process through.
Whether I was ready or not, God was there to catch us and lead us through the storms. After one year, I’d like to say I’ve got it figured out, it’s awesome, and I love it.
But I like to keep it real and in reality, I am still on the ‘figuring-it-out’ train. And this train seems to be long. Endless.
I don't’ know where everyone else is on their journey but I try not to look. We might all be on the same train but it’s got different tracks and different cars.
Where are we after one year in our train car and path?
Well, I would say not that much farther than when we started!
BUT… if I actually take a step back and look, This is what I see:
I am calmer. I am happier with the freedom of my days (even if my kids surround me 24/7).
Zander is gaining confidence. He is also calmer. This decision was completely right for him. He has come so far in his emotional and social well-being.
Brayden tried something different. He came home with us but was quick to want to go back to school. He was 11, almost 12, when we started homeschool. He only knew school and I feel like it was too late for him. God wanted me to leave my job to homeschool earlier probably for him. I didn’t know that and can only see it with reflection. Brayden is back at school. I could have fought him harder and been supported by Josh to keep him home. But, I have told myself we each have our own journey and this is part of his. A wise friend once told me ‘Sometimes all we can do is go with them for the ride.’
Dax…is Dax. 😊 He loves everything as long as he has friends doing it with him. He has always had a happy nature. While I know homeschool is better for him, if we are not surrounded by people, he would disagree.
We have more time together. We are not running from one thing to the next unless we choose it. We still do sports and have full evenings. It’s just that our days are now intentionally filled with things that give us energy. Things like reading a book together, watching a movie, playing at the Y or Skyzone with friends. I am not drained and depleted by 5 pm. I am still invigorated and energized.
What do our days ACTUALLY look like?
It changes with the seasons. Fall was lots of sports, parks, play, outside time.
Our winter days are slower. We have come off a season of movement and fullness. We are now entering our home season. It is cold out so it is easy to stay home and enjoy our house.
Our winter days usually start pretty slow.
Waking early to my alarm, I do my own work: setting up signs, writing, reading, working out. Then the children wake and I give them their own time until 9 am. By this time, I have breakfast ready and we begin our table work. This consists of reading, math, and/or writing. It might seem like a lot, but it’s not. Each kiddo does less than two hours of work. Some days we spend more time arguing about it than actually doing the work.
It’s the arguing that gets me. I wonder if one day we will be over this or if it’s just something to get used to. Every mom I talk with is encouraging and says to give homeschooling three years. And I can feel how much easier it is this year than last year. But still…
Some days I am a rockstar mom. I wait patiently for their tantrums and arguing to subside. I am unfazeable. I am so proud of myself on these days.
On the other days, my patience is low. I end up yelling at them and still forcing them to work even though it’s the last thing we both want to do. I am ashamed, full of guilt, as I have let fear dictate my reactions.
We take lots of outings: YMCA and SkyZone to get some exercise (and this is my alone time). I might walk for twenty minutes but then I retreat to the coffee shop to do business work or write. We visit the library to find books and games plus we usually stop to support the Gifted Bean and eat lunch here. Finally, Gateway to Science is another good stop to play and learn when it is cold outside.
Sometimes our outings go well. But we can never get through an entire trip without an argument of some kind: whose turn is it for the front seat, not wanting to go or not wanting to leave once we are there, complaining of boredom, complaining of a brother doing this or that.
I wish I could stop judging myself. I rarely judge others, giving them all kinds of grace.
On these hard days, I look to God for guidance. I am always looking but dig deep into my faith on these ones. It makes me think the hard days will never go away because it is when I feel closest to God. I am inadequate without Him and that’s when it sucks.
When it sucks, I know to let it be sucky for a moment. It’s one moment, one hour, one day. God has a big picture for our family and the tough moments will be lost. The suckiness gone when we look back to see all the time we spent together, all we did.
I do not know how other mothers do this without Him.
I never started homeschooling to seek Him. He knew what he was doing when he brought me home. Literally and metaphorically.
So while I feel all mothers should be fairly warned, we will not be stopped because of it.
Warning: homeschooling sucks if you try and do it without God. When I start my days with Him, it all seems to go more smoothly. Even if the day is sucky one, my outlook and demeanor is better. Everyone’s homeschool journey is different, I can only share my own in the hopes it inspires, motivates, and warns future moms.