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Reality Check: Homeschooling is stupid hard!

This last week was one of the most challenging weeks I have ever faced as a homeschooling mom! It was not idyllic or joyful, nothing went as planned, the kids were bent on completely ignoring everything I said, my house has been chaos. I have lost my patience, I have felt like a failure, I have been discouraged and at my whits end. I have questioned if this is worth it and if the kids wouldn’t be better off at school. If there is a rock bottom to hit as a homeschooler, I’ve reached it. Have you been there? Are you there with me?

Reality Check: Homeschooling is not easy!

Have you ever seen those moms who just seem to have it all together? Their Pinterest page is full of all the fun and creative activities they do with their kids. They don’t allow TV or screen time, they keep their home and homeschool their kids and teach Latin, art, violin, piano, music theatre, soccer, and more! They are the poster of a happy, healthy, thriving homeschool family and you hate them. You hate them because you want to be them but every time you are with them you feel like an utter failure. If they could just see your house, they’d be mortified. If they knew you only did school one day this week they would be aghast. Art? Pshaw! You can hardly fit in the fundamentals of school let alone electives! Your primary form of learning is “life”. It isn’t what you thought it would be and you go to bed feeling defeated.

Survival. There are stages, days, moments where THAT is the name of the game. For some people, homeschooling is a breeze. Their child is a little keener who loves bookwork or mom is a patient, creative person who is good at thinking outside the box or their kids are all school aged. For others (ahem, insert name Rebecca here) homeschooling is a toddler screaming in your arms, a preschooler throwing a tantrum because you aren’t paying attention to them, kids crying that they are overwhelmed and don’t want to do their school, everyone goofing off and playing every time you leave the room. UTTER. CHAOS. Right now I am officially in the gutter of our homeschooling life thus far.

Reality check- Homeschooling is STUPID hard! What to do when you are ready to throw in the towel. You are not alone!

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Homeschooling: When you are ready to quit.

Confession: I have threatened, on occasion, to send my kids to school (homeschooling mom’s everywhere gasp in shock). That’s right, total idle threat happening up in here. It’s not all the time, but it happens. This last week, however, it wasn’t idle. I was literally at the point of wondering if I was making a mistake. Every time I turned my head my kids were laughing and playing with toys, throwing paper airplanes. Then I’d come down and yell and do a question and try to go finish changing that diaper and the SECOND I got up those stairs I would hear it start up again. I tried separating them, I tried sitting in the same room, they stared into the distance and still didn’t finish their schoolwork by 5pm. I was done. Maybe my kids would be better off with someone else. They’d listen to them more I think. They’d do a lot more school than they do with me I bet. A teacher would fit in the stuff I don’t: fine arts, field trips, etc. I was crying, the kids were crying, I was trying to imagine what it would be like to just be done. I’d get the house clean, I’d have time with my littles, I could see a lot of positives to it.

But I could hardly bear the thought of losing my kids, and I would lose them. I’d lose sharing all those moments with them, they’d lose relationship with their siblings. They would be gushing about their teacher and their class. They would want to have their friends over and wouldn’t want to be with their family as much. They would be gone all day and have homework to do in the evenings. They would lose a lot of their innocence. I wouldn’t be able to watch them with their friends all day and talk them through everything. I came to my lowest point and gathered my kids in close and just cried.

I realized that education aside, my kids learn SO MUCH just by being home with us. More importantly, they DON’T learn so much that they would in school in a class with their peers. Reading and writing, grades and national averages aside, our family is learning and growing together every day! The value of homeschooling goes FAR BEYOND the bookwork. And while some of you may be homeschooling in order to give your kids a better, tailored education… I realized that that is not why I homeschool my children. It is not the most important thing to me. I compare myself with the Pinterest moms, other bloggers. I try to keep up with the provincial standards (which I am required to do). I feel so much pressure to make sure my kids are “educated” the same as kids their age. I want to do all these things and yet with my children the ages they are, tornado toddler and pip-squeak preschooler I simply CAN NOT do it all. I can’t!

Every family is so different. I can’t tell you what will work for you. But I do know that you can NOT compare yourself to supermom in your co-op. You need to figure out WHY you homeschool, what is your ultimate goal with homeschooling? You HAVE HAVE HAVE to take into account your family dynamics. Do you have young children who are hanging on your legs? When you’re in the “pit” don’t lose hope! Raise the white flag and call a Pro-D day! Have a bath, drink a glass of wine (or coffee) and take some time to do some soul searching. Yes, there is a HUGE cost to homeschooling, it is STUPID hard people! And anyone who tries to tell you it isn’t is lying. But think about the cost to putting your children IN school. What kind of schools are around you? What options do you have? What will your children lose? What will you lose?

The Value of the Gutter.

That’s right, the value of the gutter… In 4 years of homeschooling I haven’t fallen so far or so hard. But as I sit here, licking my wounds, I also have been forced to evaluate what homeschooling means to me and my family. You see, my personality kills me, if I can’t do it perfectly I just want to give up and go home. But the reality is, I can’t do this perfectly! I will NEVER be able to “master” homeschooling 5 children. There will be good days and bad, but it will be far from perfect. If you are coming to my blog hoping to have someone who has it all together tell you how you too can achieve this “perfect balance” you’ve come to the wrong place! I’m right there with you sister! And the balance that worked yesterday most likely won’t work today!

And oh my word friends, prayer prayer and more prayer! I mean you’re in the gutter already, on your knees… turn your eyes to the ONLY person who truly understands your soul and can help show you HIS purpose for your family!

Have you been ready to give up?

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. This was me last week, and we’re taking this week off to recover. And to clean the fishtank. Maybe the oven too. Just to recover. A few days where nothing HAS to be done. Breathe, breathe.

  2. Sometimes I am afraid to admit that I homeschool because I don’t want to lose that time with my son…. like that is saying my motivation is selfish or not good enough. But I so strongly believe in God’s design for the family… I have to trust that I am exactly what my child needs. Even when I feel like I most definitely am not! 😉

  3. Rebecca, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate this post! Homeschooling is hard-especially with littles. As homeschoolers, we feel so much pressure to look perfect and make sure our kids get into Harvard by age 9. You are right-are kids may not be getting the same type of education as public school kids-but so we want them to? My boys have gained such valuable life and social skills being at home. Hugs to you momma! You’ve been through some major life changes lately-all will be well through Him!! Prayers!!

  4. I want to give up at least once or twice a month!! The discouragement I feel is real and it’s scary! It looms over me like a dark cloud. Questions linger in my head, “am I teaching them enough?” “Am I harming them by keeping them home?” “Will they resent me later in life?” So many questions and doubts but then there is that little glimmer of light. It’s when my middle child (who has had it a bit difficult in the reading department) finally gets it! When she is reading so fluently that even she feels delighted! Or when my 5 year old is adding so quickly that I have to question HER as to how did she know that? And her answer comes out nonsalantly like it was so obvious mommy! Or when my 11 year old son is teaching ME lessons in technology! But the moments I love the most are the unsolicited hugs and “I love you mommy.” The giggles and laughing and the bonds we are developing that I didn’t have with my mom when I was growing up because she had no choice but work full-time.
    So I may not have an actual monthly school schedule or everything laid out or even a dedicated school room but what I do have is love for my children and to protect them and teach them the best that I can. Giving up rears its ugly head but I have to figuratively smack it back into place. No way can anyone be better for my children than me (not meant to sound vain).
    Thank you for sharing your honest, heart-felt message.

  5. We’ve been there. This year is stinking hard. I don’t know if it’s just that 7 year olds are difficult but there are days I want to run screaming out the door but we hang in there and eventually things turn around (for a while at least)

  6. Yes this! I just wrote a very similar post last week!!! Girl I am right there with you!! I have threatened so many times to send my kids to school and know they would listen better to someone else. But I always come back to the same reasons you mentioned. I do really love the life we have because of homeschooling. It may not go as planned most days but its so worth it. Thanks for being transparent. I too have to let go of perfection and not set my self up for failure when I and my kids can’t attain my dream home school. Keep at it! Your not alone!!;)

  7. Oh my goodness Rebecca! You are so right about the soul sisters thing! Thursday I wanted to give up. My oldest was finally getting concepts and doing well, but then I was like everything backfired! I also realized I kept missing doing things with my first grader. Not only that, but I couldn’t keep up with the house and realized we were all in survival mode! I was so done! I have to hand in quarterly reports and kept going, what did we do again?? Then I said forget it. The oldest couldn’t play outside or have the play-date we that was planned. I made my daughter cry. I missed my first graders work. My husband came home and we compared our failure notes! It was definitely an interesting day. My son still wanted to learn from his chemistry apologia book and did an experiment. I toned everyone out for awhile and planned Friday’s school into a pretend flight to Mexico. My daughter said it was the best school day she ever had. I don’t think I will ever fit whatever I am “suppose” to be, but with God’s help, I can be more than what I thought I could be. And is it just me or were a lot of homeschooling having a hard week?

  8. Yes! I am in the gutter as we speak and after reading your article, feel better that I am not alone. I do need to pray a whole lot more and really dig deeper because right now it is hard to see why to stay homeschooling. I know that public school is not good at all here but at this point I am really frustrated and really discouraged.
    Stressed and overwhelmed,
    Lisa

  9. Amen! Sometimes the worst part is not being able to admit that it is stupid hard because family and friends aren’t supportive and if you’re “everything is perfect” face goes away for a minute they start questioning the choice, again. Love hearing from others in the trenches. We aren’t alone and this chaos is SO worth it! Thanks 🙂

  10. I truly can relate with you. This is how I feel at least once a week. I try not to compare myself with other homeschool moms but sometimes I still end up doing it. Every year I am trying to figure out what would work best for us. At the end of it I know I want to enjoy my family, teach them our family values, and teach them about our faith. This is my ministry and vocation and I will continue to pray for it so I can stay strong and embrace it.

  11. This is was refreshing to read…We are in our first year and I need to let go of this idea of perfection! I look forward to all your posts! They are a blessing to read!

  12. I appreciated your story and have completely felt that way also. I’ve been homeschooling now for ten years (since my oldest was three and doing preschool). Through out those ten years I’ve also had many babies (we now have seven) and have broken down crying more than once… a week! Especially the past couple years as more children have reached school age. How do you teach 5 different grades of math to five different kids…. all at the same time? If you didn’t do it at the same time you’d being doing school until 8 pm and never feed anyone or do laundry. I have to admit I still don’t have it “figured out” but by the grace of God I’m learning and growing right along with my kids and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Those 45 minute talks with my kids when they are having a hard day or a bad attitude are more valuable then getting to reading class. We are developing people here! Kind, caring, loving people!
    Here are a couple things I’ve been learning as my kids grow and schooling gets more intense:
    1. Get help! Having a friend come a couple times a week just for an hour or two can give you a much needed quiet/focused time to get some schooling done. Homeschool moms can even help each other out but watching each other’s little ones for a while. I’m not super-mom and that’s ok. No one really is.
    2. You don’t have to teach everything. Let someone else teach a class or two- Grandmas, aunts, friends all love to do this! For example they could plan a science class. Or even use the internet to do this. Next year my older ones are doing some online classes so I don’t have to teach them all their core subjects. It can cost money but work it into the budget. It can take a load off and allow you to focus on the younger school kids.
    3. Take fun time with your kids. Go for a drive, go visit with friends, play a game. Nothing will replace the years you have with them right now so enjoy it and forget about the pressures of the state to “educate” your kids.
    4. Talk with your other homeschool friends. It helps to know you aren’t losing your mind and other kids are just like yours!

  13. Unbelievable!!! I went to the internet in tears to look for an interesting, fun activity to do with my boys who are not listening or cooperating one little bit today, and I found this first thing. Not knowing what was contained in this blog, I read it and cried through the whole thing. It is exactly what I needed at this time. I’m so happy to hear I am not alone in my non-perfectness, but my values and priorities are the same, thus the reason for why I’m doing this, not to raise brain surgeons or scientists, but to raise creative, happy, respectable members of society. Thank you for your honesty and candor.

  14. I too have felt overwhelmed, in the gutter, and ready to quit. I have packed my son’s backpack and asked him to go to the car so I could drive him to school. He stared at me blankly then picked up his math and started working. Hmmmm, good tactic- keep that in your pocket! My son has now graduated, and my youngest is in Jr. High. What I have learned over the years, and through the tears is that LOVE will save the day. Nothing is more important or urgent than love. When I am frustrated, I remind myself of this, and everything else fades away. Work can wait. Chores can wait- you know what I’m talking about don’t you, they just wait and wait and never do them selves! But love, hugs, and just sitting back and soaking up the growing kids in front of you will save the day. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!!!

  15. I am sitting in that gutter right now. I feel like and utter failure. Managing homeschool, household, chores, cooking, shopping, planning, finances, just to name a few…..I feel like I fail at them all. I never seem to have anything together and at any given moment someone is screaming. Stupid hard is right. Time for some prayer and soul searching for sure. Thanks for being real!

  16. Hello,
    I’ve been homeschooling for only a year and it has proven to be really hard! I wrestle with the notion of sending my kids to a public school but I don’t want my kids to miss out on their family. I’ve had many times this week failed and it only was because I was comparing progress to other kids their age. Thank you for this honesty and clarity you provide to this. It’s really helpful to know and hear you say that it is “stupid hard!”

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