Quitting Work to Homeschool

wpid-IMAG1859-1-1.jpgLet me just say, if I did not have children, I would not have stopped working as a physician.  I loved working as a medical doctor.  The challenge of acquiring mass loads of information.  Applying the information to patients.  Recognizing patients as individuals and trying to get through to them in a way they could understand.  And accept.  Looking at a chart with loads of data and sorting it into a problem list.  Figuring out how to address each problem to correct it.  Realizing fixing one problem may not be the answer–but make things worse.

On top of this, throw in phones and pagers that make you aware of codes (crashing patients).  Lets the emergency department call you for admissions.  Lets nurses call you about lab values or new changes in your patients.  Lets pharmacists call you about drug interactions or non-formulary drug choices.  Lets other doctors call you to discuss admitting or consulting on their patients.  Throw in new-computer charting that must be learned and navigated.  Occasional meetings.  New governmental regulations.  And it’s just one of the most challenging and fulfilling jobs around.

But I chose to have kids.  Three in fact.  Four if you count a miscarriage.  First kid–kept working full-time.  Second kid–cut back to three days per week.  Third kid–two days per week or less.  I had the perfect job and coworkers.  Loved the work.  Loved the flexible schedule.  Was still able to squeeze homeschooling in, although barely.  My loving in-laws traveled from Charleston, SC to Sumter, SC to watch the girls for us when I worked.  But it got tougher and tougher to manage the household, marriage, kids, homeschooling, and life in general.  Life was getting hectic.  Not so much fun.

I knew I had to make a choice.  For me, there really is no choice but my family.  I chose them.  I created them.  Without me, they would not exist.  My parents gave up everything for me.  Made me know I was numero uno.  That’s what I want for my girls.  A healthy life.  Healthy emotions.  Healthy spirits.  Healthy psychology.  I intend to do everything in my power to build them into strong, healthy women who are discerning towards themselves and others.  With strong ethics and principles.  That doesn’t come from an absent mother and father.  A mother and father driven to perfect their careers, their giving to others–but not giving to their own dearest families.  I may fail in my endeavors, but I could never, ever live with myself if I didn’t give of my best to them.  If I didn’t go down trying to give them what I think they need to achieve inner peace, love, and happiness.

Luckily for us, my husband is an orthopedic surgeon.  Our bills get paid.  Would I make the same decision to stay home and homeschool my kids if finances were an issue?  My emergency medicine doctor friend asks me this repeatedly.  Her husband is a chemist and work isn’t so easy to find for him.  The salary not so great.  She has moved from part-time to full-time.  Moved from homeschooling her children to moving them to private schools.  Listening to her life makes me cower in a corner, sweating.  The juggling act of her life, well, I’m sorry, but it sucks.  I want nothing to do with it.

But giving up years of study, work, and diligence, though, is daunting.  No longer belonging to the ranks of white coats and stethoscopes.  No longer discussing critical lab values and issues with your medical peers.  No longer talking with families, breaking hard news to them.  My orders no longer followed and respected.  Not healing patients.  Not being the “fixer.”  Not being known for doing a good, thorough job.  Not touching the lives of numerous people daily.

Being relegated from Dr. Fites to Dr. Fites’s wife, well, a lot too humbling.  Yeah.  Doctor’s wife.  Fingers on a chalkboard.  A lot too humbling.

Being at a total loss to decide what to do, I pined for a sign to know whether to quit or not.  I wrote up a letter of resignation and as I turned it in, the manager told me something like:  “I don’t want to see it.  We’re raising your salary.  You may work fewer hours if you need to.”  I wanted to stop working, and they were willing to make it easier for me to keep working.  I had wanted a sign.  Surely this was it.  It must not be time to stop.  Right?  I went with it.  I continued my slow work pace until we moved to South Dakota for my husband’s job.  Then, I just never made the initiative to look for a job here:  1) I wasn’t going to find a job like I had.  2)  No decision is a decision.  Unable to decide if I wanted to work, I chose not to work by choosing to not job search.

I have not worked for about 20 months now.  It took about a year to be okay with it.  And what I had to get over was my pride.  My desire for society’s approval of me as a worthy individual because of what I did professionally.   “Do you stay at home?”  “Well, yes…” It seems groping to add on, “…but I’m really a medical doctor.”  As far as being with my children daily and teaching them, I absolutely love it.  It is just as challenging as medicine, just in a different way.  It is what I want for them, and to provide that, I need to be around daily.  Our house usually runs smoothly, or as smoothly as it can with kids underfoot all day.  I miss taking care of patients, but I am finding lots, lots more time to read up on areas of medicine I’ve never approached before.  And that is exciting.  Perhaps my medical path will bud in a different way in the future.

But how did I know it was time to move on and move out [of medicine]?

1.  Persistent edginess and irritation at my family.  After a 12-13 hour shift, I would walk in the door to excited screams, yells, and hugs.  A loving, adoring family.  I was supposed to be happy about this, right?  Right.  But I wasn’t.  I’d try to quietly sneak in the back door and tiptoe straight upstairs to shower and change my clothes, hoping nobody would hear me and come up with greetings.  De-germed–now I was ready to hang out with the family, right?  Nope.  My fast lunch had been metabolized, and I was starving and wanted to eat in peace and quiet.  Now?  No.  I wanted to open the mail without interruptions.  I wanted the kitchen and family room cleaned up before bedtime.  I just wanted to be left alone.  All day the pager/phone attached to my hip had gone off interrupting nearly everything I did–patient admissions, patient rounds, checking labs, writing notes.  I was tired and tired of my own thoughts being interrupted.  Can’t they just leave me alone tonight?  Can’t you just get them into bed without me?  Well, not really.  You are the mom.  Hmph.  If I was off the next day, things were no better.  I was playing catch-up and needed to get things done:  answer business-related calls that inevitably came in while I worked, pay bills and respond to paperwork that somehow only arrived when I worked, run errands, and clean the house up from by absence.  There was no warm-fuzzy time with the kids.  There was too much TV time.  Why couldn’t everybody just leave me alone so I could get my “work” done?

2.  Feelings of guilt.  My heart would always sink when I saw Katie’s (my coworker) number on my ringing phone.  Work was so good about not pestering me to work much more than my part-time schedule.  But, occasionally, they needed coverage and they were down to me.  Katie was also a physician–a mother of three.  Full-time.  PTA president.  Staunch, active worker/member of the Junior League.  And she was asking me to work.  I almost always said “no”, feeling exceptional guilt.  Katie did it.  Katie would pick up a shift.  Or two shifts.  Or an overnight call.  Will would pick up a shift.  Bee would pick up a shift.  Surely I could pick up a shift to help my partners out.  They all work so hard.  Here I am cherry-picking my shifts.  What gives me the right.  I need to “man up” and be a real doctor.  I felt guilty to say “no” to more work.

But I also felt extreme guilt to say “yes.”  The angel on my other shoulder was shouting, “You’ll be grouchy.  You won’t be patient with your kids.  Heck, you won’t even see your kids.  You’ll be irritated with your husband.  You won’t get the homeschool lessons covered.  Say no.  Say no.  Don’t do it.  You’ve got a stack of paperwork piling up on the kitchen counter.  You said you’d have a playdate with Adam and Jo this week.  Your kids need you.  Your husband needs you.  You need some peace and quiet.  Just because Katie does it, doesn’t make it right for your family.”

3.  Inability to let entropy reign in housework.  Entropy is a scientific law.  All things will fall to a state of disorder.  I always justify my constant housework by saying it keeps me at my ideal body weight.  I call it “defying entropy”, and I laughingly say it’s healthy.  But I won’t sit down until the house is in order.  And if you’ve been gone for a few days for 12-13 hour shifts, the house has succumbed to entropy.  I don’t like it, and it takes a day to get it back into my definition of working order.  I do wonder if I would find working easier if I was one of those people who could live with clutter and chaos around them.  Maybe I could work short morning shifts and homeschool in the afternoon.  And if the house fell apart, the cleaners in the top of the closet were falling out on my head when I opened the door, and the laundry 8 loads behind–well, no big deal.  It’ll keep.  And I know it will keep.  But I am not wired to let it go.  And I was neglecting my kids after working to try to get the house back into shape, meanwhile internally berating my in-laws inability to keep things up the way I did.

4.  There’s no Mary Poppins.  Many a working mom can sing the sob-story of not finding good, reliable child-care.  When family lives close enough–in our situation they’d drive 2 hours and spend a night or two–at least you know the kids are being watched by people who love them dearly.  However, that puts grandparents in the situation of babysitter rather than grandparent.  Many aren’t very good at that.  “No” doesn’t roll as often as it should.  And they’re getting older.  Once you start having two, three kids, you see the grandparents’ stamina plummet.  It’s hard for them to get down on the floor and get up off the floor.  Multi-tasking less easy.  Afternoon naps more vital–okay if all the kids take a nap, not so much when the older ones drop their nap.  Somehow computer keys get completely removed from a laptop keyboard, great-grandma’s china gets rearranged in the dining room cabinets (unbeknownst to grandma or grandpa), boxed up wedding veils get removed from their boxes after 10 years of dormancy.  And, oh, the mess–in the kitchen, the bedrooms, the living room.

But ignore the mess.  Ignore the too much TV.  Focus on reliability and responsibility.  For real…What happens when you’re supposed to be at work at 6:30 in the morning and the sitter calls at 6:10 to say she’s puking and can’t make it?  What then?  You’re husband is already in the OR.  Or another one calls from the hospital because she’s having chest pain and ends up with coronary stents.  What then?  What do you think when you host an end-of-the-year preschool pool party and a working friend has sent her child with a younger nanny/sitter of good repute–and the sitter is sitting under the umbrella with her back turned talking on her cell phone WHILE THE CHILD IS IN THE POOL?  What do you think?  I’ve watched smaller-sized daycare owners bring kids to the park.  As I’m pushing my daughters on the swing, the woman has plunked down on a bench to read a book and the kids scatter to play.  One of her wards comes up to her, “Will you push me on the swing?”  I can’t hear the answer, but she keeps reading her book, and the child runs off to play elsewhere.

5.  Homeschooling began taking up lots more time.  I chose to homeschool before the kids were even born.  Didn’t really think about the implications of that on my career.  Wouldn’t change it anyway.  Getting the kids home to Indiana to the farm and knowing grandparents took precedent over anything else.  Didn’t believe in pulling my kids out of class for a “vacation”, either.  I’m just not too thrilled with the example that sets for them.  So when the time came for kindergarten, we homeschooled.  That was a fun, easy year.  Then first grade and second grade came along and my student could actually do some math and write.  I needed to read a bit to figure out how to present reading and writing to her.  Needed to plan ahead.  Needed to sit with her and read the worksheets to her.  Needed to be doing read-alouds with her.  Work began cutting into our homeschool schedule.  We weren’t getting it done.  I tried giving worksheets to the grandparents, but they didn’t get done.  In their behalf, we also had another nanny for a bit, and she didn’t even give the worksheets to my daughter.  Didn’t even give them to her!  I had asked her to just hand them to Mary for Mary to work on her own.  Didn’t happen.  So if homeschooling was going to happen, I had to be there.

6.  Concern about my kids’ second guessing my priorities.  What are my priorities?  Taking care of other people or taking care of my kids?  Time with my kids and family or stuff for my kids and family?  As a doctor, and I’m sure in other fields, as well,  it’s easy to take care of other people–pick up another shift, pick up another call, answer pages off-work hours, run in to see a patient you’ve grown attached to, discuss health problems outside the office at a birthday party, go to a meeting about the new charting system, leave the Valentine’s Day party early to help your partners finish rounds on an exceptionally busy day.  And the question of my ER friend rings in my ears, “What if your husband only brought in X amount of dollars…would you give up medicine then?”  Would I?  I don’t know.  We try to keep it pretty simple here.  No boats.  No video games.  No Coach purses (are those still around?).  My mini-van from fellowship is 7-years strong with a few more years to go!  Our 2 flat screen TVs are smaller than the average-joe’s.  But we have them.  And we love to travel.  And grass-fed beef and free-range chickens aren’t cheap.  So I don’t know.  But, in our given situation, my kids would have clearly seen that I was working to nurture other people and not them.  And unfortunately for them, my parents never had enough for a trip to Disney World, Pasta sweaters, and video games.  But we had enough.  And I love my childhood and wouldn’t trade it for anybody else’s!  So you won’t see me going to work for a boat or a back-patio remodel.

7.  Work days were never convenient.  No matter when they came around, work days always interfered with something.  Homeschool co-op day.  Preschool parties.  Doctor appointments.  Birthdays.  And they always seemed to get sick on my work days.  Croup.  Fevers.  Gastroenteritises.  Work just seemed to interfere!

8.  Things flow more smoothly when one of us stays home.  When a kid gets sick, I am home.  When a tax paper has to be run in, I can do it.  A dentist appointment–check.  Kids in need of a bit more discipline–I’ve got the energy.  Bills are paid on time.  Paperwork pile gone through once weekly.  House picked up.  Usually have food in the house and on the table.  Underwear aplenty in the drawers.  Kids to practices on time.  Get some quiet time with my husband every now and then.  Have time to read about health-related matters helping our family.  For us, it made more sense for me to stay home with the kids.  I have more patience.  I made less money.  I had less technical skills to lose.  We have the utmost respect for both roles in our house.  I know I could not stay home if my husband didn’t treat me as an equal.  I could not do it if he ever expressed that my role was inferior to his.  My complaints about cooking, laundry, and school, he treats as openly and importantly as if it was his work.

Well, I’m rambling on too long.  Kids are awake and all over the place like monkeys.  So I’d better tend to them.  I love what I do, and staying home was the right decision for us.  Probably not for everyone.  If you have any questions about giving up your job for your kids or homeschooling, ask away!  Although the decision to stay home wasn’t tough, the mental process of giving up work to stay home for me was.  When I was trying to decide whether to stop working or not, I Googled and Googled looking for insight.  Here, on the other side, is my insight!  Best wishes to you!

36 thoughts on “Quitting Work to Homeschool

  1. Leanne

    I know this is an older post, but I resonated with everything you typed (other than being married to a doctor). I am in a strange position: I went back to work full time so that my husband could complete a technical program…so he is a stay-at-home dad, also in school full time, and grandma babysits once or twice a week.
    Life is HECTIC! Sometimes I feel like I’m driving myself into the ground. Waking up extra early to go into work and stay on top of things. Coming home physically and mentally exhausted after being on my feet all day, working at breakneck speed to meet deadlines, constant “interruptions” from clients (they are the reason for my job in the first place, but when I have a long to-do list before me, I lose my pace after stopping and starting throughout the day…. and then upon arrival, I see the cluttered mess in the house, toys, clothes, food, used kleenex and wrappers and markers and dirty socks. Dying plants. Dishes on the counter. What’s for dinner? I don’t know until 20 minutes before it’s on the table. Then after the kids are in bed (we have two, toddler age), I fix my own meal, try to muster the energy to finish chores and shower, and then fall in bed in order to hopefully get more than 6 hours of sleep for the next day.
    BUT….I did struggle with post partum depression (twice, though the first time was the worst), complicated by circumstances (husband getting laid off, going back to school, very little money coming in, government assistance for a time)…I learned I couldn’t plan out the perfect life for myself. Going back to work began with a willingness to sacrifice my position at home full time in order for my husband to reach his goal (completing his degree, then securing a job that can sustain us). THEN, I found that despite the aforementioned stress of work, I really LOVE what I do. I am using my God-given talents every day. If I glance at the clock, it is because time is going too fast. I look forward to getting ready and going there in the morning. My husband is an excellent father and friend to the kids…sometimes I wonder if he is more creative than I am with children. I am kind of jealous of his involvement, but overly grateful. Sometimes we wonder if we will be able to switch back (to him working and me staying home), or if it’s better off with me working (great benefits, potentially higher pay etc).
    On the other hand…I REALLY want to homeschool. Sometimes the thought terrifies me, but deep down there are many reasons for this desire. I know I can’t combine work and homeschool. No way. Husband doesn’t think he could homeschool…I am ultimately better at home management, cooking, and organizing than he. So I am in a very similar spot as you were. I would definitely miss my job, my boss, my co-workers, and the pride that comes from being told how talented and wonderful I am (sounds conceited, but just when I try to steer myself away from the idea of advancing, I get a comment about my outstanding performance or importance to the company…just like your “sign,” lol). What to do?? Thanks for your posts. It helps to see somebody else with the same type of dilemma.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thank you for commenting! Your description brought flashbacks! Staying home isn’t for everybody, but whew, am I glad that’s all behind me! Makes me shiver. Not that I don’t miss contributing to the world that way, because I sure do, but for my mentality, the “hecticness” just isn’t worth it. For some it is. There are creative ways to work all this in together. Once your husband is finished with training, you WILL find it! My husband and I trained for a lot of years, and it is always one of the hardest times, I think. Kind of a limbo land–not knowing what/where/if jobs will come. We planned one way, but jobs took us another way. I wish you the best! Never give up on what you want for your family and how you want it to function–you never get to go back and do it again! You guys will make something work! As long as the fit feels right for you all and there is peace (well, relatively), you’re on the right track!

      Reply
  2. Kathy

    Glad I found your site. I am a physician and have extreme guilt about working while homeschooling. I also have (less) guilt about not working as much as my partners. My husband just started his own business and I can’t leave right now. I don’t know if I will ever be able to leave. It worked better 4 years ago when they were younger. As they age I feel like they need the emotional support more. Glad you were able to make it work.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks, Kathy! Luckily, it does work for us. I think the abrupt move across the country for my husband’s job forced my hand. Otherwise, I kept feeling too guilty, as I watched my partners (well, I can’t really call them partners, can I, as I was only part-time) literally slave away. A few months ago, I had thought about looking for a job with minimal hours because it was “getting easier” to homeschool. I’m glad you commented on the emotional support needed–reminded me that this comfort time is just a nice phase. (Plus, then, I got pregnant. Geesh, how did that happen–LOL!) Thanks for commenting, and I am wishing the best for you and your family.

      Reply
  3. Dr. Mom

    I’m so glad I found this. I could have written it, myself. I have four children and went through the same path…FT to PT to 2d/wk to prn and locums to sahm. Now I review charts for an insurance company, but honestly, the nature of our field and our personalities is that we are hard workers, and fixers. So we can start to work part-time, but when there’s more work to be done, it is very difficult to say no. I am getting ready to stop working again. I’m exhausted, and my family needs me.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yep. You said it well. Workers and fixers (and “perfectionist-ers” 🙂 ). Saying no is so hard to admit to. To yourself and others. That maybe you are not strong enough. Tough enough. You know you “could” do it. But then you know–at what expense!? Glad you “stopped by” and left a comment! Good luck, Dr. Mom! Sending good thoughts your way.

      Reply
  4. binteislam8

    Hi there. It was an awesome article. Loved reading it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and helping out those who are at crossroads of choosing to decide between medicine or becoming a sahm. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Blake

    Ironically, I found your site desperately searching for insight into how to handle this chapter in our lives (wife & 2 boys 4 and 4months). I’m a realtor, my wife’s an oncology nurse. I’m a veteran and very analytical/structured, my wife (God love her) well, isn’t structured, lol. I’m extremely passionate about homeschooling and she supports the decision. I specifically chose this career path after the Air Force for it’s flexibility in putting family first. Perhaps we were naïve to think between her 3 or 4 12 hours shifts a week and my flexibility we could pull it off. We’re realizing this is not easy!!! We’re both constantly exhausted and when I come home from being away working the house literally looks like WW III took place. At least once a day when I have the boys and she’s working I’ll tell myself, “that’s it, I’m just going to throw in the towel and become Mr. Mom.” but that’s problematic. My wife’s salary alone is not significant (40K). Although I wasn’t raised this way, somehow I ended up a traditionalist and feel a very strong sense of obligation to provide for my family. We could make it work financially, as we’re debt free and not materialistic people, but we’d face financial challenges in the future I’m sure. But isn’t that why parents are here… to give everything of themselves for their children, to raise well-rounded, critical thinking, independent and responsible human beings??? So how can I justify sacrificing that for more $$$$? That’s not a compromise worth making in my opinion. So much of what you said completely resonates with me. I’ve recently realized that I’m placing enormous pressure on my wife when it comes to household management. Only in that I constantly ask her to pick up after herself… until I get tired of it and just say I’ll be the one to keep and manage the household. Splitting days is so inconsistent for the kids… too much t.v. still in pj’s after lunch etc. I’m at a loss. I love my wife dearly, and am eternally grateful that I’m the man she elected to spend her life with. I just don’t know how to resolve this. I’m willing to send her back to school so we can increase her salary, but I don’t know if my own pride, as a male, will lay dormant while I take the Mr. Mom title. I’m really at a loss. You seem like a very well balanced and intelligent human being… I’d love your take or any insight you might be able to provide. Thank you very much for writing your story!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Blake and I corresponded by e-mail, along with a male friend of mine who homeschooled. We discussed role reversal. Income issues. Parenting goal issues and how we as parents play into the realization of those goals for our kids (and we aren’t talking about money here or high-ranked jobs as far as goals). One top idea we mentioned revolved around the respect that our spouses have for us. Without that, I personally could not and would not homeschool; I don’t think. I’m not that strong; I don’t think. My friend also highly valued his wife’s respect and devotion for his “job” and person. So mutual respect for roles, even if they’re not aligned with society, seems huge. Upon talking with my husband after corresponding with Blake, I learned that my husband would try to homeschool–and conquer his lack of patience and his temper–if for some reason he had to stay home and I had to go to work (and would want to do this even if for some reason, my salary was slashed much below “normal”). Homeschooling, as another commenter noted elsewhere, becomes a lifestyle you just aren’t willing to give up when you experience it well. Watching the fascination with learning. Being allowed to follow learning leads of a child. Being allowed to learn new things at younger ages. Being able to impact sibling rivalry on a day to day basis. Being able to spend time together when a parent gets home early. Watching older children become leaders and teachers of younger children. Recognizing weaknesses and laughing over them and learning to overcome them together. It’s simply amazing.

      Reply
  6. Pathdrmom

    Hi I’m glad that I found your site! I REALLY want to homeschool and am a physician also. I actually changed careers and finished residency at 39!!! So I need to pay off my student loans! And now I see the need to cutback and spend time with my 3 boys but I make 3x more than my husband and he doesn’t want to cut back on his job or stay at home. The boys are stressed out and I’m not sure exactly what to do. I think that homeschooling is the best option for us but we would need a tutor. I can pay about the same for a tutor that I am paying for public school and may got hat route but still the urge to spend more time with my boys is strong. I wish that I had thought this out more…
    Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi Path Dr. Mom:

      I think if you’ve the mindset to finish residency at our stage of life, you’ll have no problems fitting homeschooling into your system! Even if you work! Really! E-mail me if you can! I have had good doctor friends who work and homeschool. So, even though I don’t work anymore, I can pull on their insight (and what I remember)as far as that goes. My husband (an ortho guy) and I agree that homeschooling helps our family tremendously, and our kids breadth of knowledge (sewing, crocheting, Spanish, great math skills, science, music, grammar, poetry, and so on—once they know how to read, they take off on all kinds of avenues!) is amazing and inspiring to us! I think you could make this work for sure! I’d love it if you e-mailed me with specific hurdles, and I’ll do my best to share what we have experienced! ~Terri

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Im so glad I found your blog. I just want to say thank you even though it has been a couple of years since you wrote this. I have just made the decision to give up my medical career for a while and stay at home and homeschool full time while my husband works, and he earns more money than me anyway 🙂 I am a nurse and just did a certificate in neonatal nursing a couple if years ago to change my career path. Now taking a break altogether was such a difficult decision … but i was finding it hard to divide my time between homeschooling and work and I was getting so angry and irritated by the children , I am happy and know I have made the right decision for me
    Thankyou

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I am happy my thoughts were able to help a bit. We are still very happy with our decision. I need to do an update. 🙂 Congratulations on all that you have accomplished, and all that you will accomplish in your home, as well. I still miss helping people via work, but I have NO regrets about my decisions at all. I hope your family is always peaceful, joyous, content, and secure. ~~Terri

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to say thank you- it couldn’t have come at a better time. We have been homeschooling for 3 years now and I left my job as a therapist/professor about 2 years ago. Ever since then, both sides of our family constantly ask when I’m getting a job and when the kids are going back to school. Short answer: They aren’t. I struggle with these comments but I do believe we’re doing the right thing. It can be hard to keep the doubts at bay and, like you, I often find myself ‘justifying’ my position by letting people know what I used to do or mentioning my degree just so they don’t think I’m ‘only’ a sahm/homeschooling mom. Sometimes I miss my old position and all the things that came with it but I definitely do not miss the stress and chaos that it brought. I don’t miss the boxed food and short temper or missed activities and rushing around. Thank you for the reminder. I really needed it 🙂

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      No post here is ever too old for a comment! Glad you left it! I loved your comment! I don’t miss the stress and chaos either, although we have a new kind of that… (!) Thank you for YOUR reminder to me about how lucky we are that we have the opportunity and the desire to do this!

      Terri

      Reply
  9. Joy

    Glad I found your blog! I just resigned as a staff physician, and I’m sooo ready to take on the SAHM/homeschooling frontier! Glad there are others out there who did the EXACT same thing, and went through the EXACT same feelings! I always say that one hopes their profession and their calling are the same thing, but for me, medicine was my profession, but homeschooling and being with these 5 beautiful babies is my calling. Can’t believe I waited so long!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Welcome, Joy! The emotions of giving up something you worked so hard for, and which consumed you for so long, are many. And the different identity it gives you and the coming to terms with how your career/title affected your identity. It’s kind of weird. Since I wrote that post, I’ve been homeschooling with four in the house. That has brought some new challenges and some new thoughts. I still know this is what I want, but I will admit, at times now, I know longer feel like teacher or even mom, and simply just babysitter. That is something new to wrap my head around. It is a brief time though, and as my youngest (now 18 months) grows, our school will return to some normalcy. 🙂 Here, you get honest answers. 🙂 I love, though, what homeschooling does for my family, me, my girls–they’re so smart, so kind, so well-rounded, so able to pursue their desires as long as I help. It is a good situation. Best of luck to you! May God walk with you every step, every decision, every tough moment of the way. Terri

      Reply
  10. Melissa

    This morning I was googling this topic, desperate for a neon sign to flash and tell me what to do. I am in tears, because this spoke to me so much. My story is a bit opposite though…I have been home raising and homeschooling children for 22 years. We are blessed financially and I don’t “have” to work. The problem for me is I have been desiring to work but don’t want to stop homeschooling. I actually am scheduled to begin training as a flight attendant in a few weeks. It’s coming down to the wire and I am doubting my decision. You know when you have those special moments in life when everything feels right, and you are really just so thankful to be home? I have been those moments frequently as of late, which is actually adding to my confusion. The feelings of selfishness and guilt are tough. My oldest is in her twenties and married. My second oldest is now in college. Recently when I look at my younger ones, (13, 12, 10 & 6), I see how the time is fleeting. Here’s what made me cry in your post….PRIDE. I love being home. I know deep down, my reason for going to work is because I want to prove to the world that I am capable of many things. (and that I am a sexy flight attendant;)) For whatever reason, there is a bit of glamour connected to that position. As I sit here in my sweatpants and a ponytail I am not feeling glamorous. I know that what I am doing at home is extremely important. I know that my children are turning out very well, with great character and high intelligence. But our damn society doesn’t value it! It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to be valued by society! When I meet other women my husband works with, and mention what I do, the conversation ends quickly. I believe sometimes it’s their own guilt perhaps that makes them not want to discuss it. But it makes me feel small and not as impressive as them. I’m just beginning to see clearly though, that perhaps making homeschooling more stressful by beginning a career when I don’t have to, is not worth it just so I can tell people I have a glamorous career. I have never written this long of a comment before. Sorry – I kind of just talked it out here. I don’t think it was by accident that I found your story. I am looking forward to following you and encouraging each other on this crazy journey. 🙂

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I know what we read/see in other people are things that resonate with us. (Heck, sometimes people read into my posts thoughts/feelings I never even intended!) Anyhow, I’m just going to type up the words in your paragraph that popped to me: doubt, confusion, selfish, guilt, kids 13/12/10/6, pride, sexy (lack of feeling thereof), society’s values, dead conversations, women’s guilt, small, not impressive. I’ve found that so many of these feelings, no matter what, I just transfer to a different story, time, and place. (Isn’t there a children’s song/chant like that? “Same song, same verse, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse?”) Like I’m just sweeping the dust around the kitchen and NEVER scooping it up! If I don’t scoop it up, it’s just going to continue to spread back out and sully everything. Let’s scoop it up! Let’s scoop it up.

      Hugs, Terri

      Reply
      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Oops–the electrical signals coursing the neuron bundles in my brain got crossed…I realized this “thanks” was for my response. :-). I also wrote another post yesterday on this topic.

        And BTW, my four kids make me question who I am and what I want–and you’ve got more than that!!! So extra special challenging!

  11. Stephanie

    I am so glad I found this! I’m a molecular biologist and I have an awesome job in research that allows me to work part time just while my kids are in school. I have really wanted to homeschool for years and recently decided I’m ready to commit. But today, I had a really great, rewarding day at work and it just kept running through my head, “You’re really going to give this up? ” So I stopped at a coffee shop and sat down with my mocha and Googled “quit my job to homeschool ” and I got this. Wow! It sounds like so much of what I’m feeling right now! So much of my identity is caught up in being a scientist. I’m really afraid to let it go. And I know I’ll never get that sweet position back once I leave them. But I WANT to homeschool my two girls. My oldest is 9, so we’re halfway to when she leaves our home and it’s going by too fast. I’m desperate to slow it down and spend this time with them while they’re still here. I have no doubt we’ll be successful at homeschooling, but I’m also the kind of person who cannot function if my house is a mess. I cannot stand clutter. I literally cannot focus if things aren’t in order. And it scares me when my homeschooling friends and family members joke about the constant mess everywhere that goes along with homeschooling. I’m in the same situation financially. I don’t *need* to work for the money. My husband’s a pilot so we can live comfortably on just his income, but exactly what you said, we won’t be buying a boat (much to my husband’s dismay) or puttng in a pool and big back porch (that I dream of). Really, I think of what will we all as a family value more when we look back on this fleeting time of their childhood. I feel that the everyday living together and learning together far outweighs the rest. But, it is a scary step to take when every time I tell someone I’ve decided to quit my job to homeschool I feel like I’m lying. Part of me thinks I’m crazy, but the other part is almost giddy thinking of all the things well get to learn and do together. I just have to say, it is HARD to be a woman today. The burden of knowing what a good mom would do when there really is not a simple example to follow. We have to chart our own course and hope we can live with the decisions we’ve made. Anyway, thank you for writing this and putting it out there. I feel so much better having read it and to know that I’m not the only one to struggle with this decision. I wish you all the best!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thank you, Stephanie. It is really hard. On the one hand, you’re contributing to the world in so many great ways at work, yet you’re heart is being left behind every time you get in the car and drive off each morning. And I feel like God made it completely unfair for women, front-loading the prime child-bearing years, which is when we’re also expected to get our educations. 🙂 Ah, well. There is no right answer. My family has a blast.

      My house is messier, than I’d like. But usually, my house is not messy by other’s standards; so it’s mostly that the basement storage room and the closets are not up to par and I’m the only one who knows and cares. AND my daughters are helping MORE and MORE! When it’s time to pick up, the joke is to say, “Okay. Make sure it’s mommy clean.” (As in just like I like it. 🙂 ) Yesterday, one of my daughters told me, “I love you, Mom. I want to be just like you. You’re my role model.” I didn’t expect that. It came as we were doing laundry. She has no idea she’s a million times better than I am right now.

      So I don’t know. It’s awesome for us and our family. I always hope I’m doing the right thing. They are already proficient in Spanish, 2-3 musical instruments, one takes Latin, they’ve memorized tons of poetry, they love to read, history and geography are favorites–and so on and so forth. I feel like their actual education is great (although at times hearing about these cool projects they do in schools is a bit intimidating…). And the rest–I just hope I’m doing right. They want to go to “real school” for the bus and the locker and prom, but other than that, they’re happy. I’m rambling, but one last thing, they do like to be around kids. So I have to work extra hard to build in time to have their friends over or get together with other kids/friends. Their behavior and attitude always brightens after they have good friend time.

      I wish you the courage and peace of heart to accept whichever decision rings most true for you. There is no wrong decision. I love my mom (and dad) to pieces and go home to visit lots and lots and I have a good enough education (all from a rural, public school)–so it’s all good. 🙂

      Reply
  12. jenn01

    This makes me tear up! I have been on the fence about homeschooling for months, but I am a year away from having my degree. I’ve worked so hard for this, and did it while raising 4 kids but I’ve always felt torn. I’m not giving anything in my life 100%. not my kids, not school, not my husband and work won’t be different. I am constantly on the verge of tears and guilt. However, I can’t help but feel like i don’t want to be “just a stay at home mom”. I know that is my, judgmental, thoughts but i’ve never imagined myself being a stay at home mom let alone a homeschooling mom, but I feel like i’m being pulled more and more toward homeschooling. I need a sign!!! For the 1st time EVER i just wish my husband would tell me what to do so I don’t have to decide.
    *hopefully this makes since, i’m typing while sitting in class :0

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I know. I know. All of that. “Sign in the sky, God. Sign in the sky. Uh, you’re not going to tell me? Really? I have to decide myself. Ugh.” 🙂

      I’m 100% confident I have done the right thing and am doing the right thing for us and me. However, I’m just now realizing that until I fix some inner beliefs I have, I’ll always struggle on contentment and peace. So I’m now working on that “judgmental” word you mentioned! Man, do I judge myself! Sure. Stopping work helped quite a bit–until a new stress threw a wrench in the system. Then I realized it’s me, me, me! Until I get that straight, it’s like I can move into doing this or that, but I’ll always have this unhappy piece until I get that inner belief/core adjusted. Well, that’s just me. Sorry.

      I hope class was okay. We didn’t have smart phones when I was in school. We slept. 🙂 And LOL about your husband. My husband always says I hate being told what to do. Has to be my idea. Best wishes with your degree. On homeschooling, I adore the time with my kids. Everything I learn about I love to share with them. I love the challenge of helping them (getting them) to do their work. I love our flexibility. I love guiding my girls toward womanhood and strength and independence. For us, it’s perfect. But each family and person is unique. Godspeed!

      Terri

      Reply
  13. helene

    I homeschool. We are destitute. I homeschool still. I homeschooled my 3 older kids, I will homeschool these 2 kids. Ive done it widowed. Now I do it although abandoned (hes probably dead too). Theres no choice. I homeschool. Each of my children is too important not to.
    No guilt anywhere.
    Life’s simple. We make it complicated.
    My older 3 are very hard workers and socially skilled. Besides learned.
    My younger 2 are on their way.
    Every time I have to say no to a want or even a need, or endure a bad living situation I have my premade decision to get me thru. No guilt.
    Life’s very hard but it’s simple 🙂

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Helene, Thanks for sharing that. I hope you and your children have so much peace, joy, and love. Contentment with each other. I’ve really enjoyed your thoughts this morning (on this post and others). Thank you! With the fourth one here (now 18 months), it has continued to make life “very hard”—yet “very simple.” Like all her busyness and messes have made us abandon so much, yet accomplish so much more. But the letting go has been a process which has been uncomfortable in growing, and on the other hand, has been best for all of us inside. I’m sure maybe you know what I mean? Juggling and streamlining and prioritizing values and clinging to the precious ones. Your grit is inspiring. —Terri

      Reply
  14. stacey

    Hi Terri! I literally typed into google “leaving a good job to homeschool” and this came up. Then I read your post, and something similar happened to me. I think my boss knows something is up and he gave me a raise and said ‘if you ever need to talk to me about anything, i’m here.’ Like you, i’ve wanted to homeschool before my children were even in preschool. They are 7 and 4 now..so i’ve read, researched..i’m ready.

    For you, like you said, your bills are paid. For us, they would be paid but we’d be treading water. I’m ok with cutting things out and looking for deals on things, free trips, etc but my husband thinks we’re making a bad decision because he’s so tired of struggling. I have a great job (i’m a graphic artist-i work in the field of clinical trials, though and i love what I do and find it really interesting) but at what cost? i see my kids for 2 hours a day, my husband and I are just a team of ‘who is picking up who and who has practice at what time’ – and then i’ll spend half of the day on saturday putting all the laundry away that couldn’t get done during the week. So for me, it’s about quality of life vs. the $ that’s in our account.

    HOWEVER, i feel like these are our ‘earning years’ and what if I look back and regret not being able to provide travel or other things for the kids that if we were both working I could? What about house repairs or remodeling? (we bought a farm house-total fixer upper but I love it).

    It sounds though that even if you were struggling financially you still would’ve made the decision. Sorry for the ramble..I’m forever grateful for your post. Now I just have to make a big decision (i’m TERRIBLE at making adult decisions). 🙂

    xo Stacey

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Stacy,

      Hello! Your concerns are so real and valid, from every angle! For me, too, it is about the quality of life. If I had a few lives to live, it’d be fun to try it several ways and see which really felt best, ha, right!? But, alas, not an option, c’est la vie.

      On the one hand, without your job, finances will be harder. Savings will be lower. Would you eventually feel resentful for having to give so much more effort when a little money could have made this (a new dishwasher) or that (traveling to see family) easier? On the other hand, when your kids hit the tween/teen years (hot on my mind right now) and they seem to be unraveling before your eyes, will you wonder if they could have avoided this or that if you had homeschooled (or at least seen it coming sooner and have the ability to know that nothing weird is happening at school—on the other hand, maybe they’ll blame you for homeschooling them…)? There’s no good answer.

      I do know, homeschooling the required stuff really doesn’t take that long. An hour for math, 20 minutes for grammar, 20 minutes for history, maybe 30 minutes to an hour for writing. So our school can be done in about three hours a day, MUCH less for my 7 year old. More like an hour for her! Of course, that doesn’t include silent reading (which mine just do on their own), music lessons, or extra curricular (which I count for PE). BUT, after you’re established, there’s a good chance you could work and homeschool, maybe!

      I don’t know. I think there are options. I really, really love what we do here. I really like my kids are learning Spanish, playing several instruments, helping me with house chores/cooking, learning to sew on their own, being around all age groups, and so on and so forth.

      I, however, have a med school friend who tried homeschooling for a year and is sending them back. I think it’s a little tougher to pull them out and then homeschool. I think the first year is a little rocky. But she needed her work time as a place for herself too, aside from the logistics of transferring from school to homeschool. She needed to not have so much control and interaction with her kids for all day. We’re all different, I’m aware.

      For us, yes. We’ll make this work. There are some rocky times and doubting times (more now that I am juggling a toddler and two labile tweens), but I’d say 95% of the time, I feel confident and content.

      Best wishes to you!

      Hugs,

      Terri

      Reply
  15. KB

    Wow, glad I found your blog, especially this post. So very relatable. Although I’m not homeschooling (yet), I too am a medical doctor, worked for 3 years, then quit 3 years ago to move to the US (to Alaska, specifically) to be with my husband. Stayed at home ever since because of health issues, and now, more staying at home because of a delicate pregnancy. Thank you for this post, it felt very comforting. I wish you all the best and am looking forward to read more!

    — Kai

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Kai, I am very satisfied that the post related to you. That’s what I wanted, for it to soothe someone else along their way. May this pregnancy grow stronger and more stable and may your family be close-knit and happy. Ask me any question, any time. Quitting work took lots of mental readjustment, but that has led to even more satisfaction! Do take good care and take it easy with this pregnancy!

      Reply
  16. K.W., MD

    This site is an answer to my prayer. I recently (May 2016) left my neurology practice to homeschool my 6 year old son and 3 year-old daughter. I have dealt with a myriad of emotions since that time. I decided to become a sahm when I noticed I was spending more time at work than at home and could see how this negatively affected my family. My husband is also a physician so we were both on the go. One day, my son who was 5 at the time, prayed, ‘Please God, let mommy stay home with us’.

    Not long afterwards, I made the decision to stay at home with my children. I know this was the right decision but there is a nagging feeling of loss of identity. The thought that, ‘ No one here knows I am a doctor’. I guess this should not matter but stepping away from a well-respected career to being a sahm is not easy on the psyche.

    I would love to talk with you offline about how you dealt with some of the emotions I am experiencing. Please let me know how we may chat offline. It will be therapeutic for me.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, KW! (I’ve edited identification just in case you didn’t want that there.) I’ll try the e-mail you provided. If that works, great! We’re a go. If not, I’ll pop back in and leave my e-mail.

      Terri

      Reply

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