Five Reasons My Mom Thought I’d Fail At Homeschooling

You’ve got naysayers breathing down your back about homeschooling?  Well, if it makes you feel any better, my mom didn’t think I had what it took to be a homeschooler.  Something along the line of, “We’ll see how long this lasts.”  Thanks for your vote of confidence, mom, but I appreciate your honesty.  It made me determined.  She was right, you know.  I don’t fault the doubts she had one bit.  How was a short-tempered medical doctor who appreciated alone time to herself going to deal with kids all day, every day, much less teach them?

Mama’s Doubts

We are now entering our seventh year of homeschooling.  I have four kids, about the ages of 11, 9, 6, and 1.  My kids, husband, and I are exceptionally satisfied with how homeschooling is going.  So what made my mom raise her eyebrows and predict my kids would be hightailed to school in a heartbeat?

1.  I like my alone time.  There is no doubt.  Homeschooling families are TOGETHER.  All the time.  A homeschool mom (or dad, if that’s who does the bulk of the teaching) is dinged like a bell ALL DAY LONG.  Unless you sacrifice sleep, which I’m not usually willing to do, finding a balance of self and kids is tough.  Thankfully, my husband is often able to take on the four kids by himself and let me have a quiet hour.
2. I naturally lean toward impatient and irritable.  Let’s face it.  Perfectionistic people like things done their way or the highway.  Homeschooling has been a fun way to rein in my expectations and learn to communicate better in a more positive way.  I can definitely see that I get easier to get along with each year.  Maybe it’s just that I get more worn down, but regardless, it’s better.
3. I don’t like clutter.  I once read, years ago before I started homeschooling and was still in the preparation reading stages, that homeschool moms needed to brace themselves for two things:  1)  a messier house  2)  some extra pounds.  That stuck in my mind, preparing me for things to come.  I hate clutter.  Hate it.  But with four kids of different ages, it’s something we deal with every day.
4. I am not a gushy mom.  When people ask if I’ll be homeschooling in high school, I bust out belly laughing.  When I was planning our homeschooling journey, I saw myself teaching the kids algebra and calculus and classical literature.  Organized.  Logical.  Sitting still.  I did not see myself gluing and pasting and singing and nature walking.  Oh, sigh.  I love my kids to pieces.  I’m kind.  And I’m learning patience.  But don’t make me play Ring Around the Rosie or cut out a butterfly or gush over your 50th fairy drawing.  I’m practical, not touchy-feely and lovey.
5. I was a working medical doctor.  This probably blew my mom’s mind the most.  Why did I go to medical school just to stay home with kids?  Well, when I went to medical school and residency, I didn’t have kids, did I?  And I wasn’t sitting around thinking about them either.  Kids came along.  Kids change things.  Yes, it kind of hurt and stung to leave my colleagues behind (or what it actually felt like was that I was getting left behind), and it usually feels like I left my brain behind too.  But 98% of the time, I have no regrets.

You’re Right, Mom…

So, Mom.  You were right to question me and draw me up to prepare for the battle.  Thank you!  I could have easily failed and packed those girls off, not just to school, but to boarding school!  Instead, I met your challenge, and I think we’re doing right well.  How?

1. Be a self-examiner.  Was I too harsh?  Am I too lenient?  Am I preoccupied with perfection?  Am I comparing my kids to others?  Am I spending too much time on the phone?  Each move I make throughout the day, I try to measure its impact on my goals for my children’s education (and their lives in general).  Without self-examination and a desire to improve, I would be a terrible homeschooler.
2. Love to learn and teach.  I’ve always loved to teach.  Sometimes I step back when I’m irritated when teaching my kids and try to pretend that I’m teaching someone else’s child.  It usually (always?) brings out a nicer teacher.
3. Love my kids.  We all love our kids, I know.  So this is kind of a weird one to put.  But man, I love my kids and I often try to envision their futures.  What they’ll need to succeed.  Am I giving them the tools they need?
4. Know when I’ve reached my limit and know to stop and take time to change tactics or educate myself or get help.  Kids can be big stressors in small packages.  It’s hard to understand, and when things are going well or our kids are grown up, we even forget how stressful they really can be.  When I’m feeling squeezed, for whatever reason, I stop and regroup.  Change things up.  Get a babysitter.  Ask my husband to do a little more.  Take a break.  Read on how somebody else tackled the same problem.  It always helps.

Closing

I’m not really giving tips here, and I don’t mean to talk about myself.  But I do want others to know that people will always question our choices.  I’m glad they do, and if I can open a good dialogue with them and not let my feelings get hurt, I can rise up and overcome.  If people are wondering if you should homeschool, ask yourself the same question.  Write down deterrents.  Write down a way to make each deterrent a strength, or at least a non-obstacle.  Write down your strengths and how you’ll manipulate those strengths to succeed in homeschooling.  With diligence and an open heart, you’ll succeed.

~~Terri

4 thoughts on “Five Reasons My Mom Thought I’d Fail At Homeschooling

  1. Hélène

    You can do what you want to impact the world before your children get out in it (the biggest impact you will ever make btw). Take them along! I drug my older kids everywhere. They got to see real life, not peer-dependent, fun-house-mirror life when you’re institutionalized from age 5-18.
    We also ran a monthly food co-op, took care of relatives with Alzheimers and cancer, paid for dance, voice and theatre by cooking and cleaning for the instructor, did street ministry and I also did informal lactation consulting and nutrition consulting and curriculum consulting.
    I was a widowed mom with no family support, from either side. We lived on survivors’ social security benefit.
    Can you imagine what intact families can do??

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks for the reminder and pointers. And for sharing your experience! I’ll bet your kids need 5-hour energy drinks to keep up. (I’m totally teasing!!!!!) Once we let go of the thought of “school” and realize that life is so precious and sharing our time and energy is so valuable, it changes things. On the other hand, I want to keep the formal math and language arts going. So right, now I’m practicing stepping back yet somehow keeping them moving forward in formal studies. We’re ironing it out.

      Reply
      1. Hélène

        As the kids age, they can get formal studies done relatively quickly and independently. Then you have more time and they can assist with littler ones besides. We have hours everyday we just “hang”. While its good to some extent, we can rederm most of it and make an impact still.
        Ive never had energy. Ive been chronically dysregulated hormonally since 23. Its gotten worse as I age of course, despite all my attempts to fix root causes; Im now 51.
        Simplify, prioritize, organize, childtraining, consistency. These will open up time. And if you rly have many kids (4 or 5 isnt alot) you can be content thinking of All The Impact you will make when they leave the nest AND their protegés leave. Exponential, man!
        I decided I was ok with them pumping gas if they loved Jesus when all the dust settled. They excelled in many areas, but it wasnt my priority. God has a way of doing that 🙂

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