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.


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.


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

  1. EmilyMaine

    I know that feeling of leaving your brain behind some days. I said to a friend the other day “I feel like I used to be smart”. Ah the joys of parenting. I take my hat off to you homeschooling your brood. I’m not sure I could get through it!

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        No that’s OUTER SPACE AWESOME about the eating/health! Tonight a friend sent me a quote from a woman’s birthday party he attended. She was turning 100. “If you didn’t cook it…don’t eat it.” 🙂 Good night!

  2. Tanya

    This line: “I can definitely see that I get easier to get along with each year.”

    I used to think that it was the kids that were making things difficult that day. They were hard to get along with. More and more, I see that it’s me, or at least it’s something between us that I can change. So that line, especially, made me chuckle.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Oh, Tanya! Yep! Yep! You described so well what I was trying to say! (But let’s deny it, right? A line to our child: “Oh no! I’m not being unreasonable, buddy. YOU are.” 🙂 ) I hope you’re having a great summer!


  3. All Seasons Cyclist

    Great article! I am a former elected member of the Board of Education in a fairly large school district in the Chicago suburbs. While I support “public education” in theory, if our children were young I think we would have to home school now. I can’t think of a single thing that public schools are better at (except wasting taxpayer money).

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, some of the kids seem to have a grip on teaching my kids sex education when they’re over visiting…but, on the other hand, I had to re-teach even that properly. 🙂 Thank you! Hit the bike the other day. Slowly but surely!

  4. FitMomPam

    I give you a lot of credit! I am home with my kids in the summer and the clutter is driving me crazy! I find myself in a bad mood with no patience and I realized it’s because my house is just trashed with stuff everywhere. Once we decluttered I felt better. Good for you Terri!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Aaaah (a fresh sigh). I love a decluttered house. I love to open a spice cupboard lined with matching bottles and labels. Or a linen closet with nicely folded and stacked sheets, even the fitted ones. Refreshing. I used to love my dining room as it was the neatest room in the house. Until they decided there was no other place for their darn sewing machine. This was a ramble, Pam. Sorry. On another note, my college aged sister is visiting, and she’s going to make your stuffed peppers and stuffed broccoli leaves for my freezer! Recipes are on the counter now! Practice your yoga breath during summer break! 😉


  5. Elisa | blissful E

    You described me! Except I got an engineering degree and MBA instead of a medical degree. My kids have to clean up their clutter/projects before each and every meal because I think we all feel a lot better (and I know I do) when our environment is tidy. Something I tell myself, though, is that if I was living the life I *thought* I would like best, my ‘home’ would be more like a museum. I do prefer a lived-in space.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Tidy. Oh. I love tidy. So much. I often think how tidy life would be without kids–and like you–I’m like, umm, no, nope, don’t think so! Skip the museum!– Being an engineer, I’ll bet you love tidy even more than I do. Doctors make (nice) jokes about their engineering patients. They evaluate things totally different than others! So logically, sequentially, and organized! 🙂

      We pick up at least once a day. The kids DO appreciate it too!

      May your summer be going wonderfully!


  6. madranchwife

    Hello. I found you a couple of days ago via your grammar series recommendations. I apologize now for any typos. I once again cut my finger on the damn Spiralizer. I have a serious love/hate relationship with that thing.
    I just read through this post and identified with so much of what you wrote.
    I am a licensed veterinarian and a registered physical therapist. (PT school first, then veterinary school, then my own mixed animal practice and then….pregnant at 39. NOT in my career plan.) But I decided I wanted to be a mom…so here I am. We live “on the side of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere” as my 8 year old daughter tells anyone who asks. Thus the homeschooling.
    And I am such a perfectionist that I’m all wrapped up in whether or not I’m doing it right, or enough, or if I’m pushing her enough. Did we get in enough hours? How do I make up for all of the ski days? And “me time?” HA! And I only have one!
    I’ve still got the baby book to finish…not to mention the piles of projects and other things screaming my name.
    On top of that, we went grain-free last October and my daughter was found to also have egg and dairy allergies (on top of gluten, gliadin, whole wheat and other grains). Some days I feel I never leave the kitchen!!!
    Sorry to vent. I just feel as if you are a kindred spirit and understand the ache of wanting to be the career woman I was (using the brain that I thought I had) and loving every single second I get with my daughter. And I really don’t think a woman can do both…and do them both well. (I realize I just opened a can of worms with that statement, but there you go. I’m getting brave and going to voice my opinion.)
    Anyway. I’m so glad I found your blog. I have one also… though I don’t go into homeschooling details as you do. And I don’t get to it as frequently as I should. Story of my life.
    Neither is the floor mopped as frequently as it should be.
    Incidentally, I just ordered an art curriculum from Artistic Pursuits. It showed up today and my daughter insisted on getting started immediately! Even though we are officially “taking a break from school.” Really great stuff. I’d highly recommend it.

    Thanks again.

    Blessings be.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Debbie! Sorry it took me a bit to get a reply. Such a nice comment deserved more time than I was able to rally up the last few days! Whew! Summer! “On the side of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere…” LOL! Love it! I resonated with much of your reply! My baby books have great starts…my photo albums for the first two are not too bad, but the last two are getting further and further behind…food intolerances and food preparation are a priority here… I forget a few things I’d like to remember… there are about 100 things I want to read on and write on… Spiralizers about take my fingers off too… 🙂 And in the midst of all that, life is fun! I always want to keep my family a top priority, and yet, I must always remember that it’s my job to give to the world in my own ways, too–not just as a mother. But as you say, what I choose to do, I want to do with my whole heart and efforts–and for raising kids, I don’t really get another chance. And I don’t want to chew off more than I can do! I know, for me, my traditional job as a physician was not compatible with my homeschooling and keeping the house going the way I wanted. Good luck and many blessings to you! We should just sip some coffee or tea or water over our unmopped floors and scattered art supplies. 🙂


  7. 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??

    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.

      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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