"I'm ready to put them all in school," a dear friend and new-ish homeschooling dad told me last week. "There is never a moment of peace. It's too cold to send them out to play, they keep waking up the new baby, and I work from home and can't get anything done. I'm thinking that it would be easier to just put them in school."
"We all feel that way sometimes." I told him."There are days I'm grateful there are no gypsies going down my street, because I would have sold them the children along time ago. We all have days and weeks, sometimes, where we want to quit."
"You should write that ," he said, "because no one ever says it."
So, here I am, saying it.
We all have moments where we want to quit. Now someone has said it out loud. I'm not sure why we don't talk about the frustration level or that we all have days where we fantasize about the magic yellow bus which comes and takes children away for almost an entire day at a time. I don't know about everyone else, but during the times of year when the weather prohibits sending them outside, it can easily be several times a week.
|Do you think they'll find me in here?|
This life is not an easy one. I love it and think it has been an incredible blessing for our family, but I won't lie to you...this is one of the hardest things I've ever done. If you are feeling that way, you are completely normal.
I think that the feeling of wanting to hide is not a bad thing. I know it sounds weird to say that, but it's a great reality check for you. How often are you locking yourself in the bathroom for some "alone" time? If it's more than once ever couple of weeks, you might need to sit down and reassess, because your burnout early warning system is sounding the alarm. It's the perfect opportunity to take stock of where you are, and make sure that this is still something you want to do.
Have you thought about why you are homeschooling in the time between when you made the decision to do it and now? Is this still working for you? Have you given yourself adequate amounts of non-teaching grown-up time? Have you taken the time to establish a support system for yourself? Do you have people you can call on the days which feel as if you're being pecked to death by a duck? Can and will your husband talk you down off of the ceiling? How 'bout a close friend? Do you let them?
Is homeschooling still the best choice for your family, not just educationally but mental health-wise, too? Is it meeting the needs of everyone in the family? Did you remember to count yourself in "everyone"? What can you do to make your life, including homeschooling, work better for you? What three things could you change in the next week which would make it easier? (Mom's night out, play dates with other families, a different curriculum, taking more breaks, a regular phone date with a girlfriend, a brisk walk alone or with your husband in the morning or at night, throwing away all the markers in the house...that's not just me...right?)
The rewards of teaching our children at home are so great, that it is easy to overlook the cost to ourselves. It's so very easy to get in the habit of putting everyone first so often, that Mom seems to fall off of the list of priorities altogether. While we can be absolutely certain that this is the very best decision for our children (and there are days when I second guess even that statement), and still want to just sit down and stop for a day (or a month). This is important work, and it's hard work. Calling it hard doesn't make it less important. There is strength in being able to call things what they are.
Too often, we fall into the trap of presenting a smiling face and united front to the rest of the world and we ignore the dirty little secrets about homeschooling. It's dishonest to not mention them at least every once in a while. We're not Stepford families marching perfectly in lockstep in our perfect lives. We put enormous pressure on ourselves to look and act a certain way, and maintaining that facade, even just for our families, is exhausting. Let's start today by just admitting that this is one of the biggest hardest things we've ever taken on. Let's be honest that while some days are amazing and wonderful, there are some where selling the children sounds like a brilliant option. Let's be honest with each other about where we really are, because we're all there from time to time, and it only makes it worse to feel like you're hiding under the bed all alone.