Things I Hate About Homeschooling
You know it’s February when I start talking bad about homeschooling!
You guys know I love homeschooling, right? I share the homeschooling way of life with everyone who will listen! I’ve posted on this blog a million, zillion times how much I love homeschooling.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s not entirely fluffy bunnies and sparkly unicorns. But it’s usually pretty dang good.
Not today. And not this week.
It’s been so cold and snowy, the kids haven’t played outside in weeks.
I’m mainly blaming this rant on February. It’s something about winter having dragged on and on for months, forcing us to look at the same four walls and each other while deficient in Vitamin D, exercise and fresh air. February is just the doldrums!
So I’m gonna get real and tell you all the things I hate about homeschooling. And I’m not even going to moderate my emotions by changing hate to strongly dislike. Are you ready?
1. Never getting to be alone in my own house
I can’t even be alone in my own bedroom, or my own bathroom for that matter. If I disappear for more than 3 seconds, someone invariably seeks me out. If I lock the door, they wail or pound loudly.
Often, I feel on the verge of insanity from the teasing and complaining and nit-picking amongst the kids. It’s like Max’s rumpus from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ over here. Even the laughter, piano practicing and joyful noise really wear on me at times.
My craving for alone time has driven me to late nights and early mornings, since that’s the only time the house is quiet. But even then, I’m not truly alone. Plus, the lack of sleep contributes to the insanity.
People always tell me that in 20 years I’m going to have way too much alone time and that I’ll miss the constant ruckus.
A million nopes! And anyway, with eight kids of my own I’m likely to have a whole herd of grandchildren I can visit.
2. The mess
In the same breath that people always tell me I’m going to miss the ruckus, they tell me I’m going to miss washing sticky handprints off my walls and windows.
Will I also miss the elaborate projects strewn across every horizontal surface? And tripping over toys in the dark (as I’m creeping about my house trying to satiate my need for alone time)? And stepping on legos?
Will I miss the holes dug in my carefully tended lawn? And having to round all of my tools up from the nether regions of the house every time I need to fix something? Will I miss fixing and replacing all the things, all the time?
I’m so sure I’ll miss accidentally sitting on the squishy diaper that got left on the drivers seat of my car. And having to replace the entertainment unit because someone shoved 5DVD’s at once into the slot.
At this point, I’m honestly pretty sure I’ll love having a clean house so much that I’ll never want to tend my grandchildren. That might make me a horrible person, but it’s the truth!
3. Eating like hobbits
I swear I’m not exaggerating. We start each day with first breakfast and second breakfast, followed by elevenses. Then comes luncheon, then afternoon tea, then dinner, followed by supper then dessert. Some days I think I’ll die of cooking.
And the cooking isn’t the worst part. You should try grocery shopping for all these hobbits! I always take an older child with me to help me wrangle the carts. I push one cart and pull another, while my child operates the third cart. Yes, three carts. And they’re all full to bursting!
My hobbits have hollow legs. If I had a dollar bill for every time the cashier asked me if was feeding a small country, I could actually pay my grocery bill.
4. Being accosted by total strangers
I’m not a really friendly person to begin with. As an extreme introvert, I rarely initiate conversation, and I struggle to respond appropriately when someone else initiates a conversation.
I’m great at math and science. I play the piano pretty well. I’m a decent artist. But I’m no conversationalist.
Imagine how uncomfortable it is when I get stopped at the grocery store to defend my reasons for homeschooling to the loquacious elderly gentleman who owes his life to the military career that only came to fruition because of his high school diploma.
I’m not usually an argumentative person, but so many of the comments I’ve heard make me feel irrationally defensive.
5. Impromptu quizzes administered by neighbors and church members
I’ve never been able to understand how other perfectly kind, well-meaning people feel like they have the right to quiz my kiddos. One former church leader, a high-school principal by vocation, would actually invite my children, one at a time, into his office to quiz them about our homeschool.
He wanted to know how long we spent on school each day and what we studied. He then gave them little reading tests and quizzed them on their math facts.
The funny thing is that my kids didn’t tell me about it right away because they didn’t think it was as weird as I did. It’s huge that they didn’t think it was very weird! They’d been subjected to impromptu quizzes so often that they didn’t think it was weird. It’s like the Stockholm Syndrome for homeschoolers.
Most of these well-meaning people think they are providing what they consider to be necessary oversight, I’m sure. I guess that they can’t fathom that a regular old mom would be capable of teaching her children.
But my kids have since been informed that quizzing is way up there on the weird spectrum. They don’t have to answer questions from anyone, and they do need to tell me about quizzing situations that happen when I’m not around.
I can’t imagine that February is really a terrific month for anyone at my latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. Or farther North — shudder!
My kids and I do ski a few times every winter, and we build a snowman or two the first time it snows. But the magic only lasts for about half a day, and then we’re back inside, staring at the same four walls again.
As a 17-year homeschooling veteran, I know that February is burnout season. I always know it’s coming but there’s no way to prepare. Every year it hits me like a ton of bricks.
Now that my youngest is 5 and I no longer have to haul around a diaper bag the size of Texas, I think we’re going to rename February Mexico. We’ll leave for Cancun January 31st of every year, call school a giant Spanish intensive, and return home, Vitamin D replenished, March 1st. The month of Mexico, situated between January and March, will become a favorite.
Now to find someone to take care of the cows while we’re gone.
7. The nagging
This should really go higher on this list. As in, I hate nagging almost as much as I hate never getting to be alone in my own house.
Being the enforcer of all things (ALL THINGS, did you hear me?) is more dreadful than sitting through an eternal opera. And i really loathe opera.
It feels like nothing gets done without me nagging. Let’s be honest, folks. If I didn’t live in this house — if it were just my family living here, minus me — it would be a disaster of epic proportions.
I love how Marmee in Little Women handles her girls’ lack of contributions to the household welfare. She gently and peacefully allows the house to grow dirtier and dirtier until the girls have an epiphany and pitch in the help out.
Mrs. Berenstain does the same thing in The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Chores. And she gets results, too. One afternoon, Papa, Sister and Brother get so exasperated that they clean the filthy house from top to bottom while Mama is at her gardening club.
My house would have to fall down like the Parthenon before anyone realized it needed some attention. And chores aren’t the only things I have to nag about.
It’s just flat out exhausting.
8. The pay stinks
I know that hugs from chubby, two-year-olds are the best pay in the whole world. I know that my work is measured in decades. I know that the family relationships we are building will last throughout eternity, unlike any measly dollars I could possibly earn.
I know all of that. But it won’t buy me a new vehicle when mine is on its last legs. And it won’t pay the mortgage. And it won’t take me to Mexico every February.
And the biggest, stinkiest, part of the whole thing is that my taxes are helping to pay teachers at the local school while I buy thousands of dollars for curriculum to educated my own children every August. I pay out-of-pocket for orchestra, sports teams and dance, in addition to paying for those programs to exist at the local public school.
I don’t want to be paid by the state or federal government, because I don’t want their oversight. But it would be nice to not have to pay into a system I neither believe in nor use.
9. The overwhelming sense of responsibility
I’ve heard it called the mental load of mothers: the relentless list of tasks, groceries, pickups and dropoffs, classes, lessons, meals, volunteer assignments, meetings, notes and doctor’s exams. Well, there’s another whole mental load that comes with homeschooling.
Not only are homeschool moms responsible for all the mom stuff, which is a lot, but we are also responsible for educating our children. In addition to keeping bodies healthy and clean, we need to prepare minds.
We start worrying about college in kindergarten, because we shoulder the responsibility of preparation. And we have the burden of all that accompanies readiness for college, like academic requirements and tracking dual enrollment credits.
I’ve missed a lot of sleep and cried a lot of tears at the overwhelm.
10. Not knowing.
I’m a data person. When I began this whole homeschooling experiment, I read every book on homeschooling and education I could get my hands on. I was looking for some sort of statistic that looked promising. I felt desperate to find a chapter somewhere titled ‘75% of Homeschoolers Succeed in Life’.
I didn’t even need a guarantee — a substantial chance would have been enough. I mean, it would just be dreadful if I wrecked these poor kids!
What if I wreck them?
Alas, I found nothing. So I was forced to step off the edge into the dark with nothing but faith.
You’d think that I’d only have to make that choice once, but no. Every week it’s a new thing. There are newfound advantages to beginning formal education later as opposed to earlier and experts are now touting the advantages of conceptual math over procedural math, and whole language is making a comeback.
Which is really better for my child?
I guess the thing that keeps me going is that the experts seem to not know even more than I don’t know. So turning my children over to the so-called experts is no better a guarantee than anything I can muster up.
But it’s still hard to not know!
My Final Thoughts on All the things I Hate About Homeschooling
You know, making this list actually really helped me to feel better about today, and about the remaining two days of February. You know why? Because as I was writing I was reminded of the flip-side of so many of these things I hate about homeschooling.
Not knowing has forced me to rely on Heavenly Father and has built my faith. The sense of overwhelm has dropped me to my knees in prayer. I’m grateful for good food to feed my little hobbits, and that I have a beautiful house to never get to be alone in.
And I guess I can even be grateful that there is a February. Because February makes me grateful for May!
Pin this list of things to hate about homeschooling for later!
What do you dislike about homeschooling? Please share in the comments below. Bonus if they’re funny — we homeschool moms can always use a good laugh!