We’re kicking off a new series here at Cheeky Bums for those of you just wondering about homeschooling! Maybe you’re wondering if it’s right for you? There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to homeschool, and we want to give you some information to make that decision a little easier! We have an amazing team of guest bloggers that will be popping in now and then to give you their unique perspectives and to answer some of your most curious and pressing questions about that weird sub-culture that homeschools their children…
I want to homeschool, but…my kids drive me crazy!
This may be one of the most common reactions that I get when homeschooling is mentioned…
“I love the idea – I think homeschooling is great. But I couldn’t be you. I just couldn’t handle being at home with my kids all the time. We would not get along, they’re so agravating and they drive me crazy!”
I actually ran into a mom-acquaintance at the grocery store once, in the middle of the day and that was her comment to me. She noticed that I had my kids with me during normal school hours, and so we explained that we were homeschoolers. In front of my children, she proceeded to gush about my supposed misery-mingled-with-insanity as she continued to lament on and on about her own children and how they are the thorn in her flesh. I could see the blood draining from my oldest daughter’s face because she wasn’t sure how to interpret this woman, who, to her, despised her own children.
I had to sit down with my daughter that evening and explain, in the gentlest terms possible, that the woman that we talked to today didn’t really hate her children. Mommies love their children, but that mommy was just really having a rough day and…I don’t even remember everything that I told my daughter as I tried to save face for this woman who had completely confused my children. I ended with assuring my daughter that I never have, and never will, talk about them like that, and that I don’t feel that way.
That other woman wasn’t a bad lady sweetheart, but she didn’t realized how hurtful her words could sound.
So parents, be aware.
Little ears are listening and they’re literalists, even if you are speaking figuratively or in jest.
Let’s start out gently…
1. You will still see other human beings aside from the 4-foot and under crowd. Don’t think of homeschooling families as being locked up for 24 hours each day as miserly hermits! Far from it!! Our school schedule is flexible and we complete our assignments and work in a fraction of the time that public schools are in session. Because of this, we are able to explore! We go to museums, play groups, co-ops for joint classes or trips, art lessons, sports practices, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, the winter months are taking their toll and I was more than willing to send the kids outside to play today. However, sometimes I actually think we’re too busy and we need to stay home more often! Homeschooling allows you the ability to come and go – to stay or leave -to be an introvert or an extrovert!
2. You are not alone! There are literally thousands of homeschool blogs, support groups (online and many that are forming in your local cities), co-ops, and forums. You’re not doing this alone, so don’t feel like you’re outnumbered! Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is not for the fainthearted, but it’s also not a torturous dungeon where you are locked in a room with primary colors and the ABCs plastered everywhere. When you get stuck, you’re unsure or you’re out of good ideas, there are homeschooling families everywhere that LOVE to share their ideas and stories from the trenches.
Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty…
3. If your children drive you crazy, it not a homeschooling issue, it’s a parenting issue. *gulp*…Please don’t think I’m not compassionate on this issue, because it really can be a huge deterrent to the decision of whether to homeschool or not. In reality, I should have a little understanding on the woman that we met that day in the grocery store. I know her children. I couldn’t stay home with them either.
If your children are uncontrollable, disrespectful, apathetic or generally unpleasant and YOU couldn’t be around them, then that’s your first clue that THEY NEED YOU. If the thought of spending time with your children makes you cringe, then they have been raised by their peers, not you. It’s our job as parents to shape their character, integrity, attitudes and reactions. Where there is a vacuum in those areas, then you have a very obvious diagnosis of where you need to intervene.
Truth be told, as much as mainstream culture tells me I shouldn’t, I enjoy my children. Not because they’re perfect…far from it. By spending day in and day out with them, I am investing in not just their education, but their character, beliefs, and personalities. My children make their own choices, but I can safely say that, if they are miserable people to be around and no one can stand them, I can take a large share of that blame.
4. The issue is not your children. Now, don’t get me wrong; of course I need a break sometimes and I give myself mommy-time-outs in the middle of the day. And yes, my house is in utter chaos 98% of the time.
But it’s beautiful chaos and, through surrender and prayer, I’ve learned that when my children drive me crazy, they aren’t the issue, I AM.
Through Feminism, we have been taught, or it has been insinuated that, as moms, we shouldn’t have to deal with this. Our kids are a nuisance and the anchor that is weighing down our dreams. We were meant to reach our full potential, and that is measured in business success, IQ, dollar signs, independence and self-reliance. We’ve been groomed by society and culture to subtly believe that any form of self-sacrifice outside of mid-night feedings and the occasional sick days that we have to take when our kids can’t go to school will damage us for life. Having children, they tell us, or going out of the way and investing in our children, is really the lesser of, well, all things. Because, they say, once the kids are out of the house, then you’ll be happy and you can do what you’ve always wanted to do.
My friends, those are all lies from the pit of hell.
Aside from our spouse, our children are the most precious and sacred reflection of Christ that we will experience on this earth. Because of them, we, as their parents, have the unique ability to become better people. I hate it when my children complain about fairness, but how often do I do the same thing? “God, it’s not fair…I had a corporate job. I could dress up and not smell like curdled milk. I remember a time that I showered regularly.”
I am learning daily that my children are not an interruption to my life, they are my life.
There are a million things that I could drum up to complain about. My son spilled the crayon box this morning. Then he dumped his milk on the carpet. Then he hit his sister. Then he stripped naked and I can’t find his diaper. (These all happened this morning, by the way. I’m pretty sure he threw his diaper in the trash, as he’s fascinated with the trash can right now. But, if you come to visit, you’ve been warned.)
But really, it doesn’t matter.
No one can drive me crazy if I don’t let them. Our emotions will dominate our lives if we let them, and our immediate family will always be the ones to push the first buttons. Anger, frustration, annoyance, bitterness, burnout…all of these are real and tangible, but none of them happen unless I allow them to.
Don’t allow it.
You have a choice. Our feelings, as justified as we can make them out to be, are still only that: feelings.
Once we can learn these things, as painful and counter-cultural as they may be, our lives will change.
And so will our children, whether they are homeschooled or not. Because really, in this instance, the issue isn’t homeschooling…