A Difficult Day Does Not Make You a Homeschool Failure

The phone is ringing, two kids are fighting, and you’re trying to unclog a toilet, you know, one of those days.

Another load of laundry, explaining long division, and sitting patiently while a child sounds out c-a-t, haven’t you been doing this for the last ten years?

Yes……yes, you have. Some days it’s beautiful and glorious, and on others, you don’t think you can take another second, but somehow you get up the next day and do it all again.

All the Questions

Many people ask themselves, and us, why do we homeschool? How can we stand to be around our kids all the time? How do we have the patience? How can we be sure they’re learning all they need to learn?

Most of the time we shrug our shoulders and chuckle. If they only knew how many times we ask ourselves those same questions, how often we struggle to muster up the patience to face another tantrum, and how we always wonder whether we are making the right decision and if it will all be worth it in the end.

Start With Why

It seems like homeschooling families usually start for one reason, yet continue for an entirely different reason.

I began homeschooling because I couldn’t stand the thought of my precious infant being away from me. Yes, she was only six months old, but this was already on my mind. Also, I felt I could do just as good a job of teaching my children. It was also around this time that lockdowns and shooter drills started.No thank you.  I could list more, but you get the idea.

However, over the years my perspective has changed. It isn’t about home being a safer, better environment than school, but that it isn’t school at all. It’s not that I could do a better job of teaching my children, but questioning the premise that didactic teaching is necessary for learning. I’ve gone from school and forced learning being an obvious societal institution, to questioning the whole idea of compulsory education.

So where does this leave me on the days when I have bus stop fantasies and a house that’s never clean?

Comfort in the Commitment

This probably sounds strange, but it’s oddly comforting. You see, I’m committed. I’m in this for the long haul. If a child wanted to attend school, we’d make that happen, but this is a path I believe in. I’m not taking it year by year, and I didn’t give it a test run in Kindergarten.

By thinking this way, it makes the hard days a little easier. There is always tomorrow, or next week, or next year. I don’t have a homeschool vision that includes school years, grade-level curricula, or standardized test scores to tell me I’m doing a good job.

So at the times when you think you can’t go another day or take another step, how do you find the strength to get up and do it again?

Moving Forward

First, be ok with feeling this way. Just because you feel this way doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a homeschool mom. It certainly doesn’t mean everyone would be better off in school Everyone has those days and it will get better.

Second, consider why you are homeschooling. If you’re trying to do school better than the school, you may be forever disappointed in yourself.  Embrace that it isn’t school at all and that your kids will wander away to the bathroom and kitchen precisely because they have the freedom to do so and isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Third, take a break, get out of the house, watch a movie, or bake some cookies, you’re free to do these things. Go on a field trip, jump on the trampoline, or send everyone off to have some quiet reading time so mommy can pull herself together, you won’t be “behind.” One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that we are in charge of our time.

All homeschool moms have self-doubt. We have the days where the toilet is overflowing, a child is crying, and the UPS man is ringing the doorbell, all at the same time. It’s part of the job description.

See Your Strength

How strong must we be to keep doing it when everyone tells us it’s crazy? How determined are we when we don’t even mention our struggles for fear of someone telling us to put them in school? How courageous are we to face these concerns and decide over and over again that we will continue to do what is best for our children and family?

So to all the homeschool moms, you are not a failure. You are doing a valuable job, and your kids are thriving.

There will be hard days, but they will be overshadowed by the joy of the time spent with you children, clogged toilets and all.


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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

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