Back to Home School
There was an internet meme going around a few weeks ago showing a mom jumping with joy over the first day of school while her kids stood next to her, frowning. I imagined she was so excited because she’s getting back to her regularly scheduled program: a neater house, lunch with friends, time for hobbies or volunteering, mani-pedis and spa days (hey, it’s my fantasy), or other self-fulfilling pursuits. Sans bébés. Her kids not wanting summer to end.
I couldn’t really relate to the photo.
First, there’s really no “first day of school” for us. We’ve been doing a little school here and there over the summer and we’ve eased back into our regular day. So the first day of school is a non-event. In fact, the day everyone else was posting their back-to-school photos on Facebook, I snapped a picture of my kid too. In bed. Sound asleep.
Second…well, second is kinda obvious, isn’t it? I don’t have that kind of (fantasy?) “me time” during the day because we home school. No large block of time where I can do whatever I want, for I have a child to teach. So, “me time” has to happen differently and on a more irregular basis.
How on Earth Do You Do It?
In an earlier article, I talked about the mechanics of how we make homeschooling work, but there’s another aspect – my sanity – that I struggle with the most. When people ask me “How on Earth do you do it?” they mostly mean the emotional and psychological part of the deal. How do I keep from going insane trying to teach my kids academics along with teaching them pick up their toys? When do I find time for myself?
When I DO get away, I feel guilty because it’s like I’m saying, “I don’t want to be around my kids” even though most people would think “of COURSE you need some time away!” But see, if the kids were “in school” I would have kid-free time that is *imposed on* me. But my kid-free time? It’s self initiated. *I* have to make the decision to leave the house, so I feel guilty for the implication of what “getting out” means. So, instead of having time that’s guiltless, I have time that’s guilt-filled.
I really need to quit listening to that voice. “I don’t want to be around my kids” is harsh and really needs reframing: I need a break from my kids so I can be a better teacher/mom. Because if I don’t get out of here I’m going to LOSE MY FREAKIN’ MIND!
Now. That’s better.
The Long View
So, on days where I’m feeling less…balanced… I take a break for a bit. Recollect my thoughts. Wait for my husband to get home so I can get out of the house for a while (usually to run errands because shopping without kids asking for a gazillion things or asking a gazillion questions is a luxury I enjoy even if it’s just grocery shopping). Or I mow the yard. Anything to take a break, people!
With a little clearer head and better perspective, I remember why we’re doing this. It’s going to be tough some days. It’s going to be rewarding some days. Some days will be productive, some not. And some days even the dog gets on my nerves.
And I still wonder about the woman in the meme jumping for joy… what IS she doing during the day?[themify_box style=”lavender rounded” ]Looking for more topics about homeschooling, specifically in Huntsville & Madison County? See all the posts in this series HERE. [/themify_box]
Karen Gann had a marketing communications career in high tech before taking a sharp turn into stay-at-home-momdom and homeschooling. She grew up in the Tennesse Valley, lives in Huntsville, and is wife to the wittiest man alive, mother to two head-strong and independent girls (they're adorable, really), and human caregiver to the cats. Addictions include Facebook, Pinterest, NYC's Radio Lab, coffee, food, and politics (not necessarily in that order but sometimes all at the same time). She's also the marketing director for Pandia Press in her spare time.
I think your imagination is really unrealistic to believe that these mothers regularly scheduled days involve mani/pedis and lunch with friends…how about they have been paying for childcare and camps and whatever other activities they can afford for their children to do in the summer while they are at work? These options are also very limiting. Drop off at 9AM? Need earlier? $$$ Talk about your guilt?! I appreciate your struggle as a mom who has chosen to homeschool but for many it is not a choice. Single parent, single income. No built in summer babysitter. To post a pic of your sleeping child is really a slap in the face to those who need to wake that sleeping child we have to get them to school on time. Your audience is small for this article I suggest broadening your life experiences. I hope that gives you some insight on what that mom is doing all day. Best wishes.
Allison – as an editor here at RCM (although not the author of this article) I’d like to point out that numerous times in this very article Karen notes that the mani/pedis and lunch with friends activities she refers to are her fantasy and not necessarily based in any reality. The purpose of this local blog is to share the experiences of all kinds of local parents and therefore we include homeschooling not to offend those who don’t have that choice but to offer connection for those who can relate or insight for those considering it as an option. We’ve also published numerous articles about the struggles of single parents (https://www.rocketcitymom.com/single-with-amazing-kids/, https://www.rocketcitymom.com/why-i-wont-glamourize-single-motherhood/) and working parents (https://www.rocketcitymom.com/pta-working-parents/, https://www.rocketcitymom.com/working-while-parenting-maintaining-your-sanity-and-your-job/, https://www.rocketcitymom.com/working-moms-resolutions/). Perhaps those would be more to your taste?
I agree with you Jennifer Breuer. I think Allison really missed the point entirely. But these days you can’t say one thing without someone being offended or feeling virtually “slapped in the face”. As for the free mommy time without the kiddos, I’d understand completely why she’d feel guilt when it’s her choice to leave and have alone time. On another note, comparing one person’s daily struggles with another person who may have it worse, doesn’t invalidate the feelings the person who, in comparison, has it better. Their feelings, emotions, everything are validated by the reasoning behind them, not by having it worse than another person.
I can’t say for Allison, but I can for myself when I say that I truly enjoyed your Article, Karen Gann. I see where you’re coming from and I totally understand. You’re writing style alone is entertaining because I feel like you’re speaking directly to me as an individual, not writing a story… if that makes sense. haha.