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How many of you decided to homeschool partly because you wanted lots of family togetherness?
Ok, now fess up. How many of you, at some point in your homeschooling journey, have looked at these wonderful people you have all this togetherness with and have thought seriously, what in the world was I thinking?
Be honest—have you ever wanted to pull over the car and run away screaming because the people taking this homeschool journey with you are making you crazy?
You’re not alone—literally. When families make the decision to homeschool, they’re also making the decision to spend a lot of time together. And there is some stuff that comes along with that.
Advantages to being together all the time:
Being together all the time is great, for the simple fact that you know each other. You really know the people that you live with. How great is that?
A family I spoke with recently said when they pulled their kids from public school, it took their kids a whole year to learn how to be with each other. While in public school, they were all separated for a good chunk of the day and they really didn’t know each other. They had to learn how to be together.
Being together all the time means we understand what makes each other tick and how things click. That’s a huge advantage!
Disadvantages to being together all the time:
We need to be honest about what it means to become a homeschool family. Relatively speaking, we really are together all. the. time.
We are all different creatures. We have our own quirks and personalities and bits about ourselves that are easily handled in small doses but can send each other over the edge when we get too much.
Our brains work differently. We have different likes and dislikes. We are not carbon copies of each other. And while that really makes life a lot more interesting, it can also make thing very challenging.
Relationships within a home that schools can be tricky!
Might there be some things that drive us nuts about being the family that’s always together? Yes. Yes, there is. Every relationship within a home that schools is affected by the decision to homeschool.
What do your kids do when they are sick of each other? This probably depends on the kid, their gender, their age…lots of things. But your kids start to do something when they are sick and tired of being around each other, and we need to:
- a) pay attention to it, and
- b) honor the fact they don’t always want to be together.
Think back to when you were growing up. Would you have wanted to be homeschooled? Academically and opportunity-wise, I think I would have. But how would the experience have looked knowing I would have been around my sister and parents all. day. long?
Now, this is nothing against my sister or parents at all. It’s simply a reminder that we need to put ourselves in the shoes our kids are wearing.
In the beginning of our homeschool journey, I taught high-schoolers at a local homeschool co-op. One day we talked about their experiences of having always been homeschooled. They all agreed that they loved homeschooling: the opportunities that came along with it, and the freedom and flexibility they were given to explore different things. But they wished their parents understood that they really wanted more time away from their siblings and their parents—especially as they got older.
That is what our kids are dealing with. They are with their siblings all. the. time. Remember—unless you were homeschooled yourself—you’re sending your kids through an experience that you haven’t experienced yourself.
Strive to show them a little grace.
I remember when I was finally okay admitting I didn’t always want be with my kids.
When we decide to homeschool, I think some of us feel like we’re supposed to enjoy being with our kids every single second. And if we don’t, we worry there is something wrong with us or that we’re doing this homeschooling thing all wrong.
Friends, that’s not the case at all.
It has been said that children most frequently test the people they feel most comfortable with. Aw, isn’t that sweet? Does it give you the warm fuzzies?
I would say since our decision to homeschool, my kids have located buttons to push on me that were not there before we became homeschoolers. Trust me, it’s not always warm fuzzies here.
Some people will say that being mom and being a homeschool teacher is the same thing. I mean, you’re basically just spending a little more time with your kids, right?
Well. I disagree wholeheartedly.
Yes, I was there when my kids learned to walk and talk, and there are things that I’ve taught them as mom as they’ve grown.
But I still think there is a difference between being mom and homeschooling teacher. As mom, if my kids were in public school, we could fight about toothpaste messes in the bathroom and who forgot to feed the dog and who left their clothes in the hallway…and then we could separate for nine hours and have a cooling off period.
As mom and homeschooling teacher, we don’t get that cooling off period. We get to fight about all those things and then say, “hey! Let’s hold hands now and learn long division!”
Again, most of us don’t know what it’s like to be homeschooled. We don’t know what it’s like to have every single thing given out by our parents: chores, discipline, permission to do stuff, social calendar, money, food, schoolwork, due dates, expectations, fun…everything! That’s what our kids are dealing with. And that’s what we are dealing with.
I love and adore my children. I bet all of you love and adore your children, too. But being with your children all day, everyday can sometimes be overwhelming. Seeing their quirks right up close all the time can be sort of…suffocating.
And not just for us. For them, too.
While writing my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick, I had the opportunity to interview a lot of fathers in homeschooling families. Some of the gripes I heard from the guys about their homeschooling partners in crime were:
- I have to explain and defend everything you do (to other family members).
- You and the kids are like a secret society.
- You are teaching the kids in a way that I don’t agree with.
- You are always around the kids so you are always stressed out.
- I wasn’t the one who chose to do this, so why are you getting mad I’m not teaching?
Sometimes a homeschool mom can get frustrated with dad, in a sort of extended stay-at-home mom syndrome. Sometimes mom gets into this homeschooling thing and doesn’t realize how long of a job it’s going to be. You want to have your life back and he’s off in the world doing stuff.
Or there is the issue of finances. Or dealing with extended family who think you should have gone back to work ten years ago. Or an educational issue you’re struggling to deal with that isn’t working out. All of these things (and others) can play into issues within a couple.
Sometimes we don’t work hard enough at being family.
There is a crazy thing that happens when we become a family. Have you ever noticed that sometimes we are nicer to strangers than we are to the people who live with us? We feel comfortable with our family. We can be real because they love us for who we are and we don’t have to pretend. There is safety and comfort at home for a reason…but that can be abused.
What we don’t want to happen (but sometimes does) is that being nice becomes a show for other people and we don’t want to waste time with formalities or a simple please and thank you and good job for our family because…they know we love them, right? They know what we mean.
Sometimes family gets what’s leftover, and sometimes that feeds the annoyance we have with always being together.
Things to remember if you’re feeling frustrated with family:
- Consider this: we all have different issues. The issues that annoy you about your family members might not be an issue for them. And because it’s not an issue for them, they don’t realize they’re annoying you. Sometimes the issue is the difference between how males and females process things. Communication is huge.
- What else is bothering you? Are you in a mood? If you are tired, bored, sick, frustrated about finances, or dealing with major changes in your life, it might not matter what your family does—you’re going to be annoyed. Be honest with your family. It’s totally okay to say I’m feeling really overwhelmed right now and I’m having a hard time dealing with you. It’s better than kids worrying what they did wrong.
- They are not purposely out to get you. Your kids do not wake up and say, “I wonder what I can do to annoy mom today”. Seriously. Your spouse does not wonder, “Hmmm, what can I say when I get home from work to set off my wife?” Check your internal dialogue. Are you assuming things from what they’re saying?
- Stop keeping score. What are you keeping score for? My son did this. My daughter did this. My spouse did this. Listen. There is no score card to redeem for points at the end of the journey. Keep it in perspective.
- Look in the mirror. What are you doing to annoy your family? Be brave enough to ask your family what this is! You may find out you’re doing things to annoy your family members that you weren’t even aware you were doing or didn’t think could be annoying!
- Remember the golden rule. Treat each other the way you wanted to be treated. Check your tone. If your kids/spouse talked to you the way you talk to them, would you like it?
Living a life together means experiencing together all that life has to offer – the genuine joys and hardships, the good times and the not-so-wonderful. Not everything that shows up is going to be sparkly rainbows, but you know what? It’s okay. You’ve got this. Know why?
You’re a family.
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