A friend recently asked this question:
What do you give up, in order to homeschool? Yes, we GAIN a lot in return… but every homeschooling family weighs difficult choices, and makes real sacrifices, in order to make it happen.
So what do you give up to make it happen in your home?
Here’s my answer:
A second income.
Privacy. I’m not talking about being able to take a shower or go to the bathroom alone, really. Now that I have older kids to help with younger ones, those kinds of challenges for personal/bodily privacy are not a challenge.
What I mean is: I no longer have a separate life of my own. They know all the things, including the embarrassing/less delightful details, about my life. They know if I’m playing Spades for hours a day. They hear snippets of conversations and suspect tension in a relationship with a family member or friend. They know if I’ve slacked on house cleaning. They hear when I yell in a tone of voice that ought to embarrass me enough that I never, ever use it again but yet I still use it.
And as they start to get older, these people are no longer little people but they are co-travelers on the path of life. They are (increasingly) grown people, observing my faith, observing my pride, observing my choices, and evaluating me as a human being.
And it definitely violates that barrier of privacy that comes up in the little-kid years when they primarily just need physical-parenting.
Quiet, and time to myself. Though I’m working to prioritize this more, it’s still an ongoing struggle for me.
It’s hard to not have full say over whether or not I get the quiet, “me-time” and time to process that I desire or even feel I need.
Control. Which is ironic, but true… I’ve given up control over a lot of things because they grow more competent and take over areas I used to enjoy and oversee with complete control.
More than one vehicle.
We drive Clementine, just Clementine.
She’s great in some ways, and crusty and rusty in others. But she’s ours and gets us from A to B.
Netflix/Redbox/fancy coffee drinks. Unless we get gift cards/freebies, these are only rarely enjoyed.
Furniture without fabric rips or broken pieces. 11 people use ours, all day long… compared to the average family of 4 who uses theirs a few hours a day, max. Even sturdy wood is no match for 7 boys’ use, 24/7. We go through furniture, especially couches, at a rate that has surprised me.
A clean house… it may be clean for a sec, but there is no chance it’s going to *stay* clean. People actually live here, and use the stuff that we have. It’s a perpetual cycle, never one-and-done.
And this is especially true when your family is bottom-heavy– packed with little people… before the little people start turning in to big people. With many little people constantly working against a homeschooling mom, a clean house is not achievable in the same way it is for families who technically “live” in their homes but actually live life everywhere else and sleep/tag base at home before heading back out.
Time for leisurely phone calls with family/friends. I seriously have gone years of my life with less than one phone call a month.
The ability to regularly write, and prioritize the pursuit of my own interests when I please. Many times I have taken full years off from blogging/writing. Many times I have had to pause outside freelance projects. Many times I have wonderful book ideas in my head and no opportunity to sit down and write them out.
The mental freedom of not having the pressure for educating our children, their future career possibilities, their future ability to spell, communicate, and compute resting on my shoulders.
I’m pretty laid-back about this stuff in general because I remember that it’s not been that long since the time that even very well-educated people would not start formal schooling until they were nearing 8-10 years old. And then they would emerge 6 or 8 years later, able to read in Latin and do advanced maths, having engaged with all the classics, and ready for university and/or entrepreneurship. So, I’m OK with things being laid back, especially in the elementary school years.
But this one is a particularly heavy weight, the older they get. Their gifts come out, and their weaknesses come out, and you begin seeing poor handwriting, or misspelled words, or hearing various foibles. If these same challenges presented themselves in a schooled-someplace-else-student, we’d all likely chalk it up to “well, all kids are different. Some kids just don’t spell well.” “Math’s not her thing.” Or, “some boys just have messy handwriting.”
But when you’ve done all the schooling, it’s hard not to carry those expectations and hopes as a continual WEIGHT, on your mind and on your heart.
Related to the last one: Mental space. There’s just often not much room for other stuff… even stuff I greatly greatly enjoy… or for new people/relationships… even people I wish I could spend more time with… because my brain and life and mental capacities are quite devoted to this endeavor of educating and raising up these people God has given us.
It is taking LONGER to remember names and family circumstances (who belongs with who) at the new church we’ve joined. I am just finding that there is less “extra” in my brain right now. Details that used to be retainable for me, don’t always make the cut. I forget things more easily.
It’s all worth it. But it is not nothing.
What about you? If you homeschool, what would your answer be?