Do you hate homeschooling? Are you waking up dreading another day at home with your kids? Instead of living the ideal homeschool life you read about, you spend your days dreaming of all the other things you would like to be doing. That’s real life and I know some of you feel that way, at least occasionally. If that’s where you find yourself, yet conviction or circumstances require you to hang in there, you can change your mindset. Here are some ways you can talk to yourself and change your thinking about homeschooling when your thoughts are dominated by wishing you could get out of it.
Let’s be real
I love homeschooling. But there are plenty of tasks, many moments, that I would skip if I could.
The truth is there are many days I wake up and I don’t want to do the work before me that day. If only I woke up every day and my kids said something like this:
- Mom, I know you’ve sacrificed a lot to teach me at home. Today I will work with great diligence on every subject you have planned for me.
- Mom, you have trained me so well. I will instantly obey you with a smile on face. Today is the day you don’t have to ask anything twice.
- Mom, I know hard work is good for me. May I do more chores to help you?
- Mom, I love brussel sprouts.
- Mom, I plan to never play a computer game again. I realize you are right. Video games are rotting my brain, and sapping me of all creativity. I can’t believe I’ve wasted so much of my life.
Imagine what kind of homeschool mom I would be if my kids said this to me?! I wouldn’t be angry or raise my voice. My kids would leap over their own academic hurdles and I wouldn’t be groaning in mystified despair. No hiding in the bathroom for a moment’s peace. I wouldn’t be desperate in prayer. At night I’d go to bed more energized than when I woke up, but fall asleep instantly. I’d wake up refreshed and be ready to do it again the next day.
Nobody lives like that. Don’t let social media lie to you.
Real homeschooling is hard. Sometimes it stinks. In real life sometimes you dream of popping your kids on the bus when it roars past your house at 7:15. Except you don’t and instead spend all day with your children. And the next day. And the next. Forever.
Maybe you feel like you hate it. But deep down inside you know this is one of the most important things you have ever done. It’s so important you cannot quit.
Is homeschooling a Biblical command?
Do you think homeschooling is explicitly commanded in the Bible? It’s not.
Genuine Christians read the same Bible I do, and choose to send their kids to public school or Christian school. You can’t point to the chapter and verse that command homeschooling as we do it in America today.
However, my husband and I don’t need an explicit Biblical command. Instead we read all the verses about how God intends for us to raise our children, and homeschooling rises to the top as an excellent way to obey His commands. We can look at academic and social benefits, for example the statistics compiled by Brian Ray, and see compelling reasons to homeschool. Or if we choose to measure free time, space for creativity and wonder, a homeschool day provides a lot of freedom. The list of benefits goes on and on, and I highly recommend you take time to think about them (scroll down on this post to read some of our reasons). Using the Bible and a little logic, I can still arrive at the conclusion that homeschooling is vitally important in the lives of my children. So vital, in fact, that except in an extreme circumstance, we consider it necessary for our family.
Once I consider it necessary, once I consider myself “stuck,” then I shift my thinking and look around for ways to make it work.
Figuring out how to make it work
As soon as you have shifted your thinking and are focused on dealing with the things you hate about homeschooling you’re just around the corner from change. You may have to make outward changes to curricula, schedules, or training. But maybe your attitude needs more adjustment than any other component of your homeschool. You are responsible for your own attitude and you can change your attitude regardless of outward circumstances.
Here are a few things I regularly remind myself of when homeschooling is hard:
Nobody loves going to work every day
Are you wishing you had a “real” job and then you’d be happy? I have yet to meet a single person who loves their job so much they wake up every day and can’t wait to be at work. I know people who like their job most days. Or they like most of the things they do at work, but can’t stand one or two tasks. I know workaholics who continuously stress about how much there is to do, but that’s not pleasure. Everybody has days when they work as nothing more than a matter of self-discipline.
I am not alone when I wake up in the morning and think, “I don’t want to do today.” Lots of people wake up and don’t want to go to their job that day. I’m in good company. And responsible adults get up and do it any way, whether it’s paid employment or work in the home.
God has not called us to an easy life
Sometimes I get caught up in thinking about how hard my homeschool days are. The question isn’t whether homeschooling is easy or hard. The question is how important we consider our calling. Raising kids – and raising them well – is hard work. Hard things are not bad for us, they’re just hard. Our flesh loves things that are easy, that don’t tax or stretch or grow us.
Show me the chapter and verse in the Bible that tells me how easy every day will be. I’ll show you the verses that talk about fighting, pressing on, bearing the cross, and athletic training. Think about Boot Camp, or Navy Seal training. The first practice of preseason, or marathon running. Easy? Not for a minute.
If I only plan to homeschool as long as it’s easy and fun, I won’t be homeschooling much longer. Homeschooling is often hard, boring, discouraging, repetitive, or exhausting.
However, the hard things are the most valuable things we do. We’re most proud of ourselves when we’ve pushed through and accomplished something difficult. And God calls us to do those hard things. In fact, He calls us to do the things that are impossible without Him.
God offers us His resources to do the task
Ephesians 1 says God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Life and godliness should cover any needs you face as a homeschooling mother. Don’t wake up every day and rely on yourself to train, discipline, educate, and disciple your kids. Wake up every day and rely on God. You have the promises and help of an immeasurable God and He delights to help His children live each day for His glory. As you parent in His strength, you bring Him glory.
Augustine wrote, “O Lord, command what you will and give what you command.” God has filled His Word with commands concerning how He expects us to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We don’t need to try to reduce those to a simple, attainable, human standard. Let God ask great things of you. Then look to Him to give what He has commanded. He delights to give gifts of godliness to His children.
Live by Him. Live for Him. Not for yourself.
The Bible calls us to a life of self-denial
I often joke that motherhood is one long death to self. (I also joke it is one long lesson in humility. But that’s a different topic.) Do you ever feel that way? From the time they’re born these sweet kiddos demand we sacrifice everything we love. Our free time. Our body. Friendships. Hobbies. Disposable income. On and on and on. Over the years I frequently felt I had given up everything I possibly could, only to discover that motherhood was going to demand one more thing of me. Guess what? Dying to self hurts. It’s not comfortable and easy.
So when I come to homeschooling, I discover that even more self-denial will be required of me. I die to everything I would rather be doing. I die to success, applause, and approbation. And for a few years – say twenty – I do something even more important than anything else I had in mind.
Die to all of the lesser desires you have. Ask God to help you desire greater things. Through Christ we die to self and live to God. God will fill us with love for all He loves. He’s faithful.
Look back at God’s faithfulness
When we’re discouraged it’s always helpful to remember how God has been faithful in the past. The Psalms are full of this sort of preaching to yourself the faithfulness of God. For example in Psalm 105:4-5 we read, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels, and the judgments uttered by His mouth.”
With two graduates, I have mountains of evidence of God’s consistent help. I can look back on subjects I thought my kids would never master, and realize God provided curriculum at the perfect time. I recall long mornings of character training (you know, math on Mondays) and see that He did give me strength to endure. It never felt like strength, yet here I am. I never knew the right way to address certain discipline issues. Yet, in spite of my weaknesses, God was there all along and He was faithful. We’ve raised two wonderful adult children so far. They’re not perfect, but they are great! My husband and I certainly don’t “deserve” the amazing kids we have. God Himself has done all the greatest work. All the heavy lifting. When my doubts and insecurities overwhelm me now, I have no reason to question God’s faithfulness.
You may not have children who have graduated, but if you’re a parent you can find ways God has been faithful to you in your journey.
Look back at other homeschool years
Next, think about homeschooling in previous years. Our minds tend to replay the negatives. Try to stop and remember a few good things. Don’t you have great memories of your time with your kids? When I think back and remember reading on the couch, long afternoons in the yard, and hours of watching imaginary play, I am so thankful we chose to live life in this way.
Maybe you can look back and remember enjoying spending time with your kids. Joy is waiting for you in these present moments as well. You just have to find it.
Know that the first year will be hard
If you’ve just pulled your kids out of public school the first year may be very hard. You are getting used to each other. Your kids are getting used to a much quieter lifestyle. You’re trying to figure out what education ought to look like, and find your own style. None of these things come quickly. They take hard work and time. Expect homeschooling to get better and better after the first year.
Every child deserves to know you love them
Above all, every child deserves to hear you talk about how much you love and enjoy spending time with them. Even public school children deserve to know their parents look forward to summer days together. Guess who has to communicate that pleasure of togetherness? You!
If you spend your days complaining about homeschooling or wishing out loud that you could be somewhere else, your kids hear you. You may think you are making a distinction between schooling them and loving them as a person. But I can guarantee that your kids take it all personally. So even if you decide you really do hate homeschooling, try to express it to your children in a different way.
Let your kids know they are your favorite people on earth and you’ll be friends for life. If you start communicating love and delight, even if it’s nothing more than an act of self-discipline, you may start to feel that way.
Homeschool as a matter of self-discipline
You can make up your mind to homeschool. You don’t have to love it. We constantly do things we dislike just because they have to be done. Once you’ve finished teaching your kids there will be plenty of time to do other things.
You can homeschool simply because you love your husband and children. That’s enough. Maybe you won’t create the next great curriculum. Or run the state’s largest support group. You’ll never post social media photos of children who exceed all others. But nobody else can love your family the way you do. You’ll do an excellent job. Make up your mind. Then do it.
Discipline and train your kids
Do you loath days at home with your kids because you need to spend more time disciplining or training them? First of all, they drive you crazy. Next, they never listen. Your kids can’t hear you unless your screaming? If your kids are out of control, it’s your fault. Well, yours and your husband’s. But as the parent you are responsible for your children.
I’m not setting up a single standard by which we judge how well we’ve trained our kids. The minute we start comparing ourselves to others we’re in a bad place. Figure out how you want your family to function. You know, if you were in charge what would it look like?
Then, because you are in charge, discipline your children and form their habits so that you enjoy spending time with them. Spending time training in obedience, character, and good habits will definitely improve your days at home.
Make some changes
Practical changes may help you actually enjoy your time teaching your kids. Try new curriculum. Change your days. Find activities you want to do with your kids. Learn some new hobbies together. And make sure you schedule breaks. Daily breaks, like a naptime, long weekends, and vacation weeks are all important to give you time to rest and recharge. Don’t wait around for someone else to help, find a few changes that will lighten your load and help you relax while you’re home with your kids.
Pray for joy
Pray and ask God for joy. Tell Him how much you hate homeschooling. Or hate Mondays. Or hate teaching reading. He already knows. We usually pray hoping God will change our stinky circumstances. However, I find God is much more interested in changing me. Ask and He’ll answer.
Preach to yourself
These are the ways I talk to myself when I am confronted by my own bad attitudes. Try preaching to yourself. Maybe it’ll help. If I didn’t hit on one of your chief complaints, you can write your own little sermon. Just think about your excuse objectively and ask what the Bible would say about it. Find some verses. Then tell yourself, “This is what is true.” You may not feel it, but you preach it to yourself. Over and over again. One day you might start listening.
In the meantime, make up your mind to homeschool to the very best of your ability. Then wake up and do it.
Now take a minute and hug your kids. It’s all about them.