Dear Discouraged Homeschooling Mama,

Oh mama … I know. The weight of it is heavy and your shoulders are tired from packing around that heavy load. It isn’t an easy path you have chosen. It isn’t the idyllic fantasy you perhaps hoped it would be. Those pictures you saw on all those homeschooling sites of happy, clean, obedient children smiling over their grammar sheets … have misled you, instilled a false vision of what this homeschooling life can look like. Those amazing and inspiring home school blogs with all the hands-on science experiments and beautiful art projects –they are not real life. Try to remember those blog share the best moments chosen from within a life of many, many, many other moments which are much less glamorous, and more full of piles of laundry, obstinate children, and dirty dishes.

Learning this, you may feel dismayed, and a little lost … and then there is still the weight. The weight of knowing they are depending on you; knowing you are depending on you to provide these most precious people a promising future, skills to navigate the unknown, and the confidence to walk a different path. I know, it can feel like an almost impossible prospect. But …

But it isn’t all bad – you were led here somehow, you wanted to bring your children in closer, wanting to educate them at your elbow, and to have them grow alongside you. You had a reason – it may have been a little naïve (there is no shame in that, we all need a little naivety) but you had a reason and that is part of your story, it is still yours to hold on to, or perhaps it was and now it needs to be reviewed. Regardless, you are not doomed. More importantly, they are not doomed.

In 10 years, I don’t think I have ever had a perfect homeschooling day, let alone a whole week. Life happens in all the nooks and crannies – and we learn around them. Appointments, illness, phone calls come in and schedules get diverted and it can feel like everything is falling by the wayside. And yet…

The kids still learned to read. They learned to add and make lunches and do their own laundry. They learn despite it all. They are built to learn. They may also have learned that sometimes life takes precedent, helping others is a priority, and being of service is important. My kids have gotten a rather good education in the ways of life alongside their math and grammar lessons.

If I have any pieces of advice regarding those moments when discouragement sets in they would be these:

  • Stop doing what isn’t working – regardless of its inherent value.
  • Take photos of the moments that make you happy, that buoy your heart.
  • Try a gratitude journal – write three positive things that have happened each day, no matter how small.
  • Play “hooky” and go do something you love with your kids.
  • Talk to someone who knows what this life is like, really talk to them.
  • Trust that today is only a small piece of a much bigger picture, one you are much too close to in order to see clearly, but one you might get a glimpse of in time.
  • Write down why you chose to home school. Remember why you wanted to do this – or look for the reasons beneath the original ones.
  • Ask yourself, if these reasons still stand true in your heart.

Finally, I would encourage you to remember that you are not obliged to home school. At the end of the day, the final decision is yours. What is best for you and your family is what matters. There is no failure in moving on and making new decisions.

You are not alone in your discouragement. Every year, there is a season when I want to throw my hands up in the air and send my brood up the street to public school. Every year. I know lovely, wonderful people who have made that decision and are all the happier for it. We all walk our walk according to our own convictions. There is always help to be found, regardless of our decision.

Yours truly, another sometimes discouraged homeschooling mama

  Canadian Homeschooling Bloggers, October 2015 Theme: “Dear {–} Homeschooling Mom”