Oh yes, there were mornings when the yellow school bus would come driving down the street and I felt like running out the front door despite my purple fuzzy housecoat to flag it down. ‘Take them! Just take them for one day…PLEEEASE!’ I called them SBDs - school bus days. And every homeschool parent has them.
Don’t let any homeschooling blog, book or parent convince you that every day is rosy; that you always wake up raring to get back to the math lesson that Johnny fell to pieces over the day before; that Suzy is always thrilled to curl up and read to her little brother, Jimmy, especially after he threw her phone in the toilet the day before - which was, of course, an accident. Mama told us they’d be days like these. If mama didn’t tell you, let me tell you: there will be days like these.
Support is so important. I’ve had the privilege of chatting to plenty of moms with pre-school aged kids about the idea of teaching their kids at home. Often they want to get right to the questions of what curriculum to buy, what a typical school day should look like, how to teach more than one child at a time. Most times I’ve come back at these questions with, ‘What does your husband think? Is he into the homeschool thing?’ (to be honest, I haven’t met any full-time homeschool dads, lots of VERY involved homeschool dads but no full-time ones. But I'm sure you’re out there so Go Dad Go!). After asking the questions I can see some of these well-intentioned young moms scrunch up their eyes at look back at me like ‘what has that got to do with it?’ That has everything to do with it. If my husband and I hadn’t been in this 100% together, I very likely might have jumped on that school bus myself, morning after morning, fuzzy robe and all while the neighbours stood aghast.
I know single moms who are homeschooling, as well as grandmothers, guardians and other care givers. What makes all of our home schools work is the people around us. It’s the spouse who can see you need some time away from the kids even if it’s just before dinner (the dinner that hasn’t even been started yet) but he guides you out the door anyway knowing that you might lose your marbles if you can’t have a couple of hours alone. It’s the people ahead of us in homeschooling who can give us a fresh new approach when we feel like we’ve tried everything. And it’s the homeschooling community in your area where you find like-minded families, awesome new ideas and friends who are going through many of the same things that you are. You can’t do it alone. Maybe your mother or mother-in-law can come watch the kids for one day a week or even one day a month. Maybe you can swap kids with another homeschool family so each of you can get some time to plan each week. I didn’t have any help from family but in the early days I had a few families around who were also homeschooling and we relied on eachother greatly. We drank copious amounts of coffee while the kids ran wild. We shared ideas, books, arranged field trips and playdates.
As the kids got older we found some great co-ops for the kids to get involved in. Here, it was so refreshing for me to meet moms who did things the way I did them and to meet moms who did things completely differently. And guess what? Awesome kids came out of all these families no matter the homeschooling style. From very traditional homeschoolers to unschoolers (surely all their kids will turn into savages, no? No.), I gleaned wisdom from them all. These moms were a great support to me whether we developed deep, long-lasting friendships or if my kids and I just got to participate in a field trip they'd arranged. If you're into homeschooling for the long haul, spend some time finding a homeschooling co-op in your area.
I wouldn't change our homeschool days for anything, even with the occasional SBD. Get on the same page with your spouse, find your tribe and swap math for a movie once and awhile. Mama may have told you there'd be days like these but they're few and far between. I promise.