HS #249 Mom on Demand Worn Out Moms and Worn Out Excuses NOT to Homeschool Jennifer Cabrera, Hifalutin Homeschooler
Links and Resources:
Survey Blog Post: 10 Honest Reasons Parents Choose to Homeschool
https://hifalutinhomeschooler.... can't work a miracle. It can work you to exhaustion.
The miracle is choosing to do it anyway.
~Jennifer Cabrera, Hifalutin Homeschooler
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HS EP 249 Jennifer Cabrera Mom on Demand
Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week, you'll hear from one of us, inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate children at home.
Now the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the Person and presence of Jesus Christ and His living and active and applicable Word. We are so glad that you're here to join us for today's conversation. But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsors.
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And now, on to today's show.
This is Mom on Demand, 2020. A hifalutin monologue for worn-out homeschool moms. And also to the moms that, somewhere in the back of your mind, think homeschooling might be good for your family. Maybe you could, maybe you should, but you just can't bring yourself to step outside the comfort zone of "good enough" and "me time."
Homeschool. She knew she could, so she did. And often she wonders, what the heck she was thinking. Now, worn-out moms, worn-out reasons not to homeschool.
Hi. I'm Jennifer Cabrera, the hifalutin homeschooler at Hifalutinhomeschooler.com, where I write humorously about life as a homeschooler and those who know nothing of it. I like to keep things real; tell it like it is.
And this is my first podcast episode ever to record or even to listen to, for that matter. That's right. You heard correctly. I did not do my homework or my research on how these things are supposed to go cause I decided on a full-on immersion approach. Like, you know, when I decided to really learn Spanish after three years of failed classroom study. And so I just married a Cuban.
Similarly, my journey into homeschooling was full-on immersion after yanking my kids out of public school in second grade. With my head in the air and knees knocking and daring to believe that, well, anything school could do, I could do better. So sink or swim, I'm jumping into this podcast gig with wild abandon. And with the hunch that I'll probably get some things right, some things wrong, and well, that's where the learning is, right?
This episode is for those teetering on the edge of a precipice. The decision to homeschool. Well, maybe this school shutdown is giving you mixed ideas about homeschooling. And this is also for those who currently homeschool and are feeling worn out. Like this isn't what was in the brochure. Because homeschooling isn't just pretty story time, on the couch, nature walks. In fact, as my kids get older, those kid kinds of moments rarely ever happen.
Homeschooling isn't Norman Rockwell parenting either. It isn't perfectly behaved children and fireside sentiments with Ma and Pa. Let's be honest, part of homeschooling is spending all of your free time arguing about how long all this school work is going to take.
But even when I want to light my curriculum on fire, I know it was the best decision that we ever made for our family. And for my future retirement home options. And with that, let me just say, good morning worn out moms. Now, obviously I'm not coming to you live from a real war zone like Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam, but homeschooling can often feel as such. It can also feel like a jungle where you can't see what scary obstacles, grade levels, teen attitudes, or canceled plans lurk around every corner.
Now, whether you're raising goats or not, if you're homeschooling, your house probably still feels like it's filled with some kind of animal sounds. And, P.S., for those still deciding to homeschool or not, you do not have to raise farm animals to be an awesome homeschooler. Also optional for homeschooling are denim jumpers, dungeons and dragons clubs, and learning Latin. But I digress.
On the particularly bad days, though, it can feel that you have been taken prisoner in a jungle war of your own making. And these are the days where you might be sipping your fifth cup of reheated coffee and reflecting over a pile of unfinished curriculum thinking, wait a minute, this is what I wanted? I chose this? This sounded like a good idea. What was I thinking? Where are the Stepford kids that I ordered?
And now here we are in 2020. Not the "hindsight is 2020," but this current year of chaos and confusion, clear as mud, 2020. And suddenly, everyone is homeschooling in some form or fashion. Or sadly, complete misinformed fashion.
Listen, motherhood alone sucks the energy, fun, patience, and pretty right out of moms. So, in a pandemic and election year, and bam, this isn't how anything works. Including homeschooling, y'all, this is not how homeschooling works. This just isn't how anything is supposed to be going right now. We've all been forced home. Even homeschoolers. We've missed field trips, friends, yes, even prom, graduations, birthday parties, co-ops, theatre, sports. Moms are missing other moms, and the little pick me ups that we have along the way like tossing back a latte, and those little egg bite things that come from Starbucks while waiting in the parking lot for a kid to finish this one practice.
Hi, I'm Jennifer, a coffee-aholic, and I haven't had Starbucks anything in over twelve weeks and four days. And seven hours. But who's counting. Now I have for money for books.
Now, but even before the schools shut down, back when families were choosing to homeschool on their own terms, there was one aspect of homeschooling that many overlook in their excitement. And many are later blindsided with it when the fun of purchasing a world map and playing with your new laminator wears off. And this realization is even more accentuated than a new to homeschooling 2020 bunch.
It's what is likely keeping them from actually committing to real homeschool this coming fall. And that realization is that homeschooling means becoming mom on demand. Okay now, truth is, one of the resounding perks of homeschooling, the pro-homeschooling argument is that, unlike in a classroom of 25, homeschooled kids get a one on one education approach. It improves learning and overall achievement immensely, which parents are at first all for success. Put my kid first. Personalize education. Yada yada yada.
But then, that one on one means that mom or dad, depending on who's brandishing the ruler at your place, is on-demand. Mom on demand. I mean, the kids, they're always there. The kids, everywhere you turn, there they are. Being homeschool mom means taking on almost all the tasks. We're drill sergeant, getting kids up each morning. Fed. Doing lessons. Grading and editing their work. Then again, laundry, reading, to and from sports, music, appointments, doctor's offices, etc. We're being a sounding board for deep discussions. We're breaking up sibling fights, ordering chores to be done, enforcing discipline, manners, consoling broken hearts, maintaining schedules. Basically, the kids are sharing your space, your time, and if you have one of those 21-question type of kids, they're sharing your brain.
They follow you around asking your opinion and predictions on everything. And then, they're arguing with everything you just said and you probably made it up anyway, because you just wanted to sound like you know things and you're qualified for this position. As an introvert, finding time to sit and think and process and overthink. That's hard to find the time for that when you homeschool. And my kids have an insatiable appetite with the question, why.
And I'm their favorite resource. I turn on the news and I sit down with my three or four loads of laundry to fold, and instantly, a kid appears. What did he say? Why did he say that? What happened? Why are they arguing about that? Well, what are they gonna do about it? Details, woman, we need details!
Um, then I'm wiping my brow with a pair of boxer briefs. How do I know? I didn't hear a word they said! Listen and we'll both learn. Give me time to form a thought before you pick my brain apart.
So, here we are, I have one who loves to follow me around with random facts. Mostly airplanes and right training, but also he collects statistics?! God love him. He's so inquisitive and pessimistic. It's amazing and exhausting. I never want to refuse a good discussion with him or any of them. I wanna be there for advice to counter his negativity with hope. To be visibly enthralled when one is talking computer code and I literally cannot keep up. And even when you get a moment alone, it's like a cruel joke, because homeschool moms, we know how this works. I think I'll read this book. I think I'll call the dentist and argue about this bill. I think I'll make a grocery list and... nope.
Kids can smell free time. And they will fill it for you. Part of homeschooling is waiting to be needed and then being needed three minutes after you decide to do anything else. Literally anything else. I can summon a child to appear, growling over a math problem, simply by dialing an important phone call or sitting down to write an email. And then trying to describe this feeling of smothered loneliness, I'm reminded of the Indiana Jones movie, where the lady's trying to save Indy, but there's all these bugs crawling all over her. "Get off of me! Get off of me! They're in my hair! They're everywhere!"
When homeschooling, it seems like the kids are crawling all over you with questions, needs, wants, tears, love, laughter, and laundry. And it is possible to feel lonely and lose a sense of self while completely surrounded by the people you love most, who are talking your ears off. Homeschooling is more than a full-time job. It's all the jobs, 24/7. And guess what? It was everything I never knew I always wanted to do.
Whoa, right? You didn't see that coming, did you? I'm supposed to be complaining about homeschooling, right? Well, I am. But the truth is, homeschooling is exhausting. So what? That's just one of several worn out, weak excuses not to homeschool. In just a bit, I will list some of the other worn-out excuses not to homeschool. But first, let me tear this one apart.
Homeschooling is full-time parenting. It requires big girl panties and having a harder head than your kids. And so much love that you're willing to lose sleep and hair to see it to the end. Homeschooling is hard because parenting is hard. It requires us to give more of ourselves than is convenient. If it were easy, everyone who could swing it financially would homeschool.
I complain and whine to my best good homeschool friend all the time about how tired I am, how frustrated and worried, how unappreciated, unpaid, and unaffordable that I would be if this were anyone else's kids. If you don't have a best good homeschool friend to complain to, get one. Even if its a volleyball with a handprint face named Wilson. Every homeschool mom needs someone to safely vent to on the hard days.
Because me and my best homeschool friend know that despite the stories we tell each other, the gripes and complaints and failures we share, we both know that it was the right decision. For our family. And we're not quitting.
The current instability in this country is enough for any good parent to wonder if there is a better way to contemplate homeschooling. Even before the virus, the murder hornets, and the other ten plagues of 2020 hit us, parents had real concerns that led to homeschooling. And about a year ago, I did a survey of my readers and found these top ten reasons that parents choose to homeschool.
Number one. Control of our schedule and educational content.
Number two. To ensure that our kids are loved and safe.
Number three. To create a personalized education.
Number four. To teach, to question, and reason, not just to regurgitate back.
Number five. More time with family, especially Dad.
Number six. It is best for our family.
Number seven. Time with our kids is going by fast.
Number eight. Our Christian values are key to a complete education.
Number nine. FREEDOM!
Number ten. We've seen the village and, well, you know how that goes.
Now, I suspect many more today see homeschooling as probably a good decision, but they continue to use the lamest old excuses to hide from the calling and inconvenience of homeschooling. You, no doubt, heard or used, one of these excuses yourself. It's a defense, disguised as self-deprecation. Sometimes moms will insult themselves out of the blue when they find out that I homeschool my kids. As if we homeschool moms go around demanding everyone homeschool, and we're actively recruiting cult members or extra-wides to haul away in our homemade carts and buggies out back.
We don't need to go around coercing moms to homeschool. It's an individual family decision. We don't get a credit toward curriculum purchases for recruiting newbies. However, that would be really nice, wouldn't it? I'd make a brochure and hand it out all the time.
But the following worn-out excuses not to homeschool are last grasps to talk themselves out of the decision their heart has probably already made, because they know homeschooling will be a lot of work.
The worn-out excuses not to homeschool are:
I'm just not patient enough to homeschool. I get too frustrated with my kids. Listen, if I were patient, I would have given up homeschooling seven years ago. We would never get anything done. We would probably be covered in mold or turned to stone, still waiting for one of my children to finish his writing journal from our first Monday as homeschoolers. It is because I am short on the patience that we actually get things done. I like things done right yesterday. I don't sleep when things aren't done. Like, when one of my boys is typing a final draft of a paper, sometimes I have to sit on my hands not to tear the keyboard from the desk and type the paper already. Cause I'm kinda fast at it and we got other things to do, right?
Another common excuse not to homeschool is:
I can't homeschool. My kids don't listen to me. Now, every time I hear this one, I want to respond, I'm sorry, what did you say? And then walk away. Seriously, all children are born deaf and hard-headed. And the condition only temporarily subsides when you're on an important private phone call, locked in the bathroom, whispering with the water running in the sink. And then you can guarantee that they heard every word and they'll repeat it to all who will listen to what they have just found out. Now, because of this phenomenon, I had an idea once for a curriculum where you would teach history like an eavesdropping gossip chain. It was gonna work great. The teacher hides on the toilet and whispers conspiratorially. Like this.
That uppity girl named Joan who thinks she's so special, she said she can like, lead an army for her King friend, and I don't know girl, but I heard she may have a crush on him. Mmhmm. And get this. She says God told her to, and everyone was like, no way. And she was like, way. And you know what? She did it. She fought like a beast. All hair pulling, swords, and crazy cat claws and stuff. And that King should have named a holiday after her, but I hear he just wasn't that into her. Cause someone called her a witch and he didn't even take up for her. And now, I smell smoke. Girl, for real.
I'm still working on the syllabus for all the details here, but you kinda get the idea. Kids listen. When they want to.
Now another excuse not to homeschool that's a cop-out, really, is:
I could never homeschool. And then you insert your stubborn child's name here, he or she and I argue about everything. Well, yeah. And? Some kids are visual learners. Others are kinesthetic or auditory. Two of mine are argumentative. Duh! Ever heard of debate? Sure, we argue. About everything, from the true reason of commas, to which way is up if the earth is round. Well, a child that won't argue is either asleep or can't form an original thought because they've been taught to follow without question. Lots of our disagreements still end with me saying, because I said so. But when my kid's arguments are not short-sighted and immature, I'm actually kinda proud that they've at least learned to think and build up ammo for a stance. Teaching kids to question everything is part of great homeschooling.
Okay, now, perhaps the worst excuse, or strangest excuse not to homeschool that I've ever heard is:
You are much braver than me. I just can't be with my kid that much. Why? You don't like them? Will you turn into a pumpkin? Is there a restraining order? This always perplexes me. I'm left wondering if being separated from their kids is to keep mom safe from the kids or the kids safe from the mom. I think, honestly though, it's really code for I'd rather do something easier or something else. And honestly, not everyone can or should homeschool. I am not advocating for that at all. I am speaking to those who know deep down that they could, maybe they should, and they kinda want to, but what will the neighbors think? And what about my free time?
So, why homeschool? All these excuses not to homeschool seem reasonable on a day to day basis, but none can compete with the important reasons parents start to feel compelled to homeschool in the first place. Which is why these excuses are such lame last attempts to convince yourself not to. Now, besides, it's like my best good homeschool friend always says, if you're going to ruin a kid, you might as well keep them home and do it yourself.
Seriously though, ask yourself, which will you regret giving up more when they're grown and gone? I never imagined being a homeschool mom, ever. I was gonna be the career woman. I went to physician assistant school, which is like, half of medical school. I'm a board-certified PA with a Masters in public health. I'm supposed to be a career woman going to dinner parties and writing in medical journals and changing the world.
Now the irony of questioning and planning what I was going to do with my life to leave a mark on this world as I drove my oldest two to school each day, for someone else to teach and mold still haunts me. I want those three years back. By second grade, my kids were miserable in public school. They were treated like a cog in a wheel. They were tired and stressed all the time. I was being schooled by the teacher on what I could teach my kids outside her classroom. And I wanted my boys back. God gave them to me to raise, and I was outsourcing.
It was then that I realized, at the end of my life, my children will have been my biggest contribution to the world. And I was taking the easy way out for the convenience of me. Free time and clean house. And because society said that's what kids do, they go to school. And I didn't question it. Not at first. Later I imagined being at the pearly gates and God shaking His Head. Jennifer, I gave you three precious gifts and one job.
So what those that are scared to leap into homeschooling don't understand, looking into sleep-deprived eyes of homeschool moms, is that homeschooling, when we find the backbone and strength to make it happen, brings a life of learning purpose that so many search for and never find in our distracting careers and hobbies.
You don't have to be patient or Mary Poppins to homeschool. Patience is seeing the trees despite the overwhelming forest that is education, all the way to adulthood. The trees being the little amazing things that happen daily. Your child learns to read. Builds the thing he was working on. Teaches his sibling something. Does something without being asked. And we make it happen one day at a time, month by month, year by year, believing that the end result will justify the struggle. The strength to keep going on the days that nothing goes as planned, and to walk away from those who are against homeschooling and would bring us down for their own insecurities. That takes beautiful determination.
One of my teens once asked me, what was the point in homeschooling him and his brothers and writing about it on this blog? When I could just go out and get a real job that actually paid. I told them, you're my point. And don't forget that. My paycheck is time with you that I could never get back if I went to work. It's also how you turn out, so make me proud.
Homeschool means ‘mom on demand’. It's not easy. But anything worth doing is rarely easy. Parents often reminisce, oh where did the time go? Because it does go by fast. One minute you're potty training them to pee on cheerios in the toilet, and the next you're gripping the dashboard teaching them to drive. But homeschool parents know where that time went because we were there for every second.
Homeschooling can't work a miracle. It can work you to exhaustion. The miracle is choosing to do it anyway. And that's all I have to say about that. Now, I think there's a comment section somewhere around here, so let me know what you think. What has worn you out? What's keeping you from taking the leap into homeschooling? Or feel free to email me privately at [email protected]. I'd love to hear topic ideas for future podcast episodes if you have any. And also, head over to my website, hifalutinhomeschooler.com, and read more laughs there. Check out my page of homeschool memes and share with your friends. You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram, both under hifalutinhomeschooler. And there I share a lot of inspiration, we have some camaraderie and discussions and insights and lots of laughs.
So, till next time, stay weird and homeschool on.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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