I wrote what became a very popular blog post about why I wasted my education to homeschool. I will summarize by saying that there were people in my life who thought trading in a PhD in psychology and clinical practice in a Christian clinic to homeschool was a waste, an obvious mistake. I didn’t know if they were wrong at first. I didn’t know what to expect from homeschooling. If you’re near the beginning of your journey, you may wonder what the future holds for you too.
The truth about homeschooling and feeling fulfilled
I’m going to be completely honest and say that when I began homeschooling, my question was what about me? What about my gifts, what about my dreams? I even wondered what about God’s other call on my life, which I knew was to be a writer and speaker. To say that I didn’t trust God to work all things together for my good would be an understatement. I only knew how hard it was to parent three boys three and under. How would I have time for anything besides parenting, homeschooling, and homemaking?
If that’s your question, I have some answers for you gained through experience.
Truth: Homeschooling leaves less time for personal pursuits
The first truth I want to share is that homeschooling and parenting little ones leaves less time for your personal pursuits. Yup, I’m being Captain Obvious here. But what might not be obvious to you is that this season is short. Even with six children, I see how short that season was. When your oldest is unable to help you with any chores or responsibilities around the house, you will be busy. But as your older children mature, you will have built-in babysitters and a home maintenance crew. By the time I had my last baby, I never had to get him out of his crib. The older kids vied for the privilege of doing that. My older kids entertained the younger ones, were able to read to younger kids, and took on the responsibility of doing their own laundry. If you will allow your older children to help in your family, you can free up more time for those things you want to do apart from homeschooling.
Truth: Help is available
The second truth about fulfillment in homeschooling that I want to share with you is that if you’re married and you communicate your desire to your husband, he will help you. Now some of you may be protesting. Perhaps your husband hasn’t been all that helpful to this point. I would say my experience was the same. When my kids were younger and there were fewer of them, my husband was not doing as much child care and managing as many chores around the house as he does now. I think there are a couple of reasons for that that are in my control. What I mean by in my control is that my husband is reluctant to do things because of his own reasons. I have no control over that and neither do you.
But I did have control over my attitude. I had two attitudes that got in the way of my husband supporting me in being fulfilled in my homeschooling. The first was my supermom persona. I honestly made everything look too easy. My husband thought I had it all under control and therefore didn’t need his help. Men seem to like helping people who have obvious needs. I didn’t seem to need anything. Why would he help?
The next bad attitude I had was just the opposite of the supermom. When my supermom attitude wasn’t getting me what I wanted, I tried on the martyr role. I was the suffering saint, always at home with the children and doing it all with very little help. Do you know anyone who is a martyr? Are they fun to be around? I didn’t think so. Men want their wives to be happy. Instead of being a martyr, explain how happy the activities you want time for will make you. Demonstrate that happiness. Read my post on how to be happy and homeschool too.
Besides our happiness, we can convince our husbands of the benefits of the other activities we want to take on. I explained to my husband that while having a business selling books to homeschoolers would require more of my time and my absence for conventions, we would enjoy the benefits of an additional income. He has been very supportive of me for the that reason as well as for the obvious happiness it brings me.
Without appearing as though you can do it all and without whining about your lack of help, talk to your husband about what it is that you aspire to do.
If you are not married, perhaps you have parents who are involved in your kids’ lives and you could have a similar conversation with them. But realistically, we may have to consider getting help with the kids elsewhere. We can hire a mother’s helper. I hired my niece to come in once a week when my kids were young. My daughter is a mother’s helper for a mom in our neighborhood. It’s a worthwhile investment in your sanity. But if finances don’t yet allow for that, you could barter time with a friend. Have play dates and one mom takes a turn watching the kids. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Truth: Homeschooling itself can be fulfilling
To this point I have been discussing fulfillment as something that exists outside of homeschooling. So you need time to engage in a ministry, start a business, or start writing. But even though these extra activities can be fulfilling as they have been for me, homeschooling itself can be fulfilling.
One of my favorite things to do is learn. Studying history with my kids and following all kinds of educational rabbit trails is one of the best parts of my life. Teaching my kids has been more fulfilling than I ever dreamed.
Because of homeschooling, I realized that I was born to be a teacher. I didn’t even consider it because I felt people expected me to do something that required more education. But I began my childhood teaching my dolls and stuffed animals every single night. Homeschooling allowed me to rediscover my true passion in life. Now that I am no longer counseling people one on one, I find myself teaching instead. I teach on my podcast. I teach through my books. And I teach in sessions at conventions.
But what if teaching is not your passion? There are so many other ways for you to find fulfillment in homeschooling. Are you a leader? The options for you to take a leadership role in homeschooling groups are wide open for you. Where you may have had difficulty taking on a leadership position like that in a large traditional school, the smaller groups of busy homeschool moms can afford you the opportunity to share your gift of leadership.
Are you a natural organizer? After you have organized your own homeschool, you can help other homeschooling moms get organized, either as a business or a ministry.
Do you have a skill in art or music or computers or science? You have the opportunity to share whatever your gift is through teaching other students or creating your own curriculum as I have done. My friend Gena Mayo has a passion for music that she has turned into not just local co-op classes but courses that are available to all homeschoolers online. Check out her courses at Music in Our Homeschool and listen to the interview I did with her on easy ways to add music to your homeschool.
My friend Beth Napoli is passionate about technology. She used that passion to create a Facebook group for moms who are interested in using technology in their homeschools and she has used it to create courses that moms and homeschoolers alike can take advantage of.
I have another friend who uses her flexible schedule in homeschooling to put her decorating and organizing skills to work in planning parties and coordinating weddings. I have a photographer friend who taught photography in our co-op. In the process, she realized she wanted to return to it as a business. I also know many homeschooling moms who love to counsel others. They make themselves available to advise new homeschoolers about curriculum, parenting, and homeschooling in general.
Homeschooling itself can be fulfilling as you teach your children and enjoy watching them develop as people. But homeschooling is also a flexible lifestyle that allows you to explore other interests.
I never dreamed that homeschooling would become my most fulfilling career. Not only has it met and exceeded every one of my desires for my kids’ education, their family relationships, and their faith life, but it has given me the opportunity do what I love. I don’t believe that my ability to write and speak would have enjoyed as much success outside of the homeschooling niche.
I am not suggesting that every woman must choose to find her fulfillment in homeschooling. Even if they could, eventually the kids grow up and move out. But I am saying that homeschooling can be fulfilling. It has been for me and I am so thankful to God for leading me to it. I encourage you to pray about how homeschooling can be fulfilling for you too.