I Don't Know How You Do It
Many parents tend to be in awe of you once they discover that you are a homeschooling family. They are often amazed that you could spend all day with your child and have the patience to instruct them without loosing your sanity (Pro Tip: wine helps). "I don't know how you do it" is a phrase I've heard already heard many times in our short tenure as homeschoolers and admittedly, it's one I've used in the past when speaking with parents of homeschooled children.
But I'll tell you something. Compared to the families going the traditional route, we've got it easy. There was a day a couple of weeks ago that was crazy. We'd spent the morning working in our garden, reading Life of Fred, and completing a project. I prepped dinner and put it in the crock pot because we had music lessons at 2:30, a soccer game at 5:30 and a baseball game at 6:00. Since I haven't quite figured out how to be in two places at the same time, I asked my sister to meet us at the soccer fields so she could drive my baseball player to the baseball fields because I knew my husband wasn't going to make it out of work in time to help with the shuffle. As I was gathering instruments and equipment and ushering everyone out of the door, I thought to myself, "How do I do it? How do parents with kids in school do it? How do parents with jobs outside the home do it? How do the KIDS do it?"
I remember vividly the days when my siblings and I were busy with sports (good grief, we played all the sports) and music rehearsals and school clubs. The evenings were an absolute blur. Eat a quick dinner. Work on homework. Take a shower. Wash the dishes. (I HATED doing the dishes!) My mother, a working mom to four: Finish your homework so you can go to bed! Does everybody have clean underwear for tomorrow? Is your uniform ready to go? Are you STILL doing homework?! And then, would everyone get up at the crack of dawn (Our alarm? The booming, way-too-cheerful-for-so-early-in-the-morning singing voice of my dad) to do it all over again. Add in the PTA meetings, choir concerts or a late night at work for one of my parents and it was enough to make even the most experienced events coordinator want to crawl into a corner and assume the fetal position.
Families have been enduring days and weeks like this in increasing amounts over the last few decades and it stressing EVERYONE out! Don't get me wrong; we don't sit around doing nothing everyday. Our days are full of playdates and projects, exploration and experiments. There is just as much learning, if not more, going on in our home as there is in the most prestigious schools with the most structured environments with one major difference: It's all done on our own time.
I don't have to function efficiently at 6:30am. I don't have to find the patience to sit in those ridiculously long drop-off and pick-up lines. (The freedom from those lines is reason enough to homeschool.) The boys don't have to rush from one activity to the next, already exhausted from a long day. I don't have to scrape the bottom of my mental stamina barrel to help with homework at the end of a long day at work. I don't have to cram all the daily chores into just a few short hours at home. Parent/Teacher conferences are done on the couch, with my feet up and a glass of wine in hand...for my sanity, if you recall.
Yes we may have had a busy evening, but tomorrow, my kids will wake when they're ready. We'll have breakfast in our pjs around 8:30. We'll take our time getting dressed. We'll weed and water our garden. We'll play. We'll read. We'll go for a bike ride. We'll sit down and play our instruments. We'll do a science experiment. And when it's time for the evening shuffle of games and practices and dinner, instead of feeling mentally drained and overwhelmed, we'll be relaxed and engaged.
So to all the parents and kiddos in the daily grind, we tip our hats to you. We don't know how you do it.