Warning: I’m a bit worn right now. And whiny. Every now and then, it happens.
I’m tired. I’m in my fourth year of homeschooling solo, and it’s exhausting. After all, the drama of separation and trauma of divorce is nearly two years behind us. The three of us are clearly, well, the three of us. The days of seeing five o’clock on the microwave clock and counting down the time until my then-husband would come home and pick up some of the emotional and physical work that goes with raising a family and caring for a home are long past. I’d not go back to that tumultuous marriage, but I miss the chance to let go a bit each day, to just not be the only adult in the building.
Homeschooling is intense. From morning to night, you’re on. That’s part of the deal. I’ve long been fine with that intensity. (And, to me, it’s easier than the intensity of those first few years of life. At least they sleep now.) Solo homeschooling kicks that level of intensity up a notch, at least for me. I’m not sure why it’s hitting me now, honestly, given we’ve managed well for the last three and a half years. Homeschooling a high schooler is no small part of the stress. The stakes seem far higher, and so much more seems to “count”. It’s harder on the worry part of my brain than anything. My younger is getting, well, older, and his school work is far more involved. He’s growing in independence, which the three online classes this semester help (thank you, Online G3), but there is just more to get through, and he still likes mom nearby.
Doing it all at home wears me out. Something has to give. A good homeschooling solo friend drops the housework and sleep. I’m not willing to give up the latter, and the former is already fairly lax. I’m sure the chore list would seem just as long if I were working outside the home and the children were in school, although nothing trashes a house faster than having all the household members at home most of each day. My kids are fine helpers, willing to do what they’re asked. But I don’t ask much, preferring to use my coaxing and cajoling energy for school work and piano practice rather than for chores. I could likely ask for more from them around the house and feel a bit of relief.
The emotional load of homeschooling solo mounts as the years go by. I have a love/hate relationship with planning. New books and supplies excite me. The prospect of a fresh start and seeing my children excited to learn delights me. Worrying about getting it right them is not so delightful. I know many a homeschooling parent (generally mom) plans and implements solo. I’m aware that having another adult at home does nothing to assure that the work of homeschooling and of maintaining a home is shared. But still. Another adult in the home to pick up some of that emotional load, to coax a child through chores and schoolwork — even just a bit — would help. We’re all tired of hearing my voice all day.
I confess to channelling a second parent, more father than mother, at times. I’m not sure when I noticed that at times when the boys were too rambunctious for the size of our house that my voice changes. It deepens, and I speak in short phrases. (Generally, I’m far more wordy than useful. Ask my boys. They’ll agree.) I’m not talking about yelling, which I do just fine, thank you, with my mom voice. I’m talking about that rumbly way dads speak when the chaos peaks or when danger is imminent. I’m not certain it works, but I feel a bit better.
Sometimes it’s just another point of view I want. Another way to look at one son’s struggle with studying what isn’t thrilling. A spark of insight into a child’s resistance to math. A bit of insight from another who shares their DNA into what is going on.
Note: I do communicate with their father about their progress, but occasional updates and emergency problem phone calls aren’t the same as every day live contact. It’s hard for him to stay up on their assignments and achievements when most of their time is with me. And, no, I’m not adding daily progress emails or notes to my schedule. He does care about their progress, and he supports their homeschooling, both in word and deed.
I’m grateful to my homeschooling friends who are always willing to swap stories, reassuring me that I’m not as alone as I think. Without these amazing women in my life, I’d likely have never even attempted homeschooling. With them, it all seems possible, even when it’s not pretty. Even when I’m tired and whiny.
I know I’m not alone out there. For those of you homeschooling solo, how do you manage the load? Where do you find support? How to you balance all the duties life throws your way? I’d like to hear from you.