So as you may know, I signed my little girl up for public school 5 days ago. It was scary, it was heartbreaking (for me, anyway) and I felt like a big, fat, hairy, stinky, ugly failure. Just one day before I hit my absolute breaking point, I was still a total homeschool fanatic with absolutely zero thoughts of putting my kids into public school. YES, I made this decision in about 5 minutes on the very Friday night that I published my first article, typed it up, and made it official for the whole world to see.
No, there was no life-altering family blow-out fight, there was no bizarre homeschooling freak-accident. Our day was over, the kids were laying in bed and I was crying on the phone to my husband about how exhausted and stressed I was, yet again. He kindly suggested public school and for once I didn't lose my cool. I looked up a private school that's about 25 minutes away, determined the next day that we couldn't afford it and so we settled on the very clean, very new, yet very small-town, country kid-vibe public school literally 3 minutes away. I didn't go back and forth, I didn't change my mind and cling to what we have always done. I stifled the panic attacks I had over the weekend with big hugs from my husband and I worked hard to get my daughter excited for the change.
If you're in a place where you are homeschooling but it just isn't working out well for your family, please don't beat yourself up. My daughter is ahead of the other kids in her new public school class! In our homeschooling, we were doing great academically; it was everything else about it that was wrecking my life. Read this list of the 5 biggest signs that I needed to quit homeschooling that I saw in our home and take a few moments to reflect on your homeschool day with total honesty.
5 Signs It's Time to Quit Homeschooling
1. You completely, absolutely hate your husband's job.
My husband is a firefighter/paramedic and he works 24 hour shifts; he has even worked up to 4 days straight. It can be hard, yes, but over the last 18 months I have begun to absolutely loathe his job. I hated thinking about it, I hated talking about it. I hated hearing about how much fun he had or about the great food he ate while I sat at home eating leftover frozen pizza. Yes, that's a lot of hate. It wasn't cool of me, but I couldn't stand days when he was gone because I had so much on my shoulders. The house, the kids, errands, groceries, homeschool activities, and outings (which we all must be present at). It was too much.
2. You look and feel awful constantly.
I constantly looked like something the cat hacked up in the midst of a fur ball. Alright, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but I swear I was lucky to take a shower every other day sometimes. The kids got bathed, the kids got dressed, the kids all looked darn-cute; I got big glasses to hide my tired eyes, threw my greasy hair into a messy bun and sported my husband's dirty t-shirt because it smelled like his cologne and I really missed him. Absolutely glamorous. If you keep thinking "tomorrow I'll get up early and take a shower and shave the forest out of my armpits before the kids even wake up" but it never happens, it's time to try something else. I'm all for saving forests, but please, make time for those pits! Now I can put on a movie for the boys and take a shower while the baby naps if I'm unable to get up before they do. She takes late morning naps, which was right in the middle of our homeschool day so it never worked out before.
3. Your "you" time happens on the toilet... maybe.
The maybe is because there are often little intruders; even your most horrific stink cannot keep them at bay. If there aren't intruders, someone HAS to get a boo-boo and dramatically scream while you're in the bathroom so you have to rush. My point here is, if you have no time for you, or your you-time sounds a lot like mine, maybe something needs to change.
4. You can't seem to find the right curriculum or routine.
If you've gone through several homeschool curricula and still haven't found "the one" that works for you, maybe it's because you just aren't called to do this. If your morning routine sounds more like u-n-i-c-o-r-n, this goal of suddenly becoming super mom and getting it all together is probably not realistic for you right now. You've probably got other areas that need tended to (organization, self-discipline, decluttering, going to bed early) before you can handle the enormous task of homeschooling your kids. Some people rock the small child phase, other people barely survive. It is totally okay. I'm one of the people who barely survives the small child phase, so let me assure you that it is perfectly fine to find help. For us, public school was the answer and I have no regrets (okay, I do have short bouts of guilt but only for a moment; just being real here). I am keeping an open mind for the middle and high school days because that's my favorite age to work with! Maybe we will all be happy campers when they can find their own pages in their books and silently read while I work with younger ones. We shall see when the time comes.
5. Your house is a disaster.
Lastly, if you hide with the kids in the closet when someone shows up at your door unexpectedly, you might need a few hours without the tornadoes (er, kids) ripping the place to shreds while you __________. (Insert any action here: clean, do laundry, nap, poop, shower, eat, blink, etc.). There isn't enough time to clean when you're doing homeschool, especially literature-packed homeschooling (we love the Charlotte Mason method, I just can't do it with 4 kids ages 6 and under).
If you identify with these or have other struggles that just aren't getting better, maybe it's time to look at other options. Homeschooling is amazing but some of us just aren't called to do it. My stress level has gone down so much already! Today is day 5 of our public school adventure. So far, so good.
I know that it's sad when you let go of something you've worked so hard for (and let's be honest, dropped a lot of cash into. Homeschool curricula is cray-cray expensive, even when you buy used). I still have moments when I panic and wonder if I am making a terrible, future-altering mistake with my little girl. When you begin to think about public school, all the worst scenarios begin to pop up in your mind: school shootings, hallway drug deals, lice, a terrible school bus accident! The reality is that even if we stayed home all day every day, there would still be risks. I mean, why is it so hard to take a shower while the kids are awake? There are light sockets, outlets, stairs to fall down! Knives in the cabinet, chemicals under the sink, stray Lego parts hiding at the baseboard of the wall. It's irrational to believe that public school will be the death or downfall of your child. And guess what? If you try it and it sucks, you can always homeschool again. I know that I hope to give it a try again in the future!
Give yourself grace and give yourself a break for heaven's sake! :-)