An Open Letter to the Homeschool Mom
Dear Homeschool mom,
It is okay to just say No.
We want the best for our children. As moms, we were brave enough to step out of the box and seek a way of learning and living that worked better for our children and our family. We are willing to take the reins and teach our children.
We are often courageous to lead in other areas as well. Often we are also the moms to step up and teach a class on Sunday morning or on whatever night our church has another teaching time. Homeschool moms step up to serve on committees. We are also the ones to head up this and that in other places other than the church too.
Consumer vs. Owner Divide
As homeschool mothers, we have crossed the barrier from just dropping our kids off to taking responsibility for how our children turn out. Crossing the divide between just being a consumer and having a sense of ownership and responsibility for the organizations and activities that we are involved in, is a seismic shift that results in more commitment and time spent.
If we look around at church, we can see this divide. There are those that come to church as consumers. If the activities and experiences offered by the church aren’t meeting their needs, then they go shopping for another church.
Then there are others, who are passionate about seeing children (and adults) come to Christ and are willing to serve in various ways to make that happen. They clean up and pick up even if it isn’t their job. They step up to be in the gap.
Homeschool moms have already decided to stand in the gap for their families. Usually, the willingness to serve and stand in the gap extends beyond our homes to our churches, community activities, and children’s activities.
Eventually, we hit a wall. There is only one of us to go around. Plus, there is only so much time in the day. Yet, we can’t just say no. We only have just so much energy to divide between all the tasks of our day. We are angry, resentful, and burned out. In truth, for a good reason.
Here is the deal. You are likely getting taken advantage of by other moms. You need to learn to just say no.
3 Types of Moms
Moms who work full-time will assume homeschool moms do not.
- Homeschool moms are not only full-time teachers but also the school custodian, nurse, bus driver, cook, and principal. We are teaching multiple subjects to multiple children. We are not sitting around eating bonbons. Our free time outside of school hours is just as valuable to us as women who choose to work full-time. Just because one mom is paid for her work and another mom is not paid for her work, it doesn’t mean that their free time is any less valuable.
- We give up many of the advantages of a two-income household. As homeschoolers, we often are not able to take the trips or buy the things the other families can afford. Homeschool families make an intentional trade of time for money. Moms that work outside of the home can make those choices too. They can consider hiring someone to clean their house so that they can volunteer in their child’s activity.
- Men and women who work from home share a common struggle with homeschool parents. Just because you don’t go into the office, doesn’t mean that you are available during the day. Set up your boundaries and stick to them. Otherwise, others will try to take advantage of your time and draw you away from your calling to homeschool your children.
Stay at home moms who don’t homeschool.
- This one irritates me the most. As mothers who stay home, we ought to share a comradery, a sisterhood. We should share the collective frustration with the lack of appreciation for the hard work that we do. We share the never-ending picking up and cleaning. Messy mess makers move from room to room in both our houses. The lack of peace and quiet pervades our homes. We feel the dirth of adult time. We love our children but at the end of the day, stay at home moms are emotionally and physically spent.
- Homeschool moms choose to add full-time teaching to that mix. The result is usually that our days become even longer and busier. We might be potting training a toddler and teaching another child algebra. Instead of just getting the chores done, we are often training a child in how to do those chores – which takes longer.
- Non-homeschooling stay at home moms sometimes appear intentionally oblivious to the fact that the workloads between our households are not the same. In my personal experience, the more well-off the home, the more likely it is that the mom will not volunteer or limit her volunteering. The time of all moms is valuable regardless of your household income.
Other homeschool moms.
Other homeschool moms will take advantage as well. They may be overwhelmed in their season of life.
- Moms sometimes answer the call to homeschool when it is not natural to their gifting. Managing a household and teaching children just take longer and take more energy for some than for others.
- Perhaps their husband’s job is demanding, and their children are always will them. They cannot go with only one to an activity without bringing the whole crew along.
- Or, maybe they are a single homeschool mom who is trying to earn an income at home, teach her children, and make it all happen by herself. These moms we often have compassion for and are willing to pick up the slack on their behalf.
- The reality though is that all homeschool moms are sinners. Even the Christian homeschool moms are prone to sin and selfishness. We have to be careful to not be a co-dependent to someone else’s sin.
Focus on your WHY
Stop trying to make all the others around you happy. That is not your job.
Focus on your “why.” What has God called you to do? Where is your calling? What is your primary job? Put that it to your schedule first and guard your margins.
If volunteering starts to interfere with your time and energy in other areas that you need to cut back. Your relationship with God, your marriage, and your children come first. Guard those priorities. Just say no to those things that interfere with those priorities.
Decide on your ROI
ROI stands for Return On Investment. Time is a precious, limited commodity. It is a gift from God. Carefully discern how you spend your time. The world calls to us with all kinds of what to spend our time. There are many good ways to spend our time. However, what is the BEST way that God wants you to spend your time?
What is your family’s return on investment for the amount of time, energy, and stress that your leadership in an activity takes? Compare that to the benefit that your children receive. Compare that as well to the benefit that you and your husband receive.
Do you dread going to something or doing an activity? Are you angry? Are you tired? Do you feel resentful? Do you feel like you are being taken advantage of by others? Then, prayerfully step back and examine all the activities in which your family is involved. These negative feelings indicate that the ROI on these things is not cutting it. Which activities are most important to your family’s goals and values? Why activities do you think are most important to God’s calling in your life?
Just Say No
Finally, learn to say No. Just say no can mean that you are not doing anything. Just say no can also mean limiting what you will do.
Create your margins and stick with them. Remember that your family has made intentional choices about work and home. You are willing to go against the flow to homeschool. Be prepared to go against the current to create healthy boundaries.
Create a balanced life that answers your call. Honor yourself and that call by learning to just say no.