All right. You know I was already reluctant to get into this homeschooling thing. Hey, I got a rep to protect, ya know? The rep of a modern day, multi-tasking, professional working mother who secretly dreams about being a full-time writer, i.e., paying my bills with royalties.
But reputations and royalities are easily and voluntarily sacrificed on the altar of your children’s education especially when your child has a learning disability. So here I am, armed to the teeth with curricula (yes, there is actually a plural form of curriculum; I had to start homeschooling to find that out), a dozen spiral notebooks, enough sharpened #2 pencils to complete the human genome project, and two bright children ready to call me Mrs. Mom.
When I first contemplated homeschooling, i.e, when I peeled away the layers of panic, dread, and implausibility, my first concern was the time factor. I’m a female entreprenuer, the very definition of American capitalism. Most working people who work for someone else dream of being an entrepreneur because they have this vague notion that when you work for yourself, you can set your own schedule (4-hour work days in your pajamas) and vacations whenever you want (the other 20 hours in your bathing suit by a pool). Alas, what the American dream doesn’t tell you is that entrepreneurial freedom is another word for voluntary slavery. “If a man will not work, he will not eat” is the motto and mantra of every small business owner in US of A, especially in these lean economic times. I may only teach eight fitness classes a week in my studio, but I put in at least another fifty hours doing everything else to keep my doors open including sweeping floors and cleaning bathrooms especially since I refuse to pay someone $250 a month to scrub my toilets.
So that being said, how in the world am I supposed to homeschool my kids when I barely have time to work, sleep, do laundry, and write my blog (not always necessarily in that order)?
In truth, the more I looked at the reality of exactly what I was getting myself in to, the more excited I got.
Here it is: I spend up to 90 minutes each morning just trying to get my kids out of bed, dressed, fed, and loaded up in the car with all their required paraphernalia to drive them to school. So, if I don’t have to scavenge for lost shoes, pump the dog’s stomach for homework, and pack a couple of high-octane lunches, that cuts back my prep time to 30 minutes, 25 if I don’t comb my girls’ hair. So, one hour saved.
Next, the drive to school. Easily 45 minutes round trip and I didn’t have to wait in a mini-van line because my girls were going to private school. Then multiply that times two for the to-school and from-school trips, giving me an addition 90 minutes each day, not to mention the savings on gas, tolls, and road rage.
Lastly, I was already spending upwards of two full hours helping my girls with their homework each afternoon (nobody told me I would have to repeat elementary school when I had kids).
So let’s add it up: Before homeschool I was spending 4½ stressed hours each day helping my children achieve the state’s No Child Left Behind standards (Okay, I promise I will refrain from making some crack about the NCLB program. Who am I kidding? That’s the whole reason I’m homeschooling in the first place because my youngest was getting left in the dust). Now I get to daily spend 4 hours with my girls (the total number of hours recommended by the curricula creators) using a program I chose that was designed for the various learning styles of my children without Big Brother glaring over my shoulder, and because my husband was a former math teacher, I don’t have to teach my girls THAT subject. Wow, this is sounding better all the time.
What’s more, we get to turn down the stress level in our home. I don’t think I’ll understand the gravity of this bonus for some time yet. See, by nature, I’m a people pleaser at my core. If someone sets a standard for me or my kids (which in my view is indirectly for me anyway), I’ll kill myself to meet it especially where scholarship is concerned. I’ve found that I’m not above bribery (MickyDs addictive french fries) and threats (no Wii for a week) to see my children complete an assignment that makes me look like a good, responsible parent. With homeschooling, that people pleasing aspect is plucked away from our lives like a loose thread in the breeze or a 200-pound bar bell on my back. It’s gone. Bye-bye. The only one I’m accountable to, really, is God. And all he expects from me—or my kids—is our practical, heart-felt best.
So, time? Baby, I got time. I’ve got time to spend with my kids learning together. I’ve got time to devote to my time-sucking business that I really, honestly love. Maybe I’ll actually have time to go out on a date with my co-teaching hubby. And I’ve got time, albeit, a very little bit of time, to write my blog each week.
The clock starts on Monday when the homeschool bell rings. Hopefully, you’ll get another blog entry in your inbox next weekend, accompanied by animated chirping bluebirds and the Seven Dwarfs’ singing, “Whistle While You Work”. But if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks you’ll know I have completely deluded myself, am drowning in the sands of time, and have probably shot myself with a glue gun.