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Don't Compare Your Homeschool to Unrealistic Choices


As working parents, we can be hard on ourselves about what our homeschool looks like. Do you find yourself comparing your homeschool activities to the homeschool activities of stay-at-home moms? 

It is important to keep the right perspective when you choose to work and homeschool. In this video, I talk about what to do when you start feeling down about the things that you can't do because of your work schedule.

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Here is the transcript:

Hi everybody, it's Kelly Harbaugh with Working Homeschooler. I want to talk to you about this comparison trap that we often feel as working homeschooling parents. Now, parenting comparison traps are not anything new to us, right? It begins the day we decide to have kids and start reading articles or talking to other parents about what we're doing. It starts from day one, and it never ends at I mean, it never ends. Even when your kids are grown. I can tell you the comparison trap for what you did do or you don't do as a family. It just doesn't stop. It's a part of life, right? So what can we possibly talk about this new? This is discussed all the time, right?

When you're homeschooling, there is a there's a special layer of fear that happens in the comparison trap. Because all of your child's upbringing is on you: the academics, the social, the discipline, it's all on you - not just a piece of it, right? And as you'll often hear me say, that's a good thing. That's something that should fall under parenting. And it's, it's good if you can bring that all under your direction as a parent, but it's also a heavy weight of responsibility, right? So homeschooling already as a very sharp layer of inadequacy that can come in that comparison trap. But then if we have a job, or a business, if we're working on top of homeschooling, that feeling can be immense.

That feeling can be a immense, because not only are you looking at the general public, you are looking at what your homeschooling friends are doing who are stay at home parents and have time to do three hour nature walks and intricate craft projects that require, you know, several hours to plan and put together. And you see the daytime homeschool outings that are happening that you can't go to because those are your work hours.

I had all of those things happen. I worked my first couple years - if you're new to working homeschoolers, you may not know I worked in an office, the first couple of years of homeschooling - I had pretty much an eight to five schedule with maybe one day of flexibility if I came in early on the other days. There wasn't - It was very rigid. And so, you know, I watched the homeschool outings happen in my community that my kids could go to. And I saw the options to do salt maps for every geography location that we studied. We didn't have time to do that. I couldn't do the medieval feast that there was a recipe for in my, in my curriculum for when we wrapped up our unit on the Middle Ages. Those were extra things; that wasn't a required part of the curriculum. But, you know, I've seen other people's pictures that looks kind of fun. We never did it. We did not have time because I worked full time. I was doing good just to make sure that my kids were learning what I wanted them to learn in the hours that we had together and in the hours that they worked alone.

So it can be very, very easy to feel discouraged as a working parent who is homeschooling. It can be very easy to feel alone if most of your homeschooling friends do not have a job. Now, there are some things that you need to remember whenever you fall into this downfall that can happen. One, you need to remember that if God wanted your kids to go on three hour nature walks, like your friend is doing, he would have put your kids in their family, but he did not. He put them in your family. God wanted your kids to have you as a mom, to have you as a parent. That's the first thing to remember. You are the perfect person to raise your child because God gave your kids to you and he did that for a reason; he really did.

So the next thing you need to remember is you should not be comparing two options that aren't even yours. If working is not an optional thing for you, then you need to be comparing what your choices really are. What are your choices? Your choices are to work and send your kids to school all day, and come home and help them with the homework that their teacher assigned, or to work and homeschool and direct their education and have the flexibility to customize that education in the hours that you have, and with the resources that you have. Those are your choices. 

And so, when I would find myself feeling a little bit down because I couldn't do some of the things that I wanted to do in our homeschool, I would remember to be thankful for what we did have and to be - I had the experience of having kids in school for several years. So I knew what I was comparing to. You might not know what you're comparing it to. So let me tell you, when I would sit down and really reset things for myself and remember what my choices were, then I would remember what it was like to have kids that had to, you know, get up early and have this morning rush to get to school, and then would spend seven, eight hours in school all day and come home burnt out, not wanting to do more school work.

But then we had to sit down and do usually three to four hours of homework, and I had no idea what was assigned every day. And I had no control over it. It really didn't matter if it was the right fit for my kids, because homework went by what was the right fit for the entire class as a group. There were so many stressors. We did not have as much time together as a family. And so I would sit and remember what things used to be like and think about what they were like now that we were homeschooling. And the reduction in the stress and the ability to customize, and the joy of taking part in those learning experiences with my kids. And the family time that we had. And the read aloud time that we had. My kids were older when we started, but we still did read alouds. And I learned so much the value of going through a classic book together as a family. I wouldn't trade those memories for the world.

We still got to do those things. And you know what, we didn't get to do all of the field trips that the co-op was doing during the week. But we did take our own field trips, and my kids got to go along with us on work trips. Actually, it was usually my husband who had the work trip, but we would all get to go along and make an educational experience out of that. And they got to visit some great historical sites out of that. So there were some great things that we got to do as a family, on our time, on our resources and on our schedule. And it was better than if I was sending my kids to school or if I had kept them in school.

So, you need to remember that when you fall into comparison, you need to bring yourself back to comparing what your choices are and say, "If I was not doing this, then what would my choice be? And in that you can find gratitude for your situation, you can find gratitude for what you have, and gratitude for the educational experiences that you are getting to give to your kids. And in that, you escape the - you escape that feeling of inadequacy that really comes from envy, right? You know, they say that envy and gratitude can't exist together. And so we need to make sure that we are being thankful for the situation that we do have, that we have the right to homeschool, and that we, you know have the resources to homeschool and that we can work with what we have. And you bring the resources you have you bring, what you've got, and God will work with the rest. He will - you, you just need to be responsible for surrendering what you have.

You know, sometimes as working parents our job is a factor in giving us the ability to maybe have a little more budget for homeschool and to buy some curriculum that we might not have if we were staying at home. But sometimes that's not the case. You know, those first couple years of working and homeschooling, I was on a tight budget, the tightest of budgets. I couldn't say, because I was working, I can go out and buy the curriculum that, you know is $1,000 a kid. We we kept that really small and we we did as much as we could that we could share between our two kids as we could. I did not have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. There were a lot of things that I did not have to bring to my homeschool. But I did have some time. I did have some resources. We did have our time after work. We - I brought what I had. 

And I made him a lot of mistakes. And I did a lot of things wrong. But you know what, it's just important that we bring it and we bring it prayerfully and God will work with your weaknesses and he will fill in those gaps. And he will do amazing things with the little bit that you can bring. And so I want you to be realistic about your choices. I want you to be thankful for your ability to work with the things that you have, and I want you to be joyful and enjoy the experiences that you have as a working parent and the special time that you have with your kids, and not worry about what you see on Pinterest, or what you see on Instagram. I want you to be thankful for what you have as your unique family, your unique homeschool family, and know that God gave you your kids and your family to work together to become the kids that he wants them to be. He picked you to do his work in your kids. And so all you have to do is surrender to Him and follow his lead and you'll be fine. So stop the comparison trap and have a great day.