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  1. #1

    Default Homeschool Parents - Does Anyone Care About Self-Care While Doing This?

    So, I love-hate homeschool. My child is thriving educationally and socially, and we have a community. The problem is me. I feel like I'm losing my identity more and more each year. I also don't feel like I fit in with a lot of my homeschooling friends more and more each year. We have two extremes.

    The first are the over-achieving mothers. They are out of the house all the time, constantly comparing themselves with others, their kids are doing crazy amounts of sports or other kinds of extra-curriculars. The primary homeschooling parents from these families seem burnt out and so tired they don't seem to make the best choices for themselves or their kids a lot of the times. The kids and outside working spouses from these families seem disconnected. I used to try not to worry about it (we all have different lives), but a number of my friends in these situations keeping trying to me into it—from hoarding curricula-to-overscheduling my child-to going on the latest stupid diets with them. It's feeling a little creepy culty.

    The second kind of problem friends I've had are the disconnected moms. They have 400 personal projects and pretty much ignore their kids (unless it gets them likes on Facebook). Sadly, this shows as the children do not know what they should, and I've ended up with the kids in my care if I don't set boundaries fast.

    Luckily, I've only known 2 people like this, but they were very damaging to spend time with. Just like some of the over-achievers, they'd try to make me feel bad if I didn't homeschool (or parent) the way they did. I actually stopped being friends with one because it felt like she took every opportunity to make snide remarks about my life and things I cared about.

    So, I've stepped away my community. I haven't cut them off (and I don't want to burn bridges), but we are not doing outside activities with them regularly anymore.

    This has been so lonesome, but the amount of stress it put a stop to has been fantastic. We have been making friends outside of homeschooling and with new homeschoolers.

    I'm also trying to find balance on my own for self-care and finding fulfillment that goes beyond homeschooling, but at the same time? I still want to homeschool and be present for my child.

    Are my expectations too high?

    Do other homeschool parents actually want to do this? If so, how do I find them? I don't mind having friends who are different from me as long as they respect my personal choices, but I'd also like to find people who are making life work for them in the same way I'd like to—and folks who have healthy (non-enmeshed) families.

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  3. #2

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    Hugs. I think we have all been through this sort of roller coaster.
    It seems you have two main dilemmas - one that you dont really like the other parents in your homeschool community, and secondly that you dont feel balanced in yourself.
    Enjoy the time you have with the kids friends parents as best you can, maybe think of them as inlaws. I dont feel like I quite fit in with my local homeschooling group because Im neither religious nor granola-y. But I can get along for chit chats at the park. The homeschool social thing is about the kids, not us, kwim? Yah itd be nice to find a perfect group of homeschooling soul mates, but itd be nice to win the lottery, too, and probably juet as likely.
    Being more satisfied with yourself would reduce the pressure to like those other people, too.
    Do you have a hobby that you could resume? Something to do everyday thats just about you?
    TFZ read and shared about this book here about a year ago...
    https://www.amazon.com/How-All-Revol...4888358&sr=8-1
    Even tho the author seems a bit alien to me with her lifestyle (and she homeschooled!), I took some good points about categorizing our goals and working on them. Its helped me feel more balanced, my house is cleaner, my home improvements are happening, and I was able to resume quilting (needed home improvements first!). I think having the other things going on puts homeschooling, and the other parents I encounter, into some perspective.
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

    Atheist.

    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  4. #3

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    I wouldn't say your expectations are too high so much as you have expectations.

    When I started homeschooling, I had dreams about what our outside-school homeschooling lives would be like, and I had to quickly adjust my expectations down to zero. We are social, etc., but we could not look to other homeschoolers for our socialization (for many of the reasons you mentioned: wack disconnected moms mostly, but more often than not it was the religious thing that got in the way). What we all learned is this: If you gel with another family, then stick with them. If they are religious, overlook it. If they are slobs, overlook that too. If they don't homeschool, would never consider it, but you all get along great? Then they are your friends.

    I think the problem is that homeschooling to so many parents becomes not just a thing one does, but their ever-breathing identity. This is just a mistake, on soooo many levels. You're a parent first. You're a spouse. You're a ___ (name career). And... you homeschool your child.

    So maybe you do need to find what floated your boat before you homeschooled. Keep that going in your life. Sure, homeschooling takes up a lot of one's time and energy and mental bandwidth, but it shouldn't steamroll you into a paper doll of who you are.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  5. #4

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    I agree with Alexsmom's and FWP's points.

    You didn't say the age of your child. Sometimes finding time for yourself and your interests is dependent on how much supervision you child needs. Personally, I didn't start finding "me" time until my kids were 10, and not hugely so until they were 14 or 15.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years

    Daughter (21), a University of Iowa junior triple majoring in English with Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies

    Son (20), a Purdue University sophomore majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, and history

  6. #5

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    I think that finding like-minded people/families among homeschoolers is extremely hard because of the very nature of homeschooling. We are free to customize/individualize our lives and lifestyles to an unlimited extend. We do not have to fit into any boxes and, therefore, you end up with a wide diapason of styles and interests. ...and it becomes pretty impossible to find an exact match to yours.

    I agree with Alexsmom that HS socialization is about our kids, not us. As long as my kids like playing with the other kids, and as long as the other kids and their families meet my most important selection criteria (prioritize! prioritize!) , I will try to make it work with the other moms. Some I like more, some I like less, but I try not to judge.

    Is it really important how connected the partners are in the other family?
    Does it matter how many activities the other kids participate in?
    Why would you care what other families eat or how healthy their lifestyles are?

    Your post sounds a bit like you are searching for your true soulmates, not just some families for you and your kids to hang out with. I would lighten up!

    As to finding the right balance between homeschooling and your own ME time and interests, I fully agree that it is important. You do not mention how long you have been HS for, but it did take me almost 3 years before I started finding that balance. I hope time will help. There is nothing wrong in taking time for yourself...it is even educational - you are teaching your kid the value of mental self-care.
    mom to 3 girls: DD9, DD8, DD5

  7. #6

    Default

    So much good advice already. I am sorry you are going through this. I feel much the same way at times as I never aimed to homeschool. My daughter went to public school for 3 years but it did not work for her, and homeschooling has been exactly what she needs. I really want to do it for her but at the same time it sometimes feels like it has put my life on hold.

    I also don't fit in perfectly with any of the local homeschoolers. As has been suggested, we just overlook differences and focus on what we do have in common. Same for friends that are not homeschoolers.

    I have found what helped is picking up a hobby that was not something I can easily do, so I really have to go out of my way to do it and I have an hour to myself every week doing something completely unrelated to everything at home. I do have family to look after my kids while I do this though, do you have anyone that can watch your kids for you? For me, my hobby I decided to pick up was horse riding. I rode a little as a child but have not ridden in over 20 years. So, its a huge challenge, and my brain cannot think about anything else, which is very meditative in its own way and I come away feeling refreshed. At only an hour a week it does not take away from homeschooling/being present, but its more than enough to provide some self-care/fulfillment. I think the key is finding an activity that does not take up a lot of time, that is not something you would not otherwise do, and has a goal at the end of it. For me, my goal is to learn to walk/trot/canter well enough that I can go on a multi-day horse trek sometime in the future.

    Edited to add - I think it also helps to view finding friendships for yourself and finding social or educational opportunities for homeschooling as separate things. Rather than it all in one. Like viewing different friends for providing different things rather than having an all-in-one friend.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 09-08-2017 at 05:50 PM.

  8. #7
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    Call me selfish...because I do! I started to lose myself as well. Especially when dd was in school. I know I didnt fit in with the other parents. I didnt care. Then When I took dd out, the looks and silent gasps! Ugh! Then when we started hsing I did feel like I kinda lost myself. I dove right in. With curriculum, play groups, field trips, finding social activities and her friends. But once I found a co-op, I could focus on me a bit. When people looked at me cross eyed for using a co-op for a couple of subjects...eh, oh well. When dd decided to do girl scouts, eh, oh well. When I take her to work with me I got a couple side glances as well. Eh, oh well. I haven't ever felt the need to keep up with the Jones's. Nor have I ever felt the need to over schedule my kids either. But I also realize that I need to have ME time. Whether its watching a movie in MY room by MYSELF. Shoe kids! Going to the store by myself. Getting a hair cut by myself. I only work a few hours a day, if that, and that helps a lot. Even if I am on my computer playing a game and having the volume full blast playing Led Zepplin or The Who, maybe throw in a bit of Sean Paul or what ever, can release some tension. With headphones on of course. Take me back a bit. I have always been one to do my own thing, everyone else can take a hike. Its not to say I haven't felt pressure from outside sources. But once you let the outside sources in, it can have a profound affect (effect?). I dont know the age of your child(ren), but if they are young, see if theres a babysitter trustworthy to watch the littles while you take a walk. Have lunch with a friend. Have a date with your significant other. Shop for clothes. Explore a hobby. Homeschooled kids are always looking for some extra dough!

    Go be selfish!
    Bobo 13 yrs old - marches to the beat of her own drum, driven, out going and loud, yet she loves nature
    Booger Boy 21 yrs old - quiet, self assured, confident and laying his own path

    umbers cucumbers!!!!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by fastweedpuller View Post
    I wouldn't say your expectations are too high so much as you have expectations.

    When I started homeschooling, I had dreams about what our outside-school homeschooling lives would be like, and I had to quickly adjust my expectations down to zero. We are social, etc., but we could not look to other homeschoolers for our socialization (for many of the reasons you mentioned: wack disconnected moms mostly, but more often than not it was the religious thing that got in the way). What we all learned is this: If you gel with another family, then stick with them. If they are religious, overlook it. If they are slobs, overlook that too. If they don't homeschool, would never consider it, but you all get along great? Then they are your friends.

    I think the problem is that homeschooling to so many parents becomes not just a thing one does, but their ever-breathing identity. This is just a mistake, on soooo many levels. You're a parent first. You're a spouse. You're a ___ (name career). And... you homeschool your child.

    So maybe you do need to find what floated your boat before you homeschooled. Keep that going in your life. Sure, homeschooling takes up a lot of one's time and energy and mental bandwidth, but it shouldn't steamroll you into a paper doll of who you are.
    Thank you! You are my spirit animal. J/K—but you do get it and it is very refreshing to meet another who does.

    I appreciate those of you offering advice. I have about 4-5 hobbies. They are lovely, but can be distracting and expensive things. I miss having a career... A purpose beyond being a mom or teacher.

    It's not that I look down at stay at home parents. I have nothing but respect for people who choose that path if/when it truly makes them happy, but it is not for me. I need to do what I started out doing before I had a kid. I miss it, and it is who I am.

    As for my community? I'd have no problem with friends making different choices, but when they are up in my business about mine (because I'm not doing the same thing as them) I really don't consider that a healthy friendship.

    A problem is a chunk of my community doesn't just want socialization for their kids or even friendship (which we used to have). They want clones, and they used toxic methods to get those. It's sad. I've known them for years and they didn't become that way until lately when one of them started up a COOP.

    Their choices. I'm not worried abut it as it is not in my power or business to change others. I just really don't care to be around that kind of behavior. I've seen it enough in my hyper-religious extended family to find it offputting and damaging to all involved--including the children.

    My kid is getting socialization lots of ways. The kid has a lot of friends, and there's loads of afterschool programs around here—as well as cool homeschool one-day classes at museums and such in our city. While we still do things with other local homeschoolers, it is positive to meet children from lots of different situations.

    But that aside - I have been wondering...does anyone who has a career (not a hobby) and who homeschools actually exist? I know they must... I just don't meet any in my group.

    And I want to meet more people like that——not to feel better about my choices (I know they are right for me either way)——but to get advice and find out what it takes to balance homeschool and a career.

  10. #9

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    Have you thought about what specific thing it is about having a job that you find fulfilling? Is it a particular task, or the being part of a team working on solving a problem, earning money, something else?

    I have a job and homeschool. So, yes you can do both. Is there something for your field of work that you can do part-time or from home? I do academic editing from home, which I some days hate and some days is relatively enjoyable. I do anything from a few hours a day up to 10 hours a day.

    For how I fit it in, a lot of it I have do after 8 pm at night when the kids are in bed. If it is just my 9 year old home, and she is going well independently on her work, then I can work during the day. However, it is pretty impossible to get work done with the 4 year old around, as she either bugs me or her sister. So, I generally only get work done in the day time on the three days she is at a play-based preschool.

    I don't find having a job or career fulfilling though and I would personally like to be able to afford to work a lot less, rather than feeling like having too many things on my plate. However, that is just my particularly personality. I have never had what someone else would call a proper job. I have had temporary summer jobs and tutor/research positions as a student. Then I did a PhD, and since then (9 years ago), I have been self-employed. So I am not the type of person to enjoy being part of a team or having to get up and showered and dressed and go off and work in an office. The thing that floats my boat is learning new things, which is why I did a PhD just for the deep learning experience and then have absolutely no ambitions of pursing an academic career. For me, if it is learning how to ride a horse or learning something new to me along with DD, then I find that just as fulfilling as any other learning that I do. My job is sometimes fulfilling, as its academic editing I get to read new stuff every day, but it is not always stuff I want to learn, so sometimes it is just a drag.

    So I guess it boils down to, what specific things about your job made you feel good and how can you replicate that at home or find a flexible position that provides you with some of that fulfillment? If you cannot find a flexible paid position, can you volunteer doing something?

    I guess also being home I never view my purpose as being a mother or a teacher. My purpose is to live a happy life where I contribute positively to the world and have experiences that make me feel something. Being a mother and being a teacher to my kids is just something that happens on the side of that, the same as it would if I was being a mother doing all the chores to getting my kids to and from school each day and helping them with their homework. So maybe you need to think differently about your being home, as it not being your purpose.

  11. #10

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    I have a degree or two, and I had a career using them for over a decade before I had my kids so I feel like I'm not following my passion or abilities to their full degree. I wouldn't care, but I miss it. I tend to work independently but I do stay in contact with clients so I can work from home.

    Right now, it's been hitting me how much I miss it. I've seen so many stay-at-home parents in my early life become miserable (my MIL, my grandmother, my ex's mom, many moms of friends, etc...). Statistics back up that depression and anxiety in SAH mothers are common occurrences, too. That concerns me.

    Then some of the first homeschool parents I've met in the late 90s were very unhappy and lonely and seemed to have forgotten how to interact with other adults. Unlike us, these ladies were from heavily religious backgrounds and had been separated from a lot of society to begin with, but recently I've been noticing similar behavior begin to emerge in some parents I was friends with in my local homeschool groups. It appears to get worse the older our kids get. That is not something I want for myself nor do I want to model it to my children.

    But most importantly and honestly? I loved what I did. I never intended to leave it behind fully——just put it in hiatus for a while. While it's not all a bag of rainbows every day it does make me excited to do, and I am good at it. So I invested in equipment to get myself started this fall or winter. I am hoping to make the money back that I spent on it within a year (I can in months once I get rolling).

    It's not the whole issue by itself... The group I was part of actually has become dysfunctional. Since a friend started this COOP and recruited many of us, I've seen some pretty toxic interactions--kinds that I had not been privy to since I was in middle school. It is very sad as kids are in the mix, and it was impacting my own child. That was a big part of why we took a step away from it...plus more and more time was expected from me to volunteer even though we were already paying "tuition". That has been hard as we've been close with this group for about 5 years. I guess I need to look at the old saying about one door closing and another opening, but having a safe place to vent helps.
    Last edited by Reeba; 09-09-2017 at 04:23 PM.

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Homeschool Parents - Does Anyone Care About Self-Care While Doing This?