mom guilt + why I don’t homeschool anymore

Hyrum-&-Asher-Homeschool I’ve mentioned Joseph has been gone a lot the past two weeks.

When I say a lot, I mean: he’s been working 12-15 hour days, even on the weekend.

To say it has impacted our family life is an understatement.

The other day, one of my boys had a melt-down. He wouldn’t stop crying & I couldn’t figure out why he was crying. After some prodding, he choked out–”I hate how dad’s not home any more.”

It made me so sad. Dads are important. And when they’re not around, there are repercussions, whether we like it or not.

I don’t like to participate in the “mommy wars” discussions (usually, though Lizzy has some good thoughts about it), because though I think it’s important for women to have a running conversation about rights & equality, & issues of work/home balance, too often it becomes a feud of “us” vs. “them.” The working moms vs. the SAHMs. I just don’t like it. I’d rather spend my time reading a good book or making cookies.

I’ve always provided in some way towards our family financially.

Of course, I include all of my work cooking, cleaning, paying bills, taking care of our children as work, but I’ve always brought in some sort of income, meager as it may be at times. And I like it. It gives me great satisfaction knowing I can help contribute towards our family finances. Not only that, but my work as a fitness professional for all those years, & now as a blogger, I have created spaces for me to develop myself in other areas of my life.

I love being a mom. It’s the hardest, most rewarding job I know of. But often I have guilt, you know, of the “mom-guilt” variety–I don’t play with my kids enough, I don’t listen or talk to them as much as I should. I yelled, when I should have spoken softly, like I know so-and-so would have.

For longer term bring joy readers, you know that I had a brief stint with home schooling. I home schooled my oldest for kindergarten. Then in 2012, I did for four months. Both times, it was a clear choice–I knew it was the right thing for me to do at the time. But after the second experience, & we moved to Texas, it was also clear that I should put my kids in public school.

I’m not one of those that believes that the country is going to hell in a hand basket because of the public school system in America.

Yes, it has it’s shortcomings, but I believe the free, public education that is offered in the U.S. is in part what has made our country so great. So many teachers give their heart & soul to these kids. I have several extended & immediate family member who are school teachers & they put up with a lot, for not very much pay. Most of them do it because they love what they do. Kids get an opportunity to learn, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status. It’s a great melting pot where kids learn how to get along with all types of people.

Don’t think I’m not aware of the public school system’s shortcomings–underfunding, bullying, drugs, boredom, “dumbing down” curriculum, teaching in a mass-produced way. All of the these are concerns, sure.

But I’m thrilled to send my kids to school each day. Why? Because they’re learning. They’re exposed to lots of ideas & people, places & things that I could never offer them.

Perhaps when I gave homeschooling a go, especially the second time, I wasn’t doing it the “right” way. At each day’s end, I was completely pooped. I felt like I lived, breathed my kids & at the end of the experience, especially looking back, I think, that was not good for me, or for them.

I realized I am only one woman, & I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I don’t have to be a sexy, well-dressed, perfectly groomed & fit wife bouncing with energy at all times of the day, a domestic goddess that puts to shame the likes of Martha Stewart, a Mary Poppins-like mother, a Charlotte Mason home educator for all my five kids, AND a brilliant chef & baker to boot. I just need to be my kid’s mom, my husband’s wife, & if I’m so inclined or by necessity, an active participant in the greater community & world through paid work or volunteering opportunities.

Which brings me to my next point.

I feel strongly in women pursuing a career, outside of home & family.

Of course, if a woman is absolutely content living completely in the realm of family life, more power to her. But I am not one of those women, & I believe many women are like me. And, I don’t think I’m saying this simply to justify my own behavior but, it is okay, it can even be a good thing for women to go beyond the reaches of her own home. Whether this be through volunteering or paid work, the world needs us. Yes, they need us to be kind, compassionate & attentive mothers, but the world also needs our contributions elsewhere. The contributions that only we can make.

I once had a conversation with a fellow Mormon mom of seven young kids (there were triplets in there). She had decided to home school. I asked her the reasons why. Her response boggled my mind. She felt like she wouldn’t be a “good enough” mom if she didn’t home school. What?!

I couldn’t believe it. I mean, she was willing & did bear seven children. She was running that household, as well as supporting a medical resident husband. On top of that, she felt she had to be personally responsible for the education of each one of her children (three of whom were only 1 year old at the time). Call me crazy, but I believe that fits under the umbrella of: “impossibly high standards to achieve.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my nearly nine years as a parent it’s this.

The most important thing about parenting is not whether or not we home school our children, or if our children are with us every waking minute of each day, or if we do enough DIY crafts with them, or if we enroll them at a language institute at the age of three.

The most important thing is that we create a stable, loving home environment where they know they are loved. Where their basic physical & emotional needs are met. The good news is, these two things can be achieved in a variety of ways.

For me, it’s clear I am a better mother & person when I have outside interests & hobbies (this blog!). It’s not good for my brain to be entirely wrapped up in my kids. I begin to feel isolated, dare I say crazy, if I don’t have any outlets.

It’s a delicate balance, to be sure. Our children need us, especially when they are young. They need stability. They need our love & attention. There is no replacement for us.

But at the same time, it’s crucial for us to realize that there needn’t be guilt if we have interests outside our kids. If we don’t want to home school. This doesn’t mean we love our children any less, or that we are any less of a parent because of it.

As Joseph ends this big case tomorrow, hopefully our family life will return to normal (whatever that is). The kids will see him more & everyone will be in a better place.

I’m reminded that the fabric of family life is a complex one. No two families look alike, but the thread that unites each happy/successful one is love, time, attention. And any parent, no matter their working status, whether they home school or not, with some thoughtfulness, discernment, & perhaps a bit of creativity can give that to their child.

Are you a stay-at-home parent, work from home, or work outside the home? Please, I’d love to know your thoughts about home schooling, working, pressures of doing things a certain way as a parent. All thoughts & perspectives welcome!

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Comments


  1. Michele lofgren
    on August 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm said:

    I am a wife and mother of 5 children. We home school them because we believe that is the best thing for our children. As parents, we are responsible for caring for and raising our children. It is our decision how we should educate and raise our children, not anyone else’s. Every parent is responsible for our the educate and raise their children. Every parent needs to make the best decision for their children whether it is public, private, or home school. We don’t need to question what others are doing with their kids- the focus should be on our own families.

  2. Ashley
    on August 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm said:

    THANK YOU for writing this! My oldest turned 3 in April and I’m already feeling the homeschooling heat. We have 2 kids, both girls, and we know that this is how big we want our family to be (gasp!) and we don’t want to homeschool and aren’t even sure we agree with homeschooling (double, triple gasp!). There’s so so so much mom guilt, it’s just terrible. Thank for dealing with this issue boldly on your blog. Families do look different and that’s not a bad thing. We have freedom through Christ to be different as long as we are trusting in Him. It should look different, it’s the body, right? I mean, where did we lose this? When did this idea of women being the perfect homemaker become SUCH a ridiculous competition? Sorry, this is a whole other soap box. But seriously, thank you. I’ll be reading your blog again, fellow momma. ; )

  3. Whitney
    on June 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm said:

    I’m extremely late to this conversation, but your points (and many of the comments) were so great that I had to join in.

    I live in a fairly small town and the three local school systems are all great. My school system is particularly fantastic. Small class sizes, academically rigorous, and a generally conservative staff. There’s also an extremely popular private Christian school in town that parents praise up and down. But the prevailing viewpoint of the homeschool families seems to be that all public schools are inferior to all private schools, and all private schools are inferior to homeschool.

    These are, of course, generalities, but the growing number of families in the area who are choosing to homeschool don’t seem to see anything else as an option. If you’re a Christian SAHM, not homeschooling is seen as sheer laziness on your part.

    Last summer I was speaking with a homeschooling friend, telling her about a project I did with my kids (ages 5 (barely), 3, 22 months and 3 months at the time), and she nodded and said, “See, you can homeschool!” like my choice not to lay in my own self-doubt. But it’s not self-doubt that keeps me from homeschooling. I truly believe my children will benefit more from an education outside our home than in it. Though I do think I know my children better than anyone, I’m not arrogant enough to believe I can provide a better first grade education than someone teaching that grade for 20 years, or direct my child in math better than someone who has a passion for the subject. I also know I’m a better mom in every other way when I have a break from my children.

    Yes, sending my children out into the world without me is scary, but I have to trust that I’m giving them the right tools to deal with what they’ll encounter. Homeschoolers love to quote the second half of John 17:15 in support of their homeschooling, “…keep them safe from the evil one” while completely forgetting (or choosing to ignore) the first half of that verse: “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world …”

    I truly wish I could be more direct in my answers to homeschooling parents, when asked why I don’t do it. I’d like to say,”We don’t agree with it,” which is the truth. Instead, I say, “Oh, we have such a great school district, why wouldn’t I take advantage of it?” Or the complete cop-out, “I’d like to get back to writing freelance when they are school aged,” because I know the full truth will stomp on toes. So I sit back and take the heat and hope there aren’t others around who are homeschooling out of guilt because they believe they have no other choice if they want to be good parents.

    • Ashley
      on August 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm said:

      It makes me wonder what is going to be the outcome of all of these kids that are being homeschooled sheerly out of parental guilt. That is no way to make a decision, especially one that huge. Right?

      And “See, you can homeschool!”… Um, first of all DEHUMANIZING! No one said you couldn’t, you don’t want to. Rude. And what if you can’t.? I can’t. I really think that I can’t because it’s not in my capacity to do. Just like it’s not in my capacity to fly an airplane. Does that make me a failure or a cynic to say that I can’t? No, it doesn’t at all. It makes me a person with some discernment whose trying to make sense of what I can and cannot do and how that affects my family and the huge decision of my children’s education. Moms that don’t want to homeschool or can’t or whatever is driving their decision need some empowerment, especially in the Christian world, because it is a battle field. You’re the epitomy of a woman if you not only got married but had lots of kids and homeschool them all? That’s not in the Bible. That’s some unrealistic cultural norm that got slid in somewhere and it needs to get a dose of the Word. #truthbombs

  4. Lisa
    on May 20, 2014 at 9:03 am said:

    I know I am late in the conversation, but I wanted to say a big thank you! Not enough is written about this subject. I have homeschooled for 18 years. Recently, I put my 4 of my 5 children remaining at home in school. I tried to continue and hold on to homeschooling for way too long. I was very hard on myself, thinking I had to do it at all cost. I will probably be putting my youngest in school in the fall. THe Lord has really broken my pride and shown me I am not the one in control. I have tried to control so much of their lives. I have started a blog for homeschool moms considering school and former homeschooling moms because so little is written about the feelings (like guilt and failure) that a mom experiences when she puts her children in after homeschooling. Feel free to stop by and share your experiences. http://rest-for-the-weary.blogspot.com

  5. lisa
    on May 20, 2014 at 7:55 am said:

    Late in finding your post, but i wanted to say thank you! I have homeschooled for 18 years. Recently i put 4 of the 5 remaining children at home in school. That leaves me with just my youngest at home who i am probably sending to school in the fall. It took me a long time to admit i could no longer do this. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep going, but the Lord broke my pride and made me see. I have started a b log for homeschool moms considering school or former homeschool moms. Stop by and share your experiences. Http://rest-for-the-weary.blogspot.com

  6. bitt
    on April 11, 2014 at 8:28 am said:

    As a teacher, it means a lot to see you value the profession! If anything, having done homeschooling makes it seem as if you really understand what teachers go through! Thanks. I am not against homeschooling either, if it works for the family and child. I am sure some school situations are better than others too and that factors in. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Janae Wise
      on April 11, 2014 at 11:32 am said:

      I LOVE teachers. I have personally known & interacted with some fabulous human beings in the teaching profession. I’m so grateful for people like you who give so much to helping kids learn & grow.

  7. Emily C.
    on April 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm said:

    I’m late to the comment game so I debated if I should post but want to thank you for a thoughtful, timely post.

    I’ve felt similar feelings to the mom of 7 that I needed to homeschool my kids to be a good mom (and do the other things you mentioned and more!). I don’t think badly of parents who don’t homeschool but I’ve had nearly impossible expectations for myself…so I’ve done it for 5 years. My kids’ academic experience has been awesome but there wasn’t much of mom left after academics (let alone a happy mom or wife which is essential). In the past month, we’ve been discussing it as a family and decided to make a change this fall.

    Thank you to you and those who participated in an important discussion and kept it positive.

    • Janae Wise
      on April 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm said:

      Emily, wow! You’ve homeschooled 3 1/2 years longer than I could have. I applaud you for sticking with it, but feel your struggle (not much happy mom left after academics–this was me!). If your experience has been anything like mine, I think you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted once your kids start going to school. For me, I felt like I could breathe again. I think too often we think, “oh well, why can’t I do this–so & so has 7 kids and *she* does it.” But I think it’s important to remember we all have different circumstances, & we only see a small portion of what people are really going through. Anyway, I hope you can move forward with a decision that will help your kids and YOU be your best selves. Thanks for chiming in!

      ox

  8. Cassy Fugal
    on March 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm said:

    When we first started having kids, Brigham and I talked about homeschooling and had planned on doing it. Or at least Brigham had, he was homeschooled and love it. I was hesitant despite having a degree in Elementary Ed. A few month before James started kindergarten I knew that if I were to homeschool him everyone would be miserable. James needs to be around other children, it is what motivates him to learn. He wants to learn things quickly and well so he can help other kids in his class who struggle. He needs to feel that he can helpful by helping other kids to learn. He would not have that at home. I also knew that I could not homeschool. At the time I was overwhelmed with a too large house (more than double to size of the house we had moved from in Provo), I was pregnant with our fourth, and Brigham was working 12-15 hours a day including Saturdays (that was his typically schedule for the two years we were at that duty station. thankfully his hours are much better at his current duty station although the last month or so he has had longer hours but that should end next week). I almost wept for joy when James informed that he did not want me to his teacher and wanted to go to school. It was such a relief. But contemplating homeschooling made me evaluate myself as a mother and person, what are my strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly what are my needs.

  9. Gabby @ the veggie nook
    on March 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm said:

    I am not a parent, so I have no experience in these areas, but I agree completely that the pubic school system here in Canada is wonderful (not without faults) in that it teaches the fundamentals and provides an important opportunity for getting children out in the world meeting new people.

    So sorry to hear home life has been tough with Joseph gone :( Keep pushing girl!

    • lfwfv
      on April 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm said:

      Agreed, public school in Canada was great for me. I moved to the US for grad school and am nos married and living in the US. We are considering homeschooling in the US primarily because I feel the academic standard here in the US is very low in most public schools, and we can’t afford private.

      • Janae Wise
        on April 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm said:

        The low academic standards are a very real concern for me too. However, I have been impressed with Texas’s standards. They seem to be much more rigorous than what I experienced in Utah (which, in full disclosure was quite limited). I think it varies from state to state, district to district, even school to school. One thing I am grateful for though is the gifted & talented programs most schools have. All of my kids were tested & one will be doing it beginning next year. We’ll see about the others. I am grateful that these type of programs exist to help challenge my kids & lift the academic bar somewhat.

        Somehow I don’t think I knew you were Canadian Tanya! Do you have an accent? Do you have dual citizenship?

  10. April
    on March 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm said:

    Great post! You’ve struck a nerve (a good one not bad) w/ the homeschooling thoughts. I am a Christian and I think among dedicated Christians there is this stigma that if you are a good enough mom who really loves her kids and values their spiritual upbringing you will home school. So many of my church friends home school for that reason. While I have no doubt that there are certain schools that are severely below par and equally no doubt that some children will thrive and receive a much superior education because of home school it is certainly not for everyone. In fact one of the moms I know that home schools never even completed high school or got a GED. For me personally, I have doubts if that’s the best thing for her children. Yes in Kindergarten and 1st grade they are fine but what about as they grow? Her intention is to home school their entire lives….

    For me personally I am with you Janae. I am a MUCH better mother when my kids are at school. Even with one in school full time and the other part time I still have 1 child all day every day and 2 children half a day every day and all day some other days. I *need* a break from my kids. Without that break I am not a good mom. So while I hold fast that I will *always, always, always* be willing to home school if I need to (lets say extreme bullying or something else) I am a better mother, now, if I don’t.

    You hit it on the head-providing a home where kids are loved and get their physical and emotional needs met is key. That’s the standard. If we are meeting that-even if we don’t do every pintrest craft and take them to every fair that comes to town or buy them new clothes from the latest place every season-then we have done our jobs and we have done it WELL.

  11. Becci
    on March 28, 2014 at 6:41 am said:

    I firmly believe that God calls us to do what He needs us to do, and He will help us with what He has asked us to do. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, because life never is–but He will help us accomplish His will.

    I have 4 kids, and I have always homeschooled them. My oldest is no longer at home, but his personality and brilliance is what led me to homeschool initially (he scored 90% on a 5th grade test the summer before Kindergarten, I was terrified of the trouble he would get into if he was that bored! Lol) I currently have kids in 11th, 7th, and 2nd grade.

    I am also a home birth midwife. I am going to school myself. And for almost 5 years, I was the Relief Society President of our ward. I learned to delegate, even in my house–older kids help teach anyone younger than they are. All of my kids, even the 7 year old, makes dinner once a week. Out of my weakness and inability to accomplish everything was born a path of growth for my children. My life is exhausting to even think about, lol, but overall I love it (even though there are days when I hate it and don’t even want to get out of bed! Lol)

    I learned so much last summer when I was released from my calling–the Lord had given me so much strength beyond my own to accomplish what He had asked me to do. He carried me for almost 5 years. Now that I am walking on my own again, I had to relearn how to balance. I didn’t suddenly have all that extra time I was looking forward to–in fact, I had less time! I had to reevaluate priorities. I had to cut things out. I was able to do less with and for my children than I had been able to do before I was released! I felt I was drowning earlier this school year, but now I can keep my head above water most days.

    My point is this: If The Lord has called you to do something, even if it looks insanely overwhelming, do it. He will help you. An occasional feeling of being overwhelmed is human. But if that is consistently what you feel, it is probably time to reevaluate what The Lord has called you to do and what you have placed on yourself.

    Homeschool vs public school, work or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is if we are willing to listen to the Spirit and follow its guidance. As long as we do that, we will have the strength we need to accomplish whatever it is we need to do–and I’m not talking about that pile of laundry in my house or the times when my child needs me but I just don’t see the need for what it is–I’m talking about things that matter eternally, the end result.

    I’m not perfect, I trip, I fall, I screw up, I wonder if I should save up for my children’s future health needs–but I know that the path I am on is the path I should be on. My children were sent to me for a reason, and my Father wants me to succeed–He will send me help (either through additional strength, someone else’s words or actions, or feelings of being so overwhelmed that I feel like I am drowning that lead me to reevaluate my priorities). I don’t have to do this on my own. I shouldn’t do this on my own. I cannot fail if I allow Him to help me. My best is enough when I allow my Savior to walk beside me and make up the difference for my shortcomings! And that matters so much more than whether I homeschool or public school (and every other decision I face).

    Loved your poet, Janae! It really made me think and reevaluate again.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 28, 2014 at 8:41 am said:

      Becci, you are one those homeschooling moms that I look up to. I marvel at how you’ve been able to be a midwife, & home school, & for all those years as a RS president. I have no doubt it’s because as you said, you relied on your faith & God to make these decisions & He helped you through.

      I absolutely believe we all have different paths to take in this life. I see the choice to home school as more of a calling. If you feel called to do it, after much deliberation, prayer, & discernment, of course do it! Which, as you point out, is what you’ve done.

      My sister (a mom of 5) home schooled her oldest 2. She burned out after a few years–taking care of small children coupled with health issues & financial problems took their toll. Her kids attended public school after that. But now, her youngest is 10 & she’s home schooling again. From what I can tell, it’s been a good choice & a right fit for her & her kids at this time. Times & seasons…

      I’m grateful that my kids have gone to this public school here in S.A. Their teachers are amazing!! I can see & feel how much they love & care for my kids. I’m humbled by how much they put into their work as educators. I love that my kids are able to meet all sorts of people in their classes & come home & we can talk about how fortunate & blessed we are to have what we have & talk about how not everyone has what we have, & how we can help others who are less fortunate. Since I have three kids going to one school, & since I walk my kids to school, I get to interact with the staff & teachers. They all know my kids & I’ve been told by several teachers & staff how well-behaved, hard-working & good examples my kids are. I’ve even had a few calls from the V.P. for two of my kids, just leaving me a message letting me know how their teachers had mentioned how well they were doing in class, & how, they were happy & grateful to have our kids in the school. Talk about a personal touch!

      I guess I’m just coming from a place of gratitude for these good people who do something for me & my children that I couldn’t personally do.

      And I want you to know I completely agree–if you feel prompted by God to something, even if it’s hard, even if it seems crazy, do it. It can be tricky though, navigating those waters of trying to figure out God’s individual plan for us & our families. A daily process of faith, grace & works, I’d say.

      • Becci
        on March 28, 2014 at 10:09 am said:

        I think sometimes moms are called to public school their children, as well. God knows what we need and what our children need, and He knows the best way for us to get home!

        I am so grateful that your children are having a fantastic school experience. There is a part of me that is jealous. :) There are good people who are willing and able to help us progress, regardless of our path.

        What I choose to do or not do does not make me (or anyone else) a good mom or a bad mom. A good mom loves her children and desires their success and joy in life. The pathways there are varied, and that’s ok! I do not have value because of what I do, how I react, how my children behave. I have value because of my divine heritage. Everything else is an adjective that may describe me or my children at specific points, but it is not who I am.

        And I apologize for my earlier typos. It was written in a dark car waiting for seminary to get out. I promise I know how to spell! :)

  12. Sarah
    on March 27, 2014 at 10:16 pm said:

    Hi. So randomly my friend shared this post on Facebook and I of course jumped to read it given the title. I am that mormon mom of 7 with triplets you quoted in the post. To sum up things we moved to a different city and had planned on homeschooling but The Lord knew better and planted us in one of the most amazing areas with some of the most amazing public schools! Over the summer when we first got here I just started to panic the trio were around 18 months and while we were having a blast because it was summer whenever I thought about homeschool I would get so anxious and finally drove myself crazy emotionally! I could go on with all I was thinking and all my worries but I had 4 children under three and would be responsible for a 1, 2 and 4 graders education. Yeah I was a wreck. And here is the kicker I didn’t think this of other moms just myself that to be the best mother to my children I had to homeschool. It makes me tear up a little now thinking about that statement and pressure I put on myself. So as I really started digging deep to what was going on I discovered I did not in any way want to homeschool my children these next couple of years. When I finally said that out loud to my husband the weight was lifted. See the issue was not what school philosophy I had it was what expectations and standards had I placed upon myself as a woman, wife and mother. That is the core of this discussion. And why do we do it to ourselves. I have learned so any lessons from last summer and the biggest was being honest with myself. My children go to one if the best schools in the state(remember how I said The Lord took care of me even before I needed his watchful eye in this situation?) and they are thriving getting what they need and I KNOW this was the choice for US. This is a great discussion thanks! And just a side note isn’t the world of motherhood a small beautiful place! Thank you for posting about our discussion it ry reminded me of this huge lesson I earned lady summer!!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 28, 2014 at 8:55 am said:

      No way Sarah–I cannot imagine how strange that must have been to read the post & then all of a sudden discover that you’re being quoted in it!

      I’m so glad to hear from you. I wondered what you ended up doing.

      “So as I really started digging deep to what was going on I discovered I did not in any way want to homeschool my children these next couple of years.”
      Honestly, you just saying that gives me relief! When you told me about your contemplating it, *I* had anxiety about it! Your triplets are at the age where they need so much of your time & attention & love, & having been in that place with a one year old trying to home school several different children, all at different levels, I knew that some massive divine intervention would have to happen for you to do it & not lose your bearings.

      “it was what expectations and standards had I placed upon myself as a woman, wife and mother.”
      Oh my goodness. YES. You are an amazing woman already. You don’t need to home school just for the sake of proving anything. I think you’re pretty spectacular just for being willing & able to have & raise SEVEN children! I think so many, so many women have experienced similar feelings to yours. And I just have to say, we’ve got to stop it! As I said in a previous comment, life is complicated & difficult enough without us imposing impossibly high standards & expectations for ourselves. Our worth as women is intrinsic, & no amount of works (or lack thereof) can make our infinite worth go up or down. (My friend Meg has written a pretty spectacular piece about it–it’s lengthy, but worth the read! http://www.meginprogress.com/a-call-to-womanhood-intrinsic/)

      “My children go to one if the best schools in the state.”
      What a blessing.

      “And just a side note isn’t the world of motherhood a small beautiful place!”
      Yes, I never in a million years would have thought you would have stumbled upon this post. We had only just briefly crossed paths & didn’t really know each other when you lived here, mostly just peripherally. Small world, indeed.

      So happy you took the time to comment, & have to say in my 5 years of blogging, this is one of the most happy coincidences I’ve experienced. Glad things are working out for you Sarah.

      ox

      • Sarah
        on March 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm said:

        I am not sure if this is OK if it is not please just erase this comment. But I wanted to share a book I have been reading and LOVE it! It is called Motherhood Realized it is a compilation of short essays on Motherhood done by Power of Moms website. It has been so uplifting to me with just this very discussion and the cause for the importance of motherhood as well as the woman herself!! LOVE IT!! It is on sale now and I think it is still at a discounted price 13 bucks or so. Again thanks for the discussion!

  13. Katie Lorsch
    on March 27, 2014 at 7:25 pm said:

    Thanks for the post Janae. I can’t imagine my husband working that kind of schedule – especially with a wee bairn! :)

    My oldest is not in school yet, but have personally felt very impressed to not put my children in public school. Having done research about new programs being implemented in many of our states, and other personal research, I feel very strongly about this. That being said, I do not look down on or criticize or think less of anyone who puts their kids in public school. I just wanted to say this because you mention all the wonderful things about public school and I completely understand your point of view. I just don’t agree :) I also know that the Lord guides us to do what is right for our own families. I’m glad that you’ve found a nice balance and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 7:46 pm said:

      Hi Katie!

      “I can’t imagine my husband working that kind of schedule – especially with a wee bairn! :)”
      It is quite a juggling act sometime, but all in all, it’s what he wants to do & it’s a blessing for our family for him to have an income that can support us. Also, we both believe in the cause of being a part of helping to keep our country free & strong.

      “My oldest is not in school yet, but have personally felt very impressed to not put my children in public school. Having done research about new programs being implemented in many of our states, and other personal research, I feel very strongly about this.”
      I felt the same way with my oldest. At least in the sense that I felt very strongly that I needed to keep him home for kindergarten. I’m very happy I made that decision, & know that it was absolutely the right one for him, & for the time.

      “I just wanted to say this because you mention all the wonderful things about public school and I completely understand your point of view. I just don’t agree :)”
      When I was looking into home school, it felt a lot like when I first became vegan. So much information–a lot of it awesome, a lot of it confusing, & some just down right negative & critical. Over the years, I’ve realized you can pick apart any concept or practice if that’s your goal. The public school system is far from perfect, but I believe in it, because I believe that though systems are flawed, people are inherently good & the people involved in public education, for the most part, are passionate, caring individuals who devote their lives to educating.

      Heaven help us if we were all left to home school our own children! For many it’s just not even an option. And speaking from having known so many disadvantaged families, public school is the only option for them. And what a blessing that they have the option of free education. I just can’t believe that the public school system is so awful that millions & millions of American children are being ruined by public education. What a bleak & depressing prospect!

      Home schooling, like being a stay-at-home mom is a blessing and a luxury. The fact is, not all women (or men, as the case may be) want or are well-equipped to properly educate their own children. Don’t get me wrong, I think home schooling can be an awesome option for the right family, but not all families. I’m grateful that we live in a country where we have public education, charter schools, & private schools, as well as the option of home schooling if we are so inclined–& that our personal approach & the decision we make for our kids is ultimately left to us & our good judgment.

      I wish you the best with your home schooling journey. Again, I think it can be a great option for some. And if you have felt personally inspired & led to make this decision, even more power to you!

      ox

  14. Alanna
    on March 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm said:

    Wow, Janae. You completely wrote about my greatest dilema at present. This is my first year homeschooling. I have one in kindergarten and one in first grade. We’re using the Sonlight curriculum and I absolutely love it. I love learning right along side them. I love that my children are together all day. I love the excitement they have for learning (which my oldest struggled with during 1st grade at public school). However…
    I’m drowning. I was crying to my husband last night about it. It’s not that I don’t have free time–that I could live without. But I don’t even have enough time for all that’s on my plate. With four young children (1,3,5,7) I’m living my life 2 days behind and 15 minutes late. It’s becoming exhausting.
    Why not put them in public school again? It’s not that I feel like a “bad mom” if I don’t homeschool. It’s that I’m scared that I’ll look back and wish I’d spent that time with them. That I’d regret it, horribly.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it and starting this conversation. I’ll be stalking the comments.

    • Daisy
      on March 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm said:

      Alanna, other homeschool moms in local groups are saying the same thing right now! It’s that time of year. I also think that as the year progresses, we tend to accumulate clutter–not physical clutter, but “to do” clutter. We keep adding on and adding on until we just can’t go on anymore. Like we might do some spring cleaning in our homes, sometimes we just have to sit down and do some spring cleaning of our schedules/life. Things that we have placed as priorities might not have to be priorities, for example. (I remember on one list, one mom was feeling swamped and she listed the things she felt she had to do each day–including cleaning her, I think, 3 bathrooms from top to bottom. Her mother had done that, so she thought that’s just what you had to do. I told her most people will only do that once a week. Just removing that one thing from her list made such a different!)

      For me, I periodically have to sit down a reassess what I’m doing. Am I doing what’s really important *to me* or have I gotten caught up in the things life brings my way, even if they just aren’t that important? Is not getting such-and-such thing done really horrendous? Etc. When we can really focus on our priorities and not all the extras or the “shoulds”, it can make a world of difference.

      • Daisy
        on March 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm said:

        Here, a song I heard on the radio that you might find uplifting. :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeLsUxD89L8

        • Alanna
          on March 28, 2014 at 11:19 am said:

          What a cool song, Daisy! Thank you for sharing that. :)

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm said:

      “I love learning right along side them. I love that my children are together all day. I love the excitement they have for learning.”
      These were all the reasons I loved homeschooling. Only two children were excited about learning though. The other fought me tooth & nail, & it was only when he went to public school & had the positive pressure from peers & his teacher that he challenged himself & saw learning as exciting. Believe me, I’m very much a–do what you want to do, even if it’s crazy & different kind of girl. But it has to make sense on more than one level.

      Speaking of your young children, when I home schooled this last time around, it was because of Salem that I really decided I could no longer do it. She was 1 at the time, & I felt she was being totally neglected because I was so busy helping Asher learn how to read, Hyrum learn how to write. Having a 2nd grader, kindergartener, pre-K, & then 1 year old was simple too much! And I felt like Salem was being robbed of precious time & attention because I had to focus on the other kids. It wasn’t fair to her.

      “It’s that I’m scared that I’ll look back and wish I’d spent that time with them. That I’d regret it, horribly.”
      I think you still have plenty of time to spend with them! And if it means that you’re going to be a stable, not-burned out mother when you are with them, I think this is doubly important.

      I believe life is challenging enough without imposing arbitrary rules or standards for ourselves. When we moved to Texas, I was planning on continuing to home school. In fact, I had no idea that my kid’s school was just up the road until we had moved in. As soon as I saw the school, I *knew* that that was where they needed to be. As soon as they began school, it was like a weight was lifted. I was happy again. I was not completely wasted at the end of each day. I had time & energy for my husband & home life.

      I haven’t ruled out home school forever. Since we’re in the military, there may be a place where we’ll be stationed that I just don’t feel right about the schools in addition to me being in the right place to have the time & energy to help each child (I think this will only happen once I no longer have a baby or toddler under foot)–in such case, I would consider home schooling again. I absolutely have NO idea how someone like Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) does it–with a full-time career & blog. No freakin’ idea. That woman must not sleep.

      I know you’ll figure it out. Keep me posted on what you decide to do to make things better. (I think Daisy’s advice is pretty great, too.)

      • Alanna
        on March 28, 2014 at 11:42 am said:

        Yep, Janae it sounds like I am in exactly your shoes (last time you homeschooled). My 1 and 3 year old girls are just along for the ride while I attempt to give my second grader a great education and teach my kindergartener to read and write. There is a huge difference between what I was able to do with my older two (library, park, snuggle time) and my younger two. And maybe that’s okay, every season is different.
        I’m grateful for all of these comments though. It definitely has me evaluating my reasoning to see how much of it is “mom-guilt” and how much of it is a pure desire to do this.

        When I started this year of home school my 3 and 5 year old kids were attending a Montessori school for the morning. It was a beautiful schedule where my baby also napped in the morning and my oldest and I had a couple solid hours to work on his schooling together. That arrangement was bliss. I will always look back on those months and treasure them.
        Then my father had severe health issues over the holidays and ended up moving in with our family permanently. We had to relocate to accommodate our new family size. We also pulled the two children from Montessori–because we were moving but also because it was getting dang expensive.
        So here we are in a new area, new ward, adjusting to my father living with us, and trying to get through homeschooling with all four children at home.
        This all contributes to that “drowning” feeling. But again, I’m grateful for all of these thoughtful comments that are helping me evaluate the “mom-guilt” vs me actually wanting to do this.

        Oh, and the schools aren’t great here. In fact, some are downright sketchy. My oldest did first grade in public school because I was in the throws of a difficult pregnancy. He made it through with no horror stories but it was just blah…academically disappointing and socially concerning. Since we’ve moved (not far but it’s a different district) I’m checking out the options. I heard rumors of a public Montessori program for grades 1-6. We love Montessori so that may be a fit. And then perhaps I’ll be able to home school again in the future. We’ll see. Like you, I’m grateful for the luxury, freedom and options.

  15. Carrie
    on March 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm said:

    The best piece of business advice I have ever been given is “focus on what you’re good at and outsource the rest.” I’m not a good homemaker. I mean, I’m crafty but I can’t keep up on housework and cooking. And I wish I could outsource those things but I can’t afford to. So I have someone watch my toddler once a week so I can get done what needs to be done and the rest of the week focus on what I’m good at! Simply put, I would make a terrible teacher for my kids. The monotony would kill me. And in the end, it’s something I can outsource.
    Also, have you noticed a huge spike in homeschooling moms?! I feel like everyone I know is going that route which doesn’t help the mom guilt.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 9:26 pm said:

      “So I have someone watch my toddler once a week so I can get done what needs to be done and the rest of the week focus on what I’m good at!”
      Brilliant! I’ve had a teenager come over this week to help me out because I’ve been sick, & I’ve been thinking–this would be awesome if we did this on a weekly basis. It really makes such a difference to have that little bit of extra help.

      “Also, have you noticed a huge spike in homeschooling moms?! I feel like everyone I know is going that route which doesn’t help the mom guilt.”
      Holy cow! Yes. Especially within the LDS community. I thought it was just me. Is it the internet & the explosion of homeschooling blogs & resources? Leon Skousen books? I really couldn’t say. As awesome as it is for many families it’s not for everyone. I kinda think of it like women serving an LDS mission–by no means mandatory. You can serve if you feel it’s right for you, but you’re in no way “less than” if you don’t.

  16. Daisy
    on March 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm said:

    I’m a homeschooling mom with a 16yo and a 13yo; they have always been homeschooled. When my older child was a toddler, I worked part-time at our church as a receptionist but when my 2nd came along, I started looking after kids after school, tutoring and eventually ended up running a dayhome where I looked after little nieces and nephew and homeschooled other people’s kids. Now I look after my nieces and nephew after school and when they have special days off or sick days, and teach a French class to homeschooled students once a week. I would love to make the move to just writing/blogging for income! Just need to figure out how to make it work with my current schedule and demands.

    I have always been kind of the “odd” one and done what I thought was right for me even if outside forces seemed to think otherwise. I’ve never felt pressure although that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there–I am simply too set in my thinking on certain things to even notice. lol.

    About homeschooling–A number of us long-time homeschoolers like to say to newbies: It doesn’t have to be forever. If someone is drawn to homeschooling, then great! If they aren’t, that’s great, too! If they start and feel they need to stop, then what’s wrong with that? Life is a journey without a specific route we need to take.

    The research another commenter posted… One thing we need to remember about research is they are looking for tendencies. When they tell you that the “happiest moms” worked outside the home part-time, they don’t mean 100% of the “happiest moms” worked outside the home part-time but their definition of majority (which can actually be 40%!). There are also so many details to consider: How many children? How old? How close in age? Is the mom an extravert or introvert? I am very introverted. I really would like to just be home most of the time and ideally not teach a class once a week. But that’s me. I’m sure I could probably live on a mountain top by myself for quite sometime and not go cuckoo. (As an aside, I *loathe* the idea of working for someone else outside the home. I’ve been my own boss for 13+ years!)

    I think motherhood in today’s day and age really has to boil down to: What is mom doing to take care of herself? She will be a better mom if her mental/emotional/social/physical/spiritual needs are met. Maybe it’ll be working part-time, maybe it’ll be working full-time, maybe it won’t be working at all; maybe it’ll be having a weekly social circle to participate in or a couple of activities or maybe 3-5 activities during the week. I know some moms who go to church almost every single day; that brings them what they need to feel like they are functioning at their best. Each person is different. When I’m out and about a lot, it wears me down. I don’t need the social stuff the way most other people do. But, I do relish my quiet time in the morning, before anybody–before even my husband–is up. That makes me happy, helps me re-center and be *me*. I do grocery shopping alone most of the time now; it’s not only faster and saves me money, but allows me to be alone with my thoughts. Alone time is what I need, not so much outside time. But like I said, that’s me. :) I know I’m a bit of an oddball. ;)

    To the idea of guilt: We need to let go of the guilt that putting our needs first is wrong. There is this strong message in society, especially in Christianity, that we–women in particular–need to put others first in all circumstances. Well, if you keep putting others first in all areas, eventually there will be nothing left for you and nothing left of you. There is a point where it is detrimental and can even be a source of us not actually doing what we are called to do. We can not properly take care of our family if we are not properly taking care of ourselves. It’s like the oxygen masks on the airplane: Do NOT put the mask on your children first because if you wait too long, you’ll be unconscious and won’t be able to help them. We should put our kids’ *needs* before our *wants*, and probably be super careful in putting their wants before our needs. Catering to other people’s wants by putting aside our needs just allows them to feel more entitled and be more selfish!! Not to mention, they start expecting you to be the one who will do everything and give into everything. You become a doormat. That’s not service; it’s kind of self-imposed slavery. It’s not, imho, a good way to be a mother!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm said:

      Daisy, I cannot even begin to respond to everything you have to share, only to say, THANK YOU for sharing! So many great insights & tips. You’re right, some people are introverted, some are extroverted which is an important point to consider.

      “I think motherhood in today’s day and age really has to boil down to: What is mom doing to take care of herself? She will be a better mom if her mental/emotional/social/physical/spiritual needs are met. Maybe it’ll be working part-time, maybe it’ll be working full-time, maybe it won’t be working at all; maybe it’ll be having a weekly social circle to participate in or a couple of activities or maybe 3-5 activities during the week. I know some moms who go to church almost every single day; that brings them what they need to feel like they are functioning at their best. Each person is different.”
      Yes! The blessing & curse of modern motherhood. So many options, & most of them aren’t “right” or “wrong.”

      Thanks for taking the time to share so much Daisy. You’re a sweetie.

      ox

  17. Sabrina
    on March 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm said:

    Great topic! One I think about almost daily. I am a SAHM with 3 kids, ages 2 – 7. I feel like I should be at home with them, but it’s a struggle for me. That being said, I tried the working mom thing (part time at home, part time in the office) and it just about did me in. Between having my first child, staying up late trying to finish work I couldn’t get done during the day because I was working from home, church work and trying to be a wife, I couldn’t keep all those balls in the air. I was miserable, so I quit even though my husband wasn’t nearly done with school and we lived off savings until he did. That being said, I’ve never been a kid kind of person (I never liked babysitting much), so being around them 24/7 wears on me. I try to have outside interests but it’s inconsistent because someone is always sick or I am too busy running from one activity or errand to the next, so it’s hard to commit to much. I would like an outlet, but I haven’t found one that fits my life yet. Mostly, I try to be loving and patient, and fail miserably far too often, and look forward to quiet time and bedtime. That is my outlet for now.

    In fact, I just had an instance of mom guilt 20 mins ago because my boys were tired, needed naps and I was tired and needed quiet. I tried being patient, but let my weariness get the best of me and snapped at them. I need quiet time everyday to get through but my youngest is growing out of his naps most of the time, and my second refuses to be alone. It’s a battle nearly everyday for an hour to myself to regroup. They are both sleeping soundly now, which is nice, but it might mean they won’t fall asleep at their bedtime tonight and that’s not much better :( You just can’t win! So, I probably would be happy with a part time gig, outside the home, as long as I could find childcare that was consistent and trustworthy, but I still don’t feel like that is where I am supposed to be, so I am hoping to learn the lessons I need to and not mess my children up too much in the process.

    My mom worked (still does) as a teacher almost my entire life and she is one of the most amazing people I know. I definitely agree that successful parenting is more about helping your kids know they are loved than whether you worked or not, or whether you home school, etc. Just do the best you can to love your kids.

    P.S. I probably sound way more down in the dumps than I am. I really am fine most of the time, but a more consistent break from my kids sounds really dreamy.

    • Katie Lorsch
      on March 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm said:

      I agree with everything you said 100%. I am currently working part-time and it is killing me. I have two kids, ages 3 and 2, and for some reason I don’t have what it takes to keep it together.

      I love the idea of getting out and working, but it isn’t working out for me. Thankfully the job is done at the end of May (a teaching job) and I’m not going back next year. This situation has actually helped me realize that I need a simple life. I get stressed easily and just need quiet evenings and nap-time.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm said:

      “Between having my first child, staying up late trying to finish work I couldn’t get done during the day because I was working from home, church work and trying to be a wife, I couldn’t keep all those balls in the air.”
      And sometimes working, even part time, is absolutely too much. Times & seasons…I never really had much of an option to not work, though I suppose we deliberately made choices so that I had to work (like have more children & Joseph going to law school–two life choices that bumped up our cost of living expenses quite a bit). I think it depends on the work, the flexibility, the child care (I always had a babysitter come to my home, so I never took my kids to daycare which would have been more stressful, I think), & the ages of your kids + the other life demands that you have going on in your life.

      I loved teaching classes, but I also love the open days & very flexible schedule that I have now. I feel so lucky & blessed to be in this position!

      I REALLY, really feel for you about the nap times & can totally relate. When my boys were 1 & 2, we lived at my parents house & I was pregnant with Amalia. I remember being so tired, just fed up in the afternoon because nap time was always a chore (mostly because of my oldest). My girls were good nappers, & Salem still takes naps (which is primarily my blog time), thank goodness! Hang in there.

      That’s awesome about your mom. I’m sure she is a special lady. I LOVE, love teachers. Some of the greatest real-life heros I know are teachers (which is why I think, I wanted to be a high school English teacher–maybe some day!).

      “but a more consistent break from my kids sounds really dreamy.”
      Dreamy is right!

  18. Kelci
    on March 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm said:

    I think it all boils down to the fact that all women are created differently. What works for one may not work for another. We need to discern what God has called each of us to and be careful not to judge people who are called to a different lifestyle. I am a SAHM of 7 (soon to be 8). I also homeschool all of my children until high school. ( the oldest is a freshman.) I cannot imagine anything more overwhelming than taking on a job outside the home & putting my kids in public school. I love my life! I don’t do what I do out of guilt but because it’s what brings me the most joy! I love spending my days with them. I love making all of our (plant based) food from scratch! I also volunteer my time helping women with breastfeeding difficulties & co-leading a local support group. I enjoy my time meeting friends for coffee & going on weekly dates with my husband. My life feels balanced to me. This is what I’m called to and it feels right for me. I’m thankful to live in this blessed country where we are free to live out God’s call on our lives!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 9:33 pm said:

      “I love my life! I don’t do what I do out of guilt but because it’s what brings me the most joy! I love spending my days with them. I love making all of our (plant based) food from scratch! I also volunteer my time helping women with breastfeeding difficulties & co-leading a local support group. I enjoy my time meeting friends for coffee & going on weekly dates with my husband. My life feels balanced to me.”
      Oh boy Kelci, sounds like you are living a rich, balanced, beautiful life.

      “We need to discern what God has called each of us to and be careful not to judge people who are called to a different lifestyle.”
      Ditto.

      Thanks for taking the time to share Kelci.

  19. Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
    on March 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm said:

    What a well written and thought out argument to a typically very heated topic! For what it’s worth I’ve done a lot of research on the actual data regarding which is ‘best’ working moms or SAHM’s and the results are that the happiest mothers (with the happiest children) work outside the home part-time. Or, volunteer outside the home part-time. Either way they are getting the heck out of the house. I think it allows them to remain their own individual person, gives them a mental break from the day-to-day monotony of some aspects of house/childcare, and if it’s a paid position I’m sure the extra income helps reduce financial stress for most families.

    I’m still on the fence about having kids but I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ (which means I need to find Mr. Right right now) and that’s part of the reason I gave up a FT hospital job last year to keep teaching as an adjunct when they wouldn’t work with my schedule. If I have kids I’d love to be able to teach a few classes a week still and continue my freelance writing work. I was raised with a SAHM (who volunteered at our school a few days a week when we were there) and know how much of a positive impact that had on my childhood and I’d want to do the same for my youngins.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm said:

      “the happiest mothers (with the happiest children) work outside the home part-time.”
      I would concur. Though, the way the workplace has evolved with technology, work has become more flexible than ever. I think working from home & doing freelance contract work is a great option, though this doesn’t always address the issue of “getting the heck out of the house” (which I totally agree with you that it’s crucial, btw!).

      I think it’s a luxury to be able to stay at home, one that I’m grateful to have. That said, as I pointed out, I’m still keeping my toes wet (with this blog & some freelance stuff), so that when the time comes for me to re-enter the workforce on a more committed basis, I’ll have the skills & tools. I’d like to pursue a PhD someday (via the G.I. bill) once my kids are older & teach at a university level again, perhaps. But at this point, that seems ions away from now.

      “I think it allows them to remain their own individual person, gives them a mental break from the day-to-day monotony of some aspects of house/childcare, and if it’s a paid position I’m sure the extra income helps reduce financial stress for most families.”
      Yes!! And you’re right. Extra income is never an unwelcome thing, especially in a family with kids. Kids are quite expensive & that extra financial burden can often be a little anxiety producing, to say the least. I know personally, one motivator for me to continue to earn some income is that 1) we need to get out of debt, & 2) I have to help finance (we’ve agreed only a small part) our kid’s education. Multiply that x 5–that’s quite a lofty bill!

      “If I have kids I’d love to be able to teach a few classes a week still and continue my freelance writing work.”
      I think that’s so smart. The job that I had for 5 years as adjunct at a university was the *ideal* mommy job. I worked 15 or so hours a week–enough to get me out AND I earned a decent wage doing something I loved. I would have worked there forever, had we not moved. It was a win-win-win. Though, lame in that they offered zero benefits. But, you can’t have it ALL, I suppose :)

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