Choosing one thing over another always requires sacrifices of some kind. When I chose to keep my 5-year-old daughter home instead of putting her on the school bus, I knew there would be some trade-offs. Many of them didn’t become evident until I had a few years under my belt. Some of them are gaining clarity with more children added to the mix. Here’s a short list of what we give up to homeschool:
- Alone time. As a mom that still has a 3-year-old at home, I imagine this is one of the things I will miss more later when all of my children would have been in school for 6 hours of the day. What would I do with 6 childless hours? Hmmm.
- Activities for younger ones. With my first baby, we attended multiple story times, piano lessons and zoo classes. My younger kids haven’t had those opportunities because I am homeschooling the older ones.
- Calm doctor visits. Most doctors schedule appointments during hours most people work, including my husband. That means, when Grandma isn’t available to watch the others, a simple sick visit means I take 4 children into that tiny office instead of 1. Yes, it gets a little crowded in there. I’ve taken school books and crayons to color on the exam table paper. Doctors and nurses act a bit surprised, but they’re getting used to it. I also treat the doctor as a very last resort!
- Social time. Working moms have co-workers to lunch with or chat with at the water cooler. Stay-at-home moms can have play dates at the park or McDonald’s. Moms who work at home and homeschool just don’t have the luxury, most days, to take off and socialize with other moms. Thankfully, we are plugged in to a great co-op this year, and the social time is much appreciated by me and my kids.
- Low utility bills. During one of our budget meetings, my husband and I were discussing how to reduce our utility costs. I just shook my head and wondered aloud, “Why are our bills so much higher than everyone else’s? We try not to leave lights on, and my dishwasher isn’t even working right now.” My husband reminded me that most households don’t have 5 people home all day cooking, doing laundry and using electricity, heat and air. While we still try to conserve energy as much as possible, I have come to accept that super-low utility bills may not be in our near future.
- Snow days. Yeah. Being snowed in when you’re homeschooled isn’t very encouraging unless it’s co-op day. And then it’s downright depressing!
- Some illnesses. My children do not live in a bubble, therefore they still get sick. They are around other kids, and they manage to pick things up just fine on their own. However, not being in a class of 30 children during cold and flu season does have it’s advantages.
- PTA Meetings. Who am I kidding? I still have these. Every time I’m talking to myself. They just don’t take as long.