Homeschooling's Most Closely Guarded Secret

Every time I tell anyone I homeschool my children I get the same response: “How do you do it?” followed by, “Wow, I could never do that.” And every time, I laugh a little inside and furrow my eyebrows and say something like, “Well, it’s a lot of work.” That’s true, it really is. I put a lot of effort and time into it. I go to conferences and watch training videos and tutor in our co-op group, but secretly, I know something you don’t know. It’s a closely guarded secret in the homeschooling community, and we don’t tell you because you wouldn’t believe us, so we let you think that it’s a grueling task. (And sometimes it is.) But the homeschooling community is huge and getting bigger every day. If it was really so awful, would any of us do it? Here’s the truth:

It’s the most fun we’ve ever had. (I told you you wouldn’t believe me.)

Here’s why:

1. No alarm clocks.

Every year when school starts and I see all of you up at the crack of dawn shuffling kids off to the bus or driving them to school. You’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. Some homeschooling families are up that early, too, but it’s a choice. In our house we get an extra hour or two of sleep if we need it because school starts when we are ready and not before. If we don’t get something done by noon, we can pick it up again whenever it’s convenient. I also don’t have to go through the battle of dragging half asleep kids out of bed and begging them to hurry. Mine wake up at about the same time every day naturally and wander down to eat breakfast in their jammies. It’s pretty peaceful. The only day we are on a tight and early schedule is on our community day, but it’s only once a week. We can do anything once a week.

2. We’ve never sold anything door to door.

You know the special kind of hell that is school fundraisers, don’t you? You have to lug candy bars to work and make people buy them (or buy them all yourself). You understand the unspoken bond: when someone buys some crappy tin of popcorn from your kids, you have to buy some wrapping paper from their kids when they come selling at your door. Not us! We pay for our tuition, buy our books and never have to ask our neighbors to pitch in (a thing I’ve never understood since we are all paying exorbitantly high taxes that are supposed to go to the schools anyway. Why are they still fundraising? Oh, I know…to pay for that $300k salary for the superintendent who is pilfering the cash reserves).

3. Empty Theme Parks

When is the best time to go to Disney World? That’s right…when school starts. The rest of you are running to catch the bus and we are wandering around the Magic Kingdom with hardly any lines and much cooler weather. This goes for pretty much any place that’s usually overcrowded in the vacation months of the year. It’s usually cheaper, too (although when you’re talking about Disney, the word “cheap” never applies).

4. Never Waking the Baby

If you’ve had a baby you know that nap time is sacred. And what usually interrupts nap time in the afternoon? Pick-up time! So you have to wake your baby, who is going to be crabby, just to stick him in the car and get over to school to pick up the other kids. No one needs that. At our house, nap time is uninterrupted (unless the UPS guy makes the mistake of ringing the doorbell and setting off hysterical dog barking, in which case he’s not getting a Christmas present).

5. The Dreaded Science Fair Project

You all dread it. It’s the science fair project that your kid is supposed to do but won’t or can’t, and so you end up making a robot at 3 a.m. out of Legos and the insides of a calculator the night before, swearing at whatever teacher came up with this brilliant idea to make your life miserable.

6. Class cupcakes…what are those?

I know most schools have abandoned the snack thing, but when my kids were in preschool, this was still something that was required. Parents had to take turns bringing treats and if you didn’t make them from scratch (with fondant) and turn them into something you’d see on Cake Wars, you were failing at parenting. (This also goes for handmade costumes or whatever other hell they just spring on you in a note in the backpack that you didn’t see because it got stuck to the half eaten peanut butter sandwich your kid left to rot inside.) We still make cupcakes, but we do it for math class/home economics and it doesn’t matter what they look like.

7. No Consent Forms

I couldn’t believe the amount of paperwork that got sent home from preschool for me to sign. It was like wading through the Affordable Care Act. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for 5th grade. No thanks. I’m totally in charge of my school and I always have my own permission to do whatever the heck we want!

So the next time you meet a homeschooling mom and you are tempted to pity her…don’t! We’re having a blast over here!