Anonymous Mom: I Read Homeschool Mom Blogs And Discovered I’m The Worst Homeschool Mom Ever

134366382Though lots of homeschoolers choose to educate at home because their faith hangs in the balance, my husband and I chose to homeschool because we know first hand what it is like to be labeled “Learning Disabled”. Both of us are ADD/ADHD and visual/spacial learners to boot. Though we are quite intelligent, this label prevented us from benefitting from traditional teaching strategies. Each of us discovered we could teach ourselves better than a typical teacher. We didn’t want our kids to be ignored because their learning style isn’t in line with the majority.

With that said, I embarked on a journey of reading, note taking and learning as much about how to homeschool as possible. I planned and prepared my lessons in more detail than was probably necessary. I worked with my advisor to make sure that each of my children was given the best guidance for their learning style.

But then I made a critical error. I read Home School Mom Blogs and found that I am the worst homeschool mom ever. I was totally nonplussed at my apparent inadequacy. Evidently, I should have plenty of time to plan lessons, craft beautiful worksheets, planners & calendars, prepare exceptional & healthy meals, keep my home sterile, bathe small children, go grocery shopping, take my car in for an oil change, reflect on each child’s progress — finding just the right resources — and, then BLOG about it with professional grade photographs! My children should never complain, and should do what they’re told when they’re told without threats with a paddle and the loss of privileges. My kids are supposed to be talented violists/pianists, exceptional athletes and they ought to write code in their down time.

One word: Laundry.

I have two children in two different grades with entirely different learning styles. I spend 10 hours every Sunday lesson planning. If I’m not planning, I’m reflecting on their progress and determining in which direction each child needs to be encouraged. My cooking is healthy, but by no means extravagant. I can keep the bathrooms and kitchen spotless, but my house is never immaculate. My car needs an oil change…it has been a while. Soccer, gymnastics and archery are massively time-challenging. One more time, because it begs repeating: Laundry.

Blog? No chance. My husband and I would have exactly zero time together.

Here, I confess that I am not a fabulously organized wife/mother/teacher. I do not take my children out 12 times a month on pricy field trips. I can’t find a “co-op” in my area that is organized enough to keep it up and I don’t have the time to start my own. When I read the blogs, I feel like a complete failure and wonder where I am going wrong. But, if I keep my eyes on my own work I feel like our kids are aces (if combative/inattentive at times) and we are giving them everything they need.

(Image: getty images)

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  • Tea

    You are not the worst Home School mom.

    My mom left me at home with a pile of books and said ” Do this”.
    Naturally, being a 8th grader, I copied the answers out of the book and looked at porn all day. I got away with it through all of high school, and I have no idea how I got into a good private college, but I’m going to assume it was looking up random stuff on wikipedia and dumb luck.

    I liked to learn, I actively learned on my own, but I was still an unstructured teenager who liked porn and didn’t like calculus. I’m sure there are even worse people at it than that.

    • Kay_Sue

      Do *not* underestimate the power of Wikipedia. All hail the Wiki. Hail!

    • Kat

      Wikipedia gets such a bad rap. It’s a great place to start if you know little or nothing about a topic. A lot of times, the article’s citations link you over to more scholarly stuff that you may not have found otherwise. I mean, don’t put it on your final bibliography, but it’s fine to start there.

    • Kay_Sue

      It really is.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      I love how you mentioned twice you liked porn. I’m sure you did well in the sex ed portion of your studies :)

    • Tea

      8th grade me had a one track mind.

    • Elizabeth

      ^That was basically me. My mom bought the homeschool packet for the corresponding grade level. By the time I was in 8th grade I could order it myself, read it myself, and correct it myself. Of course, I only did about a third of the work I was supposed to.

      But I did mange to learn how to look something up if I didn’t know the answer. And that’s more than most high school students know how to do.

  • Samantha Escobar

    You do not sound like a bad homeschool mom at all! You sound pretty freaking awesome, actually.

    If it makes you feel any better, I read fashion blogs and realize I am the least stylish person every single day! Which is ironic, considering I work for The Gloss. :(

    • Eve Vawter

      This is a LIE Sam, you are amazing.

  • Kelly

    I used to feel like that. But, as my son aged, I started to realize that most of those “perfect” homeschool moms are only dealing with elementary school aged kids. It’s easy at that point, fun worksheets, coloring, going to the park or aquarium, etc.

    Once we started getting into subjects like geometry, algebra, chemistry, etc. most of their “advice” became laughable. I remember looking for some info on how to make more advanced math interesting and a bunch of moronic, self proclaimed homescholing experts telling me to just go to the park and count butterflies. That’s how you teach math! Yeah… don’t let the bullshit blogs make you feel bad, just keep doing the best you can by your kids.

    • Elizabeth

      There comes a point where school is work. Even if you like learning, it’s work. And no amount of butterfly stickers will make it less work.

      Learning how to deal with unfun work stuff is a great lesson to learn early on.

    • Kelly

      While i agree that at some point it definitely becomes work, I don’t think it needs to be mind numbingly boring material that you simply shove down the child’s throat and expect them to learn to take it.

      There are ways to make advanced math interesting. Showing how the theories apply to real life situations is the most obvious way to do that.

    • Véronique Houde

      I agree, but only to a certain extent. There’s a point where school will be boring – aka college. And if the kid has spent his or her entire life learning things in a “fun” way, he or she won’t really “get” why you have to learn boring stuff.

    • Kelly

      Well hey, thanks for the criticism of my teaching style, I guess, but we’re doing pretty well here. I still make the effort to keep school interesting and my son is maturing and developing quite well and does understand that sometimes learning boring stuff is important.

      I’m not going to put on a monotone voice and bore him for some bizarre reason because some people on the Internet think he needs to be bored.

    • Véronique Houde

      Hmm… You seem offended, yet, you are the one who first disagreed with someone, right? I reread my response to you, and honestly, there wasn’t anything offensive or critical – I even partly agree with you.

      If you don’t want people to disagree with you, perhaps you shouldn’t start with disagreeing with them…?

    • Melissa T.

      I loved college…I didn’t find it boring, even the subjects that didn’t interest me that much. I was homeschooled from 1st grade through 10th, and mostly unschooled at that. Before there was a name for it.

    • Elizabeth

      I completely agree. If it’s not college that bores you then real life will. I’m not saying people need to be unhappy, just that learning things it’s *always* fun. Even learning typically fun stuff isn’t always fun (ask anyone who’s ever tried snowboarding.)

      Personally, I think slowly backing out of a kid’s education (while making sure they’re still getting one) is the best way to go. It’s what my mom unknowingly did to me. And while the unknowing part came with a few issues, I think it was for the best. I learned how to educate myself on pretty much anything by finding the right resources. But if my mom had been busy making everything, including organic chemistry, fun then I wouldn’t have learned how to do that myself. Even if it meant being frustrated, bored and close to tears a few nights during highschool.

    • R Zhao

      But how do you do that, especially routinely, with subjects like advanced algebra, trig, and pre-calc? Not to mention, some classes, no matter how interesting you try to make them, will bore certain children (and adults) to tears.

    • Kelly

      Real life examples of how those maths are actually used. If no one ever used trig for anything, it wouldn’t even exist.

      Even if college math classes, you get real life examples (story problems) to show how the math is actually used. It’s really not that hard.

    • Debbie

      My favorites were always the ones with the rockets in them and determining trajectories. Or explosions. Real life examples are the best.

      You can even make the boring ones a bit more interesting. like the old 2 trains one. Just make it 2 trains speeding at each other, and when will they either crash, or when will they crash if batman doesn’t stop them. College classes were usually more fun than highschool classes because the teachers had an actual idea of where the stuff was used.

      I just watched 3 engineers using basic trig to determine the determine the size of rotor to go into a heart pump. It definitely has a real world use.

      Also this site is NASA’s website that has teaching help materials for a number of ages, to make science and math interesting.

    • Debbie

      Be sure to click view archives. They have the entire set there.

    • Guest

      The point is, it’s still work. No amount of real life examples or stories about batman is going to make it less work. There comes a time when it’s just not that fun. I should know. I’m an accounting major. (With a second major in Art History, which is sometimes fun, but also stressful work.)

  • ChickenKira

    Quality means so much more then pretty effects.

    All the pretty worksheets in the world mean nothing if the content isn’t there.
    In addition, I’ll let you in on a secret, I’m a children’s librarian and we have one of those perfect homeschool mothers with a blog who frequents our library, she even gave me her “blog business card” and I had a gander at her website. It’s not happening, at least, what she says her kids are doing at the library isn’t happening. Yes they do come to the library every week, yes they do borrow things. No they are not as enthusiastic as she makes them out to be, they are not chomping at the bit to get their hands on the new junior encyclopaedias and her 6yr old does not have an undying passion for Ancient Rome. Their non-fiction borrowing usually involves her tearing her hair out going “NO WE ARE NOT BORROWING DVDS!” and me standing there saying “Look, this book is about sharks, you like sharks, right? I have more books about sharks! Oh, you don’t like sharks this week? What do you like this week? Boogers. Huh, you know, I think we probably can find a book that has some information about boogers in it.”

    I commend her on her efforts to school her boys, I really do, but her blog is a work of fiction.

    • Gangle

      Lol, I have a friend who blogs about ‘her perfect little family’. Her kids are too young to homeschool, but she blogs about all the crafts, her spotless home, the three nutritious from-scratch meals she cooks for them every day, disciplining and doing educational activities. I love her and she is a fantastic, loving mother. But her house is as messy as everyone else’s, often the kids just have cereal and toast for breakfast and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch (like we all do) and they would rather watch a Disney movie than look at language flash cards. I think her blog shows some nice things to aspire to, like cooking more healthy meals and some alternative activities you can try with the kids, but that is all it is. I think my friend blogs to inspire herself to these things just as much as her readers.

    • ChickenKira

      I think that’s a good way of looking at it, and also a very good reason for those on the outside to take what they are reading with a grain of salt.
      Take the ideas, leave the lifestyle.

    • Gangle

      Yeah, I feel the same. I follow a few home decorating and fashion/travel/lifestyle blogs because I like to see ideas, but I kind of just take it for granted that these are selectively about the good bits about awesome outfits, museum visits and amazing furniture finds and they just skip over the hair-in-scrunchy-messy-house-watching-CSI-reruns days

    • spunkysmum

      LOL! Sounds like this mom missed her calling as a spin doctor. I guess all you can really do is feel pity that somebody is so dissatisfied by their reality (and ultimately with themselves) that they feel the need to invent one and take the risk of publishing it even though there are people out there who can testify to its lack of veracity.

    • jendra_berri

      I love these sorts of stories. The kind where blogging or forum perfect moms are busted for being… just like the rest of us. Boom! Mediocrity for all!

    • Blooming_Babies

      Oh that made me lol, thanks

  • Jallun-Keatres

    Not being Pinterest-perfect DOES NOT a bad teacher make.

    • Elizabeth

      Pinterest-perfect is a lie. Nobody is that perfect.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    I follow a lot of adoption blogs and since a lot of said children are years behind their peers academically, and ESL, and many with special needs, homeschooling is usually the way to go and it comes up in posts. None are extravagant and flashy from what I remember.

    • Elizabeth

      Seriously. Mom my gave me a textbook and said “here, read this.” Boom, school education complete. =P

  • AP

    I was looking for directions on how to cover a cork board with fabric (I’m tired of the cork brown) and ended up on a home school mom blog. She gave perfectly adequate directions on how to have your husband do it because basic tools and duct tape are too hard for women, and how to then use the board to teach your kids Creationism. Her blog was nice, but she’s not succeeding at anything. She’s just a grown woman who can’t use duct tape or understand science.

    • Kelly

      OMG, that’s hilarious!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      omg link pl0x!!

  • CW

    From a former HS blogger, a lot of those blog posts are done for the benefit of skeptical relatives. They represent the “best case” scenario and do not reflect the typical day of HSing. It’s not exactly a lie, because days when everything goes perfectly do actually happen. But it’s a highly “cherry picked” presentation of HSing.

  • rrlo

    I am glad I read this. Anonymous mom sounds like a thoughtful, hard-working who is really trying to do her best for her kids and their needs. Kudos!

  • Shelley HRC

    All lies. No one does all that complete fiction.

  • Savannah61

    I teach public school & some teaching blogs make me feel the same way. I’ve found a couple that are realistic & useful & I stick to those. I’ve even hidden a couple of teacher friends on Facebook because they were constantly posting about their perfect, rosy classroom where nothing ever went wrong, which made me feel like a failure. There are just some days that kids blow snot on you, the tablets all crash, you spill tomato soup on yourself at lunch, & you’re called the meanest teacher ever because you have the audacity to expect your students to do actual work at school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but you’ve gotta be realistic! It sounds like your kiddos are learning & you’re working hard & in the end, that’s what’s important!

  • footnotegirl

    The thing to always remember when comparing yourself to others (ESPECIALLY MOM BLOGGERS OR ANYTHING ON PINTEREST) is that you are comparing your blooper reel to someone else’s highlight clips.

    • aCongaLine

      well put. the only mom blog that doesn’t make me feel like shit is Ashley Johnston’s… but she’s awesome, and wonderful, and amazing, and I’m too distracted by the sweater repurposing and beautiful kiddos to feel intimidated. :)

  • 3under3andaphd

    When I read the blogs, I feel like a complete failure and wonder where I
    am going wrong. But, if I keep my eyes on my own work I feel like our
    kids are aces (if combative/inattentive at times) and we are giving them
    everything they need.

    I feel you on this one. When it is just me, getting my three packed up and into a store for grocery shopping or a diaper run at target, I feel accomplished, able, and ok a the whole parenting thing–I feel like I’ve got this three kids thing down and there’s no reason to be stressed. Then, inevitably, we get out and I get stopped multiple times by individuals, usually older women, who spend the next 10-15 minutes telling me how hard I have it–while my oldest is trying to talk to them, the baby is clearly wishing they’d stop touching her, my middle is tugging on my to leave and I am becoming increasingly depressed and stressed and worried that I can’t hack it anymore. SO frustrating when I had so many reasons to feel so confident just moments before.

  • Melody

    I homeschool and I’m pretty sure I suck like 90% of the time. It’s so much pressure, because if your kids end up failing it’s kind of entirely your fault. I ended up going the homeschool route because we moved to an area that has seriously awful public schools, even the charters, and there aren’t any secular options for private schools (not that we could afford 2 kids in private school anyways) and we are not religious. I buy k12 so I don’t need to worry about lesson plans or materials or anything because it’s all included, and I’m still overwhelmed. This year I started doing my son (k&1st) in addition to my daughter (4th & 5th) and I’ve got a toddler to keep track of so it seems like there isn’t enough of me to go around most days.
    I do make my kids nutritious homemade meals, but that’s because they have awful food allergies that prevent them from eating processed foods. I made homemade play doh recently that left me feeling absurdly proud, but other than that my house is a mess, I can’t find a good co-op, and I’m paranoid about socializing. If I were to blog it would be 100% me trying to reassure myself that I’m doing okay and to get approval from the internet/my skeptical family.

    • Elizabeth

      You are going to be fine. I promise.

      First of all, this is probably the hardest, most involved time. Once they can read and write all you really need to do is correct everything. The older your kids get the more they’ll be able to teach themselves.

      Second, socializing doesn’t have to be that hard. Just make sure to leave the house occasionally to meet up other homeschoolers. The whole socialization thing is a bit overblown. It’s important (and I have met some poorly socialized kids) but not as big a deal as people make it.

  • Kat

    If it helps, I was homeschooled for a few years (horrible, horrible school system, private was out of reach, only other option was shipping me off to relatives) and my mother SO did not come near 10 hours of planning per week (per her own admission) and I still learned the basics and, more importantly, learned how to learn and be self-directed. Her lesson planning was basically to open to where we’d left off the day before, ask if I had questions, and spend a few minutes going over it if I didn’t say no fast enough or seemed to struggle. And I won the battle over spelling. Thank goodness for spellchecker.

    The one thing she did that was fabulous was turn the world into our classroom. We took quite a few “field trips” to museums and historical sites (and, bonus, some historical sites turned into wineries – everyone wins!) not because she was the best homeschooler ever (see above) but because *SHE* loves those places. And she turned the grocery store into math class (if a 16.5 can is $1.50…) and always had lots of craft materials on hand. I’m sure I could have gotten a better education and it was crap for my ADD but in a lot of ways it was fantastic.

    And, if nothing else, she beat my friend’s mom who literally handed the text books over to her oldest daughter and had her teach herself and the younger ones. Good luck if anything didn’t make sense. And this was before internet so she didn’t even have that.

    You sound like you’re really intentional and doing a great job – probably better, in many ways, than those ‘perfect’ HS bloggers. :) Hope my testimony helped in some way as well!

  • MamaLlama

    Best homeschooling blogspot I’ve read so far is this one right here… Good job, AM!

  • Elisha Baba

    Sometimes I feel inadequate as well compared to all of the perfect mommy bloggers out there. I am a mother of four children, with the oldest about to turn seven, so I am very familiar with LAUNDRY. I have just started to blog and would appreciate any constructive criticism or advise on my blog

  • Alice

    Perhaps I have no right to comment given that I only have one baby, and we’re far from homeschooling at the moment, but: I deeply admire the image these women are trying to convey – that of a mother who is so devoted to her children that she actually creates an educational and emotional utopia for them during their fragile years. However, I make it a point not to read blogs with any consistency because, I think as a matter of principle, a woman who blogs has made the conscious choice to (sorry, this is a judgmental comment, from someone who is right now equally guilty!) – but a choice to squander her time – and rob her children of that time, and her MAXIMUM effort. How’s that for Mommy guilt? I’m sorry but, it’s the truth; I’m guilty of it, probably most Moms are guilty of it but – why, when directing oneself towards the ideal, would one look to women who are basically giving into selfishness at the moment in time they are self-aggrandizing themselves? They may be great Moms the rest of the time, but, from personal experience, if I am blogging or writing etc. – I’m doing guiltily, in stolen, failed moments where I spend most of the time trying to build myself up to go for another selfless-as-possible stretch (completely failing along the way!) In a way, encouraging the professional Mommy glam is actually helping that woman destroy her chances – by encouraging her to focus more on the image of herself rather than her contribution. I prefer, instead, to use my imagination, and imagine the truly perfect Mom in my head, keeping the bar perfectly high – and, in the quiet of my own mind, torturing myself till I get one step closer, each day, to the full blown insanity that must be :) A very admirable one though, seriously – my wet dream of sorts! On a completely different tangent, as a person who did well in the public educational arena, I completely plan on teaching my children to survive boring as hell Organic Chemistry lectures. I took great pride in being able to concentrate and the most boring shite in college; I want my kids to have that same dedication to boredom.