When my first child was only three months old, a seasoned homeschool mom outright lied to me.

Now, all my mothering life, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have many veteran homeschool moms to talk to (including my own mother).  I watched how different families operated, and got the glimmering of the idea that mine didn’t have to conform to a certain ideal. I found out that some families laughed at the idea of getting up at 6a.m. if they didn’t have to. Some families faithfully cleaned the living areas and bathrooms, but let the bedrooms sit in a state of nuclear fallout. One mom required her children to eat one vegetable at supper…like, one green bean…and didn’t stress beyond that.

Seeing these families’ priorities (and un-priorities) shaped how I approached my own future. Even with only one baby, I was already forming my ideas of what my homeschool would look like.

One afternoon as I nursed my daughter, I chatted with a mom who had already graduated a couple of kids and had several to go. She talked enthusiastically about her homeschooling journey.

I said, “I’m looking forward to it. I know we’ll have our rough times, but…”

“Oh, we didn’t,” she said. “That whole thing where the mom falls apart and the kids hate school…our homeschool didn’t go like that. We never had days like that.”

And without wanting to hurl allegations and besmirch anyone’s good name…I call out that woman as a liar.

I’m not quite as far along in my homeschooling journey as she was, but I’ve got some years to my name now. So let me give you the truth—the truth that pretty much any homeschooling family already knows:

You will have bad days.

As long as you’re educating real kids, it’s not always going to go well. (Heck, you’d probably have bad days even if you were educating androids; I guarantee the operating system would crash right before handwriting class.) More than any other educational option, homeschooling entwines with daily life. That means sometimes it gets boring, or kids get fractious, or parents just get tired.

When we hit a bad day, we muddle through it and hope that the next day will be better. It usually is. A few years ago, however, I hit a stretch of several weeks that every single day was bad for me. I woke up every morning already defeated. Eventually, Darren and I realized that this wasn’t right. Drawing on the example of all those families we knew, we figured out where we needed to change so that our homeschool best suited our kids and me.

As a result of that experience, here’s another seasoned homeschool mom truth:

You should have a lot of good days.

If school is a consistently joyless grind, that’s the time to talk to experienced friends and figure out what you can change. Maybe it’s as simple as settling for not-clean bedrooms and children who don’t like vegetables. Maybe it calls for a more comprehensive overhaul, like when Darren and I divided the planning and teaching between us.

Homeschooling isn’t all good times. You’ll take a few falls over the years. But it’s also very rewarding, and you’ll be able to look back on many wonderful moments as the years go on.

And that’s no lie.

-Sara

Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.