If you asked me what the hardest part of homeschooling was, I'd probably say: "The total absence of breaks." You're always on. You're always there. When you're not teaching you're mothering. Your kids are always with you (yes, when they're little they even follow you to the washroom; you get used to it eventually). And even when they're sitting down doing something by themselves, there's always some kind of interruption happening. Someone needs a kleenex. Someone has a question. The cat needs to go out. The dog must come back in. The phone rings. Rain is fast approaching and you're desperately hoping to find 15 minutes to mow the lawn before the deluge. What's for lunch? How may days until my birthday?
And so on.
On top of being a mother and a homeschooler, I'm a martial artist who spends a few hours training most days (in the summer we spend time at the lake so we go to the dojo fewer days, but in the winter I'm there seven days a week). I also run a communications company, produce documentaries with my husband, write and publish books, blog, etc.
Oh yes. I'm also pretending to renovate my house and my cottage. You could say I'm busy.
I tell you all this to make you understand what I went through this past weekend. As most of you know, it was the weekend of the black belt test during which I received my third-degree black belt. The weekend involved lots of time spent at the location where the test was taking place (over six hours on the first day, and just over two hours on the second day). Normally when I come down from the lake on weekends to do karate training I take my eldest daughter with me, because she, too, trains a lot. But I couldn't take her with me this past weekend because she's not a black belt and thus was not allowed to come in with me to the first day of testing. Since I didn't have anybody to leave her with, I decided she should stay at the lake with her dad and sisters (and pets). So I had about 48 hours to myself, from when I left the cottage Friday afternoon until I came back to it Sunday afternoon.
Two days. Alone. Alone in the house. With nobody, I mean. Just me. Me alone in the house.
This never happens to me.
You wouldn't BELIEVE how much work I got done! On top of the black belt test, I mean. I had TIME! Time to do stuff. Time during which NOBODY interrupted me.
Coming back to reality Monday morning was a touch difficult. Like I commented to my husband ("commented" here is a word meaning "bitched"), I almost never get two consecutive uninterrupted minutes to do anything ever. I'm always doing six things at once, using only one hand because the other one is busy holding something. No wonder I sometimes get frazzled.
That glorious weekend alone was a very dangerous thing. It made me understand why so many moms say they couldn't homeschool. Because when you homeschool you never get that time to yourself to do things. Not necessarily selfish things either. Things for your family, such as meal planning and house cleaning.
I'm not ready to give up on it, of course. School is a terrible place to send children, and I'm exceedingly proud of what we've accomplished so far in our first seven years of homeschooling. But don't fool yourselves. There is a certain cost to homeschooling, and it's not trivial. Very worth it, but not trivial.