Earlier this week, I shocked myself. I told another stealth atheist homeschooler (we have a secret handshake) to hold on. The first year is the worst. It will get better. The second year of homeschooling is immensely easier than the first. The first is when you hold on too tightly and stress yourself out.

I was evangelizing: Don’t quit. If you thought this was the right thing for your children, it probably still is. Give it time. Give it another year.  

Me. Evangelizing homeschooling.

“Reluctant homeschooler” in the bio blurb is completely on the money. An understatement. Reluctant doesn’t begin to cut it. I never wanted to be a teacher and spending almost every waking hour with my offspring is certainly not my idea of a good time. I hate doing crafts. My back hurts if I am bent over trying to build a Lego something or other. I am tired of being too tired to write. I am tired of trying to squeeze the small amount of money-making activities I do into the interstices between lessons and car time.

I love my child, I do. But you have no idea how happy I am when she’s in her room–or elsewhere–reading or when we have reached the blessed hour of 5 PM, when screen time may begin.

But it’s true. The first year sucked. I was too rigid. I was too stressed about doing all the things. I was under tremendous pressure that had nothing to do with homeschooling and adding 1000% more wasn’t smart. I should have listened to my instincts that said, “Really, your child doesn’t need a sixth activity.”

The second year–like the second year of law school–you know what it is to be good enough. Not perfect, because perfect is impossible. Good enough. This is either my second year or third, depending on your accounting. It’s the second full year, for sure. I know these things now:

  • You don’t have to have an activity lined up every day.
  • If you take a day off, you don’t have to go to a museum. The Homeschool Gods won’t strike you dead.
  • And you can take days off (especially if, like me, you don’t really take summers off). If nothing is working and you’re both cranky or tired…take a day off. This is the homeschool equivalent of a snow day and your child will be over the moon.
  • You can learn anywhere. (Witness teaching BP/SpO2/Respirations/Pulse while Daddy is in the hospital…but I don’t recommend that one.)
  • Laptops are awesome things.

There is a litany of things I wish my daughter were doing in addition to what she is already doing. There are other lessons I wish she were taking. I’m rethinking some of my scheduling strategies (we’re at some scheduled activity five days a week, most of which–actually all but one of which–are physical). I can teach lots of things, but not aikido or swim or gymnastics.

So when I start to worry, I take a deep breath and relax. It will be okay. She is physically active, physically fit (even if she is miserable at team sports, FSM love her). And she is getting an individualized education at home that allows her hours of bonus reading time (where, I think, she really does most of her learning).

It gets better.