An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends

An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends
Written by contributor Rachel Wolf of Clean and LuSa Organics

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how our relationships change when we become parents.

My relationship to my husband, myself, my community, and my friends transformed on account of parenthood.

And I didn’t see that coming.

I thought life with children would be much like life before, just messier.

It wasn’t.

I think I called my friends to apologize for the curveball but – with a screaming baby in my arms – said we might never finish a phone call again.

Then I promptly hung up.

We made it through, of course. (Mostly because my friends soon had children of their own and they started hanging up on me, too.)

The second curveball came when we chose to homeschool.

Somehow I didn’t see that one coming either. But homeschooling (like parenting in general) changes our relationships.

We committed to homeschooling on the day of kindergarten registration.

Living two blocks from a Waldorf school made the decision to keep our kids home more difficult.

With its softly painted walls, song-filled teachers, and baskets of seashells, the school looks like the world I want to live in. (But bigger, and with more kids.)

So we kept stalling on making our decision.

But as we prepared our son for kindergarten I realized that I didn’t want to send him to school. Not even that school.

As we set off to register I blurted, “Let’s stay home. I want to homeschool!”

And we did.

We saw our truth, closed our eyes, and leaped.

Diverging paths

Most of my friends never questioned their trip to kindergarten registration.

They were as thrilled to send their kids to school as I was to keep mine home.

I’m glad that we both found our right answer. There is beauty in our differences.

As their children head to school my friends now contemplate their next career move, preparing for when the youngest heads out the door as well.

They are excited for the next chapter.

And all the while I am here. Firmly rooted with my children, where I’ve spent the last decade.

I can’t imagine it any other way.

Redefining my friendships

Homeschooling – like motherhood – has shaped my life.

Our schedule, my ever-present children, even the book on my nightstand and how and when we socialize. All are touched by this decision.

And because of that I’ve changed the game on my friends once more.

I’m unlikely to accept a social invitation from a friend while her children are at school.

Because this is my time to be present with my kids.

While we gather frequently with other homeschooling families and connect with adults who serve as mentors, I’ve consciously drawn the line at socializing with my non-homeschooling friends during our homeschool week.

Because my kids deserve my focus. It’s the commitment that I’ve made to them. 

In fact, it’s my job.

Seeking understanding

How well do my non-homeschooling friends understand the changes in our friendship in recent years?

Sometimes I wonder if it just feels as though I’ve lost interest in their company.

It seems there are a few things I have not explained.

Perhaps it is time.

An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends

Dear friend,

Let me begin with this: I love you.

I treasure your friendship and look forward to all we will share in the days yet to come.

I want to acknowledge the changes that homeschooling has brought to our friendship.

Homeschooling has shifted my priorities, my interests, my schedule, and indeed my relationships.

When our kids were small I was as eager as you to visit. But lately I’ve rejected most of your invitations to socialize.

Heck, I often don’t even answer the phone. (But you know that already.)

The reason I don’t connect during the week like your other friends do is because I am working.

Working on homeschooling my children.

Even when it doesn’t look like we’re “doing school” we are engaged in learning.

  • While we prepare lunch we’re working on fractions and sequencing.
  • While we pull weeds we’re studying invertebrates, botany, and soil science.
  • After lunch we’ll do some math, spelling, and play games that help us with problem-solving, reading, and cooperation.

Homeschooling is my full-time job. And it requires my focus.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But that means that I won’t likely invite you over for coffee while I prepare lunch. And I can’t take a walk with you in the morning while your kids are at school.

Because I’m walking a different path now.

I ask you for your patience and understanding as our friendship shifts once again.

Though our lives look different than each others now, I’m grateful to have you by my side. (However rarely I am able to make that happen in the truest sense.)

The journey I am on is long, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And I’m glad you’re here, cheering me on, and forgiving me for saying no to that coffee date yet again.

How has homeschooling changed your relationships? How do you make time to connect with your friends?

Originally published on September 5, 2012.

About Rachel Wolf

Rachel Wolf woke up recently and realized that she's living the life she has always wanted. Her days are spent with and two spunky unschoolers, running LuSa Organics (her small business), and hanging the laundry out on the line. Rachel writes about her homeschooling, homemaking, and non-violent parenting path on her blog Clean.

Comments

  1. funny- i am a non-homeschooling mom (technically) and yet i agree with this. my daughter just started kindergarten (3 hours/day) out of the house- and yet, i find that because i am a very intentional stay at home parent (with two not yet in school)- that this is also true for me. also, in the hours that my daughter is not at school, i am “homeschooling” her – life just looks different when you’re present and not distracted. a lot of people say i need “balance” – but for me, spending time with my kids is that balance…few understand. thanks for the post. xoxo
    Erika’s latest post: Labor Day Weekend!

  2. this was beautifully said. so often it’s hard to recognize the differences without causing a separation. but that’s all they are: differences. and if we can recognize and understand, that makes such a difference. and creates new ways to relate to one another.
    thanks for sharing this!
    Steph’s latest post: it won’t hurt to at least look

    • Steph
      I so agree so many times I have stated to my “non-homeschooling” moms that we are different and for some reason they think I am saying I am better and spend way more time with my children or that I think I am busier per say, but I am not doing that at all so I love recognizing the differences but putting it in a way that is understanding! I “homeschool” all 5 of my children my little one is 3 but she gets into the mix. LOL and most often some friends think that I am pushing them to the side and I don’t care about our friendship but that is not the case at all.

  3. My daughter is just shy of three so while we haven’t started homeschooling yet, I love to hear the perspective of those ahead of me. My mom homeschooled us and I do remember hearing her explain to friends why she wasn’t as available during the week as they thought she would (should) be.
    Steph’s latest post: On Not Using Our Personalities As Excuses

  4. This was a beautiful post. Most of my pre-kids friends moved out of state, so it hasn’t really been an issue for me, but I do miss getting together with some friends sans children. It just can’t happen right now, but that’s okay.
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Worthy Reads

  5. It had never occurred to me that non-homeschooling parents would even need to be told that you are busy during the day! I only wish that my homeschooling sister-in-law could EVER find a moment for somebody other than her kids. She has three, and has homeschooled them all from the beginning; although I admire her commitment, she’s also the main reason that I am NOT homeschooling (at least, not yet). When she isn’t flogging her kids to do their work, she’s designing their work for the next day or running them to some supplemental activity to make up for the fact that they’re homeschooled. We know that she is up until midnight every day doing this. There are no weekends. There is no respite. There simply isn’t room for anything except homeschooling. We only live 2 hours away, but sometimes, I don’t see her family for a year. And somehow, she doesn’t understand why our families aren’t closer!

    • the beautiful job of parenting and the life of a homeschooling mama (it is more than a full-time job, on top of regular parenting). I do this myself, so I am compassionate about not having time for friends. There is nothing more amazing than to be able to be with your children on their journey of learning and to be able to be fully present with them throughout the day. Children are only children for so long and the commitment to have them, raise them and homeschool them is huge. Blessings to you and your sister-in-law…

    • “running them to some supplemental activity to make up for the fact that they’re homeschooled”
      Perhaps there is more information that should be included in what you said and she IS making up for some lack, but the way you worded it rather made it sound like you think homeschooling leaves something to be desired.

      And I’m sure you know that there are different ways to homeschool and that your sister in law isn’t the perfect example of a homeschooling mother. :)

    • I’m sure that you’re sister-in-law is doing what she feels is best. There are a myriad of ways to homeschool. Most don’t look like the thing you’ve described here. For years, we unschooled. For the last 4, we’ve used the Charlotte Mason method. I do no real “planning” other than scheduling our field trips and such. My kids have never taken an outside class. We spend just a few hours per day (9am-Noon) on school work. Our days are free, happy and spent mostly outdoors playing.

    • go help your sister…be there for her…she needs it. and you do to.
      nothing is better than a sister.

    • It sounds like she is on the road to burnout. There is no job in the world that should completely shut someone off from the world. Everyone needs variety, whether you are a mom, a fire fighter, or the president. Everyone needs the company of people other than those they “work” with (colleagues, kids, or customers). Everyone needs to take time to nurture themselves as well as others. You cannot produce well-rounded individuals if you are not also a well-rounded individual.
      Dee’s latest post: We can rebuild him. He is the Six Billion Star Man.

  6. Well said. Sharing!

  7. I’m ambivalent about this post on a few fronts: I am a veteran “unschooling” parent of four now almost grown children–our youngest is 11 and also has spina bifida so, I also have the experience of unschooling a child with a serious disability to add into the mix here. Our decision to unschool came ahead of the children, actually. We shared a simple aversion to sending children off to school when the world around them seemed ample and rich enough to provide them with a complete education if we just stayed out of their way! We’re both University educated and so had a fairly balanced view of the pros and cons of the conventional educational and life paths available and frankly, never had major issues with “school” per se but had a strong preference for more open source learning for ourselves and our kids. We belonged to no homeschooling groups, finding them something of a “like minded ghetto” to quote Eric Utne and again, we preferred that our children make friends the same way we did–by engaging with the world around them, meeting people along the way and allowing relationships to develop organically out of shared interests and affinities. My children had no friends who were homeschoolers and neither did I! I saw no reason to seek out particular groups for sourcing friends–I had my close women friends and those relationships continued to be nurtured and sustained; life is uncertain and I could not have been comfortable making the assumption that these precious people would be there when I got around to them–I have suffered the unexpected deaths of friends and family so my experiences have shaped my sense of living the present moment knowing that there is no other we can be sure of having! My friendships are very important to me and it would never have occurred to me to sideline them for any reason–I view the development of relationship skills, the valuing and nurturing of friendships as well as extended family and community relationships to be essential to the education of my children and those lessons are best taught by example. We had our friends in and around the house all the time! Not daily, but throughout the week, there were friends of all sorts around the place and we enjoyed their company and the many varied viewpoints and experiences they brought into our lives, and they enjoyed us! I lived life alongside my children but that meant my entire life, and theirs. It included my friends and our neighbors and families. The learning went on all the time and I trusted that my kids were, in fact, learning no matter what we were doing, including hanging out for coffee around the dining room table or out by the pond during the appropriate season while the kids ran around and played and explored the outdoors!
    I am not implying that our home was “party central”–my husband and I, and in most respects, all four children are all introverted book worms, artists, musicians and writers but we really do love the people around us and want to spend time with them–for me, for us, learning did not preclude the presence of others outside the family but rather included them enthusiastically and the educational benefit to our children in meeting and interacting naturally and comfortably with so many talented, intelligent and creative people who lovingly extended themselves to us as a family was, and is, incalculable. We also spent many a long and wonderful day completely on our own and that was fine too. I was a home birth midwife during all the years my children were being born and raised and we often had clients in our home, or we had to head out to a clients home for a prenatal check up etc. so, there was within the context of our lives a commitment to wholeness–to being engaged fully with the world and the people around us while being absolutely confident that learning was happening and that much of it came serendipitously and delightfully through moments and hours spent in the company of the people we met and those who are our beloved friends and family.

    • as a future 2nd generation homeschooler I feel like you’re describing my growing up as you write about raising your children. I do think that times have shifted… not ness for the better or worse, but they are different. You are considered a homeschooling pioneer like my mom was… today so much is offered in ways of support and networking and the social scene is just different now. I could argue that there are both pros and cons in that regard. But I think we all could use a little more “pioneering” mindsets in the way we approach homeschooling nowadays, but also their are so many benefits as well to the “reach out and touch someone” ease of the social media age we are in. Relationships are different. Parenting is different. Socialization is different. It’s just going to be different for me homeschooling my children than it was for my mom with us. I hope to draw many things from the way she educated us but I’m also excited about the things I get to draw from in the current access to so much at our fingertips. Balance is tough… but I’m excited about trying to achieve it. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world.

    • I like the way you describe your homeschool/family life. I’ve done both – needed to guard against people who are so happy to send their children off and don’t understand my need to guard my time with my own children/family; or people who assume I am always available to volunteer during school hours. I’ve also been very rigid and missed beautiful opportunities to get out into the world and enjoy. But these past years I’ve opened the doors more to invite people and opportunities in. To have that coffee at the table and know that my children are also learning in that – watching me care about people, build relationship, etc. Having said that, most of my closest friends are homeschoolers – but being a homeschooler doesn’t automatically mean we’d hit it off.

      • That is a big one for me, Kika. People with whom I volunteer call me at all hours during the day when I know they do not call the other members of the committee who work outside of the home. It is frustrating.
        LakeMom’s latest post: First Day of School?

    • I like how you said that, Michelle, and it closely echoes how we live, as well. I understand we all choose what works for us individually, however, my son loves when we have friends over and when I share with him my own interests beyond what he and I share in common (which is plentiful). It would feel a disservice to him and to myself to neglect my own friends and my own life under the idealized premise that I have chosen him over myself. It would, in fact, be a burden to him eventually. Nevertheless, there are several points in Rachel’s post that I appreciate, myself being a person who needs plenty of solitude for contemplation and creation, and I too would hope that my friends understand when I just can’t come socialize at a given time.

      Great dialogue! Thanks, everyone : )

    • I really enjoyed hearing your perspective.

    • Hi Michelle ~
      I, too, appreciate your words and your reflection on your journey. I think with homeschooling – as with everything – it comes down to finding what is a fit for your family. Who would expect one size to fit all, especially with something as complex as education? Neither of us I am sure.

      And so for us quiet days are the prefect fit. My first born (10) is quite sensitive to stimulation and distraction, as am I. So we get overwhelmed with too much activity. To be open and learning and curious he needs a little space in which to do it. I’m so glad that I can provide that for him. Perhaps as time goes by this will change, but for now it’s just right for us.
      Peace,
      Rachel
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Some thoughts on yesterday’s post and an open letter to my non-homeschooling friends.

    • Wow! Very eloquently put. I think I can see both perspectives, but as a homeschool family without lots of friends, sometimes we feel isolated by our decision to homeschool. I would love to have family or friends more involved in our lives because I agree that the interaction would be rewarding for the kids.

      Thank you for your response.
      Alessandra’s latest post: Teaching Contractions in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade

    • Beautifully expressed Michelle – and I agree, a holistic approach is more my speed. I am unschooling my two children and very much feel that a communal approach will bless them greatly. Not because I need someone else to do it for me, rather we are all so different and I am only one type of human being! I want my children to be exposed to and in relationship with a variety of types of people, especially outside of their peer groups. I do believe that this can be done in a calm and gentle way – it does not mean that life must become hectic and revolve around other people – but at the same time, I want to be sure my children do not think that life will revolve around the forever! (Rachel – I am not saying that this is what you are doing with your kids, just echoing Michelle’s sentiments and I want you to know that I do love your words as well, just noting the balancing act that I know we all face!) : )

  8. I greatly admire the choices that parents make, especially those that put nurturing and educating children at the top of the list. Homeschooling is not something I choose to do, but my children’s education is one of my priorities and there is always learning to do! My conceren is for moms who are not getting any kind of break to take care of themselves (mentally, spiritually, physically, socially) and though the message of homeschooling changing relationships makes sense, I hope that you are not missing out on your own friendships and passions–and that you have just re-arranged them.

  9. I laughed when you said that you don’t even answer the phone! A friend at church who is trying to organize a ladies’ retreat sent out an email asking for our cell phone numbers. My response was so long. I gave her my cell phone number, but had to explain that it’s always off. So I gave my home phone number, but explained that I don’t answer it when we’re homeschooling. In a world in which instant messaging and texting are addictions, I don’t fit in very well as a homeschooling mother!

    • I answer the phone and return texts at my convenience. My phone is on silent most of the time, so I check my messages and respond as needed when I am available to do that. If it is someone I need to be corresponding with I often let them know that they are more likely to get a faster response via e-mail. I check that 2-3 times a day and try to respond promptly to anything needing my attention. I can do that quietly and only spend a couple minutes vs. talking on the phone for a “quick” minute that ends up being 20 or more.
      Suanna’s latest post: Fear of Man

  10. Wow! What a wonderful post- Sharing!
    tricia’s latest post: How Do You Punish A Kid When You Cannot Stop Laughing?

  11. So much of friendship is often wrapped up in availability. I have a new very close friend who is that for many reasons…. but one reason is she has no kids and is able to hang out with me on MY schedule. Most other young moms can’t be so flexible as she can, and just plain don’t have the time.

    I’ve been so fortunate in that many of my friends became homeschoolers too. Maybe I convinced them, LOL?

    It’s good to hear from you, Rachel Wolf! I hope that clothespin apron is about to wear out from so much use. XO from another Waldorf-inspired, eclectic homeschooler.
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: the Last

  12. I am just getting in to the loneliness associated with homeschooling. Our oldest “began kindergarten” yesterday (the quotes are because my mom, who was a kindergarten teacher for many years, says that he could easily be in a 1st grade room already academically). At the end of this school year, I will get kicked out of the MOPS group that I helped found, not because my youngest is too old, but because my oldest is too old. People who have been my closest friends have told me either through their actual words or through their silence and inaction that I and moms like me are not worth the trouble it would be to continue to include us. I am sad – for myself, for my kids, and for them.

    I don’t at all regret the decision to homeschool, but it is sad that our differences have only managed to divide a group of close friends. I know that I have grown and learned due to my time in the MOPS group, and I don’t regret the time I’ve spent, but part of me feels like I’ve wasted my time making friends who clearly don’t actually care that much about me. I wish I felt like they were cheering me on, but I know that they’re not.
    Melissa Jones’s latest post: MommyBee Designs

    • While I don’t participate in our church’s MOPS program, they do (or did) have a homeschool room with an adult to monitor older kids who had work with them to do so that those mamas can participate. I hope you can add that to your MOPS program!

      • Our MOPPETS coordinator has threatened to quit if she is required to find a worker for one more room and is unwilling to even _ask_ homeschool moms if they would be willing to supervise the room on a rotating basis (apparently it’s not cool to ask them to volunteer to miss a meeting or two a year so that they can attend all the others, but it’s absolutely cool to not allow them in in the first place). I’ve been on our Steering Team since our group started five years ago and have brought up this need every year. At first I was told “just let us get going, then we’ll add that – those moms are important to us,” but each year the push-back has gotten stronger and stronger. I’ve been the only one speaking for these moms (long before I joined their numbers), and certainly the only one who has suggested ways to meet the need. A few days ago, I was told by our coordinator that we could resolve this issue if I would “just consider being part of the solution.” I’m not sure exactly what I’ve been for the past five years if I haven’t already been “part of the solution.”

        It is an ugly situation and I am in the midst of a world of hurt. There are no good answers when the leadership of a group that says it wants “no mom alone” are content to exclude an entire group of moms. Do I leave quietly and let them continue with their exclusive “traditional-schooling only” group that doesn’t live up to any of the MOPS ideals? Do I start my own MOPS group? Do I start another group? Do I just go it alone? And how do I face these people at church, in choir, at birthday parties?
        Melissa Jones’s latest post: MommyBee Designs

  13. Casey: There was plentiful support/networking available when we started out–we decided against involving ourselves in it primarily because we didn’t view raising our kids outside the school system as something that needed “support”. We set off as a family to live life and to enjoy the children as we went along. I thought then, and I do now, that homeschooling groups were just as exclusive and contrived as school–it held to the same construct that says that children require some sort of adult-imposed structure on their lives if they are to learn and grow and we just rejected that notion entirely. I don’t think that much is different–that socialization is different or that so many things have changed per se. I do think that younger homeschooling families are, on average, actually more anxious and concerned than we (our generation of homeschoolers) were about making sure that all the academic and social bases are covered in a way that seems acceptable, or more acceptable, to mainstream society. Most of the young homeschooling families I run across are exhausting themselves running around to classes and events and groups and activities seemingly 7 days a week and it often has a frantic and insecure emotional quality to it based upon my conversations with them and their posts on Facebook! : – ) I am often the recipient of email/messages asking me how I ever managed to homeschool four children and remain sane and centered alongside the complaints that they are so tired and discouraged trying to “keep up with everything”. When I inquire about what, exactly, they’re doing with their time it’s clear that everything is so child-centered that the parents aren’t getting any couple time so the marriage is stressed, the kids feel stressed out because they feel more like projects than people (one mother told me her son actually had both the insight and courage to tell her exactly that!) and when they aren’t running hither and yon with the kids, they’re planning the next day/week/month/year to the detail–when do they relax as a family? When do mom and dad get to be husband and wife and go out for dinner or away for a weekend alone so they can maintain their own intimate bond? I’ve become a bit concerned for a number of young homeschooling families over the last few years because as admirably committed as most of them are to it, they often seem more pressured and stressed than they need to be–I’d like to see people have a bit more trust in themselves and their children and frankly, a bit more trust and faith in the rest of the world realizing that the school decision needed be a divisive one, requiring so much “proof” that we’re doing all the “right’ things for our kids–it’s enough to live life and have fun and enjoy the ride! That’s what us “old timers” did and are still doing–it’s not really so different now–I’m still unschooling an 11 year old and it’s the same life for us as it was 20 odd years ago for her oldest brother : ) This is a wonderful threat by the way–I terrific post and the responses are great to read; thank you all.

    • This is really interesting to me and helpful. I can see myself in some of what you say. Would love to hear more…it’s great to hear an honest look at today’s newer homeschool moms.

  14. My son turned 4 this yr. and almost all of the friends he’s made through me joining mom’s groups are in preschool either everyday or 2-3 times a week (fact, one boy he got along well with is in school everyday, all year, with a 2 or 3 weeks break every 3 months, yikes). I’m realizing that the times for regular “playdates” with those kids is pretty much over and I just sought out a homeschooling/unschooling group that I hope will be a source of new friendships. However, I don’t want to just dump the non-homeschooling friends. As much as I can, I’ll make sure he can get together with those friends during weekends or other events. However, because of the nature of differing schedules, some of those connections/relationships will die off. It is what it is. But not because I threw someone to the curb.

  15. WOW, and WOW….Just had this happen. A dear friend and I just made a morning date for coffee as her kids are now back in school and mine homeschool. As I hung up I thought, well it will only be for an hour and the kids will be ok, the oldest is 16 but the guilt was overwhelming. They need me here and its my (our) commitment that I am here. Homeschooling is my full time job and its worth saying no ever when that hurts me and sometimes my non homeschooling friends. So well said and that you, I will no be having coffee unless she wants to come here. Thank and THANK YOU, so well said!!

    • How about having an afternoon coffee after most of your kids school is finished, but before her kids are home from school. Host it at your house, so you can be available if really needed.
      Suanna’s latest post: Fear of Man

  16. Michelle,

    What state do you live in? I desire to maintain a similar outlook to yours, but all too often find myself stressing over my child’s reading level, etc. (we have 6, 4 of which are “in school”) The thought that our “privilege” to school our children can be revoked is at the basis of this fear, and I suspect at many a homeschooling family. I have also lost a lot of friendships, but not for a lack of effort. Many people still look down (or down right disagree) with homeschooling and just refuse to be friends. The people I spend time with are mostly homeschooling (or did when their children were young) families because those are the families that desire our friendship. At least I’m hoping it isn’t due to a lack of personality on our part :)

    I love hearing all the different perspectives!

  17. I’m not quite as strict as you with my time- but it is getting to that point…I simply don’t have the same time available as schooling families
    priest’s wife’s latest post: Are you ready for Christmas?

  18. My non-homeschooling friends got tired of inviting to their gatherings. It’s sad but I had to accept that I just didn’t have the energy and time to be there.

    I love diversity because I know there is so much to learn from non-homeschool friends and homeschool friends but we simply can’t do it all.

    On the other hand at church we have a women’s meeting once a month and that’s way too fun. I get to hang out with all kinds of moms!

  19. For me, those friendships I had prior to homeschooling are now acquaintances…

  20. And one day you may need those very friends you right now don’t have time for…don’t be surprised when they say, “I’m sorry it’s school time. Can’t help you.” Of course we homeschoolers have to make school and family a priority and I would say that a “friend ” who needed constant reminding of this is no friend at all. And yet there is something to be said for a family who is willing to sacrifice for others, I want my children to be “others ” focused. The world doesn’t revolve around them.
    When my 3 month old was very sick last fall with RSV, we spent several days in the hospital. I needed someone to help with my other 4 kids. A very dear homeschooling friend stepped up to the plate. She didn’t say, “I’m sorry the kids and I are busy having a cooking lesson.” No, she answered the phone and she was willing to help when it was inconvient to her. That’s a true friend and that is a lesson I’m willing to teach my kids at the risk of giving up “school ” for the day.

    . hospital. I needed someone to help with my other 4 kids. A be
    rg dear

    • Sorry …typing on my kindle. I have know idea why that repeated on the bottom :)
      clara’s latest post: Beach Trip (3)

    • The idea that being mindful of when we socialize does not mean that we do not have time for our friends. I simply view homeschooling as a priority over hanging out during our school day, not unlike I would with a job outside of the home. If I were at the office friends would understand immediately that it isn’t my social time. So we are simply mindful of how and when we make time. That being said, a crisis is a crisis. A friend needed emergency help finding breastmilk for her baby while she was hospitalized and we dropped everything for days to make that happen. I am speaking to the day to day “let’s hang out.” In my life there are more appropriate times for that than when we’re doing lessons.
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Good day.

      • I do agree with the “let’s hang out” business – I too find that people “expect” me to available just because I am home – it has been that way since day one as a mama! Rachel, I think there is a tremendous amount of wealth and wisdom in your words. I think there is also much wealth and wisdom in Michelle’s words. I especially appreciate that the wealth and wisdom is shared so freely – because I value it highly and you are both influencing my life in a wonderful way right now as we move into our September rhythym! So yes, all that to say, THANK YOU!

  21. Oh Wow! This was so well written and so pertinent to my life right now. To say my friends and neighbors understand homeschooling and my decision to do it would be an understatement. I lost one good friend because I kept having to say “no” I cannot watch your children for you while you go to visit the dr. I am busy schooling my children. After many times of me trying to explain that my priorities were to teach my children and to grasp all opportunities within our community to teach them, she blamed me for not being a good friend and that I was never there for HER. I said, “too bad” you’re a grown woman, but I”ve made a commitment to my children and that will never change. Ugh!
    Jess’s latest post: Benjamin’s Star War’s Party

  22. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think it’s a valuable learning experience to have my kids quietly entertain themselves while I have a friend over for coffee or if we go out to a local coffee shop. I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old and an infant and this is possible. Not because I’m an amazing mother, but be cause kids are amazing and can learn to adapt to each family.

    So I say make the lifestyle you want. If you love to engage your kids all day long and put your time in there and keep your phone off – do it. Your friendships will change and adjust accordingly. If you love to socialize with your friends and feel you can work it into your kids’ routine from time to time – do it.

    Homeschooling appeals to our family mostly because we’re educating the whole person. Virtues and academics are valuable. When we’re learning math, it’s well worth my time. When they’re learning to be quiet and respectful as I catch up with a friend, it’s well worth their time. We all make space for each other’s interests. As they grow, I will adjust my life to fit in their passions, just as they take quiet times for me to create my artwork.

    I love the natural ebb and flow of the homeschool life and the freedom that comes with the schedule – should you choose that route. It may not be for everyone, but it’s possible if you want it. :) Enjoy whatever decision your family makes and feel hope for whatever lifestyle you and your husband decide works for your crew! Love to all,

    Lana Wilkens
    Lana Wilkens’s latest post: What is art?

    • I don’t think you are alone in it at all. It wasn’t until my children were older that I noticed how distracted I was from them when I was visiting. At 3 and 5 I think those lessons are important. But at 10 we are doing my focused work than ever before, and need to create quiet space in which to do it. Thank you for your thoughtfully written comment about every one finding their own right path. I couldn’t agree more.
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Good day.

  23. this is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. It’s a true look at the home/life of a homeschool mother…it is loving and genuine..not judgement or condemning…it’s acknowledging and sharing truth….in love.

  24. Thanks for the reminder of the impact of the decision we made when we chose to homeschool our children. And, that the impact of that decision (and subsequent decisions) will absolutely impact our relationships with friends and family members.
    Homeschool Daddy’s latest post: Homeschool Daddy Joins the Teach Them Diligently Blogger Team

  25. Hmmmm…I really appreciated reading your thought provoking post. I’ve struggled off & on with my non-homeschooling friends. Sometimes, I find the need for an excellent conversation with a close friend is necessary for my mental health – we usually get coffee to go & bring it the park. The boys get some needed run around time & I get to visit. But, I do find myself often explaining/justifying/defending how we spend our time. Some of my non-homeschool friends are surprised at how busy we actually are, at how committed we are to the co-ops & groups we’re a part of (“it’s not like it’s school”). Other’s are surprised to find us still in PJs at lunch on a rainy day. I think what folks who don’t homeschool don’t understand is how varied our days are. The assumption of a rigid, formal, everyday schedule is strong.

    For me your post spoke to an issue that I really struggle with: boundaries. My sister, who I love dearly, lives right next door. She & her toddler daughter love to stop by & visit in the morning…but this is our prime project/focus/work time. I find it difficult to hold the line & tell her that we really cant hang out in the mornings. And it’s true, if my kids were in school, if I was working, this would be a non-issue. But, I find those boundary issues show up with my homeschool friends too.

    Thanks for the interesting post and the very cool blog.

    • Corinna,
      Having run a home-based business for years I’ve struggled with this from before my kids were needing the space I have described creating above. To be digging into work and have a friend pop by or a neighbor wanting to visit can be hard. I think the boundaries I have created around our homeschooling time are similar to those I had to create around my business – to find a loving way to say, “I enjoy visiting with you, but right now I am at work. Can we connect this afternoon?” Good luck to you as you find the balance with your sister.
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Good day.

  26. I love love love this! We also just took the leap the NIGHT BEFORE the first day of kindergarten although we were thinking and talking about it for a while, it came down to the wire and instinct took over… we are overjoyed with our decision but now the change of life begins which is beautiful but also is shedding light on the change in adult friendships… this post is so spot on and is very encouraging.

  27. We started homeschooling the first one back in 1996 when he was 5 but they wouldn’t let him go to kindergarten yet (missed their deadline by 3 weeks). Next fall came around and we put him into the school. That’s just what people do you know. 2 months into it we had so many problems dealing with the school but finally they moved him up to 1st grade. What a disaster! The teacher refused to do anything to get him caught up with the class, even to send things home for us to help with. She resented him being skipped a grade and suggested we put him in special ed (???). We instead pulled him out of the school. He’s 21 now and off on his own. We still have 3 children home 15,13, and 8). After putting them back in school 2 years ago when I had to go to work they are all back home. Almost. They are at work with me. We get up in the morning and we go to the office.

    People don’t understand. They don’t understand how I can do “it all” I don’t, they do much on their own. It also translates to me not having a social life at night. Everything is with my family and this is how I like it. My family doesn’t understand why I don’t just put them back in the school, even if they want to be here. “They have to learn sometimes that they can’t just have their way” Personally I think they know that very well, they go without many “normal” things in favor of choosing family things. I’m sure I have relatives who would use me as an excuse for not homeschooling because my children are also normal and yes I have stress. But, do they take the time to ask me if *I* am happy? Maybe I love my life, because I do.

    Other working mothers do not get why I’d give up every time I’m not working to be with my children. Even to the point that I don’t have breaks at work, I just shift from mom to office and back again.

    Many times we have had to turn off the ringers and instruct people that we would not be answering the phone before 3 PM so that we could focus on ourselves. People may have thought it was restrictive, but it was instituted because we couldn’t understand why people who knew we were busy would continue to call and expect long chats. It didn’t offend us, it made things happier.

    Now with all these children at the office the kids are learning, I am working, we are happy. People still think we’re weird. ;)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jennifer. We each find our right path, don’t we? The comments here illustrate that in many ways. The truth is most of us here are happy with the life we have created. This was just my way of explaining some of those choices to those I love.
      Hugs,
      Rachel
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Small town, big dreams.

  28. My daughter just started kindergarten, in a school outside the home. I was NOT the type of friend that you mention that never questioned registering for kindergarten. I questioned with all my might. Your letter seems to imply that just because someone arrived at different conclusion that we never questioned. I adore homeschooling. I believe in it, and if it was solely up to me, we would be there now. But I have my other family members to consider. My husband wasn’t really on board. I have a new baby. My daughter has a unique learning style and we found a charter school where she fits in perfectly. So perfectly, that I had to swallow my pride and admit that she is better off there than learning at home. Not that we don’t learn at home, we still fully take advantage of teachable moments.
    What I’m saying is that there doesn’t have to be such a definite line. It doesn’t have to be “us” vs. “them.” I have been able so far to maintain relationships with our homeschooling friends, because we are just that, friends. Skipped coffee dates included. We care about what matters to the other and don’t automatically fall into different teams because of where our kids go to school. Your letter really was beautiful, and I can definitely see it resonating with many readers. But I did feel like you also made many assumptions about non-homeschoolers, which, at least in my case, are unfounded.
    It’s great that you’ve found a solution that works for you family. I have, too. I don’t feel the need to defend it. I don’t know if you meant to or not, but your letter came of kind of condescending. Kind of like, “While you’re off galavanting around town, I’m actually teaching my kids thankyouverymuch.” I can assure you I do a fair amount of teaching as non-homeschooler and I’m not galavanting (although I wish I could.) It just came off as exclusionary. We’re all in the trenches together! If you were my friend, I wouldn’t care about missed playdates or skipped lunches. I would just trust that you are rocking out with your new role, and I would support you in it. Just like I would hope you would support me in my new role as a non-homeschooling kid-away-from-home-all-day-but-still-a-parent parent.

    • I agree with your thoughts that Rachel’s letter was really beautiful. There is so much heart and depth to it…enough to touch on areas within that might have us read into it with our own perceptions of what it means to make different choices for our children. I don’t think this letter had an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ feel to it, but rather an acknowledgement that for her, she would like to be 100% present for her children during the homeschool day (just as parents of schooled children want to be 100% present for their children when they are home). For me, this letter gives me complete validation as a homeschooling mother that makes similar choices. For other friends that have read it that choose to send their children to school, it gives them that same feeling.
      Keeping children at home is a major task to balance curriculum, parenting, marriage and a job and I believe that Rachel (and all homeschooling mamas deserve the praise (or even to gallivant, if they choose to…why not?). I imagine you shine is so many areas, as well, and lady, if you want to strut around and pat yourself on the back for the great job you are doing…well…you should. Great job mamas!

  29. I find I have this problem more with my homeschooling friends than with my non-homeschooling friends. My non-homeschooling friends understand parents who work, either outside the home or at-home. They seem to grasp that I am more available after certain times, and not available during other times. They are more likely to see me as a one-room school teacher. My home educating friends have a hard time with our chosen structure. There is more pressure to conform to their ideas, and less tolerance when I don’t. There are more phone calls from them during our school hours. I hear the frustration in their voices when I say that I can’t do something, or that I’m busy. Frankly, my kids need more of my attention than some of my homeschooling friends think they should.

    I cherish my non-homeschool friends. They understand that my job is demanding, even if they don’t quite understand my job. They are the friends that will still be around when their kids and mine are grown. Then, we’ll have coffee.

  30. Beautifully written.

    These feelings are difficult to put into words. Thank you for putting your heart out there and putting these feelings down into words.
    Sharon’s latest post: They can all go back to school-right?

  31. HI Rachel – this is wonderful! I am going to share it on my FB page – The Joys of Home Educating. I think more need to read it!

    Thanks for your open heart and saying some of the things I was afraid to say outloud

    Peace – Melissa

  32. WOW WOW WOW i think this about sums up everything I have been feeling in a nutshell! Just proud and happy to have chosen this walk of life … and even though nobody in the family or friend pool understands … I just wnt them to know it has nothing to do with THEM .. I still love them all just as much! I just have much of my time accounted for being a full time teacher/loving homeschooling momma :)

  33. Wow….Wow. Teaching our children is a full-time job regardless of whether or not you work or stay home. How degraded your friend’s must feel when they read that you just “don’t have time” for them anymore, because you must be “fully present” with your children. One could certainly read tone into this post. Somehow, you have time to manage a online organic business and your blog, but you can’t take a walk with your friend? That is extreme. The fact that you have to write an open letter to anyone online instead of talking to them directly….how close with them were you to begin with? The mommy wars aren’t just happening between “career” women vs. SAHM…the tables are certainly turning as evidenced by blogs like this and others. It seems to me (who has been both a SAHM and currently public school teaching mom), that there is fear and insecurity on both sides. But, we do owe each other grace. We all have our own golden calf/idols. It could be homeschooling, it could be sending our kid to a “great” public school…I think we would all do well to search our hearts and motives when making decisions about our children’s education. Additionally, we all have schedules to keep. I have a very demanding work schedule and also can’t go on mid-morning coffee dates like some of my friends…but I don’t think I need to address this issue in an open letter that makes them feel that they are less than par because THEY aren’t working and I am.

    • This response seems harsh and defensive to me. Everyone is kindly sharing their viewpoints (from both ends of the spectrum) but no one managed to say anything really rude until this comment. What a shame.

  34. I home school my middle school child, I have do have 3 others in traditional scchooling, I absolutely love home schooling my daughter. Literally within weeks her entire attitude changed and it was actually fun to be around her as a teenager. It is kind of cool as an adult to go back and see stuff you could’ve cared less about at that age and really be fascinated by it!
    Ps don’t check out my blog from reading yours it may not exactly be your thing but I still love your post

    • Well, I felt totally compelled to go and read it after that warning! you are right, it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I am laughing so hard I am almost convulsing….

  35. I agree with the fact that we should manage our time well and sometimes that means turning down invitations from time to time; maybe even more often than not. I am very specific about how my days are spent because I view my homemaking and homeschooling as my job. However, I don’t turn down every invitation to meet with a friend, as I feel it is important to foster friendships as well. My son needs to see what it looks like to be a true friend and by meeting with mine on occassion, I am setting a good example. It is also an opportunity to teach hospitality, which is important to me. Otherwise, I agree with the fact that distractions should be limited. ;)
    Alana @ Domestic Bliss Diaries’s latest post: 5 Ways to Support Your Favorite Bloggers

  36. Thank you for your insight. I really like this article and find it very valuable and pertinent. In my life, I find that I keep my friendships going through Mom’s night out dinners and going to park days with the support group. We are still with our children yet they are making friends as well. I think it is important that our children learn that it is important for us as moms to have our own “self” so to speak, our hobbies, friends, etc. Often, my children will say, “Mom, you go and talk to the other ladies and just chat. That’s good for you!” They need to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. As parents, especially homeschooling parents, it is easy for us to become “child-centered” in every area of our lives. It is NOT a bad thing to be focused on our children while we are with them during the school days though (I turn off my phone mostly during the day unless my hubby calls). I just call people back later in the day when we are done. While I am having quiet time and the kids are on their beds reading or something.

    I think it is healthy for a mom to incorporate some down time, alone time and friend time into our day.

  37. I’m a “veteran” homeschool mom. We homeschooled from birthday through graduation and now we’re homeschooling grandparents. Well, my son and his wife homeschool…now we’re on the support team. lol

    Home education is not just about teaching your kiddos at home; it’s a total lifestyle. And yes, it’s difficult for those that don’t homeschool to understand how devoted you are to what you feel the Lord has lead your family to do.
    Susan@EducatingToday.com‘s latest post: My Mom The Star

  38. I was quite surprised when my decision to homeschool affected my friendships. Some friends are accepting, but there’s one or two who are challenged by my choice, threatened by it. They are the ones that count down the summer days, anxious for the day school starts back up. That makes me sad, of course. So our conversations are much less frequent and when we do talk, there’s a lot of genius talk about their kids. I understand they are trying to justify sending their kids to school, believing I might be judging them their choice. But I have my moments during those boasting sessions when I doubt myself. Am I doing a good job teaching my kids? My kids aren’t doing x, y, z like their kids…but eventually I return to having confidence in my choice. MY kids are doing just what they should be doing. And I am very grateful to be homeschooling them.

  39. Oh my, this is beautiful, and it is EXACTLY how I feel. We have made other life choices (church-planting, living simply, I am a conference speaker) that limit and influence our relationships and I have OFTEN felt so pulled, wanting to communicate that I just can’t do the “normal” stuff… Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this (again!).
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: What not to miss…

  40. I am at the entrance point of homeschooling motherhood and amid the excitement and pull to home school, these are some of the concerns I have or I suppose the things that I am “mourning the loss of”. That I simply won’t be able to do some of the things that other mothers can if their children are in school. But “mourning” those things and being aware and unapologetic about our circumstances will all be part of the process. I am so happy I read this today, it is an offering of understanding to those who do not home school & an encouragement to me as I begin! Thank you!

  41. Being a homeschooler as well as being a special needs mom has really changed relationships. Having special needs kids means I’m not so readily accepted in the homeschooling world and we’ve had our struggles there as well. It’s been very hard to find real life community in this fragmented world I live in. Social media is great but you need “in the flesh” friends too.

  42. What I am finding difficult is my relations with homeschooling acquaintances in the area. They are either “here’s your stack of workbooks” homeschoolers or people who “homeschool” by sending their kids to a 3 or 4 day a week program. Neither of these models are how we homeschool, and these other moms have a hard time understanding why I don’t want to get together during the day to either have our kids all do workbooks together while the moms visit (which doesn’t work for us, because we don’t use workbooks!) or have some sort of discussion/social group while their kids are in their classes. I get told that I really don’t need to do so much work or be so involved, and that the hours I spend reading aloud, doing experiments, working with them with hands on materials aren’t necessary. OK, so perhaps they aren’t strictly necessary, but I see how rich of an environment it creates for our family and how well the kids respond to it, and I have no intention of giving it up! So it is possible to be isolated even within the homeschooling community, just due to differing visions as to what it means to homeschool.
    Amber’s latest post: Getting into the Swing of a New School Year

  43. thank you for this! it’s my first year “officially” homeschooling my 5-year-old and am noticing that my desire to see friends with all of our children is less and less as we take on more intentional learning. it was so affirming to read this to see that it is a normal process and i’m not just a bad friend but dedicated to my childfren’s learning.

  44. While I think it’s well written and put in a lovely way, I would just worry that moms who refuse to put any time at all into their friendships – won’t even go over for coffee or answer their phone occasionally – are revolving their world around their children, which in turn can put a lot of pressure on the kids. It seems like there should be some middle ground; after all, that’s the beauty of homeschooling. Not being there for a friend (or sister or mom or husband or neighbor) and never getting a break from all those “teachable” moments that we’re frantic not to miss, is exhausting. Teachable moments can also be found in realizing Mommy is important to others, too, and she doesn’t belong exclusively to you.

  45. Were in the post does it state that anyone isolates their children? I would just like to point out that merely explaining that sometimes we are different and pick a different path for our lives . We give up doing a few things and understanding is a great thing. I think that you are a mother 24/7, should your child be in school or homeschooled being a mother never stops. The minute you give birth till the say you return to our Father in Heaven you are and will be a mother. No one said anything about taking our children away and isolating them. Being a homeschooling mom requires sacrifice with some friendship as does other things in life. I think maybe whatever made you mad at the world or homeschooling in general you should reflect on. We are all a little crazy to a certain degree, life would be boring without it, but this post and the commenters in no way need to be attacked.
    My children are very happy and we welcome friendships from all walks of life, but there is a time and place, some friends don’t understand why we are not available and this post is understanding, letting them know. I personally don’t interrupt a teacher in the middle of her day, why should someone not do the same for us. I love my family they are my life the service I give my children is my time, my love and my life. I gladly give it.

  46. I must be an oddball, but I really just don’t relate to this at all. We have five kids, ages (almost) two to fifteen, and they are part of every minute of our lives. We don’t stay home and say no to things in order to “do school” and our friends are part of ALL of our lives. My kids love it when my friend Nancy comes over with her son to hang out with us, and it would never occur to me to say no to their visit. Half of us sit at the dining room table and chat while her son runs off with some number of my kids to go on all sorts of adventures. Other friends who don’t even have children are welcome in our lives and contribute their stories and knowledge and fun personalities.

    School is not something we rope off private time for at our home. Our kids learn through my friendships and doctor visits and foraging for fall goodies and building backyard projects and volunteering in the community and every bit of our wonderful lives together (along with the more traditional methods), and I love that our friends can be a part of that. :)
    Magic and Mayhem’s latest post: Nature Studies Last Week

  47. I have never put these thoughts into words, but YES! Thank you. I’m here.

  48. That is why when all else fails get a pet!! LOL its true its what i am doing and i like my furry friends..friends come and go but your furry friends will always love you and give you a cuddle, or a purr or two!

  49. I agree with so so much that you say, even as a non-homeschooling mom. I do want to say that as a mom you need fulfillment and growth through relationships and exploring interests of your own. As a mom in general it is so easy to get wrapped up in your kids and intentionally parenting them that you set yourself (and sometimes your spouse) aside and concentrate fully on your kids…it can lead to unhealthy self-esteems, unhealthy relationships and burnout. Like I said, I agree with so much of what you wrote, but don’t overlook that there needs to be a little adult balance in there as well to reach your full potential! (Not meant to be negative towards anyone, rather encouraging for those moms, all moms, who homeschool or who don’t, who feel they cannot live up to this amazing degree of mothering!) I love your passion for your kids!!!!!!!!

  50. I have this problem as a homeschooling Mom: excess scheduling. We love our friends and socializing and so we find ourselves going somewhere every single morning of the week and squeezing in school before and after we go. Then, our afternoons are for nap time, quiet time, my work from home tasks, cleaning, preparing dinner, etc (how do I fit all that into two or three hours?). Weekends, we’ll go grocery shopping one morning, meet with friends on another, during nap time I’m off meeting my friends and by weekend evenings we’re SO exhausted that my husband and I plop down onto the couch like dazed zombies, with hardly even enough energy to get up, let alone go somewhere and do something fun. It’s NUTS. Why does this happen? We love our friends so very much that we’re willing to sacrifice almost everything for them. We’re willing to be sleepless, rushed, overworked and stressed. The only problem with that is that it causes our days, weeks and months to blur together. One day, I’ll sit down and realize that I can’t remember the last time we had a day where we could just relax together at home. When I looked at our family calendar the other day, I realized that we haven’t had a weekend at home to relax as a family since JULY. It is the end of September. What am I thinking? So, I went to schedule a weekend for our family and guess what? We don’t get it until the end of OCTOBER, which means that my family will have gone from July to nearly November without having one single relaxing weekend at home together. The insanity has got to stop! Boundaries are so important. If I was working a 9-5 job somewhere, I would be fired for how much time I take out to do other things, go places, try to cram more into our schedules wherever it will fit. It would be one thing if we met someone every few weeks and skipped school, but to be rushed every.single.day because others figure we’re made of free time and I love them so much that I don’t want to miss out on fun with them? No, it’s got to change. You’d think I was new at this, but this is our fourth year of homeschooling and I’m still trying to find that just-right balance between fun socializing and staying home to focus on quiet learning and relaxing together. I really like your post here. I don’t think it is mean or inconsiderate as some have implied. It seems to me to be about good healthy boundary setting, and that is so important. As friends, we need to understand one another and our current life circumstances and needs. Sometimes working around that is a challenge, but I would never show up to a friend’s job expecting to party while she’s in a board meeting; and it’s not ok for people to show up during our school hours to do that, either.
    Anne (Simply Savvy Supermom)’s latest post: Gluten-Free Ultimate Pineapple Cake

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