Written by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
After 25 years in the same house, we’re near the end (hopefully!) of a major remodeling project for our kitchen and master bath (with smaller projects to follow).
For the last several weeks, the project has had a monopoly on my thoughts. In my remodel-obsessed brain, it occurred to me that homeschooling and home renovations have a lot in common.
Excitement to start
My husband and I started the planning process for this remodel all the way back in September. We were so excited each time we met with our project planner to pick out tile, appliances, fixtures, and paint.
At every one of those meetings, our appointment time was over before we were ready to leave. We just couldn’t wait to choose everything and get started!
Sounds a lot like homeschooling, doesn’t it? Shiny new curriculum. A new co-op to try out. Freshly-sharpened pencils and crayons. The planning stage is so much fun.
You get to dream big and imagine the possibilities of a new school year (or semester).
The first few weeks
The first few weeks of our remodel, which started at the beginning of January, I adopted an adventurous mindset.
Cooking in the living room using the griddle, toaster oven, and microwave? That would be fun. Walking up a flight of stairs and into the garage to get things out of the fridge? What a great way to get some extra steps in!
Okay, you know how I just said “weeks?” Let me be honest: Four days.
Four days was all it took for me to be over cooking in the living room and traipsing out to the cold garage every time I wanted something to drink.
That’s probably about how long I last at the start of each homeschool year, too. Then, the challenges that had me envisioning rising to the occasion and pulling my student along with me begin looking as insurmountable as Mt. Everest.
Changing the design
Our bathroom remodel has been a bit of uncharted territory. We’re expanding into existing attic space. We had some design ideas in mind, but until we got the walls knocked down, we weren’t sure exactly what the layout and final design would be.
One thing I knew for sure I wanted from the beginning was a toilet closet – you know, a little room within the bathroom with just the toilet where someone can attend to their needs without taking up the entire bathroom.
A toilet room was a non-negotiable part of the design for me.
Guess what I’m not getting. No toilet room.
Once we got the remodel started, we realized that the room wasn’t going to work with our available space. After some initial disappointment, I came up with an alternate design – one that my husband and I both like better than the initial plan.
If that doesn’t sound like homeschooling, I don’t know what does.
You go into homeschooling with one picture in mind and somewhere along the way you’re forced to make changes. The result is something completely different than your original vision, but more beautiful than you’d planned because it’s the perfect fit for the reality of your family.
Muddling through the middle
I told our general contractor the day the remodel began that I was so excited to get started even though I knew I wasn’t going to like the “during.” He said he’d be sure to remind me of that.
I knew that the process, which would involve weeks of no kitchen and sharing the downstairs bathroom with the kids wouldn’t be fun. What I didn’t realize was how insanely frustrating it was going to be when the project got off-track, and the initially projected completion dates came and went.
There were days when I was so frustrated that I developed a tension headache. Before the remodel, I can’t even remember the last time that happened.
There were unexpected delays due to inclement weather, illness, and people just not showing up to work when they were scheduled – or an emergency at another project causing people to get pulled off of our project.
Again, you probably don’t even need me to draw parallels for you, do you?
Homeschooling and sick kids, life emergencies, struggles with grasping concepts, kids who just don’t want to work, and tension headaches. Sound familiar?
Nearing the end
Now, we’re getting close to the end. (And, hopefully, by the time you read this, the kitchen will be finished.) After weeks of frustratingly slow progress, we’re able to see the completed product coming together.
The kitchen is just waiting on countertops, a backsplash, and a few finishing touches. The bathroom is starting to look like a bathroom, and we can see the end in sight.
Homeschooling is a lot like that. After teacher-intensive years, slow progress, and wondering if you’re ever going to see the fruits of your labor, suddenly, you’re near the end, and you can see everything coming together.
Your teen finds her passions and starts moving toward a career path. Your man-child finds his self-motivation, and you see an actual lifelong love of learning beginning to bloom.
You see the finished product and know that all the tears and frustration were worth it.
Do you know how homeschooling is not like remodeling? I’ve never had one single day during this house process where I wished I could go back to the beginning, slow down, and enjoy the remodel more.
But homeschooling? I wouldn’t mind doing that again, knowing what I know now. Some of those days were really, really long, but the years were way too short.
Where are you on your homeschooling journey?