I don’t know how you do it.


When I tell people that we homeschool, the very most common reaction is this phrase:

Oh! I don’t know how you do it!”

It’s said with a mixture of admiration and total terror, I think. As if they’ve just met one of those ladies who eats swords or makes her own cheese.

I was telling a friend this a few nights ago when we met for dinner and shopping.


She doesn’t homeschool, but like all my non-homeschooling mom friends, she’s still completely awesome and supportive. She’s never said that “I don’t know how you do it,” phrase to me, but the other night, I said it to her:

When I tell people we homeschool, they always say, ‘I don’t know how you do it,'” I said. “But sometimes, I think about everything that goes into sending kids to regular school and I think, ‘I don’t know how you do that.'”

It wasn’t something I thought about in advance (obviously). And I certainly didn’t mean it as an insult. Her kids are amazing, and their school adventures sound like the very best sort.

But the thought of waking early every morning to pack lunches, sending the kids out the door with socks that match and a belly full of something nutritious before I’ve had time for a slow cup of tea and a long shower … it’s overwhelming for me.

My husband often reminds me that it wouldn’t be, if we needed to do it. It would soon just become normal. We’d get a routine. Sure, there would be hard days, but aren’t there hard days now?

Advent socks.
Advent socks.

Yes. There are. But there are also slow mornings. There’s Bill Nye at breakfast. There are days when the kids want to make their own eggs or pancakes, and the entire process including clean-up ends right about when a public school kid is starting recess.

There are days when math isn’t working, and so we read some stories instead. There are long days with friends and quiet days at home. There are pajama days. There are days when we get so involved in a project, that we forget to make dinner.

But they are our days.

And that makes me feel lucky all over.

I would never, ever say that homeschooling is for everyone. I understand the doubt and fear other people experience when they think about trying to teach their children.

I understand it because I feel it some days.

I feel it down in my soul.

But those are the rare days. Most days, I just feel incredibly grateful that we have found what works best for us.

And I guess that’s how we do it.

Or at least that’s why.

17 thoughts on “I don’t know how you do it.

  1. As a very homeschooling-curious mom who sends her kids to school, the thing that baffles me is the amount of patience that must be required to homeschool. I will always be in awe of such patience.
    As for getting the kids off to school in the morning, it’s often frantic. But it’s doable, mainly because I don’t worry about finding socks that match. (-:

  2. Yes Tamara! I think the more we worry about doing it perfectly (matching socks, perfect lunches, doing the curriculum in exact order, making it to all the science classes, etc.) the more stress it brings, and that’s definitely something that impacts all mamas!

  3. I love this! I’ve said the exact same thing and I only have 2 kids, the oldest is just Kindergarten age. I especially don’t know how people get their kids ready for school (or daycare) AND themselves ready for work at the same time and manage to leave the house looking presentable! And then come home tired from work and have to immediately cook dinner while simultaneously trying to get your kids to do their homework? Yikes!
    How DO they do it?

  4. I sent one of my kids to school for 2 years before we started homeschooling. And, frankly I don’t think I could go back, so I raise my cup-of-slow-drinking-tea to you.๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Yes! Not only do I get that comment, but I also wonder how people get their kids out of the house on time. I often think exactly what you phrased in this post: “the thought of waking early every morning to pack lunches, sending the kids out the door with socks that match and a belly full of something nutritious before Iโ€™ve had time for a slow cup of tea and a long shower โ€ฆ itโ€™s overwhelming for me.” I truly identify with this, especially since I have a son with special needs who requires full support to get him up, fed, dressed and out of the house. It would take me half the day, I’m sure!

    Thanks for writing this. It made me feel like I’m not the only one who wonders how the rest of the world does it all (even if our days are not easier).

    P.S. I found your blog in a link on Simple Homeschool’s newsletter.

  6. As a mom who sends her kids to school I see the appeal of homeschooling at times and at others I enjoy the school routine. I have a daughter who is definitely too much like me who woukdnt thrive if I taught her. She does amazingly well at school and while there are mornings where her socks don’t match or her hair is in a messy bun because brushing it became too large of a fiasco, I know if she was at home with me it would end badly. I admire the strength, organization and patience homeschooling takes and I am thankful for a society where we can all find a way that works for us. Great post.

  7. This is also one of the most frequent responses I hear, along with, “You must be so organized!” We did the traditional school routine for a few years. Traditional school required us to organize around the schools needs and schedules. Homeschool requires a different type of organization, but one that is easier for me.
    I too enjoy the slow cup of tea kind of mornings and the freedom to adjust the kids schedules to fit their needs.
    Each path has it’s challenges and rewards and I think we do well when we acknowledge that.

  8. That is one of my pet peeves too! And more often than not it is said in a tone reserved for sword swallowing WHILE making cheese. LOL

    Great post. I never know how to respond when someone says this to me either. And I couldn’t agree more about the rigors of sending kids to school everyday.

    We each choose our path, no? Or on the bad days, pick our own poison! LOL

    Love this.

  9. I’m very curious about homeschooling. I am torn. My daughter missed the kindergarten cut off by hours here in NY and she has been in preschool for 3 years- I know in my heart she is ready to step out of the house and start her own adventure- but I wish I could homeschool her. But then I think of certain family members and their reactions- and while I have never cared much for other people’s opinions and I know my own family knows me and would want me to do what is best- I can’t help but know reactions from my husband’s family who are all school-age teachers. How did everyone decide? Was their one thing that sealed the deal? I’ve told my daughter about homeschooling and of course her reaction was I wanna stay with you mama. OK sorry to drop all this on strangers- I just wonder if other mamas go through this? thanks for any replies xo

  10. I haven’t technically begun homeschooling (my oldest is only 4), but I was homeschooled. Having been through both public and homeschooling education, I totally agree on the “how DO they do that?” I love certain freedoms that homeschooling brings and am certain I would butt heads with public school. I have been home with my daughters (twin 2 year olds and 4) from the beginning. I can’t imagine sending them off in the mornings. Maybe I’m just a little too selfish to send them off to public school.๐Ÿ˜‰ Mel, my Mother-in-law does not want me to homeschool. She tries to entice my kids with backpacks, lunch boxes, and “don’t you want to ride the schoolbus” to get my daughters in public school. You have to decide what is best for your family and stand firm. I have no problems standing firmly against my MIL. I truly believe she will see the benefit as my daughters get older. She will understand later.๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Reblogged this on Bikurgurl and commented:
    We may not do Bill Nye in the mornings, but Kara has articulated our experience homeschooling perfectly. The why is always easy, even if the how is a constantly shapeshifting thing — the agility to reposition based on changes is key to our success!

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