Go sit in the corner, Angry Mommy

by | Jan 23, 2012 | homeschool | 10 comments

I love homeschooling. I love the idea, the concept, the warm fuzziness.

I’m having a bit of trouble, though, with the execution. For one thing, it’s just really hard to teach anything when Ramona is going through the shrieky “I have a voice!” phase she’s going through right now, and Zuzu continues her habit of  nonsequitor interruptions (“Julie! Julie! You have really long hair!”).

So there’s that. And then there’s the whole thing of: are they learning anything? Sure, they’re learning to get along. But are they learning anything?

After sending out a plea to one of the local homeschool email lists, I received many, many responses (which I’ve printed out and stuck in my homeschool organizer) that all said: “Don’t worry about it. The first year is crazy. We were all crying and shaken the first year. You will look back on this year and laugh at how ridiculous you were being, at how much emphasis you were putting on things that don’t actually matter. You are in survival mode. If you get to the end of the day, and they’re all happy and healthy, then your job is done.”

I will admit that, while these messages were massively reassuring, I’m still a weensy bit skeptical. If they want to learn Latin, shouldn’t we be, you know, learning Latin? And, more importantly, how will they learn to focus and work hard if we’re not all working on that? (Especially since it’s something I still have to work so hard on. I’m the most distractable person on the planet.)

Someone else said I should not worry about the younger kids, but should just focus on Henry, and the others will come along for the ride. So, for the rest of the year (until May, I mean), that’s mostly what I’m doing. Focusing on the three R’s, with Henry. If other educational inspirations come up, as they surely will, then we’ll pursue them to the best of our ability.

Because here’s the other thing: freaking out about getting enough academics is making me freaked out. When I’m freaked out, I tend to be Angry Mommy, especially when the kids sponge up every molecule of my attitude and are sassy and defiant in response. Vicious-homeschool-angry-not-learning cycle. So now I just try to breathe. Deeply. A lot.

I also am trying (well, today, at least) to speak slowly. I’m a fast talker, but eight or so years of sleep deprivation means my brain can’t keep up with my mouth, and I say things like, “Time for breakfast…lunch…dinner! Zuzramona!” Which definitely adds to the harried homeschool vibe. So I breathe, and speak slowly. If one of the kids asks me for something, and I’m doing something else, rather than sighing, dropping my own task, and resentfully going to the kid, I’m trying to say, calmly, “I’ll help you with that as soon as I finish with X.” And then I finish what I was doing, without rushing. They can wait. And they do.

Maybe you are all rolling your eyes at the common sense of this, but this is a revelation for me. Today, Angry Mommy was nowhere to be found.

What about you? Any veteran or newbie homeschoolers out there with words of wisdom/feelings of panic to share?


  1. Sharon Neubauer

    I don’t have any brilliant wisdom Julie, except to say that you are amazing for even trying it! I thought of it and so wished I could do it, but just knew that I would get nowhere and be Angry Mommy all the time. I have trouble getting 3 kids to be quiet for 30 mins of homework! We did institute “Table Time,” where they each go to their respective tables in different rooms and they have to stay for 1/2 hour. Theoretically they have “check in” and “check out” with me, though during the school year they just do their homework and if I make it over to them then I feel pretty good about it!

    I think it’s great that you are getting your own lessons from it and those lessons teach your kids too. Slowing down and breathing is always good and a great lesson for your kids to learn.

    All the best to you, Julie!


  2. Tina

    Hi Julie! I’m in the 12×12 with you. It’s nice to know of another homeschooling family. This is only our 2nd yr. I’m homeschooling cuz we’re currently out of country. But I understand how there are some tough days! As far as getting enough school, I like to check the state standards and Common Core Standards to make sure we’re on track and learning the right things for each grade level. (I was a former teacher. I think that’s why that matters to me.) Which curriculum do u use? I use a variety. I am a little panicky too because my in-laws here don’t like us homeschooling. But my kids don’t speak Korean, so to me, going to public schools is out of the question… Anyway, hope you have a better homeschooling day and the younger kids can see how much fun it can be!

  3. melanie

    My cousin was a kindergarten teacher for over 20 years when it came time for my daughter to hit that magic milestone. I nervously asked her about all the things my daughter would have to know for the big day, and what she would be learning during the year. What would count as success??? She replied, “She will learn her colors, letters, and must be able to have her parent leave the room without breaking into tears.” That’s it. I looked at my cousin, waited for more information (thinking to myself, “She already KNOWS that!”) and wrung my hands. I thought she was joking. Nope, that was it. If that’s all public school needs from our kids, then you will have surely exceeded expectations! Put away the Latin book.

  4. Julie

    Yeah, I think there’s a lot of wisdom in the notion that they’ll just learn what they need to learn when they’re ready. I feel like they are pressured to learn a lot of things in kindergarten, but most of it Eli already knows, and I knew he would be bored going over the ABCs.

    Tina, I use about 7 different curriculums. The list of what we’re using is here. I knew I wanted to pick and choose, because the kid have so many random interests. How long are you going to live in Korea? Do you think your kids will learn Korean? I think it would be so great to be bilingual (says me, who had like 7 years of French and am probably reading at a 3-year-old’s level in French). How old are your kids?

  5. emily

    I’ll just say I am NOT rolling my eyes at your revelation that kids can wait…because, jeez, with ONE kid I always felt in a panic and rush and pulled out of my own thing and unable to finish basic tasks like laundry…I learned eventually with him that it was ok to make him wait until I was done…and then the second kid kind of made it so he always had to wait until I was done with the babe, or the babe had to wait for him, which made me a little more comfortable with the making them wait, but it’s always a fight inside against an uprushing panic and urgency that kids’ voices induce, right? Of course you have to make them wait, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy or natural at first to do it. Or that it doesn’t take you being at your best Tower of Mommy Strength…which is a put-on role, jsut like a teacher puts on a “I’m in Charge Everything Is OK I Know What To Do” persona. anyway way to go keep itup!

  6. Julie

    Aw, Em, I miss you. Come visit. Yeah, it’s totally a put-on role. I like read-on-the-couch mommy, and I like time-to-herself-mommy, but wow-you-all-actually-did-what-I-just-asked-you-to-do mommy doesn’t get nearly enough play around here.

  7. Heather

    That first year of homeschooling can feel like jumping off of a cliff with no parachute! We’ve been homeschooling our three boys for 7 years now and the best thing that I did for my kids and my sanity was to completely disregard whatever the public schools were doing. I took them out of school because I disagreed with how they did things, so I shouldn’t go bringing that system into my home. And yes, I did actually make that mistake and yes, it was miserable! I’m in the 12×12 challenge, too, we can encourage each other this year!

  8. Nancy Fairweather

    I think you’re amazing. I agree if you teach the eldest, the youngers will want to know what he’s doing and do it too. Whenever I was in a mixed grade class, I wanted to do what the older kids were doing. Whenever my mom was quizzing my older brother on stuff for school, I’d be shouting the answers from my room (ya, I know- helpful, right? lol)
    See if you can do less intense stuff for the younger ones, in the same vein. But try to have a plan. Plus there is a reason for outdoor recess, you have to order the tasks in a certain way. Like run around, then do geography, then do math, then do Latin. Why not make one of your recesses a yoga break? You can all go to a mat (or beach towel?) and do stretches and deep breathing together. Then take a nap. lol

  9. Cindy

    This post makes me a little happier that we decided *not* to homeschool this year. I have no doubt I’d be a total mental case.

    I totally get you on the asking the kids to wait thing. They train you to respond immediately with all the noise they make when they’re babes. I’m just starting to figure out that the five year old is fully capable of chilling out for a couple minutes while I cope.


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