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Should homeschooling be all-consuming?

“It only takes an hour or two in the early elementary years.” I heard this advice often when I was beginning to homeschool. And true—my actual teaching time was only an hour or two. But perhaps due to my planner/researcher/take charge personality, I soon found homeschooling taking over my life. After all, there were books to read, curriculum catalogs to pore over, supplies to track down, seminars to attend, and my entire house to re-arrange to accommodate all the new stuff. Not to mention, there was still all the usual all-day-long tasks of cooking, cleaning, and caring for three children.

We mommies can easily spend our days in crisis management mode, tending to the tyranny of the urgent (which means answering the loudest and highest-pitch scream first). After all, our little ones are impatient, do not like being ignored, and know how to get our attention quickly. So they receive the bulk of our time and energy. When we begin homeschooling, they get even more of our attention. But, somehow, in the busy-ness of our days, we can lose sight of our calmer, more patient, and deeper-voiced husbands. Though they may not cry as loudly as our little ones, they need us too.

As Todd Wilson says in his excellent article “Homeschooler’s Widower”:

The disconcerting truth is that homeschooling can be such an all-consuming activity that husbands get left alone to fend for themselves. Oh, the homeschooling mom may make time to feed, clean, and care for the basic needs of her husband . . . but she’s not really there.

Heidi St. John describes the slow fade of marriage in her book Romance, Nurturing your Marriage through the Homeschool Years

The problem is parallel living. The problems begin when the busy homeschool mom’s life becomes “all homeschooling all the time” and her husband’s life is centered fully on his job. He does his thing; she does hers. (pg. 126)

The issue here is not “his role vs. my role.” It’s forgetting that even though we fill different roles within the marriage, we need to fill those roles in such a way that our lives are intertwined with each other, instead of parallel. (pg. 130)

Educating our children is an important and noble task. It should be high on our priority list. But let’s make sure it does not consume and overpower the whole list.