When people tell me they want to stay home with their kids and they can't afford it, I want to yell at them about how when I was trying to write freelance and take care of the kids I had a babysitter refuse to come to the house because we had no food in the house. We had no food in the house because we had no money. I bought food on a day-to-day basis. That was me, affording to stay home with my kids and not work.
I must also admit that I ended up in a mental ward. Maybe from postpartum depression, but probably from the stress of being the sole breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.
I am having flashbacks. Because I’m homeschooling now — both boys. I never really believed I'd do this. When I launched my homeschooling blog I actually thought I was just exploring a trend. I thought I'd just write a little about how it's clear to me that there is about to be a homeschooling revolution.
But that's not what happened.
Because then I noticed how the US school system is really just the biggest babysitting institution in the world. My first clue, probably, was that I was dying to have my kids back in school so I could have my life back. What else can I do to get time alone? How else can I do some work? Work is very fun.
I love work. I love how people tell me how great I am when I am right. I love when I sell something and make a lot of money, when I create a great job for someone, when I give great career advice. Work is so rewarding. I get accolades and I get money. It's a toxic combination.
And kids at home without school is just impossible. There is no reward system. There is no announcement that the mom has done a good job. We don't even know what a good job is.
So in the middle of realizing that school is really just a babysitting service, I became militant. I realized that public school is like Social Security. There is no money to do what we are pretending we are aiming to do. We should just grow up and admit that we cannot have effective public schools for everyone. Just like we cannot have Social Security for everyone.
But parents in the middle class can have one parent working and one parent home with their kids.
I feel like I have no choice. Because while I was waiting for the kids to go back to school, I was reading. And, of course, now my homeschool site makes me a magnet for research about school. And the evidence is overwhelming that schools are not meeting the educational needs of children:
- Unstructured play is more important than everything else for young kids.
- Test scores are not important.
- The homeschool trend is huge among educated parents.
- Passion-based learning is an impossible goal with 30 kids and one teacher.
- Almost all serious talk of school reform is about redefining what school is.
I challenge you to read these links and tell me you don't think homeschool would be better for your kids. And this is why I tell myself that I have to make homeschooling work.
Believe me. There is absolutely no evidence that middle class kids from college-educated parents should be sitting in a classroom. Find me some. Really. Put it in the comments. Because if I could have found some, my kids would be in a classroom today.
But you know what? I can't figure out how to get my work done and do homeschool too. I can't figure out: Should I work more to pay for more childcare so I can work more? I know I don't want the pressure of trying to have a big job and be a mom. I want to be a mom and I want to have an interesting job. And, I guess, I want to figure out how much more I have to work in order to pay for somehow getting a break from the kids.
I feel so bad writing that. A break from the kids. But that's what sending kids to school is. Giving the parents a break. So I guess I'm still doing that. I'm still planning to get some sort of break. I'm just not calling it school.
Last week, all I could think of for my break was shopping at Forever 21. And I am hopeful that maybe it counted as homeschooling, too.