When all of you moms who married Mr. Rogers, or Bert the Chimney Sweep, stop laughing I’ll go on…..
Some of us didn’t marry the guy who dreamed of heading up cub scouts and coaching a suburban full of T-ball players into a champion flower picking season. And we certainly had to present a senate ready filibuster to get permission and support to give homeschooling a shot. If we’re being totally honest here, a few of us basically had to seduce our way into getting the kids in the first place.
But now all of those battles are won, and you have a stay-at-home circus just like you wanted, guess what? Now your husband likely says, “Well they’re your monkeys. Make ‘em dance,” and then he leaves for work. If he’s anything like my man, he suddenly has to work late, often. He finds reasons to visit the hardware store multiple times a week for useless items like plastic ice trays and extension cord alphabetizers. He subsequently gets lost on the way home, always near a Starbucks, of course, and then has the nerve to bring that heavenly paper cup in the house without a spare and a chocolate croissant! And then he asks, (wait.. for.. it…) “What’s for dinner?”
He is innocently oblivious to the contempt bursting forth from the dry erase marker you are pointing at him. Pretending it’s a wand from Hogwarts, you mumble something about eating slugs. But you brought this on yourself. After all, you did basically self volunteer into slavery.
The struggle is real. There is a fine line between academic guru and maid-to-order. Does the principal walk away from the dinner table leaving his plate, and a trail of keys, shoes, and clothes all the way to a hot steamy shower, while you stand over the picky eater left to hurl insults at his broccoli, less he get no dessert? Does the laundry taunt you from unfolded baskets letting you know what fun awaits your evening as you give the call for reading time before bed and brace for the groans to follow?
But he’s worked hard all day to support this lifestyle you chose. He needs down time. On the toilet. For forty-five minutes with his phone. You’ve been home all day doing what you wanted. i.e. You’ve been relaxing on his dime. Umm, wrong. It’s time for change.
So I have worked out this five step recipe to make your very own homeschool husband.
Be too busy to talk. When he calls from work during his “busy day,” where he gets to go to the bathroom without the threat of world war three breaking out in the next room, don’t answer. Let it go to voice mail. Wait at least ten minutes or four hours, then call back panting and rushed. Be brief. A full play-by-play lets him feel like he’s a part of it all without having to actually be, and then he probably won’t need to ask the kids about their day when he gets home. Don’t make it that easy to be the principal. He must worry about his pupils in the hands of his teacher. Make him seek out what is going on while he’s away and envy the fun and adventure. When you return the call keep it brief and vague:
“Hey, sorry I missed your call. We were mid math. Are you doing alright? (Pause long enough to know he’s fine because you do love him, then…) Oh! Let me let you go, there’s someone at the door and we’ll be late for that new place we wanted to go today if we don’t finish getting this science experiment off the ceiling. See you later.” Click.
Pick a week and suddenly start taking out the trash, pulling weeds, changing light bulbs, washing the car, get outside and enjoy a change of expectations, etc. But here’s the catch: don’t wash any clothes, cook dinner, do any dishes, buy toilet paper, etc. Who divvyed up this chore list anyway? When he asks what’s for dinner and why there isn’t any clean underwear, tell him you taught seven subjects to multiple aged children today, put the trash by the curve, took care of that light over the porch that’s been out for weeks, and now you’re headed out to spend two hours detailing the car. (Throw out a few moldy French fries and then just recline the driver’s seat and read that novel you’ve wanted to finish for weeks) Ask him to let you know when he’s got dinner on the table and everyone’s plate filled.
There really is no such thing as his and her housework. If there were, most of us would never have married in the first place, because there would always be a generation of young men who wanted their own place but then were walking around greasy and stinking like moldy nacho cheese and gym socks, till a woman came along with a strong enough stomach to find the man underneath the stink. Shiver. I guess salsa and jelly would need to be sold in Ziploc containers so we could open them more effectively. But that’s minor. I can open almost anything with hot water and a spoon.
Make him feel necessary. Let the kids know what an expert he is at anything you could use help with teaching. Sure you can tell them all about what makes seeds sprout. But since he’s headed to Home Depot for the fifteenth time this week he should take the kids and buy some dirt and seeds and bring it to life for them! Make sure to tell the kids what an awesome plan Dad has before you tell Dad he has a plan. That way when he gets home they will bombard him with excitement he can’t refuse. When he gets tight lipped and brow furrowed start tossing compliments about what a wonderful father he is and how his idea really made the day special. And then throw in that “pizza on the way home sounds perfect!” Say it loud enough for the children to overhear. Then smile conspiratorially in his direction and go have a bubble bath.
Volunteer him. Oh you need someone educated past high school to show up for career day? My husband has three degrees. He’d love to! Never mind we went to grad school together, I’ll leave that part out since obviously I’m just a stay-at-home-mom. And he needs practice addressing bored adolescents. Need timers for the swim meet? Done. Tables moved for the pumpkin contest? Done. A team captain for laser tag? Hubs, reporting for duty! Get him in there and getting his hands covered in temper paint and glue. Other adoring women can really work wonders on an apathetic new homeschool husband.
Disappear once a month. Tell no one where you are going. Except maybe if it’s to the gynecologist cause he won’t want to follow you there. Remember step 1. Only answer calls if followed by texts of “911” or “Ed McMann at the door with large check,” cause that money is all yours; we know who was weak and lonely that day you filled out the post card. Pretend you are in witness protection for homeschool moms. But just for an hour or two and always when someone needs help with math, is learning to tie their shoes, or has a lovely question about how babies look like their dad if they came out of mom’s tummy.
This is not an overnight project. It can take weeks, months or years. And he’ll slip up
often occasionally and play on his cell phone or snore while you read Peter Pan aloud during family story time. So you’ll have to stop and ask him to summarize the last four pages you just read while the children giggle. Sometimes he’ll leave his brain at work and complain about the mess around the house, not realizing how easy it can be to make you feel like a failure with his unintended insult.
But one day you’ll get out of the shower and dry off while making a mental checklist of all you have left to do before you can fall into bed, and you’ll overhear him telling the children how lucky they are to have a mom that gives up so much for them. He’s a little bit jealous of all the attention they get from you, but mostly it’s because the women he works with tell him how much easier it is to go to work than be with their kids all of the time. And he looks around at the happy mess and realizes he’s hit the lottery.
Bam! Homeschool Husband. You’re welcome.
Got any tips to help mold a homeschool dad?
I would love to learn some tried and true measures.
Leave me your expertise in the comments below!