Choosing to homeschool can sometimes feel like we are gambling with our child’s future. Have you already placed your bet on homeschooling, or are you still contemplating buying into the game?  And if you do, what will you wager? Because if we choose to homeschool life will change. Something has got to give. If it doesn’t, you aren’t doing it right.

“You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work effort.”

Zig Zigler

No one has it all. No one can do it all. Though I do like to give it a try every now and then. But always something has to give for something else to get done right. Social media allows some of us homeschoolers to create the façade of domestic perfection. But I confess it’s all an illusion. At least for me anyway.  I’m an exciting hot mess on my good days. And a crotchety whiner of lost dreams on my worst.

Something had to give when I decided to homeschool. Just like something had to give for me to even write this article! My youngest wanted to play the board game LIFE with me tonight. The cute little brown-eyed manipulator plays dirty, looking all cute and saying please. How could I say no? I love a good game of chance. I mean, we homeschool with wild abandon and stuff. Yet it still pained me to tell him, “Not tonight.”

At least I didn’t give up feeding him dinner to blog for the first time in 3 weeks. But something had to give. And as I promised to play the following night, my brain began to pepper me with every other thing that needed my attention…

I remembered the laundry is piling up. I need to schedule at least ten different appointments I keep putting off. I have this fantasy of getting back into painting….But lessons need to be prepared for tomorrow. Right, so, I must figure out how to determine the polarity of a magnet before bed. Has anyone fed the dog? We are out of milk. I need a shower. Umm…where is the dog? I need to plan our summer vacation. Can we even afford to take one right now? One of my kids has sneezed 5 times in 30 seconds. Great! We are all going to be sick by Thursday. Remember to proofread the twins’ research papers, register for spring swim meets and actually go to practice to prepare. Enforce music practice at least 30 minutes a day. Look sexy…errr….wear makeup and real clothes at least once a week for self and husband. Did I remember every birthday on both sides of the family so far this year? I’m worried we aren’t doing enough grammar and I know nothing about the 20,000 computer science questions I am bombarded with daily.

I wonder what its like to have a real job? (Break into hysterical laughter with tears.)

“Nothing great was ever accomplished without making some kind of sacrifice.”

In the game of LIFE he wanted to play, but didn’t realize we were already in, players choose to get a job or go to college right from the start. You either get to start making money immediately, or you have to pay money upfront in hopes that you will make even more money later. A sacrifice before the reward that may never come. And it made me think of this whole chance I took on homeschooling and all I have wagered.

Whether you are homeschooling your only child, just your oldest kid, or an entire full size van of wide eyed sponges of varying ages and abilities, you gave up something. Or 2,735 somethings. We are blind to the outcome, but mostly sure this was the right hand to bet on.

I remember dangling over the cliff of indecision. To leap or not to leap? That was the question. Assuming I knew what I was doing and where to start, (which honestly I wasn’t quite sure I hadn’t lost my mind) What was I willing to wager that we would be successful? Well, all of my kid-free time for starters. Poof gone.

When you were about to have your first child, all the experienced moms and grandmas likely said, “You just can’t imagine how much your life will change when that baby comes.”  And maybe you were like, “Naw, I got this. I read all the books, blogs, and breast shield inserts.” Only at 3 a.m. that screaming baby didn’t quiet down when you fed, burped, changed and rocked like the book said would work. And soon after you were using “What to Expect the First Year” as a doorstop to hear if the baby cried while you sunned your chipped, cracked and bleeding nipples on the back porch and eating an entire bag of ruffles guilt free while mixing your first bottle of formula.

It’s the same with homeschooling. You just don’t know what it will demand of you, or what you will actually do, or be willing to give up to do your best until you are in the throes of home education. So you leap and learn as you go, and hopefully before you hit the ground.

“Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.”

Kobi Yamada

When I learned I had given up all of my kid-free time, except for when I locked myself in the bathroom or snuck out for a long vacation to the mailbox, it was just something to get used to really. But from the start, I knew I was giving up a lucrative career using the degrees for which we were still paying student loans.

If you think about sacrificing a career and a second income for however many years you refuse to hedge this bet on homeschooling, that is quite a wager you have laid on the table in faith of your decision! And we homeschool moms continue to give up lots and maybe don’t even realize we have because we gave it up so willingly.

Things like friends who weren’t keen on our decision to homeschool, shopping for fun, a clean house, the kitchen table, hobbies like painting and dancing, reading something other than curriculum, time to exercise with earbuds blocking out the world, pedicures after a relaxing lunch out, the feeling of worth for bringing home a paycheck to contribute to the expenses, the respect of a commanding career, time not spent worrying about every educational decision being squarely on our shoulders, etc. And some even say they gave up their sanity!

Sacrifice:  the act of giving up or surrendering something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more worthy or important.

If we homeschool for the right reasons it is easy to see that the desired outcome is worth the sacrifice. And therefore homeschooling is not a gamble, but an investment. We are investing all that extra time, money, and sanity into our kids’ future. When my boys ask why I homeschool I like to tell them, “Just working on my retirement package!” And its true, not because I expect them to pay for my senior living, but because I want them to be equipped to tackle this world with the knowledge, strength, wisdom, and faith we work to instill in them. And maybe by that time I won’t have to sacrifice my blue-haired bingo game.

Homeschooling is not for the half interested parent. It shouldn’t be done lightly or on a whim. To do it right means to put all the chips on the table.  Whether we only homeschool for one year or a full 13 years per kid, the more of ourselves that we invest, the more we will get back.  And when things get hard, we can choose to give up or double down on our efforts to beat the odds. If it were easy everyone would do it. The end will justify the means and probably already has in many ways.

We wagered a second income on the notion that we could educate our children more effectively than the public school system. We wagered the need to fit into the outside world’s social expectations on the belief that our children should look to us for social and moral guidance. We wagered the ease and comfort of kid-free time on the belief that kids need family more than peers, love more than affirmation, and encouragement more than conformity.

“You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.”

Gordon B. Hinckley

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