No matter how you slice it, homeschooling is a full-time job. Whatever the method or materials, it is a constant, 24/7 activity. An activity with no breaks or sick days, no vacations or substitute teachers, and sometimes no praise or support. An activity that continues until all of the children in the household are grown — and sometimes even beyond.
Research continues to show moms as the primary homeschool parent. Though dads may be heavily involved in teaching, supervision, materials procurement and all the rest, studies show it’s generally mom acting as Teacher/Facilitator, Principal, Bookkeeper, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.
Buried somewhere underneath it all, after the soccer games have ended and the chess boards have been put away…when the last lesson of the day has been completed and the chores are neatly done…once the papers have been filed and the technology all shut down…is a married couple who probably haven’t had a night to themselves in weeks (months? years?).
Sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone.
Let’s begin with a shocker. Some day, when homeschool is over and the children are grown, it’ll be the two of you. What will that transition be like? A second honeymoon? Or strangers in the night?
Now, let’s look at the truth. Homeschool families are great at togetherness and routinely participate in activities where all family members can be involved. What they sometimes aren’t so great at, is finding time for just mom and dad. We’re not talking a quick kiss in the morning (though that’s a start), but honest-to-goodness alone time — preferably away from the house, sans kids.
As if this weren’t enough, compound it with a sense of guilt over wanting time alone. Guilt about being away from the children. Guilt about indulging in personal time when there is so much else to do. Guilt over the number of tasks sitting uncompleted at home while we’re away.
Homeschooling brings about many changes through the years — changes parents gladly make for the sake of the family. Changes most wouldn’t change for the world. But such massive, overall changes in structure, leadership, lifestyle, and routines have the ability — the predictable tendency – to tug on marriage.
Please understand, there are no national studies about homeschooling and its effect on marriage. Don’t write to me searching for citations and links. This is just a common sense argument for taking care of marriages during the homeschool years.
Homeschool moms and dads may welcome these changes as signs of having done something wonderful — created a life and a family. It’s good stuff. It’s very, very important work. But that time alone isn’t there any more. Or becomes so rare that they’ve forgotten what to do with it. They may miss marriage as they knew it. And, just perhaps, appreciate an occasional reminder.
Marital stressors during homeschool come from many areas:
- poor time management skills resulting in too few hours in the day
- financial concerns stemming from living on one income
- disagreement over homeschooling itself, or the results thereof
- close quarters and stresses related to too much togetherness
- outside stressors like meddling friends or unsupportive family members
- challenges with a child’s health, learning or behavior
There are surely others. One can easily see how difficult it may seem to nurture a relationship with so much else continually going on.
How, then, can parents find time alone amidst life unfolding each and every day? That is the subject of other post with the ‘marriage’ tag. I invite you to follow the series.