If you’re a homeschooling mom who’s suddenly a single mom, you may think that you have to give up homeschooling. But you don’t have to. In fact, continuing to homeschool may be the best thing for your family during this time of tragedy and transition, and here’s why homeschooling as a newly single mom is important.
Why I Chose Homeschooling as a Newly Single Mom
Becoming a single mom always has tragedy involved. Whether you’re single because of death, separation or divorce, it’s overwhelming, emotionally painful and full of loss and grief – even if your relationship was difficult. If you’ve been homeschooling and your relationship has ended, you may be tempted to enroll the kids in school. But homeschooling can be the best thing for your family during this time of transition.
In 2013, my marriage ended. It had been dying for months, but it was an abrupt end, as he moved out at 11 pm at night. I was numb, shocked, relieved and yet feeling incredibly guilty for that, and all at once overwhelmed and terrified and even excited. It was a mix of emotions and incredibly hard to sort out.
I had five young children at home, and I’d been homeschooling for 8 years at the time. My youngest was just 3 months old, but my oldest was in Grade 4. And for one brief moment, I wondered if I should just enroll the kids in school while I figured out what was next.
Don’t make drastic decisions when you’re overwhelmed.
In the middle of the confusion and transition, I didn’t want to make any drastic decisions. And it was the middle of summer, so it was a decision I simply put off. I couldn’t think about it anyways – there was too much else to deal with.
And that was one of the best decisions I made.
When you’re in the middle of a huge life change, the last thing anyone needs is a huge lifestyle change.
When September rolled around, about 5 weeks later, I had realized that putting my daughter in school would completely change our days. And we’d had enough change to deal with. Going through the motions of planning homeschool lessons, finding and preparing curriculum and activities, and working through the work with my kids gave me something to focus on besides the death of my relationship.
Homeschooling can provide stability.
Having a routine to our days – one that was familiar and reminded us of what was normal – made the kids and I feel secure. We had a stable core to hold on to, even while I sorted out custody and financial issues with my ex husband. Knowing that we had a plan for every day helped me get up in the morning.
Homeschooling gave us a stable distraction from the other issues. We had a structure to our days. The kids knew what to expect, even when their father wasn’t consistent with visits and mom sometimes had to hide and cry.
Being home meant they were in a familiar environment, without dealing with more new people and new situations. And that helped my kids deal with the huge change.
Homeschooling is flexible enough to support mental health.
Death, divorce, separation and relationship breakdowns can be a huge toll on your mental health. And not just yours, but your kids too! Where public schools, with their tests, due dates and deadlines, doesn’t always allow you to take time off when you need it.
Homeschooling is flexible. And as homeschooling moms, we know this. We’ve taken days off when our kids have stomach bugs, or when it’s too nice to stay inside. We know that we can take off early on a Thursday for a long weekend holiday, without worrying about “keeping up”. It’s not hard to adjust plans on the fly for kids that might struggle with a concept – or fly through something faster than we expected.
And that flexibility is a huge bonus when you’re grieving the end of a relationship, and sorting out your new life as a single parent. When you need to take time off for the extra appointments for lawyers or insurance agents, or if you need a slower pace because it’s a hard day emotionally, homeschooling allows you to do that easier.
Homeschooling helps your family bond.
Kids are resilient, they tell us. They adjust faster to a new normal than us adults. But our kids still need support during transition. And so do we. Homeschooling helps create and rebuild family bonds, after a huge relationship change.
One of the biggest things I value about homeschooling is the ability to be present with my kids for the majority of their waking hours. I’m able to guide them through decisions, interactions with others, and help them make good choices. And I’m able to see the changes as they grow – physically, mentally, emotionally – and find the support for them when they need it.
When life changes for us, and our kids, we can feel lost, alone, isolated. When we’re together as a family, we can grieve together and we can support each other. In the middle of a huge life change, like the end of a relationship, you don’t need to separate the family further. You need to pull together more.
Homeschooling can make navigating changes easier.
This is especially true when you’re divorcing. Homeschooling can make navigating those visitation and custody issues a little bit easier – even if the other parent suddenly changes their mind on supporting homeschooling.
Depending on how you handle custody, homeschooling can make for more flexible exchanges, the ability to share parenting time more equitably, and better communication between parents. It can help keep the kids’ best interests in focus for both parents. And by continuing the lifestyle you’ve had long term, it makes it easier to put that in whatever legal agreements you may have between you and your co-parent.
And if you are grieving the death of your partner, homeschooling can make those changes easier to handle too. Visits with relatives and with supportive friends are easier to handle when your time isn’t restricted to afterschool hours. Getting therapeutic support for your kids is also easier when you’re not trying to fight for those limited afternoon appointments.
Continuing to homeschool as a single parent can make life easier.
Ultimately, make the choice that is going to be the best for your family. Continuing to homeschool after my marriage ended made my life – and the life of my children – better and easier. We needed the stability and flexibility that homeschooling gave us. We didn’t need another huge transition that enrolling in public school meant. And continuing to homeschool made navigating custody, parenting, and even later on, moving, just that much easier. And homeschooling helped us stay together, build our relationship with each other and create a stronger family bond.
You can homeschool as a single parent. And it may be exactly what you need to do.
Sarah is a single homeschooling WAHM to 6 children, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She’s been homeschooling for 14 years now, and for the last 7 years as a single parent. Between kids, clients, and supporting the homeschool community, she loves reading, gardening, and watching history documentaries. She blogs about homeschooling, single parenting, and large family management at Raising Royalty, and you can find her on Facebook or Twitter @RaisingRoyals.