School time is here! Why wait? Start planning now if you want to have a Perfectly Miserable Homeschool this year! Cranky kids, lost tempers, stress, discontent, an unhappy marriage and plenty of complaining can be yours with very little trouble! Just follow these ten easy steps! (Start by leaving your sense of humor behind and taking this tongue-in-cheek article Very Seriously.)
1. Feel guilty all the time. Dwell on your guilt, really soak it up. Tell yourself that you’re a failure and always will be. Wallow in it. Did you snap at your child? Are there cobwebs in the windowsill because you haven’t dusted lately? Did you buy plain lettuce instead of organic lettuce just because it was cheaper? Are you a few pounds overweight? Did your child miss five words on a spelling test? What a horrible parent you are! Feel guilty! Ask forgiveness for things you did wrong but don’t accept the forgiveness. Say things like, “God has forgiven me, but I can’t,” because that sounds really spiritual, like your standards are higher than God’s or something. Dwell on yourself and never think about how your guilty depression is affecting your family. Besides, pity parties are fun. Never say, “I’ll just try to do better next time” and move on.
2. Be envious. Pick something—it doesn’t matter what—and convince yourself that all of your problems are caused because you don’t have it. If only you had another child! A bigger house! A more understanding spouse! Better health! More money! The more unlikely it is for you to obtain whatever it is, the better. Fixate on it. Envy everyone around you who has it. Practice feeling “hurt” that God hasn’t seen fit to bless you with it. Better yet, get angry with God and spend your prayer time demanding God tell you WHY everyone else got it but not you. This kind of discontent is a fabulous way make yourself miserable and causes you to overlook the thousands of blessings you do have. It is also a good way to keep yourself from having to deal with the real root of certain problems. Convince yourself that, say, you lose your temper all the time because your spouse doesn’t value you enough, not because you need to work on self-control.
3. Remember that the goal of homeschooling is to GET THROUGH THE TEXTBOOK THIS YEAR. Whether or not your children learn what is in the textbook is entirely secondary to GETTING THROUGH THE TEXTBOOK THIS YEAR. Never deviate from the schedule. Never speed up and skip over things your child knows forwards and backwards. Never slow down and spend extra time on things your child struggles with. YOU MUST finish the textbook ON TIME and do absolutely everything in it. Remember, if you have to spend the first couple of weeks of the new school year finishing up a few pages in last year’s textbook, your homeschool is a miserable failure and your children will grow up brainless losers who dig ditches backwards all their lives.
4. Overplan or don’t plan at all. Either one of these extremes can be fun. You can have an enormously inflexible schedule and lesson plan that you spend hours designing and even more hours stressing about when things fall behind. Or you can just drift through each day with no thought whatsoever beforehand, which is a great way to create disorderly chaos. Either way, you can make yourself wonderfully miserable.
5. Only seek counsel and encouragement from friends who will say what you want to hear. For goodness sake, stay away from people who might give you unpleasant advice that would prompt you to change bad habits and mature yourself! Avoid hearing or reading anything convicting. If you accidentally do, come up with a reason to ignore the source. Maybe they’re a “legalist” or a “know-it-all” or have some minor point of theological difference with you. Whatever it is, you certainly don’t have to listen to them.
6. Don’t pray for your family. Actually, it’s better to not pray at all. But if your conscience tells you that you really ought to do some praying, stick to the missionaries in Africa or great-great-aunt Hildegard’s gallbladder. Don’t pray for yourself, your spouse, your children or your homeschooling!
7. Play favorites. Sing the praises of your “compliant” quiet child and scowl at your “rebellious” active child. Loudly tell everyone how “smart” Johnny is and how “lazy” Susie is. Do this in public as much as possible. Compare your children to each other all the time. A fun variation on this is to try to make your children pick you as their favorite parent instead of wanting them to love both parents equally. Anything that makes any family member feel second rate or not good enough is a successful way to have a Perfectly Miserable Homeschool.
8. Be helpless. Remember, stuff just HAPPENS to your family and your children. You cannot possibly control what your children watch or read, who they hang out with or what they do. You can’t control your messy house because you cannot possibly “make” your children do chores. You can’t “make” your child obey by providing consequences for disobedience. You can’t “make” your child stop hanging out with bad influences by refusing to involve him or her in certain activities. You also can’t limit your child’s computer time, TV time, video game time or cell phone time by taking such things away or cutting off the service. You can’t improve anything, you can’t be proactive about anything, you can’t put your foot down about anything. It’s not your fault. Problems just happen and you have to endure your trials as best as you can. You can, however, complain, so make the most of that.
9. Have a bad attitude about fun. Here again you have two extremes to choose from. You could dourly insist that fun is bad and we are to be sober-minded Christians. Something like, “We will do chores all day and spend our time improving our minds and ministering and that is ALL, except for eating bitter organic eggplant juice. Hey you! Wipe that smile off your face!” Or you could decide that fun is your primary goal in life and that as long as you and your children are having fun, it doesn’t matter how their character is turning out. Either one can make you thoroughly miserable. This one is particularly good about creating long-term misery because either extreme can create a rebel who will be a source of grief to you for years.
10. Be impressed with yourself. Remind yourself what a self-sacrificing, tremendously wonderful parent you are. It’s not everyone who would homeschool their kids! Boy, do your kids owe you a favor! Isn’t your mansion in heaven going to be TWICE as large as everyone else’s? This kind of “you owe me” self-absorption is an effective way to irritate your kids or, alternately, pass on attitudes of pride and arrogance that may come back to bite you later. Incidentally, don’t forget that you’re working SO hard for your children that you deserve a lot of “me” time to compensate for it. This means that if you’re not in the mood to deal with a problem, you can ignore it. Sacrificial effort only has to take place when you’ve had enough “me” time.
Well, there you have it folks! The top ten ways to have a Perfectly Miserable Homeschool! Jump right in!
Raquelle Sheen was home-schooled all her life. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from home and is currently pursuing her master’s degree from home also. She and her family have been active in the homeschooling community for many years, having served with state homeschool organizations in several states. For more articles by the Sheen family visit www.homeschoolfamilyforum.com.