Choosing a Hard Life

*This post is not comparing the lives of different women, but myself comparing what life would be like for me if I put my babes in school. I would spend the day writing…and, of course, cleaning. :)

I was wondering today about how it is that so many women keep their homes together…cleaned…and their hair brushed {ahem}.

Then I remember, most women send their children to school.

There are days I envy these women. I would love to  have the peace and quiet and ease of cleaning without anyone around (I would also love a daily Starbucks visit to sip Le caffeine goodness while writing). I would love to actually just get something done other then maintain.

But that is not the life I’ve chosen. Disclaimer: before I go on, this post has nothing to do with wanting sympathy or anything even in that ballpark. This is me relating to those of you who also have chosen the homeschooling life…and consequently, the most likely messy(er) life.

Okay, so why this post? Basically it is to remind myself (and perhaps you?) that unless you fall into the one percentage of people who are naturally cleaned and organized and dressed-everyday-consistently-even-though-they-homeschool-and-cook-and-keep a happy husband (basically, unless you are as rare as size 1 supermodels), you are living homeschool normal. And it ain’t easy (oh yes, she did just pull out the Georgia roots).

My (very inexperienced) advice?

Accept it. Believe the truth that you are not the only one who struggles with piles of laundry and the occasional shower.  You are a homeschooling mama. Roar.

(Now pray that God brings you the means to have a maid.)


Why am I homeschooling if it’s so hard? Read this.

Need help persevering when it comes to cleaning? Try this. (If I could add another subtitle it would be: cleaning with an eternal focus, because it’s not really about the mechanics.)

47 Coffee Talks on “Choosing a Hard Life”

  1. As your kids get a little older and independent in their homeschooling and also can help you in the house hold chores, as part of their training . . . this post title will become . . . the better life, the less stressful life, the I enjoy a unique relationship with my kids life,Ii still have my own life life. . . etc. Meanwhile, thanks for reminding moms that the early stages with young kids is harder and what you are experiencing is normal.

    Blessings on your homeschooling home.


  2. dailydwelling says:

    I have thought about this very thing often….maybe too often. But in the end, I came to the same conclusion. I have chosen this life and I would chose it all over again…a million times. It's hard and it leaves no time for "me", so I am just accepting that I am not the only one that struggles. Thank you for confirming that!

  3. Deb says:

    Sing it!
    We've been learning at home for 9 years. My kids will never look back and say "Man! I wish Mom would have done a better job at sweeping & vacuuming!" They will remember – and they do thank me already – for giving them the blessing of learning at home.
    Dust will always be there – dishes & laundry will always be there (unless we all stop eating & start running around nekkid) – LIFE keeps rolling. We do all we can manage – training them in the process and eventually they are big enough to HELP you with the cleaning & laundry!
    This crazy JOURNEY of life & homeschooling is SOOOOOOO worth it in the long run! God will always provide the grace for each moment – we just have to open our hearts to receive it.

  4. Anna says:

    I'm right there with you. Recently I needed a reminder of why I've chosen to be where I am doing what I'm doing. Sometimes it's beyond hard, but then I realize all I would miss if I wasn't here doing what I'm doing.

  5. homekeepers says:

    Love this! Thank you.

  6. gailtheimperfecthousewife says:

    I haven't started homeschooling "officially" yet, but will this fall with my oldest who will be in K. A friend of mine, who is naturally organized and neat, told me that is the one thing that is tough for her. Not being able to keep the house the way she used to. Thank you for the reminder that LIFE is more than a clean house. (And, I really like the Roar at the end…. we are homemaking mama's, hear us roar!) :)

  7. Sheri says:

    Well I've been homeschooling since my almost 11th grade son was in 1st grade…and there's still no maid here. LOL I tend to go through eeks and erks! Sometimes the house is spotless others (Like now) it's a mess. Depends on life. Right now life is messy…therefore so is my home.

  8. Mandie says:

    Thank you for openly sharing and giving me something to relate to. I am at the same maid praying-harder than ever-messy stage and needed to hear how "normal" it all is! Praise God for your gift of words as you relay what may be exactly on His heart for me.

  9. Michelle says:

    I have felt like this at times and even came very close to sending our children to school last year, but the public school moms I;ve seen, (even the ones who stay home) seem just as stressed, especially if they have strong convictions about the way their children are headed.

    The biggest reason why is due to the fact that they have to work overtime when their children come home from school to undo all the stuff that has been planted within their minds each day.(When the children are tired and have two or three hours of homework. ) They also don;t have the time to foster and nurture their relationships with them and as a result, they have more conflict and frustration. Perhaps their are moms out there who haven't experienced this, but I don;t know any personally.

    I was a public school mom for a short time on two separate occasions, and within a matter of a few weeks, I noticed a dramatic change in my daughter's personality.

    Messy house or messy hearts? That''s what I have to ask myself!

  10. Samantha says:

    oh this pegged me completely. I LOVE being home with my kids and I LOVE being their teacher and watching them learn but it is definitely a struggle to find the time to do it all. And it is something we need to hear (read) every once in a while that we aren't alone in this uphill battle. And I do look forward to the days when the kids are old enough to help with more around here so things can be more evenly divided amongst us but for now we will keep on muddling through knowing we're not the only ones with a mountain of laundry.

  11. Sonya says:

    Ill be jumping on board this wagon next year with my son who will be going into 3rd grade. The Lord has guided all of my steps and I am going in with Him in control. Your right Sarah Mae, we chose this life and what a blessing to follow in God steps to do what He has called us to do as a wife and mom!!!! Thanks for this great reminder!!! :)

  12. Carrie says:

    I'm a homeschooling Mom of five children. I live in a tiny village in Eastern Europe where only one other family speaks English. I raise chickens (just started that), garden, cook everything from scratch (don't have much choice), etc. Sometimes I feel like I've got it pretty rough. That I've chosen the "hard(er) life". That I'd love to have the option of sending my kids to school so I could be excited to see them when they got home.

    Then I think of my own Mother. She worked outside the home, raised four kids, and in her spare time, cleaned the house. She had no time for herself. No time for trivialities. No time to enjoy watching her children feed worms to chicks. No time to stop and smell the lilacs.

    When I look at it that way, I see that I have chosen the easier (albeit still hard) life. Thank you for that reminder today =)

    • Joy says:

      Your life sounds very similar to mine (insert Indonesia instead of Eastern Europe) and I completely agree with you! Maybe it isn't easier per se, but it is simpler, yes?!

  13. S Club Mama says:

    I'm not a homeschooling mom but I do stay home and this summer we will be implementing homeschool into our lives just to keep our son up to speed…can I say I'm nervous? I don't know how to homeschool (even if it was my original intent)! ugh.

  14. Jane says:

    I was a stay home mom. I spent time volunteering and never missed a field trip. I did not feel that homeschooling was a need back then, I would homeschool my children these days. Both my daughters did not become pregnant out of wedlock or get hooked on drugs,both are putting themselves through college. What I am saying is this, I miss the time with my children. I used to have the same feelings as you are having. And now I miss those times. You are a woman, wife, mother, blogger, housekeeper, driver, nurse, etc. You wear many hats. You will always have a house to clean, laundry to do, and supper to cook but you can never get back the time while your kids are all yours. Hang in there and remember, God wants us to live in the moment and He will take care of the rest. You are a great mom. Using the new byphrase. with that said, I guess I am trying to find something to do with my life now lol. Have a good day!

  15. Lori says:

    Yep. It's a messy life. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

  16. Jan says:

    Clean homes are an image. I've been at it for 18 years, schooling my last 3 and I wouldn't trade it for the world. The families who choose public school for their families have different trials, too. I do love my relationship with my 2 big ones (22 & 20) because of h/s ing.

  17. Excercisemama says:

    First of all, I just want to say that I really love your blog. I love the honesty and "realness" that helps me so much in my life. I can so relate to your struggles, and so many other Moms obviously do too. Today though, your blog didn't sit right with me. I am not a home school Mom. I do send my kids to public school. We do this because we feel this is gods calling for our family….just like you feel homeschooling is what God has chosen for your family. Home school moms and public school moms need to support and honor each other, even though they may not have chosen the same path. So, I felt your comment about sending the kids off to school and then us "doing whatever we do" was a bit sarcastic. We have the exact same struggles in keeping the house clean and juggling it all. We might have younger ones at home that stay there with us when we get the older ones off. I do. The truth is, it's hard for all of us. I can't understand your challenges either, but none of us have it easier. Anyway, love your blog, and I still do, but I just pray you would search your heart and realize that us public school moms share some of the same challenges you do . We are all I. This together as sisters in Christ! Please keep posting your wonderful, real, and encouraging blogs!

    • Sarah Mae says:

      Excercisemama, thank you for your graciousness! Honestly, that line, I just couldn't find the words, so maybe I was a little lazy – please forgive me. I just meant, well, that you do whatever it is that you do – nothing sarcastic about it. :) I don't know what you do, so that's why I said that, but I'm sure if i spent more time I could come up with a better way of communicating my point. I in no way am trying to say that the "harder" life (in my mind) is the better life…or the life God has called someone else to. We are sisters, and we do need to honor each other – I am so with you on that, friend!

      • Excercisemama says:

        Thank u Sara! All is forgiven, of course, just had to say something!Keep up the good work! Love your blog!

    • Carrie says:

      I agree with you. Being a SAHM is not a harder life. It's all a matter of perspective.

      • Sarah Mae says:

        I didn't mean just being a SAHM, but rather a SAHHM (homeschooling in there). Tons of extra work, energy, and time homeschooling requires. That's all I meant. :)

        • Carrie says:

          I know. I still don't think it's harder. Parenting is hard no matter how you shake it and bake it.

          For instance, imagine being a WOH who is a teacher at a public school. That seems pretty hard to me.

          • amy says:

            Homeschooling is harder. Sorry to burst any bubbles. I agree with everyone that being a parent is hard, no doubt (regardless of how your schooling)- but the time, planning, resources, constant tweaking, and just plain one-on-one time intensity you have with your children day after day, week after week, is a whole different experience that people don't really fully understand unless you've homeschooled (and homeschooled the right way, with real goals, curriculum, etc). I have done it all: worked a ton with kids in day care, worked part time, and now homeschool full time and homeschooling is an OFF THE HOOK, time intensive, energy and patience draining situation unlike any other. It is EXTREMELY hard (harder than anything I have ever had to do), yet more worth it than any thing I have ever done. If you don't homeschool, be careful saying it's equal in difficulty to every other parental endeavor~ to be completely honest, it's a darn heavy responsibility that you can't speak to unless you do it.

          • Carrie says:

            I homeschool 5 children and have been homeschooling for 11 years. I know the difficulty of it.

          • gina7477 says:

            What difference does it make whose life is harder? Whatever path God has chosen for you, there is going to be someone, somewhere who has it more difficult than you do. Quibbling over whether it's harder to homeschool, work outside the home, etc. does nothing to encourage anyone or edify God in any way. In my opinion, time would be better spent supporting and encouraging ALL mothers in whatever path God has placed them on.

          • mary says:

            Why is there this competition between whose life is "harder?" How do you know what other "public school Moms" are going through in their life or the paths that they have chosen to serve God? Maybe there are other people who have EXTREMELY hard lives as well and we don't see them because we're too busy one upping each other. I applaud you for choosing homeschooling-I really do. But the insinuations that we drop our kids off at school and then live a life of luxury until 3:00 is wounding. Why can't we all work together and support one another. You are creating a division among the very people who need each other the most. I think you have a huge bubble of your own that needs to be addressed. We're all Christian Mama's doing the best we can-ROAR!

  18. Hooray, I'm normal!!!

  19. @AnnVoskamp says:

    Yes, so true, Sarah Mae… So we laugh and give thanks and accept it. God has called and we will go because He alone will sustain us. That is enough!

    (And now I *Really* need to go do my hair. *Seriously*:)

    (And my humble housekeeping tips:
    What the Priority Is:
    What Happy Homemakers know: )

    To find a brush! :)

    You are a gift, friend…

    All's grace,

  20. Pssst…even those of us who are naturally prone to keep a tidy organized house are letting something else go…

    It's all about a balance that we, in our uniquely wired way, can maintain, right? :)

  21. annie41977 says:

    I want to thank you so much for this post. I sit and struggle with a very disorganized house that drives me nutty. My house even overwhelms me at times which just makes me freeze and spend way too much time online because I don't want to face it all….eeks!

    It's nice to know that I'm not the only one challenged. I also know that with God's grace and lots of encouragement – I can get passed this.

  22. Rachel says:

    Just had to stop by and let you know that us moms with kids at school still struggle with plies of laundry and the occasional shower…

    I admire homeschooling moms because I know I could never do that. But then again, I have the opportunity to do things that you never would. So it all evens out in the end and the laundry (and sometimes me) still isn't clean. :)

  23. Rachel says:

    EXCELLENT! I have to keep reminding myself of the reasons WHY I homeschool. focus, focus, focus, focus…priorities.

    Thank you for helping me remember that my not-so-spotless and never-seeming-to-be-caught-up laundry is okay.

  24. Amanda M. says:

    My daughter is not to a schooling age yet, so I completely relate to what you are saying. She is two and some days she is very two. Getting anything done (including a shower) feels like an accomplishment. Why I do it? Because I love it. Is it hard? yes, yes it is. But I feel God has placed this on my heart to be a stay-at-home mom and I am focusing on my daughter and the benefits I do have and trying to be less stressed about all the details.

  25. marie says:

    All right. I understand that this post is meant to help relieve the guilt from all of us homeschooling mothers of young children. However, everytime I read a similar post, I sigh, because while I would love to not be uptight about the house and everything, to my husband, having a well-kept orderly house matters a lot. He works at home a lot and if the house looks like 4 kids 6 and under live in it (which is most of the time since its reality !), it stresses him out. I really want to please him and make our house a pleasant place, but I can't live up to it, and it makes him unhappy. He does help a lot when I'm behind on house-keeping, dishes, etc, but it makes me feel like I'm a failure, like he has to pitch in because I haven't done my job well… and so the guilt continues… What encouragement is there for those of us who have husbands who aren't as "relaxed" as what posts like this encourage us to be ?

    • Sarah Mae says:

      Marie – friend, I do understand – my husband is that way. I will respond to this in a post (because I relate big time!).

  26. Renee says:

    Amen, I totally understand! life is busy and messy when you are putting the heart of your little one first! Remember everything will be ok, if you are doing the will of God, everything will be ok :-)

  27. Bria says:

    Relief. I bought your e-book and, confession, can't keep up with the cleaning tasks. They're too big, too time consuming. It's so easy to get caught up in that guilt and feeling of being overwhelmed by the not-quite-necessary tasks. But I know, in my heart, that what I'm investing in my four kids is far and away more valuable than a little free time and spiffy house. I'm working on a little eternity every day, and not giving up on my house either. Thanks.

  28. Joy says:

    Great post Sarah Mae! Agreeing with your advice to accept it and believe the truth that you aren't the only one that struggles. My only addition? Get up tomorrow and preach the same things to yourself…..and the next day, and the next. And keep telling that to yourself every. On the good days, on the terrible days, on the blah days. :)

  29. Healthy Mom says:

    I am very offended by your post today. I do not have the ability to stay home with my children because of finances, although I would love to. My children go to public school and I do not feel like it is easier for me or that I have the luxury to do whatever I want while they are there. Your post makes it sound as if you have chosen to make your children a priority and those of us that have to work have not. That we value our personal time and our clean houses more than the growth and spiritual development of our children. I will tell you that I love my children and they are the most important thing in the world to my husband and myself. We do not send them off to make their messes somewhere else. After working hard all day, we bake with them, play with them, create with them, help them with school projects, camp out on the living room floor with them, curl up and read books with them, etc. I have the same homemaking to do as any other mother, whether she stays at home, works, homeschools or has children who attend public/private school. I found your blog today self-righteous and martyr-like. I think you need to respect ALL mothers.

    • Sarah Mae says:


      I am so sorry to have offended you! I do respect mothers, and I meant to offense to moms who choose or have to do differently than homeschool, I was just trying to relate to those of us who struggle with the consistent upkeep of the homeschooling lifestyle, mainly with little ones. Please forgive me if I came off insensitive, I truly did not intend that.

      I concede that a mama who has to work to care for her family when she wants to be home would be a much harder life then the one I have chosen.

  30. Crystal says:

    Thank you for this post and please keep them coming (I'm always fearful for the one who may offend some but encourage many). I am totally Type B… struggle with the lazies… not the organizing/structured type. So, I get you. (not saying that you are lazy or disorganized, btw. But you know what I mean! *I hope*) My homeschooling journey begins in the fall.. and I am scared. But I know He's called me to this and He will provide as long as I'm willing to walk with Him. And I'm trying to let go of some of the ridiculous standards that I've placed on myself… It's a journey.

  31. Barbie says:

    I'm in the minority here I am sure. I have a full-time job and 3 children (as well as an adult daughter living with us). I don't clean my house, except for once a week. I try to "pick up" when I can, keep the kitchen clean and the laundry done. I normally have my kiddos do vacuuming and bathroom cleaning on weekends. It's a chore, and I don't like cleaning because I am so tired. I doubt I would have time to keep up with it if I were home. Oh and to add to my already busy schedule, I will be attempting to Homeschool my son in his Senior Year next year, while working. Pray for me!

  32. Ashley says:

    Thank you. I really needed this today.

  33. Carrie says:

    One last thing and then I'll stop because I see and appreciate what you were trying to do with this post. I really do. I appreciate your ministry.

    It was the "er" that got my heckles up.

    Parenting is hard. Homeschooling is hard. There's no doubt about it. But, who gets to decide what is "hard(er)"? That would be comparing ourselves among ourselves, which the Bible says is unwise.

    There may be a mom with one child who has it harder than I do because of autism or ADHD or something similar. There may be a Mom who sends her children off to school who has it harder than I do because she is in chronic pain and cannot feasibly homeschool. You really don't know.

    You're comparing yourself to a mirage. It's the old Grass-is-greener shtick. I know, because I do it, too. Sometimes I think to myself that Mothers in America have it so much easier than I do, and I should just leave this place and go back there. Sometimes I wish I had the option of sending my children off to school so I could have a moment of peace and quiet. Sometimes I feel as if I'd give up chocolate for a year just to have one afternoon at a cafe with an English speaking friend.

    Everyone gets to feeling that way. And then everyone has to find the courage from within to fulfill their ministry. To run the race that is set before them. To endure hardness as a good soldier. To die to self daily.

    I've not attained. Shoot, today I want to string my brats, er, children up by their toe nails and then ship them off to Grandma's.

    It's just food for thought.

    Have a great weekend, Sarah Mae. Chin up =)

    • Sarah Mae says:

      Carrie, you're right…perhaps I should have titled it Hard(er?) Life. :) Thanks for the discussion, friend!

  34. Angela says:

    You know the days I love the most? I call them my "Good and Godly days." They are the days when the house is a total wreck. So bad in fact, that if anyone would come knocking I probably wouldn't answer. Anyway, they are the days that have been challenging with me teaching the kids. Books paper and projects are scattered through out, but we may have had a small "aha" moments in school. A concept was taught and caught! And we all, children and mother sigh with great joy of relief. Dinner may be on the table late, if at all—maybe my husband comes home and cooks because it has really been one of those days. However, "hard" the challenge of that particular day, when I get in bed and scan over that day … I see His hand all in it leading and guiding me in teaching. I like to smile before falling asleep and say to Him, "Thank you Lord for this day.

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