Enhanced – read by the author
The Family Man
with Todd Wilson
What to Expect
When You’re Expecting to Homeschool (for Dads)
baby with mouth open making a face

ife is busy here. Just got back from vacation, and I feel like we’ve had non-stop babies being born since the middle of summer. If you’re keeping track, we’ve had three grandbabies since July and one in the oven due in March.

It seems like only yesterday that we were the ones having babies, and now our babies are having babies. Actually it’s kind of fun watching them navigate the turbulent baby years. We just watch and smile knowing that they’re going to figure it out… just about the time they’re done having babies.

Back in the day, my rule-following wife was researching and reading what she could on how to do it all right. I remember one book that was all the rage at the time that stayed beside her chair called What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

But hear me loud and clear: You can expect homeschooling to work, to bear sweet fruit, and to leave your kids prepared for the future.”
The title had a nice ring to it and continues to help parents manage their expectations and prepare them for what’s headed their way.

I was thinking that there should be a book for dads entitled What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Homeschool. Okay, so it doesn’t have the same ring, but you get the idea. The point would be to help dads manage their homeschool expectations and to stop putting unrealistic expectations on their families and wives.

And since I’ll probably never write the book, I decided to write an article by the same title instead. So, let’s just cut to the chase and do it in a few bullet points.

Expect homeschooling to be hard.
People often say to me, “Homeschooling and raising a family is so hard.” I look them dead in the eye and respond, “Duh? Good things are always hard.” It will be true for you too, Dad. You can’t expect to do something worthwhile, like educating your children at home, and expect it to be easy. Could you choose to put your kids in school and would it be easier? You bet. But it’s not better; in fact, it’s worse… way worse.

So when your wife says to you, “It’s just so hard,” respond with, “That means it’s worth it, Honey.”

Expect it to not look like school.
Institutional schools need to have schedules, rules to keep order, tools for measuring learning, and extra time to herd kids from room to room. You only have your kids to worry about, so schedules don’t need to be rigid, and they don’t need all the rules. Your wife is sitting next to them much of the day, so she doesn’t need tests to see how they’re doing, and when you get rid of all the wasted time, schoolwork takes a fraction of the time to complete. So it’s okay that your kids are still in their pjs at dinner sometimes, that they’re done with school before lunch, and that they don’t take tests, have grades, or have a locker.
wooden blocks, stuffed animals, and toy cars on the floor
Expect the house to be messier.
This is a no-brainer. Kids make messes and school takes time, thus not leaving a lot of time to clean up the messes. Deal with it. Would you rather have a house full of kids, laughter, and learning or a clean house? You can’t have them both at the same time.
Expect the meals to not be as extravagant.
The same that was said about a clean house goes for fancy meals. Sometimes your wife will barely get food on the table, and it might even involve pouring milk over cold cereal. Cut her some slack, smile, and say, “Thanks for another great meal on top of everything else you do.”
Expect your wife to be tired and sometimes… irritable.
This is a biggie. If you think your wife is going to be her fun-loving, pre-homeschooling self and well-rested after homeschooling, wrangling kids, and trying to keep the house in order, you’ve got another thing coming. The truth is your wife is going to be more tired, distracted, hurried to get things done, and… irritable.
Embrace it and offer to help.
Which leads me to the next point.
Expect your life to be affected.
If you think that homeschooling your children will be no different than sending your kids away to school, you’re a lot dumber than I look. All good things have a price. If you want a shiny antique car, you have to wash it, wax it, and maintain it. That takes a lot of time and effort. Old beaters take no time.
toy tractors, stuffed animals, and mini pumpkins laid out on the floor
It’s the same with family and kids. If you want a family that loves God, loves learning, and loves each other, it’s going to take a lot of effort and you’re going to have to make sacrifices. Sacrifices of your time, your comfort, your free time, and your preferences.
But here’s the bottom line: It’s worth it.
Expect huge payoffs in the future.
Now I’m not a prophet, but I will say this boldly and firmly: If you invest the time in keeping your kids home and training them in life and learning to love God… it pays off. Your children will be prepared for whatever God has for them. They will stand out from other kids. They will be friends with their siblings. And they will love you and God. Why would they not?
It won’t be easy. There will be plenty of ugly, chaotic times, and there will be times when you will doubt your efforts. But hear me loud and clear: You can expect homeschooling to work, to bear sweet fruit, and to leave your kids prepared for the future.
And you can expect your best memories to come from these exhausting, tiring, messy years. You can take that to the bank and cash it.
A digital signature mark of Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: www.familymanweb.com.