Now that your first week of homeschool is over you may be thinking a lot of things. You may be thinking that it wasn’t as bad as you imagined it would be. You may even be thinking that you enjoyed it. And if that is the case, then I’m very happy for you and for your family. I hope that whatever you decide to do whenever this is all over, that you and your family can look back fondly on the time you were able to spend together. This message isn’t for you though, so you are dismissed.

However, there is another group I would like to speak with for a minute. This is the group that hasn’t come out of this past week all squeaky clean. There may even be some in this group who feel like failures who are actively ruining their kids’ lives, or who can’t imagine how they are going to make it through this chapter in our history as an intact family unit. A group who fears their kids are about two weeks away from forgetting how to read and, as a result, are staring straight down the road toward a bright future as professional urban outdoorsmen. This message is for you.

I’m here to tell you, as someone who has homeschooled 5 kids going on 8 years now, it’s ok to feel that way and everything is going to be ok. It really is. I promise.

This week, I’ve seen way too many memes and “inspirational posts” about the joys of homeschooling, how great spending time with your kids is, and how if you just follow these 5 simple steps you’ll be a granola-eating, essential oil using, homeschool pro in no time with kids who have guaranteed admission into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Ignore that stuff. That’s the COVID-19 version of the Instagram beach filter. Real life can never measure up to those Instagram posts and homeschooling was never so easy that it could be distilled into a 5-point bulleted list. I’ve never met anyone who decided to homeschool because it was easy (they are out there but stay away from them).

Like everything else in life (especially the parts of life involving kids), homeschooling is very messy. Even for my family, who has been doing this for years and has a literal schoolroom filled with curriculum, books, learning aids, etc., there are still some days that make us question why we even got out of bed. Now, take your family, who had no intentions of ever doing this, but woke up one day to find that, surprise! Not only are you in the middle of a global pandemic where your entire office, industry, and town have been flipped upside down, but now you get to be a teacher for your rambunctious 6-year-old (yes, the same 6-year-old who gave the cat a grape juice bath). It is pure chaos.

That is why I want to share with you the most important thing I’ve learned in all my time doing this: put your family first. Put your family above “learning.” Put your family above whatever that person on Facebook says you should be doing with a 5, 7, 10, or 15-year-old. It does not matter what anyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter if your kids are ahead or behind. It doesn’t matter that today doesn’t look the same as yesterday. None of that matters as long as you are doing the best thing you can for your kid in that moment. Your kid is not going to grow up illiterate because you only did 29 minutes of grammar instead of 30. I promise. They will, however, remember if you made that 1 minute more important than they are. Make sure that they are first and everything else will work itself out…eventually.

There is, of course, more to it than that, and a curriculum is necessary for long-term development, and I’m sure my wife can write a dozen blogs on that. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is for me, as a working professional who has homeschooled 5 awesome kids, to let you know that everything is going to be ok and you can do this…and it is ok if today “this” simply means keeping the kids fed and not getting fired.