A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unhappiness

School is well underway for most of us, and we are far enough into the year to begin feeling behind. Stressed, we begin looking over the fence at the Jones’, where the grass is always greener and the children never whine. Meeting with other homeschoolers brings a mixture of encouragement and feelings of inadequacy as we begin to second guess those plans which looked so good on paper. If this describes you, you are off to a great start! After all, there is nothing mankind desires more or works harder for than misery. A brief survey of world literature reveals our fascination with sin, danger and tragedy. If we cannot experience it personally, we do so vicariously through what have become the classics. Even the quest for happiness robs our happiness in the end as Paul Watzlawick so aptly noted in his book, Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein (Guide to Unhappiness). To help you along the way to maximizing your unhappiness, I have written the following guide. Some of these steps may come naturally to you; others may require practice. With diligence, however, anyone can achieve the unhappiness they so earnestly desire.

homeschool humor

1. Copy the public schools.

Buy desks, set them up in neat rows facing the front of the room and invest in a pointer. Even if you have only one child, make him raise his hand to answer questions. Schedule restroom breaks. Let the clock dictate your every move. Giving a toddler a megaphone is a good stand in for a disruptive PA system.

2. Choose your curriculum based on what everyone in your homeschool group is using.

Better yet, find a stranger online and ask her. Don’t consider your temperament or your child’s interests. After all, these other people have way more experience than you. Remind yourself of that continually when things are not going well.

3. Contact every curriculum publisher.

Make sure they have your correct address and get on as many mailing lists as possible. When you first get those glossy catalogs, you will think that this is having the opposite effect than what is intended here. The texture, the smell and all the neat stuff! But then you realize just how much stuff is out there. And how much stuff you do not have. There is always one more book and one more manipulative set to squeeze out of any budget. After all, you only have one chance to educate your children properly. Never let yourself become content with what you already have.

4. Make a clear distinction between school and life.

Do not consider the educational value of trips to the zoo, visits with grandparents and vacations. The more narrowly you define education, the more likely you are to avoid spontaneous “experiences” in favor of “the book.” This also helps maximize the stress of wondering if you are doing enough.

5. Take everything personally.

Everyone has a bad day now and again. Even children. Use this to its fullest potential by taking these opportunities to question your parenting. When your child says, “This is boring,” consider it a direct reflection on your character and personality. Think what it will be like when they talk to their bosses that way. Wonder what your homeschooling friends would say. Most importantly, try to isolate where you have gone wrong as a parent and fret over the permanent damage you must have caused.

This is intended only as a cursory introduction to maintaining general unhappiness in your homeschool. There are many other proven techniques for making yourself miserable and they all progress rather naturally to making those around you unhappy as well. For those of you who are more seasoned, or have just caught on quickly to the art of creating unhappiness, please feel free to add your own suggestions. I will add links to anyone who shares a proven technique for increasing the level of unhappiness in our homes. Even if it is not specific to homeschooling.

Misery loves company.

(Image courtesy Evil Erin under a CC license.)

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24 Comments on "A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unhappiness"

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JJ Ross

Wormtail! Well done. 🙂

Life On The Planet

Ha! Hee-hee! Ho!

You forgot the cafeteria food.


Great post Dana!

I linked to it and made a post with a couple of relevant thoughts today. I’m feeling like an unhappy homeschool mom today and need to snap out of it.


Make a big list of everything that needs to get done today in order for each your children to win a Nobel prize in 30 years. Include laundry and dusting — great minds cannot develop in clutter! If these things do not get done, write EPIC FAIL on your forehead in black magic marker right after your shower tomorrow morning, and make a newer, bigger list.

Dana Hanley

Good ideas, Lydia!


Yes, Yes, Yes to everything you wrote.

You have inspired me and the kids will wonder why I have said close the books today for we are doing things differently………

Thank You!



Do not allow for any deviation from the schedule whatsoever.

No unannounced visitors, and that goes for out of town guests especially.

No spur of the moment field trips. Every one must be completely planned and fit into the schedule perfectly.

No days when your child would prefer to play all day with the microscope instead of doing math.

Basically you must at all times make sure that the schedule is supreme.



I posted a little about my last comment at

[savingdollarsandsense (dot) com/2008/11/homeschoolers-guide-to-unhappiness.html]

This is a great topic. Thanks for writing about it.



Excellent tips, Kristie! There is nothing quite like The Schedule that can ruin a good day.

And I hope you have a great day, Marie!

Sarah H.

Great list, Dana.

I’ve linked.


Somehow, we haven’t managed to do “school” in 3 weeks; and really, we’ve been having a great time. It will be a shame to have to go back.

Crimson Wife

Re-read The Well-Trained Mind and don’t just limit oneself to the chapters that are actually relevant to one’s children at the current time. No, pore over the whole darn thing from cover to cover and take Mrs. Bauer’s word as GOSPEL…

JJ Ross

How about [thehomeschooljournal (dot) com/home-school-resources/maintaining-discipline-in-homeschooling-practical-parenting-information-168] ?

“It is advisable to keep aside a particular room or a part of the room for your homeschool. The child should be expected to arrive his desk at the appointed time, in proper attire with all the necessary material. It is easy to allow the school to become an extension of play if these ground rules are not laid out and adhered to.

As the teacher, supervisor, principal and janitor rolled into one, you should also approach the study area with a cool professionalism.”


Good one. Maybe add to that what I was told in my education class: Don’t smile until Thanksgiving.

Mandy Mom

And then, at the end, resign because the stress is just too much.


Great post! 🙂 I love your humor!


Great post, Dana, but you forgot to have your students go everywhere in line (no talking, hands to yourself, everyone’s feet pointed in the same direction before we start).

I’ve been spending some time on public school campuses lately, and I wrote about that, and how it makes me grateful to be homeschooling this week:
learningathome (dot) freedomblogging.com/2008/11/13/schools-remind-me-why-i-homeschool/468/


Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I love your blogs!


Oh my goodness, JJ. I loved this line:

In spite of all the precautions and steps one takes, it is easy for a child to get familiar’ at homeschool.

Is familiarity with one’s children really something to take precautions against?

This was a really funny blog… and the comments added to the laughter. My hubby wanted to know what I was laughing at, so I read it to him. I wish I could accurately describe the next scene. He pictured our 7 year old as a 20 year old and telling his boss “I’m bored.” He was laughing and wheezing. I have to tell you he just got over a violent stomach bug the left him hoarse and very sore. There’s nothing funnier than a grown man hysterically laughing and trying desperately to stop. Thanks for a great end to… Read more »

Glad to be of service. 🙂