I have three career options. Which is best?

Apologies for the super long post, but I started writing and had to get it all out. Your post about Leaving your options open sets you back  really resonated with me and I recognise that that’s where I am but at the same time seem utterly incapacitated to do anything about it.

So I am a classic case of having a well progressing career that is suddenly turned upside-down by having kids. Back when I had the career coaching with you was when I was first trying to make sense of what to do. As a result of that I tried new things like the start-up with Claudia, where we failed fast and I learnt a ton. Then exploring options with the tech camps which looked more promising but then (with your coaching advice) I was able to evaluate that the marketing & PR wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be. In between doing this I think I was taking every class of yours I could afford:dream job, freelancing, blogging, negotiating, etc.

So with money becoming an issue again, I went back to focussing on my main work which is running an open-source software consultancy with my (INTJ) husband. With what I had learnt I was able to see that we needed to do more marketing. So I started blogging, albeit still sporadically. And I started going to the industry conferences, and I think I shared with you how the blogging course helped me write a great article which I turned into a talk which got early-bird acceptance at two of the conferences I submitted it too. And then like magic, companies, big big companies doing really interesting work started coming up to me to ask us to do work for them.

So now we have our choice of great work coming in, working side-by-side with great people at big & small companies, operating as freelancers where we can notionally control how much we do and still balance out with spending time with the kids. And it’s absurd that it sounds so perfect on paper, and it should be, but it isn’t in reality.

I have been killing myself over the last year to be a good mother, figure out my parenting style, take my business to new heights and deal with medical emergencies and deaths in the family. More recently I’ve had to add couples therapy to the list because the marriage part has been one of the parts that has suffered. So now I know I need to cut back but already seem too exhausted and don’t trust I have the perspective to make the right decisions. My husband who I normally rely on for helping make these decisions and is much more a black & white thinker like you is fed up with my inability to give things up and say no to people. I have been slowly and painfully getting better at saying no and getting rid of some clients/projects, but still have too many.

I was hoping you might have some clarity on the situation and see the bigger picture to help me focus on one goal. So far this is the list.

1. Focus on clients in the embedded space – this is our original speciality and where are backgrounds are perfect for but when the work seemed to dry up 5 years ago we lucked into the science sector. With the renewed marketing we are picking up 2-3 big new clients who are happy to pay us well for consulting. Also with the promise of the ‘internet of things’ this seems like an attractive space (although noisy) space to stay in. I want to grow and hire some people, but my husband thinks it is not worthwhile in the short term. It feels like a chicken&egg.

2. Focus on Science – we have been working for 5yrs with a big scientific facility in this space and now things are growing. We decided to become founding members of an open source science working group and have a bit of technology we wrote for the science company which they are happy for us to package and sell services to other companies. Ironically with that technology we are attracting companies in embedded space. We don’t have the phd credentials for the science space but I do have a friend who does who I might be able to bring on board. The work is very cool and looks like it will have added bonuses of getting to visit some great facilities.

3. Hardware product – then I have a good friend who came up with a little bit of hardware, ran a couple of kickstarters and got it initially funded. The product is great, with some fanastic usps but he completely lacks any marketing or a business plan. I am the one-eyed leading the blind but I feel like it has massive potential either in the education space or even as part of a low-power solution for industry. I feel like a product will always have more potential than consulting – is this even true and does it matter? I do talks about the technology and have set up a project at a school next year to get it in front of kids to try it out, but again haven’t made any progress because I am not committing. I like this option when I imagine it works well in the future for spending time with my son who is such an engineer already.

4. Other?? Focus on a personal brand – so if you ask me what I really love to do it is problem solving and personal development.

If I try to imagine what I want in 5 years I could see it being something like heading up an open source foundation or some random foundation. And then I think well if I want to do that I need to build a brand and I should be spending time blogging to build that up. And ever since I did your How to Write About Your Life course I have been haunted by the idea of writing a personal dev blog disguised as a tech blog. So then I spend time here and there trying to write stories.

OK so now writing this all down I don’t feel I’ve done it justice – I see so many little nuances and things to over-explain. I feel like I don’t know what’s involved for each path and how it will fit in with my family life so how can I decide. So do you think a coaching call would be the right way to go, or is the answer blindingly obvious to you? BTW, I am enjoying the pitching seminar (just watched day 1 so far) but I can’t help but feel it is another thing I am doing that I should not be because I haven’t made any proper commitments and so I am stressed, anxious and exhausted while I have to force myself daily to meet the commitments I have already made.

What’s the best way to launch a company from an idea?

I have an idea for a company, and I have basic skills for writing code. Can you recommend good books or guides for how to take a startup idea and get funding and launch it?

When is it time to quit a job that’s too easy?

I have been working at a public university for the past three years and was able to switch positions twice to secure better paid and more interesting jobs.  I make good money now and have good benefits. Before that I worked in Europe (where I am from). I tested as an ESTJ and am excellent at organizing, administering processes, and communicating with people.

The problem that I keep having, though, is always the *same* at all jobs that I have ever held (in Europe and the U.S.). Here is how it generally goes:

I start the job, I learn the job, I improve and invent new processes and make things more efficient. Then I get too fast at what I do and my tasks do not fill my day anymore. Then I go to my supervisor and ask for additional tasks. Often these tasks are easy to do, unimportant, and do not fill my time. So most of my days at work I could complete all my tasks during a couple of hours (including responding to emails, etc.) Then I sit there, do busy work, surf the web. It’s super boring, making me depressed and angry. After having had these experiences, I do not know where to go next with my career or which type of position is good for me. I feel like I always played it safe career-wise, but I also don’t know what I could do instead.

My husband is still in school, so I can’t just stop working.

On a – very important – side note: I am also currently in fertility treatment (still pre-IVF, most likely starting IVF in February 2015). I hope I get pregnant soon. I feel like raising a family would make me very happy right now, but with my health condition I can’t count on being able to have a baby  for sure. Being bored at work does not help keeping my mind not circling around my infertility constantly. I do Yoga and acupuncture to ease my mind.

I want to break the cycle I am experiencing at all of my jobs (learn-improve-bored). What do you think I should do?

Do I have to say I got fired?

Employers frequently ask if I’ve ever been fired. The question is on a required question on almost every application form I fill out.  I was recently asked this question by one of my clients and I have no idea what to say, so I thought I would go to the expert – YOU!

If I don’t go to art school what can I do?

I just read your article “How to Build a Career As An Artist”. I found the article helpful but I was hoping for a little more advice. I feel like every thing in our society is career driven.

Since I got my Associates in Arts in 2012 I have been working and saving so I can move out of my mother’s house and continue my education in an art school in California (I had the intention of being a prop maker). But now I’m 24 I have no idea what I want to do, and I am fearful of pouring a bunch of money into a school for a career that is always described as so inconstant.

I am creative and I love to make art in many mediums but like the Bruce Lee quote I feel “crammed and distorted by the classical mess.” Every one I speak to asks me what job do I want but really I cant answer that I just want to create. I don’t care if its alone or in a team or what environment it is specifically. It doesn’t have to be prop making or costume design or painting I’ll be happy as long as I’m creating and working with my hands and not at a desk all day.
Any advice or suggestions would be great. I’m just feeling very frazzled and conflicted and thought you could help.

Updating LinkedIn after having a baby

I have decided not to go back to work after my maternity leave ends in the middle of October. I am going to be a SAHM for 2-3 years before I do any kind of contract or freelance, but likely be mostly home for 5 years before I go back fulltime.

What do I do with my linkedin profile in the meantime? Do I show that my current job ends in the middle of October, and then nothing for my current position?

I am quite proud of being a SAHM and think more women should be too.  What do you think of putting something like Managing Director, family name., and listing the work I do as a mom (advance negotiation, scheduling, budgetting, etc., etc.,) in a way that clearly says I am at home, and I am “owning it”, or “leaning into it” if you will. I don’t feel like I have anything to be ashamed of, but also think it is a safer move after I get my next job.

What job is right for me now if I want to be a stay-at-home mom later?

I am a twenty-five-year-old ISFJ working as an administrative assistant in an insurance agency. I help the VP of Risk Management with everything and the HR Generalist with various projects. I’ve been here for a year and a half (a little longer than that), and it has been a great first job, but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with the attitudes of management (the egos and greed are unbelievable) and am looking for a change.

I came across your blog recently, and since you seem responsive, I thought I would take a chance and ask for your input. I see very little on your blog about the right career for an ISFJ, other than being a stay-at-home mom. I would love to be a stay-at-home mom, but I have yet to find a husband, so in the meantime I need to support myself. I have always done well in administrative assistant roles, but have a hard time with motivation if I don’t appreciate the goals of my superiors. How can I find a job that fits me?

Thanks for any help or encouragement you can provide!

How can I tell someone they have Aspergers?

I am a police supervisor and I have an officer that I truly believe has Asperger’s. I also have a nephew that my wife and I strongly believe has Asperger’s. The problem is: neither my officer nor our brother/sister-in-law will admit nor knows that Asperger’s is the likely issue in their lives.

With my officer, who is young and new to the job, at first his behavior was just annoying. I want so badly to yank him up and ask him “What are you doing?”, but reflecting on it for a second leads me to see that he’s doing the RIGHT things, it’s just the way he goes about them.

Example: Every call that goes out, he has to respond to. Even with the presence of the beat officer, Matt will take over and apply his own problem solving to resolve the issue. On the one hand, many people wouldn’t mind at all if someone else stepped in and took over their problems, but it seems as if he thinks he’s needed everywhere to solve the problems that we all have to deal with, but his is the only “right” way and if he doesn’t take care of it, it won’t get taken care of the right way.

I, as the supervisor, usually direct the troops to take certain actions at a scene and I will look into specific information or details to determine further actions that we as a squad or the department as a whole will take to resolve the situation. If I radio that I’m going to go talk to a certain person or look into a certain thing, Matt has to beat me there and do his own looking into or talk to the person I need to talk to.

Is it WRONG? No. Is it inappropriate? Kind of. Is it NOT what I wanted to happen? Yes. Do I have specific reasons for wanting Matt to maintain or continue on the path that I’ve set him on (stay here, watch that) while I go and investigate further? Yes. I have specific questions and information for the people I intend to talk to that Matt hasn’t considered and doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to know to ask or know what to do with the info when he gets it.

I can’t outright say, “Matt, you have a personality/emotional disorder”, and I can’t deal with him in his present state, and I most certainly can’t deal with him the way I WANT to deal with him. His typical response to criticism is to shut down, tell others that “Sarge doesn’t want me to (do whatever I criticized him for)”, and then he manufactures an emergency to have to leave without dealing with the problem.

I really like your examples and your perspective and I really need some advice on effectively dealing with this instead of chopping his head off (figuratively) and rendering an officer with good intentions and ability ineffective.

Can you help?

I can’t manage my job and homeschooling

I have a 5 year old and a 3 1/2 month old baby and this is our first year homeschooling and I’m having a horrible time managing it.

A bit more about our family:
Both my husband and I work. My husband has to travel away from home 1-2 nights per week and sometimes more. But his job does allow him to often schedule around my commitments. I am an instructor at a community college and I have classes twice a week for half the day plus 2-3 random hour long meetings per month. The rest of my classes are online, so I can do the work when it suits my schedule. I have a month off in December/January and all summer off. Hubby watches the kids one of the days I go to work and the other day we hire a babysitter.

With the new baby and homeschooling, I am having a hard time balancing my work and the kids and I’m worried that I’m not doing enough for my kids, especially my oldest.

I’m torn because a part of me wants to quit my job, but I know that would be extremely unwise. I make a decent amount of money for the number of hours that I work, I have fantastic medical and retirement benefits and my “commute” is 5 minutes. Plus, this is my last year of tenure and assuming I make it through, it will be almost impossible for me to get fired. I also make more money than Hubby because of my education and years of experience. And I do like my job. It is interesting and engaging. If I quit, it would be almost impossible to get this job back. Ever.

But, even if I quit my job to be here for my kids, how do I choose which homeschool activities to do? All of the activities are so fun, I suspect that I would fill all of the “extra” time I would have I would just fill up with more activities for the kids and I would still feel like I was spread too thin. And we wouldn’t be able to do all of the things that we do now without my income. I worry that I would regret quitting my job.

Hubby and I have considered having him quit his job (which I would love because I would have someone home to help me get things done and to spend more time together), but I think so much of his identity and self-worth comes from his job, that he would be miserable being a stay-at-home dad. So this option is off the table.

So, what are your thoughts? I am an INFJ, if that influences your advice.

My problem is so complicated I can’t figure out where to start

I had a terrible realization this evening that my life will not be successful unless major changes are made. Before I can explain how this realization came about I feel it is important to know about my family and me.

I come from a family that by the usual standards of measurement is educated. We were not wealthy growing up but we were not poor. My parents are divorced and remarried. My mother is a nurse. My father is a retired attorney. My sister has an accounting degree wand in her spare time oversees her husband’s dental practice. She is a stay-at-home mother. My brother is an attorney who now runs a day school and his wife is an attorney. My youngest brother is a dedicated Talmudic scholar. I have a B.S. in Management, a Master of Public Administration; I am one course shy of an MBA and have a JD (and have lots of student loan debt to go with it). I own my own financial services firm that I started two years ago.

My wife, Sarah, and her parents immigrated to the United States when she was 4. They had no college degree but have managed to work hard in their own businesses to create a nice lifestyle for themselves. She is the oldest of five. Her brother is a contractor with a degree in Construction Management and his wife has a bachelors degree but does not work. Her other brother is a financial analyst and is in the middle of an MBA program. His wife just graduated nursing school and is studying for the licensing boards. Her youngest brother has skipped college for the most part and dabbles in entrepreneurial efforts. How wife works as a paralegal in her father’s law firm. My wife has a B.S. in Psychology, attended law school for a year (left to take care of our son when he was showing signs of developmental delay) and is now in a nursing program and will graduate in December 2015.

We met in undergrad in NYC and after 7 months of dating decided to move to LA where we would finished school. At that time I proposed to her. We married a year later at 21 and 22. We had our first child 10 months later followed by our second one 18 months later. We had fertility issues and had to resort to medical intervention to conceive our third and fourth children. We have now been married for 12 years. We have 4 children. Our oldest and only son, Micah, is 11 and in 6th grade. My daughter, Ora, is 9 and in 4th grade. My daughter, Rachel, is 5 and in Pre-1st. We also have a 2 year old, Shoshanna, who is in a daycare run by her grandmother. We live in a three bedroom, two bath condo in a nice neighborhood near the school and synagogue. All of our school-aged children attend a private Orthodox Jewish religious school.

We attended undergrad and law school until I graduated in 2009. I started my own paralegal firm and worked for several attorneys with little or no success for a few years. After failing the CA Bar Exam four times I needed to find gainful employment outside the legal field.

From 2012 to early 2014 I worked for a real estate company. Despite the head of the company being a demanding and difficult person due to medical issues and mental illness, the first year was amazing. The pay and benefits were great. I had some autonomy in my work and was good at my job. The second year was terrible. The head of the company’s dementia worsened and he became intolerably abusive and tyrannical. He squandered all the capital and rather than end years of litigation with his son he pursued it to the edge of financial ruin. I had to make some legal maneuvers to settle with the son before it was too late. His conservator promised me payment once a settlement was reached but the man died before I was paid. The family threatened me with protracted litigation. We settled our differences. I walked away from the mess with a release of liability but also without an entire year’s pay.

I am now in debt to my mother-in-law nearly $40,000, we have student loans of $450,000 combined and struggle to pay for anything. We wait for 3 Day Notices before paying rent to give ourselves a better chance at earning the rent. Our electric bill is too much to handle and we are using a government service to help us pay it. Our cars are due for registration and I have no idea how we will pay that. The elementary school has allowed us to defer tuition payments until we can afford it so we now owe an additional $12,000+. This will increase as the new school year comes.
In the middle of my previous job’s nightmarish year I had started to venture out on my own with a financial services firm and with the legal matters behind me I started to put all my efforts into it. There have been good months and bad months. My business pays me sporadically right now as I work on finding committed individuals and get them trained and out into the field. The pipeline is there but not yet free-flowing. I am optimistic that I will be wildly successful. I just hope I don’t have to quit three-feet from gold.

We have a limited safety net. I lost all my savings. I want Sarah to work with me instead of her mother but she is afraid that we will not have money. What little she earns pays for the fuel in our cars and basic necessities. We are currently recipients of cash aid, food stamps and government medical insurance.

In the midst of all this chaos and turmoil we are trying to make our lives better and create real futures for our children. I am afraid we will not be able to afford to give our children a fair shot in life. I want them to have access to experiences and educational opportunities that right now are financially out of reach. I want my wife to have the assistance she needs to be more active with the children. We often turn down invitations from friends to go out because we cannot afford it. Those invitations are now drying up. People expect us to decline; they are not wrong. We are becoming increasingly isolated from our community, family and friends. We are not happy people and it is beginning to show outwardly.

This evening I realized that my children are either not intelligent or not being taught properly. I asked my daughter to clean up a card game and she needed to count the cards to make sure they were all there. She counted 49 but there should have been 50. She very innocently asked me if 49 was an even or odd number. I was completely taken aback by this question. She is entering 4th grade and I assumed this was taught already. I asked her to tell me if it was an even or odd number. She guessed even so I asked her to explain why she chose that answer. Her logic was that 4 is an even number so the whole number was even. I was furious at the school for this. How is it possible that she could make such a terrible mistake at her grade level. I immediately ran to the internet to find a solution and came across your blog. I must say that it changed my whole thinking on the subject. It is not the school’s responsibility to make sure my children know what an even number is and what an odd number is. It is my own. The struggle I am having now is how to make that a reality for my family.

In theory, we like the moral values and religious beliefs the school imbues in our children but are extremely disappointed with almost every other aspect of the school. Even the religious teaching has not lived up to our hopes and standards. The teachers are usually not accredited which is not a problem for us as so long as the teacher exhibits real ability to “teach” our children. The curriculum is constantly changing and is reinvented every year as turnover is high amongst teachers. Most teachers teach from the book and are not engaging enough. My children seem starved for learning opportunities in school. The focus is on homework and tests. Children that do not fit a certain mold tend to be left behind or the teachers have no idea how to teach a diverse classroom of different levels and styles.

The school received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). My wife was teaching at the school at the time so I was asked to participate in the process. I truly believed that what we were creating was a great plan for the school that would really make it an awesome place for my children to attend. We made sure that each subject had a scope and sequence. Each grade level was carefully analyzed to see if it built upon the previous grade and led to the next grade. Were the subjects appropriate for each grade. Was handwriting taught. Were computer classes offered. Art, physical education, math, science…

The committee came, saw and left. They made a flowery approval letter with a few suggestions. The following school year the curriculum was changed again and so everything we worked for was for naught. Computer classes were cancelled claiming the students didn’t take it seriously and the teachers did not actually teach it properly so what was the point. My daughter did not have PE for almost half the school year.

Our children would come home with homework and it seemed as if they learned nothing in school. How could they not know it? Didn’t they learn it in school? Homework is supposed to reinforce what they learn, not teach it to them. I was screaming and yelling at them to understand the information. At some point I gave up on homework. Why should I work all day and spend my evenings teaching? I was paying the school to teach them. I gave up caring whether their homework was completed or not. It was not worth it to me. I wanted more positive time with my children and less stress for all of us.

The following year I told the teachers that I would not enforce homework. If they couldn’t cover it in school it wasn’t going to get covered. Tests would be studied for and reports would be done but the day-to-day “make-work” would either get done or it wouldn’t. I wasn’t going to fight my children on it. I got a lot of push back for that. My children couldn’t make honor roll, they would fall behind, the teacher couldn’t assess what my children knew or didn’t know, in the real world a boss will give them an assignment, etc. This was a constant debate in my home and at the end of the day we had to do homework with them because if they were to be in the school they needed to follow the school’s system.

The school had a summer reading program. If the child reads a certain number of age/grade appropriate hours over the summer a “homework pass” would be granted for an evening of the student’s choosing during the year. If homework is so essential to the learning process, why reward a student with a pass?

Every completion of a chapter resulted in a class party or trip to the local 7Eleven. Food became a reward for everything. Learning was a means to an end, the end being food and prizes.

Proper behavior was maintained by threat of principal punishment or extra homework.
One teacher had Friday Fun Day. The whole day would be wasted watching Magic School Bus on the SmartBoard. Mrs. Frizzle wholly taught some subjects.

Micah has learning disabilities. He cannot sit for hours on end and he does not always connect the dots. His questions are strange and his answers usually unrelated to the subject matter. His comprehension is terrible. The class read a book together and all he could tell me about it was the stuff written on the back cover. He can spell and has a great vocabulary but cannot use it in a meaningful way.

He is acutely aware of his issues and has become an emotional and angry child. He is a different child when medicated but that is a double-edged sword because he is a different child when he is medicated. I feel that in order to bring out the best in him academically we are actually suppressing the best in him personality wise.

Ora used to be orderly and neat. She is now a slob. She used to care about cleanliness at home and in her schoolwork. Her handwriting was neat and legible. Now it is loopy, large and sloppy. She is messy and eats rather piggishly. Her manners have also suffered. She is rude and obnoxious to us. She cries a lot when she does not get her way.

A particular subject matter was difficult for her and oftentimes we did not do the assignments. I complained to the teacher about it and even offered ways to make the subject more on grade level. Somehow, despite not learning at all, Ora was awarded with a certificate of achievement in that subject matter. How bogus and patronizing that was. My daughter was so proud of it but we were not.

Rachel is an animal. She has always been more adventurous and has never stopped moving since the day she was born. She jumps and climbs and is very assertive. This is a positive in that she is a natural leader, takes risks and is extremely active. This is also a negative as she is completely non-conformist and does her own thing even when it causes everyone around her problems. She learned how to escape a 5-Point harness car seat at age 3. She absolutely refuses to wear a seatbelt in the car (we stop 100+ times on the way to anywhere we go). She does not go to sleep until she is completely worn out, sometimes after we have fallen asleep ourselves. She does not clean up after herself and jumps from activity to activity. We are not sure how this will be handled as she gets older and more expectations are placed on her behavior wise in school.

Now that a new school year is upon us, we began to clean out the backpacks from the last year and see what supplies we would need to replenish. We found many workbooks that were empty or incomplete. Apparently they did not get to those topics during the school year. Half the cursive letters Ma’ayan needed to learn in order to write all her reports in cursive (mandatory for 4th grade) were unlearned. Basic skills like telling time on an analog clock, money and counting by 5, 10, etc. were shaky at best. Which brings me back to tonight. This is the final insult I can take.

I immediately went online and looked up homeschooling. We both know it is the right thing to do for our children. I found a blog on However, we do not have time to teach our children the way they ought to be taught in school. We would have to buy textbooks and read lesson plans and work through it all with them. How can that be done with children on different levels and of such varying ages? I’m mediocre at math. My wife has mediocre written grammar. I am impatient and she has no time. I have even less time or maybe she does. It depends on the day, week or hour.

I have a somewhat flexible work schedule. I have certain tasks that need to be done and one evening a week it is mandatory for me to be at my office. Prospecting, hiring of new associates in my firm, coordinating my schedule and those of my associates, client meetings, paperwork and financial education are all ongoing and daily activities. If I don’t work we don’t have cash flow and cannot pay for basic necessities. This is improving but still tight and not as consistent as a 9-5 would be. I am an entrepreneur by nature and would rather struggle for my own benefit than struggle for someone else’s. For the most part I can work from home if I discipline myself.

My wife is a nursing student and has to be in school every Monday and has a clinical every Wednesday for 12 hours. She also has to study. Due to our cash flow crunch she has been moonlighting in her mother’s daycare. She has zero flexibility with her schedule right now but plans to work three night shifts after graduation so she can be home more with the children.

The children start school at 8:30am. Their school is not co-ed so there are two buildings to drop off at. We are usually late and I do not drop them off until around 8:45am or sometimes closer to 9am. Mornings are chaotic and it doesn’t seem to help much if we prepare the night before.

I like to get to the office by 9am and Sarah usually has to leave at 6am to be at the hospital by 7am or 7am to be at school by 8am. She needs to be at the daycare by 8:30am so she leaves by 8am on those days. This means I have to get all four children out of bed, dressed, have lunches made, make sure everyone looks normal and has shoes on by 8am. Someone inevitably forgets something. I forget my own things. In short, every morning starts out with a lot of order barking and stress.
Pick up varies by child. Ora gets out at 3:45pm, Rachel gets out at 4pm and Micah gets out at 4:30pm. This means I need to leave work by 3:30pm and do not get them home until close to 5pm. At this time we argue about homework, cook dinner and eat. Then at 7pm we argue about showers and brushing teeth and bedtimes. Micah thinks he should stay up later. If we let him Ora gets jealous and won’t go to sleep. Rachel is an animal. Shoshannah will generally fall asleep but if there is too much chaos she needs to be cuddled with in our bed. Hila will either fall asleep on the living room floor, outside our door, at the foot of our bed or on a decent night in her room.

When arguing with my wife about the idea of homeschooling and how it would work she believes we cannot do it at this point in our lives. We have too much going on in our personal and professional lives and too much economic hardship. The most we can do is supplement what they are learning in school. I agree that if they are in school we need to supplement because they sure as hell are not getting any education at all. Essentially they are in overpriced babysitting facilities with pseudo educational activities. However, by the time we get home and get everything settled it is already bedtime. I am not sure when we would supplement. We already try to have educational conversations at dinner but the children lose interest before they put the first bite of chicken on a fork.

We try to keep the condo clean but the children don’t seem to help us at all. Then we spend our evenings cleaning up after them. It is the worst on weekends. Saturdays are usually spent at synagogue in the morning and home in the afternoons. Dishes pile up and toys are left all over the place. We have run out of energy to keep up with the mess they are making. Did I mention that Rachel is an animal, Ora is a slob and Micah is indifferent. Shoshannah just is. My home office is a messy jumble of personal papers, business related documents, office supplies and computer equipment. Usually it is the worst after the cleaning lady comes on Friday. She just piles anything she doesn’t feel like putting in its place on my desk or in a laundry basket scattered all over the condo. Laundry piles up faster than we can wash it.

I do not find time to study religious texts or pray as often as I should. Even when I do find time to pray it is harried and meaningless; just rote reading of Hebrew words. I know what they mean but I don’t feel the meaning. I do not enjoy holidays or Shabbos. They are expensive and only remind me of all the work I cannot do. We do not have company as often as we would like because our home is not tidy. We can hardly afford to feed ourselves so how can we feed others? Food is more expensive because it has to be kosher. Eating out is more difficult because it has to be kosher.

We are overwhelmed and failing to be at our best. We are failing ourselves. We are failing our mental and physical well being. We are failing as children. We are failing as spouses. We are failing academically and professionally. We are failing as friends. We are failing religiously. Most importantly and as a direct result of all our failings, we are failing as parents.

We realize that we need to change something. Our disagreement right now is how drastically we need to change things. It is a chicken/egg argument. I believe that if we get my business to be more consistently profitable our home lives will become easier as I could more easily delegate the mundane household chores to hired help. I could delegate much of my administrative work to an assistant. Sarah believes we need to straighten out our home before my business can succeed. This requires chores and dedicated family life planning times and a regimented schedule.

After doing some research I am now convinced we need to overhaul the whole system at the same time. The logistics of this seem impossible. We cannot afford to do it but we cannot afford not to.

How do we do what is best for our children with all these problems? I am convinced that we will be better off and I will be able to be more focused and productive if we homeschool the children. The time wasted and energy spent on stressful schedules would be better used in productive and meaningful endeavors personally, professionally and educationally for us all. Michal is too scared to even try, as failure would be ruinous to everything. I cannot do it without her buy-in.

What should we do? Where do we begin? I could not sleep until I got all this down. I am up at 4am writing this letter. I suppose the first step has already been taken. We agree there is a problem and that homeschooling is the ideal. We need help getting there. I like your approach with no set curriculums but have no idea at this point how to implement such a system. Our oldest two have lost five years of potential learning in a school that did not even come close to our expectations and now we have below grade level children. I am afraid for our next child in line to face the Russian roulette that is their school. Is the timing wrong? Should we wait until Sarah is done with school and our professional schedules become more controllable and predictable? Any guidance you have would be appreciated.