As many of you know, I was a homeschool kid in the 80's. You know: back when it was weird. You wouldn't recognize it today. There were no co-ops, sports teams, or troops. Just Mom, kids, books, and an occasional support group meeting. Oh, and field trips to the dentist and the fire department.
Vintage 80's support group. That's my Dad on the far right.
Vintage 80's End-of-the-Year Banquet. I'm the blond-headed girl in the back row.
So what did we DO all the time?
We actually had school at home!
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the options for extra-curricular activities are actually dizzying. A homeschool family could literally sign up for so many things, that they are never home.
Oh, wait. Did I just describe YOU?
What if you didn't have those classes, groups, and sports? What if you didn't live in your car? What if you had "free time?" Can you imagine???
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not downing activities. They have some wonderful benefits. I don't need to tell you what those are, because no doubt you have your own list.
But at what cost?
You know you’re too busy when:
eat fast food more than once a week
haven’t read a book in months
never get enough sleep
little ones never get a nap
consistently cancel plans, break commitments
Homeschool in your “spare time”
house is never clean and heaven forbid anyone would come knock on your door!
When you committed to this homeschool journey, did you envision lots of children learning quietly around the kitchen table? Or piles of laundry, tired children, and a stressed-out Mom?
Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
Is your lifestyle easy and light, or are you tired, broke,
and overwhelmed? Are you getting enough rest to preserve your health and your sanity? Are you children getting enough rest? Do your babies take regular naps? Do your children have a chance to get bored? Boredom leads to creativity!
When we get into a lifestyle of busyness several things happen:
We teach discontent. Always seeking entertainment and opportunities outside the home teach children that they must continually be "doing something," and that means going somewhere. It sets a trend, forms habits, and molds their thinking.
We spend more money than we need to. Consider the amount of money spent for classes, supplies, uniforms, gas, babysitting, and eating out that happens when a family is on the go every day. For many, this amount climbs up into the hundreds each month. Could your family use a "raise?"
Family time suffers. Family time is at risk among homeschoolers in this age, just as much as it is among public schoolers. "Van time" is not the same. Sitting around the dinner table, having conversation with eye contact, working together on a recipe, playing with little ones; these are all the natural result of living at home.
Time with Dad suffers. If you have activities that take place in the evening, you are likely missing out on a very precious resource: Dad. If your husband works a typical full-time job, there are such limited precious hours with him that they must be held almost sacred. Children need both parents every day. And Moms, YOU need time with your husband.
Actual "school" suffers. Do you laugh and say we "car-school?" More importantly, is this the homeschool you envisioned when you began? Are your children really learning?
I speak from experience, not judgment. When I had just three kids, little by little I began to get us involved in "great experiences." Each activity by itself seemed harmless. In fact, they were fun! But I suddenly realized that some weeks we were busy 4-5 days out of the week, we were using LOTS of gas, and my homemaking was suffering.
We dropped everything but our co-op. This was freeing and peaceful. We had time for the park, company, naps (!), and school. This picking-up and dropping of activities has happened twice in the last few years, and each time we reduce, we are happier.
So how do you know what to choose and what NOT to choose?
are WONDERFUL and which ones are GOOD. “See then
that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are
evil. Wherefore be ye not
unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” -Ephesians 5:15-17
What IS God’s will for your family? If you are
overstressed, overworked, and over budget you may need to consider that you
have stepped out of His plan for you.
Whole-family activities. Many, many families are opting for one activity for the entire family (sports, music, robotics, etc.).
Your husband's opinion. Has your husband already told you what he desires for the family? Have you resisted him? Do you trust him as the head of the household? I have found over and over again that when I respect my husband's wishes (even against my own) our family is blessed.
Will teachers come to YOU? If you look, you will find instructors who will come to your home for music lessons and so much more. Think outside the box and find a way to expose your children to new opportunities at home. Think: agriculture, shooting sports, handcrafts, etc.
Just saying NO. Sometimes we choose activities out of guilt: as parents, church members, or homeschool support group members. Don't let God's desires for you be drowned in the voices of well-meaning friends.
You are not everyone else. Your family size, interests, budget, and circumstances are all unique, and your lifestyle should be, as well. You will never be the Duggars, because you are NOT the Duggars. Seek God's plan for YOUR family. Don't try to be as "accomplished" as your BFF or that homeschool family at church. Accomplish what God has for YOU.
Are you or your children able to SERVE? I have not only experienced a lack of help from "busy" friends and family, I have also witnessed it in person and read about it online. Homeschool moms and their kids are so busy being "enriched" that they cannot commit to helping a family with sickness, or caring for children for a few hours (or days) for a family in need. This is heartbreaking.
Consider your goal, your priorities. WHY are you doing this? What is your purpose in parenting, and homeschooling?
Want more encouragement on this topic?
Homeschool Classroom has a very encouraging article about keeping on track
and evaluating your extracurricular activities