In the recent ten or twelve months, I’ve noticed many articles and books about slowing down. It seems that the pendulum has hit its max distance. We’ve all seen the effect that over-scheduling has on our kids and families. Now the pendulum is heading back toward center and people want to know how to make this happen.
Homeschoolers are not immune to this over-scheduling, including me.
Over the summer, a dear friend challenged me to say “no” to one thing. She didn’t put any parameters around her wisdom, but I had a hunch she didn’t mean I should say no to things like preparing meals, planning out my school year or showering. She meant something that I feel like I need to do, but in reality, it isn’t something that is truly necessary. Deep down, I knew the thing I needed to remove from our week, but I decided to avoid making the decision for a few more weeks. Are there any other avoiders out there?
One of the biggest perks (although the phrase “biggest perks” doesn’t do it justice) of homeschooling is the flexibility of schedule and pace. In most places in the USA, you can educate your kids at your own speed. You can wake up when you want to, do as many lessons of each subject during the week that you want, and do the book reports as frequently as you want. We can pack in the piano and ballet lessons, drive to the ends of the earth for all the STEM competitions, overload our day with running here and there—the choices are endless. But are we providing the best educational environment for our kids? Are we enjoying the process as much as we should?
So, how has “say no to one thing” changed our school year? Tremendously. We stepped back from our homeschool co-op, what we thought was the absolute favorite part of our week. But, with time to reflect on why we go to co-op, we (my kids and I) observed a few things.
- We noticed that our favorite part of co-op was the time spent with friends, both for them and for me.
- We liked seeing people and I liked the rhythm it gave our week.
- We noticed that my kids were some of the oldest ones there and their closest friends in the co-op had either moved away or chosen a different method of schooling this year.
- And, as with all co-ops I’ve heard about, I wasn’t actually spending time with the other parents there because we were all busy doing something for the kids.
Our top goal for the co-op wasn’t being met. It was time to take a little hiatus.
The first few weeks felt weird because our routine was different, but I noticed that our academic time didn’t feel rushed because we didn’t need to get out of the door in time for co-op. I let things just be slow and somewhat boring for a few weeks; then I began to be intentional about getting those social needs met in other ways.
- We invited specific friends over for lunch and hang out time, and offers were reciprocated.
- We had time in our week to add a season sport.
- We crafted more and lingered on extra topics longer.
To put it simply, we didn’t feel hurried or stretched, and it was nice.
My husband always says “saying yes to something means you’re saying no to something else,” and that’s true. But how about we flip it around for ourselves: Our saying no has meant saying yes to restfulness, a steady pace, and less-stressed days.
Does your day or week feel hurried to you? Are you meeting the most basic goals with your best effort? Can you take a break from the Mandarin lessons, the fencing, the library playgroup, or the French cooking lessons so that you can protect yourself and the kids?
If my friend was to challenge you to “just say no to one thing,” what would you give up?
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.