My favorite thing about back to school time

My favorite thing about back to school time
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

“It’s back-to-school time, or as homeschoolers call it, stay-where-you-are time.”
~ Stephen Colbert


He wakes early–and I always know when.

I hear his voice drift down the hallway–starting the day with a song. Love songs for me, for God, for the gift of life itself. Ever the optimist, Jonathan greets the morning with joy.

But I wonder how the refrains would alter with a rush for breakfast, bus stops, and quick goodbyes.

Would we miss out on the music altogether?

Time for morning love songs–one of my favorite things.


She wakes after eight–sometimes later–with a yawn, a stretch, and tired eyes. A slow “Hi, Mommy” lets me know Trishna’s up and we share a sleepy hug.

There was no need to drag her out of bed to beat the school bell, so she stayed up late writing. Scribbling words onto pages (like her mama!) every night, she creates story after story “just for fun.”

But I wonder if the fun would feel different somehow with alarm clocks set for 6:30 am and lights turned out on the dot the night before.

Without the ability to follow her own internal clock, would the creativity dim?

Time for sleep–one of my favorite things.


He wakes unpredictably–sometimes early, sometimes late. But you can’t miss him when he’s up.

All boy this one–loud.

He greets me with a dimpled grin and the same request every morning to open his blinds, always ready to let in the light of another day.

Then off Elijah goes, round and round his bedroom, flying airplanes with exuberant accompanying “zooms.” He reenacts our summer travels again and again because “I’m just so inspired, Mommy.”

But would the inspiration change with the packing of lunch boxes and the rustle of papers into backpacks?

Time for play–one of my favorite things.


Sitting at the breakfast table together now, we chat, squabble, or laugh–whatever the moment calls for. A screech of tires on the road out front reminds us of another world–the school bus passing by.

We hardly notice–too busy with our current read-aloud, our thoughts, our freedom.

And as I consider this gift of time and the wonder of learning here in this instant, I can’t help but think that my favorite thing of all about back to school time is this:




“You can drag my body to school, but my spirit refuses to go.”
~ Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

Originally published on September 9, 2013.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Oh yes, me too. The ease of mornings is such a huge benefit of homeschooling, and this is a lovely representation of that truth. Thanks!
    Annie Reneau’s latest post: How We’re Doing with the Traveling

  2. the gift of time and learning. the gift of play. of internal clocks instead of external ones. I love it!

  3. yes! I love this reflection. I can relate to two descriptions. So beautiful.
    Lynnette’s latest post: September gallery

  4. Beautifully put. I love how you captured your children. We’re not going either. It’s heaven.

  5. This our first year homeschooling, and I hope there are many, many, many more to come. Mornings here were really bad. They were fast and hurried–sometimes no time for even stretching! The last three weeks have been awesomely stress free. Wow! I can greet my babies. They wake up happy and rested. They slowly eat their breakfast. They put on their clothes (or not) without having to be out of the house at 7:20 a.m. I just can’t express how much stress has been lifted from us with four children in the house, three of which are school-aged. Love the post.

  6. The school bus picks up the neighborhood kids right outside our door at 7:15 and returns them promptly at 3:15. I must admit that there are days when I wonder what I would do with 8 hours of quiet (!), oh, but it’s definitely not worth all that I would miss.

  7. I always think about this, too, as our neighbors start their car around 7:50 for the drive to school. Our kids don’t even come out of their rooms until after 8, ready for breakfast when the first bell would be ringing!
    I am grateful for the non-rush.
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: 28 Before 29: Fish n’ Chips, Ride a Ferry, and crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge

  8. I think the same thing. And I also think “now we can go to the zoo (or wherever) and have the place to ourselves! Hooray!”

    • Yes!! This is what I say when we go to the library. Finally it will be peaceful in there after the noise and business of summer.

  9. Oh, Jamie so, so true. Our mornings are so slow, I could never get them onto a school bus and they would miss their morning time with the baby- who’s best time is in the morning. I hope you are all doing well. I miss you!
    Rosemarie’s latest post: moving and messes

  10. Yes, I love all those things too. I love that we can be ourselves and live our own lives and set our own schedules. The world is waiting for us, yes, but it can wait a little while longer while we grow up and learn, and prepare to face it in our own way and on our own terms.
    Erica’s latest post: A Poem for the Week: “Rabbit”

  11. I’ve been second guessing my decision to homeschool this year, but this post gives me courage to give it a go. Our pace of life is so precious to me! thanks. x

  12. Beautifully written Jamie!
    Jessica’s latest post: Island Life and the Pursuit of Diversity

  13. I’ve often wondered what our life would be like if they had to leave to learn. The bus creaks by in darkness in the mornings most of the year and evenings for half. My crew is still blissfully dreaming away, or reading, or playing until it’s time to come down for breakfast.
    We’re doing a lot more this year in our learning and spending more time working together on it, but with a break in the morning, a quiet half hour after lunch, and our outside time each day we’re having so much more fun. I’ve also given Fridays over for extras only and a Grace Week every six weeks that it all somehow feels so much more relaxed even though “time on task” (Yes, I was a school teacher!) has increased.
    They’ve got time to LIVE, to go pet a chicken, pick flowers in the garden, hunt for bear prints in the mud by the pond, play Legos, have tea parties, have company over in the afternoons, and so much more. Simply put: they get to be kids.
    kimberly’s latest post: Pictures from the End of Summer

  14. Oh, this is lovely. Thank you for sharing.
    Cara Brooke’s latest post: Weekly Report: Week #3 Civil War Days and Raspberry Picking

  15. What a stark difference from my daughters reality. She told me how she woke up yesterday at 8:00 and the kids carpools came at 8:15. I could just feel the tension that went on in that frantic 15 minutes to get the kids up and ready in such a short time.

  16. What a wonderful expression of what we feel every morning! I don’t know that I could get all 4 of us up and out the door to greet the buses that rumble past our house at 7am. I thoroughly enjoy our “lazy days of childhood”.
    Modern Mia Gardening’s latest post: Putting Up the Bougainville

  17. I Love this post. We are new to home schooling this year. With a 10 and 8 year old we were all too familiar with the morning rush. I savor our relaxed mornings now and love seeing the happy smiles on my kids each morning. I absolutely treasure the fact that they are easing into the day at their own pace. And so is Mom:)!

  18. The contrast is a delight here too, except our hearts are tugged at the tight schedules other kids have to endure. Close friends get their daughters up at 5:15 every day, bundle them in the car for the early daycare program at school. Our neighbors are running their cars in the drive at 7:20 , waiting for their kids to leave on the bus so they can dash off to work. We’ve have the pleasure of waking when we’re ready, reading and chatting as we let the morning unfold in it’s own unique way. What a pleasure.
    Laura’s latest post: For A Fresher & Juicier Experience, Mix It Up!

  19. I appreciate this. The beginning of the school year is when I most doubt my decision to homeschool. I am generally very happy wit the decision, but something about the “back-to-school” season makes me doubt myself. Your points are wonderful.

  20. I couldn’t agree more!!!
    Amy M’s latest post: Keeping my Preschooler Busy & Out of the Pantry

  21. Exactly! I love the relaxed mornings. I have time to get up and have my coffee and some quiet time before the kids get up.

  22. Thank you for saying it, Jamie! We are entering our 14th year of homeschooling. My oldest went to public school from preschool-3rd grade, so I know what that “other” life is about, also 🙂
    Reading these simple and sweet realities of this life you’ve also chosen fills me with an extra measure of gratitude today. Bless you and your family!
    Jeanette @ Creating a Life’s latest post: Back Home

  23. loved this…..
    Stephinie’s latest post: change, learning, & new beginnings

  24. Oh my goodness, do I love this post. After doing (and being wiped out by) traditional school last year, this early morning, regular life stuff are the benefits I’m enjoying most right now. While many of my friends on Facebook were reveling in sending their kids off to school, I was sighing a big sigh of relief that we weren’t joining that rat race again. This regular life living just feels so US, you know? I love being us.

    Great post, Jamie!
    Tsh Oxenreider’s latest post: Weekend breakfast music jam (and a playlist!)

  25. I just loved this. I just wanted to cry. Totally agree.

  26. I totally agree with you! I am so thankful for the freedom we have to homeschool and that we don’t HAVE to go. I never wish that I could put my kids on the bus, EVER! I can’t imagine not being with my children the whole day. It just wouldn’t feel right.

  27. I love this! They had a story on our local news, that some of the children in the larger city in our area have to get on the bus at 5:40am.

  28. Yes, Jamie. Love every single word of it.
    Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: Sixteen {16}

  29. Wonderful thoughts. Wouldn’t trade our days like this for ANYthing.

  30. This was exactly what I needed to read yesterday. We are just starting homeschooling, and it’s going well, but when I hear how well the kids my kids’ ages are doing at school, I have doubts. But reading this and remembering the crazy, rushed mornings when I worked and trying to get my kids to the sitter’s, and barely having any time with my kids.
    This new life is so much better and your words helped to affirm this. Thank you.

  31. Sheila edge-Moore says:

    This year has been wonderful. I homeschooled my boys 2 years ago, but the program we used was full of busy work. This year we have created our own simple curriculum! Things are so much better and I’m grateful I don’t have to deal with the morning stress 😉

  32. What an incredibly beautiful post! As a homeschooler, I have to agree with you 150%!! It’s so nice to let our children be children. To enjoy their lives without adult stress and peer pressure.
    Vanessa @ Mom’s Menu Planning’s latest post: New in the Shop: Printable Halloween Party Decorations

  33. Amen! This is our first year homeschooling and I am loving it!! We have time to cuddle in the mornings and time to play before we get started with school stuff. I find myself feeling sorry for people that aren’t doing it this way!! I want to say, “You are missing so much!” Thanks for sharing this!

  34. Love, love, love this beautifully written post. It’s how I feel too. I love mornings with my kiddos. I love that today we took a leisurely walk together around our neighborhood just because the outside was beckoning to us.

  35. Oh I loved this post! My heart has been singing this all day today! This morning we were busy catching a gorgeous frog in our yard when the school bus pulled up to the neighbors house, and I was practically jumping up and down with the joy that my daughter got to catch a frog instead of getting on that stinky old bus. Happy not back to school time!

  36. Love this! It’s so nice to have our relaxed mornings. To not worry about rushing around and what we’d miss out on.
    Steph’s latest post: Creative Spaces: 3 Kids (4 & Under!) in 1 Bedroom

  37. Schooled kids can lose up to 2 hours or more each day just 1)getting ready for school 2) getting to school 3) getting home from school and 4) recovering from all the running around. That’s a deadweight loss – never to be regained. And what about the micro-stress of getting up each day when an alarm goes off? The accumulation of that micro-stress and the innumerable others they have to suffer HAS TO take a significant toll on their development over time.
    HomeschoolDad’s latest post: Living in London – Vacationing in Scotland!

  38. I absolutely love this! Thanks for sharing!!

  39. This is so lovely…it encompasses all the joy of homeschooling and helps to remind me that despite the hard days and challenges of homeschooling, it truly is a blessing from God to be able to do it.
    I thank God every morning when I hear the neighbours rushing their kids off to school, shouting at them to hurry up or they’ll miss the bus (and all the related fuss and carry on) that we are not in that predicament.
    Lynda – all about mama’s latest post: Tips for trying to live chemical free.

  40. This was beautiful. This blog is so encouraging to me! We were outside poking a dead cicada bug with a stick when the school bus drove by, and I could not have been happier. 🙂

  41. Loved this article. 🙂 And my favourite part of the “first day back to school” is that all the museums and science centres are practically empty – no one has a class trip on the first day of school! 😀 Score one for the homeschoolers!

  42. I have an honest question. I love the description of your mornings and days. We have recently moved across the country for better school. Yet, just the struggle to fit in is so hard. But, how do you explain dad having to go to work. And how will they feel when they have to do the schedule thing as well? I am trying to tell myself that school isn’t age appropriate at this time. As they get older, they will learn all those things. But I was wondering what you think about it?

    • I would say that there will come a time when waking up every day on a schedule has to happen, but it doesn’t have to be just yet. We find a balance by having two mornings a week that we have to get up and get out in a timely manner for co op and for our Bible study. That leaves the other three days for a more relaxing pace. My mom homeschooled me and my brother from kindergarten through high school. The goal was always that we’d have more and more classroom experiences (some community college classes) and structures as we grew, but it would be gradual. We both went to college and graduate school. I am a homeschooling mom now, but my brother has many employees that he manages daily at his job as a college professor and researcher. Homeschooling doesn’t have to mean that your kids will grow up to rebel from daily work where they are expected to arrive and leave at times set by other people, if that’s what you’re asking.

    • We have plenty of structure, Sydney. We just structure time, not content. You can get a little glimpse of our day here: All the best!

  43. Jennifer Z says:

    This will be our 2nd yr of homeschool (2nd, 6th and 9th grade). Some of the things that I think are just terrific about homeschooling, besides no early mornings and fighting with kids to get dressed and eat so we can rush out the door, are field trips to places that a traditional school wouldn’t take, not having to shovel the snow so you can drive to school, taking your time to eat breakfast, not missing school because of appts and most importantly being able to watch your children grow and learn instead of hearing about their accomplishments from others! I only wish we had made the decision to homeschool long ago!!

  44. I love the picture you painted. It sounds like you recognize and appreciate the organic, slow build-up to the day. We, too, are grateful for that time in our family.
    This year we had a “Not the First Day of School” Celebration. It highlighted the fact that we make our own schedule by listening to our bodies. I hope my kids carry that ideal with them into adulthood!
    Rachel Weishaar’s latest post: Orb-Weavers and Wholeness

  45. That rush, that squashing of slow. It’s horrible. The pulling them out of beds and dreams at 5:45 and breakfast eaten in the car and quick kisses and did I even get to look into their eyes? It’s awful. So I’m changing it. I’m choosing home. The medicine our spirits need in this season.
    Mel@TheDizzyMom’s latest post: 31 Days of Raising Boys: Dirt

  46. I’m reading this while laying in bed. My 4 year old is bringing library books into bed to look at while the 18 month old cuddles and wakes up on her own terms.
    I can’t imagine it any other way. 💜

  47. Oh this is perfect. This is our second year of homeschooling our 4 kiss, ages 6-13. Last year I was too rigid and worried they would get behind to fully enjoy the possibilities. Today, a Monday of all days, went so easy and smooth I kept thinking I was forgetting something. We are finally getting the hang of this thing!!! At least for today- haha!

  48. My kids are only 2 and 5 but everything you listed is why I love being a SAHM. My kids get to be on a schedule that works for us, sleep as much as they need, play with their toys and each other, and we “socialize” on our terms.
    We are starting a relaxed kindergarten with my son this fall and I’m so excited that everything I have loved about being a SAHM will continue for homeschooling.

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