The best part of homeschooling: Enjoying them

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

As I write, three teenagers in Santa hats are in the kitchen loudly singing, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” It is 7:15 a.m., and I hush them because I don’t want them to wake “the baby.” The baby is almost 12, and like most tweens, he likes to sleep in.

We’re a long way from reading quietly during the baby’s naptime. We’re a long way from making handprint wreaths and salt dough ornaments.  My daughter and her friends are making their lunches before they head out to co-op, where they’ll have a full day of classes: ecology, American literature, American history, geometry, ACT Prep, and drama.

They leave. My 12-year-old still snoozes; the cat snores softly on the couch. The house is almost perfectly quiet. There is not one single toy visible to me, not even a Lego guy head.

Bustle changes as the seasons of our life shift.

It is at times like this I hear the choir of older mothers who used to warn me.

You know them—the ones who sing, “Enjoy them now! They grow up too fast!” ad nauseam. For me, they always seemed to choose exactly the wrong time—after a particularly sleepless night, at the supermarket check-out line when the youngest was screaming for candy, or after an hour of trying to keep them quiet during church—to express this quaint but obviously erroneous sentiment.

“Grow up too fast?” I’d think to myself. “This goes on forever and ever and ever! If only they’d grow up just a little!”

It was true, what they said, for the most part. 

The days do go by quickly, although we can’t see that in the midst of crumbled cookies, sticky hands, and scattered toys. When we spend half our day refereeing fights, commanding kids to “PICK UP!” and counting to 10, we fantasize about just one hour of quiet or even a shower without a kid banging on the door. An hour’s trip to Target without kids is the equivalent of a weekend at the ritziest spa.

We can’t imagine, as we read his favorite book aloud for the zillionth time in a row, that one day he’ll be raiding your bookshelves, “borrowing” all your favorite novels and taking them to college. It’s true.

I am not quite to the stage where I can say I miss stepping on Legos, but I do feel a twinge of grief when I toss the unread American Girl catalog into the recycling bin. I don’t even ask my 15-year-old daughter if she wants to look though it anymore.

But you know what the best thing is about homeschooling? And yes, I mean the best part of homeschooling?

When I remember all those ladies warning me to “Enjoy them while they’re young,” I think to myself: I did.

We seized the days together.

I got to enjoy the ins and outs and ups and downs of their every day lives. My husband and I nourished them, nurtured them, and watched them grow. We didn’t have to send them off so that someone else got to enjoy them—or worse, not enjoy them. Forget about academics and socialization and all that stuff.

The essence of homeschooling is so simple: we get to be with them.

We are privileged to really enjoy them while they are young so that it doesn’t all go by too fast.

And so as one of those older women now, I will say this to you: keep enjoying them. In the bustle of this season, treasure these moments up in your heart. Snuggle on the couch and read your favorite Christmas story a dozen times in a row. Let them get messy decorating sugar cookies.

One of these days, they will head out the door in a flurry of goodbyes, you will have enough quiet moments for reflection.

What moments are you treasuring in this season of your life?

About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.

Comments

  1. Excellent post–I totally agree. The years still go by too fast, but we have certainly enjoyed them!
    Lisa’s latest post: {this moment}

  2. I can so relate but at an even higher level. My 3 homeschool grads are 29, 24, and 21. The latter, just graduated from college a Magna Cum Laude with a degree in computer science. WHERE did the years go when all 3 of them were homeschooling around the table and living room? I am in my 18th year, because God blessed us with that “late in life” baby, who is now almost 11! I needed to read this because I am forgetting to enjoy her due to increased demands now with an aging parent and other responsibilities that take front seat too many times. It wasn’t that long ago that she was in kindergarten and now she’s nearing middle school. Thanks for your blog and reminder that I have to slow down for her. Merry Christmas.

  3. I can’t believe how similar Marlene’s situation (above commenter) and mine are! I am in my 19th year of homeschooling and had the unique opportunity to homeschool again after having a baby when my older two were 13 and 10. Our daughter (23) is a registered nurse and the middle son (21)will graduate with a computer engineering degree in May. I now homeschool my 10-year-old son. The perspective is much different because of the stage of life we’re in. I still mess it up, but he’s here with me and we’re learning and growing together. That’s the best part of this path we chose.
    Southern Gal’s latest post: Favorite Things Party

  4. Thanks for the post! I homeschool my youngest daughter who is 12 while her two older sisters who are 17 and 14 go to public school. I needed this reminder because the other day when they were fighting or being disrespectful to me I couldn’t hardly wait for them to grow up. But then my youngest daughter told me she liked being homeschool which is a very big thing for her since this is her first year of homeschooling. We struggled a lot at the beginning because she was missing her friends from public school. So now I am enjoying this time with my youngest and I am seeing her grow more and more everyday.

  5. I have been reflecting on this topic a lot this week, how lucky I am to share each day with those I love most. Especially right now when I get to relax and just hang out with them, no pressure to ‘teach’, just living alongside one another. I feel so lucky just to share this time with them, like you I know I’ll be able to say “I made the most of it”. Merry Christmas to you!
    Emmalina’s latest post: Gentle

  6. I always felt like when those ladies said, “Enjoy them now, because they grow up so fast,” they were warning me that I would not enjoy my teenagers and young adults. But now, when I am past the baby-hood (which I enjoyed,) I find that I enjoy my teenagers so much! I wish I could put on the brakes and stop right here, living with my best friends in the house. Thanks for this reminder to enjoy the moments.
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: Risk Taking 101 for Parents of Homeschoolers

  7. This is a lovely post. I’m in my third year of homeschooling my 14- and almost-11-year-old, and I’m so glad we’ve homeschooled! I know they’re much better friends with each other than they would have been in public school and closer to their father and me as well.
    Bobbiann’s latest post: New Complete Guide to Sewing

  8. This was such an incredible help to me this morning. With a 6 year old and 3 year old twins, I am still stepping on legos and changing diapers and my kids still use me as their walking human tissue. I have struggled to enjoy my kids at times. When my kids are tearing up the local craft store, and a woman tells me, “I miss that time; enjoy it!” I feel that she misses this time because she has forgotten this time. At the end of the day, however, the precious moments far, far outweigh the chaotic moments. This article encourages me so much. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

  9. Such a great post! I, too, have graduated one and I have one to go (a 13 year old boy, who also needs his sleep:).
    I have heard that saying so many times over the years, but I never felt that my kid’s lives went by too fast. I’ve have been with them for almost 20 years and because of homeschooling, I haven’t missed one single milestone or any gaps of time and I praise God for that!
    I did toss around the idea of buying my 13 (and 1/2) year old a water bottle shaped like a lego man, but when he saw the picture he had a funny look on his face, so I guess we’re moving on:) Oh well, can’t step on Legos forever!
    Have a blessed day!

  10. It is my middle son’s 5th birthday and this lines up with the feeling of how fast they are growing. As the Christmas list is changing from all toys to toys, games, books, and video games, I have felt the pull of my heart to savor this season. Put down my phone, turn off the computer, grab a book and snuggle. It is but a vapor and they will be grown. I want to think back to the season of tonsillectomies, strep, and hand foot and mouth, and be glad we read books and watched Christmas movies and we didn’t wish it away.
    Meagan’s latest post: Joy in the evening

  11. We did a full, marathon day of lessons yesterday so we could do this very thing – just enjoy being together the rest of the week. As I sat down at the table to read this post, I had to scoot the Legos off to the side so I could set down my cup of coffee. My youngest just turned 5 so I still have a ways to go but I know my house will be quiet so quickly. Thanks for this very needed reminder!

  12. Thank you for the encouragement. Sometime I just need to know it’s okay to just enjoy them and not feel the pressure of teaching them all the “right” things.
    Jessica Wilhelmsen’s latest post: Kicking in a Skull

  13. This is so beautiful. I totally agree. And truthfully, that’s mostly why I homeschool. I just want to be with them.
    renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: Making

  14. My one and only is 12 now, and well I remember strangers commenting on how beautiful the baby was and then looking at me and saying kindly, “enjoy every minute.” Maybe because they stopped there, it was all positive, and I did! After a while I reflected on why: I enjoy every minute so there’s a wealth of good love to draw on when the conflicts come. She would say (at 3 when she finally talked), “I don’t want to!” and I’d respond sympathetically, “Oh honey, we all have to do things we don’t want to do.” and then she would do whatever it was. How thankful I am for the loving kindness of strangers! Yes, and I have homeschooled her so far, thanks be to God, for it is not without its fears and challenges and swimming upstream and forget sheltering when your neighborhood kids are public schooled and your singleton desperately needs friends! But it is a safe place for figuring out dyslexia and recovering from grief and trauma and still loving on others and giving to the poor any chance she gets.

  15. Thank you for this article today. I was having a hard day with my three boys, the oldest being only five. I am a second generation homeschooler–and I vowed never to homeschool my own kids–until I had kids. This reminded me of one of the primary reasons we are choosing to homeschool after all: I unashamedly want to be with my family. I don’t want to give up those “Wow!” moments to anyone else. So today I sat down with a headache for a break, found this in my email, and tears came to my eyes. My three-year-old came and asked me to set up his indoor tent so he could make a library and I joyfully said “yes” and went to help build the best library I’ve ever had the privilege to visit.

  16. I couldn’t agree more. Homeschooling allows me to be there for the moments. I treasure the family time we have together and the deeper connections we make to each other because of homeschooling… and these are the things I remind myself of on the bad days.
    Amy W’s latest post: In the quiet, prayers and singing. He reigns.

  17. O man! I so so needed this today. I’d come to the end of myself (again!) homeschooling my 7 & 5 year old with a 2 year old and 4 month old….it’s not easy and I often think that I must be doing it all wrong. But the truth is we are called to this lifestyle and the things that are most important and of value don’t have much to do with textbooks and completing worksheets. Now if I could just keep that perspective for longer than 10 minutes!
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart, it truly touched mine.
    Lexie

    • Candance H. says:

      OMG…Lexie…it’s a wonder that you can come on the internet and be connected with people whose lifestyles are the same (or just as similar to) your own. My oldest is almost 7, the next is almost 5, I have an almost 3 year old and the last one is 4 months old!! If I could come through the computer to tell you how much I KNOW what you are talking about so that you wouldn’t feel alone, I would! LOL I oftentimes feel like I am doing everything wrong. Right now, where I live, it is after 9 am. I have not made breakfast, and I have tried my best to keep my room quiet because as of right now, my 4 month old is still sleep (this seems to be the only time of day I don’t have to have him constantly breastfeeding or whimpering to be held–or until my husband comes home in about 8 hours). I don’t feel like I am diligent enough in teaching my oldest what he should know and my other two, although they are learning, I feel they could learn more. After reading this post today, it refreshed me even though we’re going into break time tomorrow for 2 weeks. Just as last week’s tragedy in Newtown, CT did. I have the awesome privilege to be at home with them. Not only to teach them but to raise them and watch them grow. It’s wonderful to see how our children interact with one another and how they want to help me throughout the day. I can only hope that they don’t grow frustrated with me and complain about being at home for school as sometimes I can get about them being at home all day long. Only to realize it is a blessing to be this way. many times have I heard women say if they could be at home, they would. I have been blessed to have a husband not “force” me into the workforce. One day, I will do something to earn an income, but right now, is time to enjoy them and raise them in the way they should go. I’m rambling now, lol. I’m just thankful for this post. It was so very true and I can relate to everything in it…except for having teenagers..not there yet. Ha! Thanks for this. (and thanks to my husband for sending it)

  18. So true. With two kids away at college & only schooling my 15yo, I can say that we never went through that stage of teens being embarrassed by their parents. We had a mutual respect and friendship that continues to this day. I am so thankful that we chose to spend time with them while we could. No regrets!!

  19. Beautifully put…I absolutely love these reminders! Thank you!
    Jen S’s latest post: Craft & Game Idea for Pre-Schoolers: Thy Word is a Lamp

  20. As I am reading this, one of my sweet angels is having a 20 minute tantrum in his bedroom. (sigh)

  21. Last year, when my oldest went to year-round first grade at the public school, I discovered that I loved having him home with his brothers on the three-week breaks and hated to send him back. All the other moms shared the opposite sentiment, how they “go crazy” with all the kids home and can’t wait to send them back to school. That was when I realized we were different and needed to do something different.

    This has been our first year of homeschool (with an 8yo, 5yo, 2yo and a sister due in Feb), and I am loving it. I am so grateful for all the time with my kids; for all the impromptu conversations about God, life, emotions, birds & bees, etc; for the freedom to explore the world at our own pace and in our own way; for a million things.

    I agree with this post completely: homeschooling has given me such a wonderful promise of fully enjoying my kids! I haven’t missed sending them away one bit.
    Nikki’s latest post: A Story Jar

    • I had a similar experience with my oldest. I MISSED him when he was in public school, especially in 1st grade when he was there all day. I felt like a part of US was missing. So glad we brought him home all those years ago!

  22. Love it! My kids have never been to school, so I’ve been enjoying being with them since the beginning. When the school bus comes by at 8 am I know it’s not returning till 4 pm and I wonder how the moms can stand it, to be apart from their kids for so many hours each day. I hope homeschooling parents realize how very privileged they (we) are!
    Margaret’s latest post: Christmas traditions, changing again

  23. My sentiments exactly! I am so glad that I get to be with my kids.

  24. Yes, wouldn’t change it for the world! Every day, every holiday that they are all here together is precious… We have always homeschooled. We have a 20 year old living at home again after some world travelling, 17 year old, 15 year old and 8 year old we adopted last year. Starting in with a younger one changed everything… but I’m not ready to be done yet!

  25. Yes to everything you said. I loved this!

  26. Thank you for this. I am one of those moms who is trying to help my kids understand being quiet in church and trying to sneak in a shower without too much interruption from my almost 3 and almost 5 y.o. And you’re right. There are such times when it seems like they will be like this for.ev.er. But I know they won’t.

    So, today, I will slow down. I will breathe deep. I will cherish the moments of incessant chatter and requests and picking up toys strewn about the living room.

    Thank you.

  27. I so agree! Mine are still small, 4 & 6 and before having children, I would never have imagined homeschooling, but now, I cannot imagine any other way. I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with my babies and educate them at home. To people with older children, 4 & 6 seems so young, but to me, they are already SO grown up! It seems that they were just born. I try and remind myself of how fast they are growing even in the middle of breaking up fights or telling them to pick up their toys for what seems like the 100th time that day and then I remember that it doesn’t really matter, before long, these toys will be gone and they’ll be teenagers. I am thankful for every second that I get to share these amazing children’s lives.

  28. Crying! Love this.
    Charity’s latest post: Rhythm of a Year: Holidays

  29. I’ve heard a variation on the “The time goes by so fast” comments that totally makes sense to me (as a mom of three boys age 4 and under). It says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Essentially, the days can seem to go on forever, especially when you have diapers, sickness, constant chaos, messes, babies who stick everything in their mouth . . . . but the next thing you know they’re no longer in diapers, breast-feeding, or needing their nose wiped. They dress themselves, help keep things clean, and entertain themselves!!! I’m enjoying baby no less than the first simply because I’ve already seen that the years fly . . . my oldest is already wiping kisses off rather than giving wet slobbery ones!
    I’ve always intended to homeschool . . . and have NO idea how I’d deal with sending my little guys away to school! I love teaching them already, and we haven’t even started formal schooling. :)
    Tricia’s latest post: Grief

  30. My first and currently only is 6 months old and we plan to homeschool – this post just wrapped up one of the biggest reasons I’m choosing to do so…………..I’m bookmarking it for inspiration during the rougher times later :) Thanks!

  31. Thank you so much for this. It comes on the heels of my 4 year old picking up and dropping the terrarium that her siblings and I worked so hard on. She dashed their plans of frog raising. The frog was saved, the glass was swept… the tears dried (mostly mine ha ha). I do enjoy these days, but I want to enjoy them more. Having 5 under 10 makes me tired, but the days are already slipping by much too fast. I wish I could slow them down!!! many blessings to you!

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