The following is a guest post from my friend Gina. While many of you are still in the beginning stages of homeschooling and cannot even dream of the day when you’ll be finished, let me assure you the time goes by quickly. I’ve spent the past six weeks researching colleges with my high school senior and I’m still in disbelief that she will be graduating this year.
Is there life after homeschool?
I have two children, ages 18 and 21. We home schooled them from k-12. From the day we started our daughter in 1995 until May 2012, we have been homeschooling.
That’s a total of 16 years! If you don’t count summer breaks or holidays, it is approximately 2,640 days of homeschooling!
It is also:
- Several hundred dollars worth of curriculum
- Countless amounts of questions from curious skeptics (“What about socialization?” “How can you teach them at home? Do you know everything?”).
- Several times hearing myself say to my husband, at the end of a rough day, “Will you PLEASE find the phone number to the public school system!?”
- 5,489 times hearing the question “Do I HAVE to do school today?”
- About 100 field trips.
What was the outcome? I have two fairly well adjusted, socialized kids. One who is in her Senior year of college and one in his Freshman year of college. They know how to take tests, write papers, and read books. They are not child prodigies. They are just normal kids.
And I am a normal mom who had to rely a lot on God to get through these years, and really can’t believe how fast it went!
Over the years I would look ahead with dread at the time that my children would be done homeschooling. In my mind that would mean they would no longer need me , that they’d be grown up, and I didn’t know what I would do with myself when my “job” as teacher was done. I am finding that this season of life has really been a fun and hasn’t been as hard as I imagined it would be.
You can prepare yourself!
As my children entered high school, it become more of a reality that our home school days were coming to an end! I began to wonder how I could prepare for the day it was over. I was challenged to evaluate my life and where I, and my family were at, and start the process of making some changes to prepare us all for when the day arrived.
What is your identity found in?
Do you see yourself only as a “home school mom”? Even though that is a very important role, there is more to you than that.
I decided that I didn’t want the first thing that came to a person’s mind, when they thought of me, be that I was a “home school mom”. I decided I wanted my sphere of influence and friendship to reach outside of the homeschooling community. So, I began to look for opportunities to develop the other parts of who I am. That can be done in church involvement, taking a class, picking up a hobby, and reaching out to people to whom you can serve in different ways.
Nurture your relationship with your husband!
There came a point when my husband and I realized that we had been focusing so much on parenting, homeschooling, and making it through each day, that we had stopped nurturing our relationship. We had been walking side by side for several years, but had stopped taking the time to turn and look into each other’s eyes! We sat down with some friends and came up with ways to nurture our relationship again. We set up date nights, started exercising together, and I even set up a shelf with a Keurig coffee maker in our bedroom so we can drink coffee and start each morning together discussing the day ahead.
It is important that you, and your children, have regular times of nurturing relationships outside your home. It can serve as a support system, and provide times of encouragement. We were not meant to live life alone!
Get to know and observe women who have adult children.
One of the most significant things that has helped me has been knowing women who have grown children, and observing how they relate to them. Spending time with women who are very purposeful in learning how to best relate to their grown children, and who are enjoying them, has helped me learn how to do that myself. Watching them has been such an encouragement to me, and helped me realize that life would not end just because my kids were grown. We can enjoy our children and the people they have become, it will just look different in each season.
Because of the preparation that I did over the last few years, I have felt the transition go much smoother than I imagined. It hasn’t been without some sadness. I recently went through boxes of old curriculum and the children’s school work. It definitely took me down “memory lane” for a bit! But I had to choose to shake it off, and move on.
Life after homeschooling.
So, what does my life look like now that I am not homeschooling?
My husband and I are able to enjoy a little more time alone. With both kids working part time and going to school, we have more blocks of time to be together. That has been fun!
Because I have known and observed women who are enjoying their adult children, it has helped me to see this, not as a season of “loss”, but a new exciting season! A season to enjoy my kids in a new way. I am looking for ways to do that.
They still need me!
Now that I am no longer responsible for their education, I feel a freedom to focus on being just mom and friend. I am enjoying that role!
They do still need me, but in a different way. They still need me to be there for stability, to make our house a home for them, (and their friends!) to come to, for guidance, acceptance, and encouragement!
They have taken the next step closer to independence. It can be a scary time of being unsure of themselves. I am their support system and their cheerleader. I am here to tell them it’s going to be okay and to remind them that God has a plan for their lives.
I have more time to build into the lives of others.
My circle of influence has broadened! I have even started a new job that allows me to be involved in the lives of people in a new way. It is not something I could have done while homeschooling.
Yes! There is life after homeschooling! Let me encourage you to look ahead for a moment and think about what you want that time to look like. You can begin that transition now, even if you still have several years left!
Gina has been married to Brian for 23 years. Brian is a faculty member, and they are both serve as deans at a Christian college. She and her family live on the college campus and work with the resident students. She has two children, Brianna (age 21) and Caleb (age 18) who are now both in college. In her spare time Gina writes and seeks to encourage women of all ages, through articles and by living life with them as much as possible! You can find her at her personal blog: Keepin’ it Real, The Internet Cafe, and featured in several issues of Best of Life magazine.