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 have two children, ages 21 and 25. We home schooled them from k-12. From the day we started our daughter in 1995 until May 2012, we homeschooled.
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?”).
- saying to my husband at the end of a rough day (several times), “Will you PLEASE find the phone number to the public school system!?”
- hearing the question, “Do I HAVE to do school today?” 5,489 times.
- about 100 field trips.
What was the outcome? I have two fairly well adjusted, socialized adult children. My daughter works at an engineering firm, and my son is in his junior year of college. They know how to take tests, write papers, and read books. They are not child prodigies. They are just normal people.
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 to the time my children would be done homeschooling. In my mind, it would mean that they had grown up and no longer needed me. I didn’t know what I would do with myself when my “job” as teacher was done. However, this season of life has really been fun and hasn’t been as hard as I imagined it would be.
You can prepare yourself!
As my children entered high school, it became more of a reality that our homeschool 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 my family and I 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 homeschool mom? Even though that is a very important role, there is more to you than that.
I decided I didn’t want the first thing that came to a person’s mind when they thought of me to be that I was a homeschool mom. 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 through church involvement, taking a class, picking up a hobby, and reaching out to people whom you can serve in different ways.
Nurture your relationship with your husband!
There came a point when my husband and I realized 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 could 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 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 has helped me realize that life does not end just because my kids are grown. We can enjoy our children and the people they have become, it just looks different in each season.
Because of the preparation that I did, the transition went much smoother than I imagined. It hasn’t been without some sadness. When I 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
More time with my husband!
My husband and I are able to enjoy a little more time alone. With both kids working, going to school, and in relationships, 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 as 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.
More time to build into the lives of others
My circle of influence has broadened. I have even written my first book! I am active in some fun ministry opportunities that allow 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!
“Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Every Day” is not just another book about grace based parenting. “Grace Gifts” is a short book that is perfect for busy moms. It is filled with ideas and practical ways you can show your kids and their friends love and grace as well as how that can be used to point them to God.
“Grace Gifts” will help you learn how to offer your children the gift of grace by encouraging you to:
- Tune in
- Enter into their trials
- Respect them
- Celebrate their friends
- Bless them
As parents, we can be tempted to grasp for methods of parenting, when what we really need is principles. There are no perfect parents and no parenting style is perfect. The principles found in “Grace Gifts” can be carried out a million different ways. They can actually custom-fit your particular family. I have described the grace gifts and what they looked like in my home, and my prayer is that it will encourage you to think about how it might look in your own home. The principles covered in “Grace Gifts” apply to any age. My hope is that you will reference it over and over again.
Gina Smith is a busy mom of two and wife to Brian. She and her husband have been in ministry together for over 20 years working with college students and young married couples. Gina has recently authored her first book entitled: “Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Every Day.” You can find Gina at her personal blog, Real Life Titus Two, and at her Facebook author page.