A friend on social media asked how often she should be getting her children out of the house, and I remembered this post from my younger days, when I had things all figured out. My answer is simply this: You do not have to be out all the time to be busy. You do not have to be outside the home to be productive and engaged and happy. In fact, being outside of the home for play and education too often can really hamper your family’s peace. Small children are happiest in a quiet home with family for 90% of their waking hours.
Having lived eleven more years in the same way, and with a couple of older teens to show for it now, I can affirm the truth that your children will be well-adjusted and socially normal people (unlike public schooled kids, alas) on a diet of just one or two contacts a week with non-family members, and sometimes a whole lot less than that. We didn’t really even have that many playdates. Social contacts have been natural relationships– family, neighbors, church friends, etc.–for the most part, not groups that we cobbled together out of fear of not having enough “socialization”.
Staying Home (Originally posted October 11, 2011)
I mentioned once in a different post that my first reason for homeschooling, chronologically speaking, was a desire to avoid the typical American “real life is everywhere but home” attitude. A lifestyle different from the one I grew up with just sounded good to me, so I did it.
A commenter, as people on the internet frequently do, thought that from that single post she had learned everything she needed to know about me, and accused me of “projecting” my introversion (some people seem to think introversion is a mental illness instead of a personality trait) on my kids instead of letting them live real lives like other kids do. You know, full, active lives spent behind desks, on school buses, and standing in line.
The problem with blogging is that a single post is all some people ever read. I have many good reasons for homeschooling my kids, but even if that were my only reason, it would be good enough. You see, I have a right to live my life the best way I know how, and to provide for my children whatever lifestyle I think is best. I think it’s best if we live quieter lives at a less hectic pace than most Americans seem comfortable with. If anyone doesn’t like that, then that person is free to live some other way!
While I don’t think my preferences are necessarily the best for everybody, they are wonderful for my family–a realization that asserts itself anew every time I spend more than a few days in a row doing something “out”. We’ve been on the go for the last week, without a single day just being at home, and my life has gotten away from me! My schedule is still doing its job, getting us back on track as soon as we get home, but I’m so tired I could cry. Not just tired, though. Tired, I can deal with.
It’s the lack of time for thought that’s killing me.
I used to wonder why people don’t seem to apply much thought to, well, anything that they do, really. Well, I’ve figured it out. The average American lifestyle (and homeschoolers, this goes for a lot of us, too) leaves absolutely no time for reflection. We’re busy, and we like it that way. Busyness means never having to think uncomfortable thoughts. It means scurrying past the little, but important things to do the urgent, less important things. Even if we accidentally end up with some time on our hands somehow, there’s always the mindless entertainment offered by the idiot box to help us in our quest to avoid introspection.
One of the frequent defenses I hear from homeschooling moms and stay-at-home moms is “We don’t stay home at all! We go everywhere, all the time!” May I gently suggest that we concede too much in giving such an answer to those who think we’re not “working” or “socializing” enough? As if there were something wrong with staying home all day!
Having spent the last several days with an outside-the-home obligation at least once every day, I’m more convinced than ever that the typical American lifestyle is extremely unhealthy in its pace. There’s no need for me to join in the madness.
Repeat after me, homeschoolers:
Home is a good place to be, and I’m not missing anything if I stay there four or five days a week.
Trust an old mama on this, ok?