“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
I’m a self-proclaimed homebody. I used to feel the need to apologize for it because I have felt judged at times for not having the desire to get out more. But I refuse to make apology for it anymore! On the contrary, from now on, I know the answer I will give when I’m asked why I don’t get out more. I will proudly proclaim: “I’m a homeschooling, homesteading mom! And I love my job!”
Almost ten years ago, when my oldest child was still a baby, I attended a monthly “Mommy and Me” group with some of my girlfriends from church. I looked forward to it every month! It was a blessed release in my baby-grind world. (If only I could tell my ten years ago self what I know now: “It’s only a season. Savor the solitude Jaimie! And don’t waste all that valuable time. The days will fly by and one day you’ll wish for the quiet hours of nap time.)
Julie was one of my better friends at that monthly playgroup. She had given me precious advice that I cherished as a new mom. She helped me figure out how to get my baby to sleep more. I will FOREVER be grateful for that! One of the nuggets that she shared wasn’t even advice. It was just a simple statement and I think she would be surprised that I remember it and took it to heart all these years later. One day, as the summer was drawing to a close, she shared that school was starting and she wouldn’t be coming anymore. I was confused because she was a homeschool mom and what I knew about homeschooling was that moms get to make their own schedules. I missed her at each of the following play groups. I got even more confused when I saw other homeschool moms showing up regularly. Why couldn’t Julie find the time?
Fast forward ten years and I have the answer. She was 110% committed to homeschooling. She treated it as her job. A job that she couldn’t just decide to take the day off whenever she wanted. A job where you show up and put your time in, whether you feel like it or not. It wasn’t something to do unless something else more fun or interesting came along for a day. She was ready and willing to say no to things that she really wanted to do because it would take time away from her homeschooling day. I admire that so much in her because I try really hard to keep my priorities straight. Teaching my children is my full-time job too. Add to that off grid homesteading: laundry by hand, cooking everything from scratch, cleaning the house, keeping up with the dishes, food preservation, and our home business. Sometimes it seems like more than a full-time job! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am a mom. My time is not necessarily my own because my children require a lot of it. But I do set my own schedule. After all, that’s one of the beautiful things about homeschooling. I have the choice to set school aside for the day, if there is something else more pressing or if we all just need a day off. The problem arises when I take too many days off. One day turns into another and another. I turn around and the week is gone. Taking too many days off is a sure way to waste an entire school year. Whether you see yourself as more of an unschooler, classical educator, Charlotte Mason fan, or loyal to your favorite curriculum, I think you know what I mean. Being a home educator takes passion, commitment, and being intentional in creating learning opportunities for our children.
Before you think we are all business and no play, we schedule time off from school to enjoy lots of activities. We take extra time in the late summer and fall to get all the garden produce canned and enjoy camping as a family. We also travel a couple times every year, as we get the opportunity to speak and share with others about our life and homesteading. We are not digging away in the trenches every day of our lives! We are just trying to be intentional with the time we have at home. I’ve learned time is a gift and I have to be purposeful with it. It flies by so fast and even faster as my children get older. At the close of this spring, my oldest will be in 5th grade. Ahhh!!! How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday I was teaching him as a kindergartner to write his letters.
This season of homeschooling is just that, a season. I know my homeschool days are numbered. I will not always have a 4 year old who begs me to read to him constantly. I will not always have a ten year old whose face lights up with every new and amazing fact he learns in his studies of astronomy. In ten years, I don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t savor these years. I choose to seize this time with my children, to enjoy their discovery, and to teach them everything I can. It’s the best job I’ve ever had and that’s why I’m proud to be a homebody.