We often hear, “Your family is so fun!!!!” or “You guys do such fun stuff!” and my first response usually is, “Yeah, it seems that way from the photos we post on the blog or updates on Facebook. But we are just going along leading our life.” But the more I think about it, the more I see why people tell us that so often. It’s true that the flexibility of life that comes from not being tied to a school district schedule makes it easier for us to do interesting things. Above all that, my husband and I are intentional about the way we lead our life. It’s important to me to be making memories and spending time with our girls because all of life is about learning, not just a scheduled school time. I want all of the daily things of life to be woven into our girls’ memories so they can look back and know that the life we live now is important to us. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that life is going to start when they 1) become adults 2) go to college or 3) get married.
We make plans to go and do things as a family – we are deliberate. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have found that if you don’t plan for the things you are going to do as a family, then time will get away from you. When you read studies about the amount of time the average person spends with her children having direct interaction, I think that we are an anomaly. We don’t let the girls watch unlimited tv or play video games all day. In fact my girls cheer when I say, “We are going to the downtown library!” We play games together, read, go on walks, do crafts, cook, and do puzzles. My husband built a playset in our backyard in February, and unless it has rained the girls have played outside every single day. Last week he built me a new garden, and our oldest daughter has helped me with the planting and watering and is so excited to see if the seeds she planted will be food soon.
We have memberships to the zoo and science and history museum and we make great use of them. I check out the days that other museums will be half price and we take our girls to look at famous artwork. I am on various email lists for local free or low-cost events going on in our city. For Halloween we dressed up as a family and went to ‘Boo at the Zoo’ and to visit friends. At Christmas time we attended a showing of ‘The Polar Express’ and we all dressed up in our pajamas.
So when I think of all the things I have listed, it does seem like we just have fun and goof off all day long, but it’s just not true. First of all, I don’t lose 40 hours a week with them going to a school or myself working full time hours plus a commute. Second, with the one on one attention I can give our girls, we can get a lot more school completed much faster than in a classroom setting. By the time my husband is done working for the day, we have long since finished and can have a relaxing evening together without rushing around. Third, we don’t over-schedule activities for the girls to be involved in. Both girls have 2 outside classes that they take each week and those do not cut into our family time.
I can’t tell you the number of times that people have said to me that they could never homeschool because they couldn’t stand to spend all day with their kids. I have no idea how to respond to those comments, so I tend to just laugh in an uncomfortable sort of way. We have children who pick at each other and dishes to wash. We have sick days and dirty clothes. We get tired and wish for quiet or a chance to sleep-in every now and then. We find toys and books spread out in every corner of the house. We have all the normal headaches and difficulties that come with parenting, but we also know that spending a lot of time leading and teaching our children is their best chance for being happy and successful at life. I don’t think we are doing something amazing or astounding; we are simply being intentional. But we really do have such a wonderful life, and I am eternally grateful for that and my ability to stay home with my girls.
Life is all about choices, and we have chosen a very intentional and deliberate life. How do you have intentional family time?
LOVE it Louanne! Our family since it’s inception over 12 years ago is the EXACT same way! We choose to be together, love one another, and have LOTS of fun while doing it! Thank you, friend, for putting these words into a post – they will speak multitudes to the hearts of those who long for this – but haven’t been able to pinpoint what it is they are missing 🙂
Sweet words Carlie!
By making plans! My boys (4) know each day to ask “what are the plans for today?” Our outings set the time for our day and teach all of us all kinds of things. Thanks for your great attitude!
Thank you for your thoughtful article, Louann. I have heard so many similar comments since we started homeschooling and my thoughts have gone in the same direction as yours. I always stop and think, “Why are we so different, as parents, from the people we grew up with and now raise our kids with in this small town?” Even before we officially began homeschooling, we could tell we were different and I think you’ve put you finger on it here with the word “intentional.” Our lives aren’t all about our kids, but they are a very important part of our family! We aren’t simply teaching them, we are weaving the tapestry of their childhood firmly into our family tapestry.
Thanks for writing on this topic. You handled it well!
Great reminder to make excellent use of the short time that they are ours! We make time together a priority over all other plans. We homeschool (duh), go on walks, hikes and bike rides together daily, eat all meals together around the table, and enjoy going on daytrips and extended vacations together.
It’s so true that the time goes by in a flash!!!
This so resonates with me. I have 6 children, 3 who have now gone on to college after being homeschooled for all of their childhood – and intentionality is key. So is being entirely present in the moment. I found it easy to live in my own little world and not take advantage of the present moment, and it was a choice I had to make over and over again, to be there in an active participating way. We did plenty of fun things, and camping, and trips to zoos and museums, but the thing my kids remember the most is how we lived day in and out, together.
I really enjoyed your post, Louanne. Doing things as a family is just part of the rhythm of our life, but reflecting on that I see now that at some point my husband and I must have decided to be intentional about family time. I am not a super organized, planning-ahead kind of gal so I’m going to take the “being intentional” label and run with it! :^)
I could so relate when you said, “I can’t tell you the number of times that people have said to me that they could never homeschool because they couldn’t stand to spend all day with their kids. I have no idea how to respond to those comments, so I tend to just laugh in an uncomfortable sort of way.” I never know how to react to those comments/statements. I don’t feel like an exceptional person because I homeschool or spend lots of time with my family. But I am constantly reminded that my choices to do those things are considered by so many to be the exception to the norm. It’s great to come across posts like yours today that remind me that I’m not alone in my life choices. Thanks for boosting me up today!!!
Carrie – your words made my heart happy today. My goal was to encourage and articulate what I had been going through a lot lately. Thanks.
Great post Louanne. Totally agree! While the activities change because our son is 12 and in Middle School… the principle remains the same: Intentionality! It’s about experience and the journey.
(Although we still go to the local ice cream parlor to get free ice cream if we wear our pajamas on PJ day).
I agree too! Well said. The moments we are creating will become our children’s memories. They are only 5 or 6 or whatever age once! And that is what they remember. The time will fly by, and if we want them to have good, fun memories, we have to be intentional in doing stuff together as a family and creating memories for them (and us as parents). And it doesn’t always take that much money, but it does take us giving them our time.
Congrats to you – you are a fun Mom!! It is funny that people do not understand how we can spend every day with our kids. But I love that our evenings when Daddy gets home are ours – not filled with homework. Yes, there are days where I would love to send them off to school for a break but watching a light bulb go off in your child’s mind when he or she finally connects something is priceless. Knowing what the children know and knowing what they need help in is too. When we first started homeschooling I was shocked at how much one of my kids struggled in reading. I had no idea when he was in school. So it has been great to be more informed. Keep being fun!
Loved your thoughts about being intentional with your family. I just cannot imagine any other way of life. We too have made our family our priority. We have limited our outside activities so that we do not spend all of our time running from one event to another. We learn, play, explore and volunteer together. We enjoy many shared experiences and also FREE time to explore life.
We own our own business so our schedule (especially Daddy’s) is a bit hectic. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to keep our lives flexible and to integrate our family time into EVERY day. Life just wouldn’t be the same if our schedule revolved around school hours, school commitments and extra-curricular activities! We feel blessed. 🙂
I loved this! I felt understood as I read this, like. “Hey, there is someone else out there like us!” 🙂
This has been our first year homeschooling. But we have always been intentional in our family time. When life was ran by school schedules, family time was most sacred.
Homeschooling has been an unplanned joy for my family and I. A journey I never thought I would take. But I am so glad for the opportunity it has given us, and when I read a great post like this I feel such a connection with other moms, like me, and a desire to keep going and keep loving this life choice.
Lisa – wonderful!!!
I love this post. You are 100% right about the need to be deliberate with your intentions to spend time together. The ability to take advantage of fun stuff is certainly easier for us homeschoolers because we aren’t tied down to the public/private school schedule, but you’ve still got to make the choice to do it!
Your family looks very happy and full of joy.
I, too, wonder in amazement at the number of comments from parents who say they would never home school because they couldn’t spend all day with their kids. Good grief, we LOVE spending time with them. They’ll be gone in a blink of an eye.
Laura – I agree. Honestly I teared up a little last fall when I had to buy my 5 year a sweater in the little girl section instead of the toddler area. The time flies by so fast.