Moms all across the country are laughing at a blog written by a mom talking about how she can’t wait for her kids to go back to school. That other mom was talking about how she needed a break from the chaos of her kids. It was a summer of too much vacation, too much ice cream, and too much fun! She talked about how the freedom of summer has turned her kids into demanding irresponsible messes. (In a loving, funny, we are all there, kind of way).
Now, part of me wanted to be a bit offended, like some other commenters were. But, instead, I laughed too, because I understand. My kids also appear to have gone off the deep end these last few weeks. They have lost their ability to listen and obey. They have lost their ability to get along. It seems like they have lost their sweet little minds some days!
However, I can’t laugh too hard, or get too excited, because back-to-school means MY carefree days of summer are over. My free time while the kids are watching TV or playing nicely are gone, replaced with the need to sit with my kids and teach them! Back-to-school means back-to-work for homeschooling stay-at-home mommas!
We have been so carefree these last few weeks, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, that they just can’t function. The other day I realized at 1pm that they hadn’t had lunch because Mom was busy doing something Mom likes. No wonder they are fighting. Or TV zombies. Or fighting TV zombies. Hunger and brain drain will do that to a person. Particularly a small person.
I had to shake myself out of my Mom time to get their lunches, which I then brought to them by the TV so they could eat and hardly blink while watching their movie. It was an end-of-summer, rainy day, movie lunch treat (while I had an hour to myself!). Then the movie ended and the screaming, fighting, hitting, “he touched me, he’s so obnoxious” began. Sigh. I knew it was really time to get back-to-school!
What I have realized in this last week is that all kids, homeschooled or not, have lost the rhythm of routine by this time of summer. Twelve weeks of summer freedom is just enough to drive the most normal, sweet, intelligent child into zombie-hood, and therefore their mothers too. It is TIME, or past time, to put those children on the bus and send them back-to-school!
This is where the irony of my life comes in. Public (and private) school moms have a perception that homeschool moms have to deal with the crazy kids of summer year-round, that we don’t ever get a break from the summertime chaos. They actually think we don’t mind the constant interruption of little questions when trying to write an email, or that we like company while we bathe. They think we are crazy to contemplate doing what we do. I know. I was that mom.
I never thought I would be homeschooling. I wanted to like the public school. I did like the public school. But things changed once I heard from God that homeschool was where He wanted my kids. I fought and thought and prayed about it for a long time to be sure, and public school was not where He wanted my children to be, and it’s routine was not the life I wanted for our family. So here we are. Following His path where it leads, whether I fully understand why or not. Here we are, preparing to start year two of homeschooling.
I am excited to ‘send’ them back to school, to have that new start, to see that they are growing up. But even with all the excitement, this homeschool mom is getting the back-to-school blues. No, I won’t be the one weeping as my 4 year old goes to preschool for the first time. I won’t be missing his sweet little face while wondering what he is doing in that school down the road.
My back-to-school blues are here because the start of a new year means I lose my little bit of mom freedom, the time to do what I want to do, rather than what we need to do. I have enjoyed this summer spent at the pool, at the park, and decorating the schoolroom. I like being able to spend the day poking around antique stores, with no timeline or deadline. I like being able to go to the park until we are all so tired we can’t function.
But with that freedom comes stress, I think. The stress of “Oh no! What’s for dinner? We’ve been at the pool all day!” The stress of “Do we let them stay out late again tonight for some other super fun event we just can’t miss, but then pay for it tomorrow?” The stress of not remembering when exactly your kids had a bath. (Swimming counts, right?!)
School has it’s own stress, but it’s more of a controlled environment. The routine becomes busier, but more regular. We know what to expect when, and for how long. I know that dinner is coming, and we will be busy on Monday, so it’s a crock pot night. So I plan ahead and somehow seem to manage everything better.
The stress is predictable, and equally proportioned to how well I plan and how busy we allow ourselves to become. Even knowing that stressors are coming, I’m excited to try our new routine, with our new curriculum, in our new room. I’m excited to see if we can accomplish the biggest homeschooling task ever, that of teaching a child to read. I’m excited to get back into the routine, (even if it means getting up earlier than I have in months.)
Mostly, I’m excited to have my well-behaved kids back. I hope to rediscover those children in the routine of school, play and early bedtimes. I think they might also be found in regularly scheduled activities, in minds that are engaged in learning rather than play.
So you public school moms, know that we are excited to get back to school too, even with the loss of the free “me” time. It means the routine is back, the kids are engaged and ready to learn (for the most part). And it means that the crazy kids of summer will soon be left behind with the sunscreen and bug spray. If we had those crazy kids all year, you would be seeing us at the bus stop very soon!
Instead, I choose to rely on Him and his word to keep us going. Psalm 55:22 explains how I make it through each day, with little personal time, and lots of kid time.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
I let the LORD do the carrying of the load on this path we walk each day; it his God’s Path School after all. When I do, our days run smoothly and well. When I forget, and try to rely on my OWN strength, knowledge and organization, things get messy and muddled up. It’s not a miracle I can homeschool, it’s GOD.
Enjoy your back-to-school days. I pray it will be a blessed year for homeschoolers & public schoolers alike! And know that without God’s blessing on OUR homeschool, it would not be able to succeed.