Part of the "homeschooling lifestyle" that I love the most is the flexibility. There are so many ways to organize and schedule your homeschool, finding the rhythm and routine that is best for your family. We don't have to do school for 9 months and then take 3 off, but instead can take smaller breaks in different seasons and travel on the off-season. Or we can do the "Sabbath schedule" and do school for six weeks and then take every seventh week off. We tried that method last year and loved it in many ways.
However, this year I identified a need I felt to have a day "off" each week. I work for a church, as a full-time Director of Religious Education, and I also homeschool and hobby farm. It's a lot! I found myself just cramming my "day off" from work with as much school work for the kids as I could, and there was truly never a day for rest.
So this year we have scaled back. We are only doing school on four days a week, leaving weekends for scouts, chores, church, family sit-down meals, and community volunteering (sometimes for fun too), and taking a Sabbath on Mondays.
Monday is my day off work, and as much as possible I'm also protecting it from the scheduling of activities, appointments, and errands. There are no To Do lists on Mondays, no appointments, and no fancy plans. There is also no TV watching or computer or video game time allowed, and really limited social media/email (I haven't managed to really go a whole day without checking it, but that's the goal.)
What do we do instead?
Family Board Games
Puttering (different from chores because there is no plan and you don't have to finish anything)
Go on Walks or Bike Rides
Train the Dog to Do a New Trick
Create Music, Write a Story, Make Art
The kids sometimes have a hard time with it. It's boring. They long for their screens. I have relaxed a few of the "rules", so now they can watch the news and play video games that they play together.
I have trouble with it. There is work to do! Time spent this way feels decadent, and hard to justify when there is just so much to be done.
But yesterday as I spent hours playing a long board game with my children and eating warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies I had helped my daughter bake, I had a thought:
This is a magazine-perfect-moment. You know how we say "my house isn't magazine perfect"? I'm always wishing I could keep my house clean enough and well-enough organized to look like a magazine picture. But that's the space ... what about the way we live our lives within the space?
What if I forgot about making everything perfect so that I could have a lovely perfect moment in time, and just had the perfect moment in time right here, right now, in the situation as it was? In other words, since I'll never achieve the time when all the work is done, and the house is perfectly clean, and we have already learned everything we can learn, and in that impossible-mythical time then be allowed to enjoy my life and my children ....
Well, since that will never be achieved, maybe waiting for it is a waste of this one precious life we have been given. My children are growing up quickly. Yes, they need to learn their math and their history. But in the end of the day, will we measure our time together as a family by how much curriculum we covered, how hard we worked, or even how many books we read? Perhaps instead we won't measure our time at all, perhaps we will simply remember that perfect moment that was warm cookies and a board game, or the time we spontaneously broke into a dance party because a good song came on.
Maybe carving out the time to just be will let them grow in a way that all the doing in the world was never going to.