One comment I hear alot when people find out we homeschool is, “I couldn’t spend all day with my kids.” I don’t know how to take that. About some people’s kids I think, “well, I couldn’t spend all day with your kids either!” But that’s a post for another day.
I think it is like anything else, like a family that rises early, or a husband that works from home (I have that too) or kids that have super-busy schedules – it is part of a family dynamic that you get used to and it just becomes part of the ‘system’. You tweak things until they are working for the whole family (hopefully).
I spent all day with my infants, toddlers and then preschoolers, and it was not a huge leap to spend all day with my school aged children. But I know other homeschoolers for whom bringing their kids home was the first time they had spent all day together – they find their own rhythm and system too. As the boys matured (did that really happen!?!?) and could take on little bits of responsibility and gained more independance and could participate in a vast array of activities, it made the days that much more fun.
There are lots of times that I can’t be engaged with the boys, lots of times. I need to do a certain amount of things just like everyone else – paperwork, laundry, clean the bathroom, make phone calls, BLOG (even though I am blogging poolside right now!) fill out paperwork and all that general household stuff. Occassionally I offer to set them up with something they need or want before I go off to do something, but most of the time, they have an agenda they are already executing – usually involving computers or skateboards, or dirt.
|The ‘construction’ enhanced yard is tons of fun!|
There are times that we sit at a table and do things that would be considered ‘schooly’. I read aloud to them often, we listen to books on CD and watch DVDs, we do projects, puzzles, experiments, and math. There is often negoitation. If I need to run errands, we try to incorporate something I need or want, with something they need or want. We might go to Target and then the library, or the plumbing supply store and the skatepark. Sometimes it’s all work, and sometimes it’s all play.
I am trying, more and more, to break things out of ‘boxes’ of what is ‘learning’ and what is not. Tons of learning happens by just being together, answering their questions (we look tons of stuff up on the internet) and being present to the moment we are in. I have been interuppted several times writing this to teach someone to tie a double knot, go over “lefty loosey, righty tighty”, talk about why big water balloons pop more easily than smaller ones, and to define the word “Gaul” (I couldn’t do it off the top of my head, Dennis did).
I am not a saint – I lose my patience sometimes. I am working on telling them when I have’ had it’ in a way that is constructive. “Hey, guys, give me ten more minutes to finish writing this, and then I will help you with that.” I prefer not to do my serious food shopping with all of them, I save that for evenings when Dennis can be with them all. I put in my iPod and do it in peace. I also like to go walking by myself and I arrange that as often as I can.
I love this post Janet. Wish we lived close by. Since our kiddos were babies, we’ve had them with us all day long, every day. I think since there was no “transition” to homeschooling, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I do sometimes daydream though how clean our house would be if everyone wasn’t living in it all day! But their little lives are short… and soon, like you said, there will be plenty of me time.