The sun is barely up and peeking around the dark shadow of your bedroom curtains when the alarm goes off on Monday morning. Your husband rustles in bed next to you, but you’re the first one out to make your way to the bathroom sink and splash water on your face.
The house is as quiet as it will be all day. You sleepily shuffle into the kitchen to start the coffee pot. Nothing starts without coffee. As you make your way up the stairs to wake the kids, the mental checklist for the day starts to scroll through your head:
You finally hear movement in the ceiling above as you pack both of the kids’ lunches: turkey sandwich, cheese stick, an apple, and some goldfish. You can hear footsteps, the shower running, and a few thuds – now you can start to get ready, yourself.
There’s no time to shower, so you wash your face, throw your hair up in a ponytail, find clothes that look pressed and professional enough, and call it. You hear the kids coming down the stairs so you scurry back out into the kitchen to pop some waffles in the toaster, doll out some orange juice to your now waiting kids sitting on barstools, and poof, breakfast is over. Time to get in the car. Grab bookbags, lunches, jackets. Out. T-minus 20 minutes until school starts.
As the kids pile out of the van with their bookbags from the carpool line, everyone exchanges “I love yous”, the door slams, and they’ve gone for the day.
Is this all sounding familiar? The weekdays are frantic, rushed, and sometimes, painfully routine. Did anyone even really speak to each other this morning? Or have a real conversation? The evening will be just as crammed – homework to be done, dinner to be cooked, baths, and bedtime. Life is so busy, it feels like it’s passing us by sometimes.
COVID has changed things.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., families were forced out of their typical routines, and while that presented a new version of hectic at home, the forced requirement of staying in with our families made us slow down and really see each other.
Instead of spending time shuffling kids around to and from school and practice and other activities, families have been forced into spending extended time together. Breakfast and dinner happen at the table instead of on the go. In between lessons and seatwork during the day, brother and sister can go outside to ride their bikes together or run around in the sprinkler.
Even though life feels foreign and a new dynamic at home has created its own set of stressors for parents balancing their children’s education and their own work, by the end, many families have started to feel good about taking a break and enjoying real, quality time together.
Many parents who were required to homeschool their kids during the quarantine are now saying that they are seriously considering keeping – or plan to keep – their kids at home in the new 2020-2021 school year.
Why? The biggest reason parents are sharing is, they actually enjoy the extra time together and teaching their kids. It brings them joy to watch their children learn and develop. And bottom line, they didn’t know what they were missing out on.
They’re also concerned about their kids’ health and safety during the continued uncertainty of the future. Plus, parents are seeing a huge benefit to being able to personalize and customize their kids’ educational experience to their unique needs.
It seems that COVID-19 has rekindled something in the hearts of many parents. Is it possible that we’ve been missing out on our kids’ lives? Could our families be closer? Maybe our family memories can be more about simple time spent together and less about rushing to fit everything into a day.
Watching our kids learn and grow is far more rewarding than knocking things off the checklist. Which leads us to the question of the coming year, post (and really still during) the pandemic: what is your family’s happiness really worth?
Choosing what’s worth the most to you.
More often than we’d like to admit to ourselves, we allow society to put unnecessary pressure on us to fit everything possible into a day and follow a traditional path that’s already been paved. To follow the “rules.” But who makes those rules?
Since a pandemic struck the world, the rules have shifted and changed, and now, as many families are questioning what’s really being prioritized in their lives, they’re reconsidering the best way to approach their children’s education. School at home? It’s sounding pretty good now.
A traditional, in-school education is part of the routine of how most families operate. But is it worth missing out on valuable time, memories, and experiences with your kids and even your spouse?
Right now, homeschool is an even more hot-button topic than usual, but for a totally different reason than previous years. Parents are considering if the experience their kids will have in the 2020-2021 school year will be worth the hoops they’ll be required to jump through. Masks on kids as young as 4 years old…Half-capacity classrooms…Wonky, staggered bus schedules…Supplemental work sent home…More disconnected, Virtual classwork…the list keeps going.
The post-pandemic classroom and school experience will not be ideal for anyone involved. And worst of all, it could be detrimental to our children’s education. Many kids have struggled to keep up in the recent academic climate. And because of that, parents who may have never considered homeschool a realistic option are starting to open up to the idea.
Now that the quality time we’ve all been able to spend together as a family has become part of the new normal, it’s making many of us stop and think, what really matters? Is following the traditional rules around school really worth sacrificing your family’s happiness or your children’s academic progress? Especially in a time when those rules are even less convenient than before.
If you feel like you’re ready to set your own rules this year and take the leap into homeschool but aren’t sure what that new routine will look like, you’re certainly not alone.
Step 1 will be this: Accept that every day doesn’t have to be the same.
If you’re doing school at home, some days will be more full than others. And if your homeschool crew gets a ton of work accomplished one day, you might be able to take a short day the next. We recently asked experienced Abeka homeschool moms how long their homeschool year takes – and even how long a day of homeschool takes – to put together a helpful guide for new parents to consider what their new homeschool schedule might look like. The big take away was, doing school at home, no matter how you choose to organize it, will allow your life to become more fluid and more flexible. You may even start to forget why you ever had to rush to get lunches made and sprint out the door to frantically drop them all off in the mornings.
The close of the 2020 school year was an enormous challenge. But you overcame those challenges, one by one. And in the process, maybe you even saw a glimmer of hope for a better, more joyful future with your family and especially your kids. Maybe school at home isn’t so bad after all. Maybe, it’s just what your family needed to refocus on what really matters in life – each other.
Food for thought.