In this time of renewal between Easter and Ascension, in this time of planning for Fall for many homeschooling mothers, and in this time of evaluation for many parents as we all gear up for Summer (or Winter, if you are one of my dear Down Under readers!), I invite you to breathe and ask yourself this question: How often am I going out of my home?
- Is it every day and you have children under the age of seven?
- Is your home and your homeschooling and your parenting where you would like it to be?
- Could your time of lessons or classes or activities for your small children be better spent elsewhere at this point?
I understand if you are suffering from depression and really need that social connection and support of other mothers. I really do understand if you are extremely outgoing like me and just get filled up by being with other mothers and other people…I really do understand! I wrote a post about Social Isolation for Stay-At-Home mothers here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/24/social-isolation-for-stay-at-home-mothers/
But there has to be a balance, and if you are going out every day and if your under-seven child is involved in a plethora of activities, I just gently am nudging you to explore this. Boundaries are important, and showing and modeling for your child how to set boundaries and maintain them is REALLY important as they grow up into a world that will most likely have even more blurred lines between personal and professional lives due to increased technology.
I invite you to try to discern what really are the most essential things in your life, and how the time you spend reflects what is most meaningful to you. I am working on this right now, and it really is challenging me!
Particularly for the parents of very small under-aged five children, it is easy to get caught up in lessons, classes, and other things. The ages under five (and under seven and yes, even under age nine!), to me, is an excellent place to experience an unhurried concept of time. They will never have these days again! There will be so many other years for classes, for lessons and for other activities and for rushing about on a schedule (which is different than the flowing rhythm of being at home).
Many mothers I speak with somehow feel their children will be “behind” if they don’t enroll in a number of things, and they point to things like elite Olympic athletes who start training at the age of four or something. Actually, I like to point out that for a number of athletes, they started later or switched later from one sport to the sport that later became their Olympic sport. I also like to point out that if a four-year-old starts piano lessons, a seven or eight year old can typically catch up to where the four-year-old is in a matter of months because they are more mature and more coordinated. There is something to be said for developmental maturity and neural pathways being mature and ready…. I am sure many with disagree on this point, but I guess what I am trying to say is that all is not lost if you take a summer and have nowhere to be or take your children’s under-seven years and be HOME. That will probably provide a more lasting foundation than any one-hour class that you are rushing your child and younger children and babies out the door for!
For homeschooling mothers, especially for mothers new to homeschooling, it is easy to think that one’s child should be involved in this and in that for “socialization” and for those things that just seem harder to do at home. Many times we tend to forget that home has its own advantages.
So, today, I am just giving you that gentle nudge to look into your heart as you plan for Fall. Think about how many days out of the home are necessary. If your children are small, it may not be what you think. If your children are older, please do plan enough time to actually home school at home instead of trying to home school from your car. Unhurried “digestion” of academic material is so important.
Mostly I lurk, but this is something near and dear to me. My five-year-old likes a good adventure from time to time, but mostly he craves quiet, unhurried home time. Yesterday morning, while my husband and twelve-year-old son did geometry downstairs, the little one played for 2.5 hours (without a break) up in the bedroom, with his finger puppets and little wooden people/animals. I merely browsed through decorating books on the bed nearby (it was heavenly for me, too!). He was so content that he hummed almost the whole time!
My mother is a piano teacher and rarely invites children younger than seven or eight to take lessons. They’re just too immature, and the experience becomes exasperating for all parties (and usually their little hands don’t spread wide enough anyway).
Thanks for all that you do!
Thanks Carries! Really needed a reminder right now. Activities have started to pile up on us and none of us like it.
Thanks so much for saying these things! I’ve always been a homebody at heart, but also, I have seen over the years(I have 5 children, the oldest a high school senior, youngest is 4!) that the young ones(under 10!) thrive best in peace and quiet, with lots of free time to play, dream, imagine, explore…Your blog is a true breath of fresh air! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!
Being a natural homebody, this has never been a real issue for me! My problem lies in that now that my son will be approaching third grade/nine years, I feel it is time to start incorporating more in our homeschool life. But oh how I love our days at home!
Great post, and very timely for me personally as I was just thinking about this yesterday. I have a question though for those of us that live in condos without yards. Although I am trying to stay home as much as possible, I do want to be sure my son gets daily time outdoors. The nearest “playground” to us that is walking distance is basically a soccer field surrounded by concrete. However, just a short 10 minute drive away, we have beautiful wooded areas and even the beach! If I need to drive to these places, is it too much for younger kids to do this sort of outing every day? What if I visit the same one or two outdoor places most days so that it becomes more familiar? Or would it be better to do it every other day perhaps? I know every child is different on what they can handle but I appreciate your input on this. 🙂
A little sports-related anecdote: my sister did not begin playing soccer until “late” (she was 12 when she started), but went on to be a starter for her high school team and asked to try out for the women’s Olympic team at age 17 (she declined, but went to a private elite college on a soccer scholarship). There really is something to be said for waiting until they are mature enough physically and emotionally, I think!
Wow, Kyrie, Wow!
Great anecdote, thank you so much for sharing!!
Timely post for me as well. Thanks, Carrie.
I’m really struggling with being at home right now, with my two year old and 18-month old. The general rhythm in our home is set – meals and sleeping / rest. But I can’t seem to get the nuances of the times in between. We are outside as much as possible, but I think we could still do more. The 18-month old is transitioning to one nap, but not smoothly. He can’t quite keep up with the 2-year old, and its been frustrating for everyone. I feel like a referee between the two of them much of the time. And I’m so tired most of the time.
I’m an older mom who has had a career for a long time, which has been a big part of who I am. I still work part time, but this adjustment to motherhood isn’t easy for me. My days at home are not my favorite right now – what can I do differently so that I love staying at home? 🙂
“They will never have these days again! ” this is pretty much my parenting motto. A lot of my friends don’t understand what we ‘do’ all day as we don’t have lots of structured activity but I prefer to be a human ‘being’ than a human ‘doing’ so we just see where the day takes us and I let my 2 1/2 year old take his sweet time (mostly) about things like walking to the park or helping making bread.
As the parent of a teen, I can say there comes a time when they are ripe for these things, media, organized sports and when they come to them with anticipation and freshness, it is a very different experience than if they have been doing it for years and years and are burned out and bored.
For stay at home moms and dads, it is really important to get out and be connected with other adults on a regular basis.
Find a good babysitter, join a book group or gym or craft group just for adults and make time for your partner without children. The adult world is important for your mental health and we tend to get so isolated in our homes, and lose our boundaries with our children. We need our renewal and children ususally do fine once we are out the door. We do better when we have stepped out and see with fresh eyes.
I have very fond memories of my parents going out, my mom getting ready, our babysitter loved spaghetti and meatballs with italian bread so that’s what my mom made when she came. She babysat us for ten years. (my parents were not out for ten years solid ~ HA! it was occaisional and fun) That began in 1961 (yes) and we are still close. Her children are grown up and we are in touch.
I have two children under the age of five, and we probably do leave the house everyday. However, I have a very small home and a decent backyard but we are right in the middle of the city. Our backyard is lawn and a nice sandbox – so echoing Jaimie’s post before – is it too much if you have to drive daily to be at a park or nature? I feel guilty sometimes when I DON’T leave my house, because I am afraid my house and backyard to not allow for enough physical exertion, exploring.
My girls are now 11 and 14. They attend Waldorf School, but for the most part have a very full life at home. They love to be home and I love our family-centered life. I am just now gently pushing my 14 year old toward getting involved in some outside activities, but only gently. If she finds home to be a place she wants to be during her teen years, that will be just fine with me. I once heard a Waldorf movement teacher talk about the physical dangers of organized sports for young children. That, combined with my desire to not be driving all over New England to games and my wish to eat dinner together every night, has kept us away from sports. I’m so glad.
Well said! I agree completely and really have to fight to keep our at home time as homeschoolers sacred. I used to feel the urge when my oldest two were very young to “get out” every day, which usually involved visiting a store and buying something I didn’t need. Money wasted and time frittered away.
It has taken me nearly eight years to be content at home and not to feel the tug to leave the house *every* day.
Now with a new baby on the way (#4) any day, I have to recommit to this vision!
My 2 year old and I feel quite content being home but I often feel like my 6 year old is trying to drag me out of the house. For this reason I love sick days when she doesn’t feel like going anywhere and enjoys being home. I’m not sure how to help her be more settled at home without feeling like she has to go- go–go. One challenge is that her 5 cousins are within walking distance, so there is the constant temptation to go see so and so. How can I help her settle and be more content just staying home?
I can relate to Marianne- my boys (7 and almost-4) LOVE being home but the minute the nieghborhood kids get back from school they want to visit with them. I don’t mind at all when all they want to do is play outside, but my 7-yr-old is at an age now where the kids really want to play indoors in eachother’s rooms too, where I know there is a lot of media influence and snacks that my 7 yr old cannot have (he has food sensitivities).
It’s a struggle and very hard. Somedays I wish we lived on a farm in a more rural area!
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