Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What we did: We stayed home

When my children were small, we stayed home.  Imagine that.  We woke up in the morning, ate breakfast together, and did our jobs and schoolwork.  We stopped mid-morning for tea and a read-aloud, worked some more and then ate lunch.  Next it was quiet hour and then a bit more schoolwork for the older ones and then the rest of the afternoon outside.  Dinner together and then baths and the nighttime reading and telling of stories and then to bed.

As our children got older, of course there were the usual offerings of music lessons and sports.  Erin joined choir, Jonathan took piano lessons, Thomas guitar lessons, Andrew cello.  Matthew and Joel were still too young for lessons.  The lovely thing about where we lived is that it was a small, really small town, but it had a great, really great college.  That meant excellent teachers for all kinds of things, five minutes from my house.  I was very spoiled.  I could leave a baby napping at home with an older child keeping watch, drop a child off to a lesson and be back in a flash.  Very little car time.  I loved it.

Sometimes, when the children wanted to be involved in activities, we had to say no ... or wait.  I did not want to sacrifice family and home time to an endless round of practices and games. I didn't want to spend the entire day at the soccer field or basketball court with a baby in tow, so that everyone could play.  So, we compromised.  This season it's your turn.  Next season, it's his.  Now we'll come watch you practice and play. Next season, we'll all watch him.  Or, we persuaded Youth Center organizers to let us have our kids on the same team.  That worked for the two that were only twenty months apart.   Perhaps they'll say they were scarred by the experience, denied the opportunity to shine on their own, but people, it was a survival tactic.  I knew that if I had to be gone from home all the time, running to and fro, I would be a crazy woman and not the kind of mom my kids needed.

Since we were the only homeschoolers in town for a few years, there were no options for group activities like co-ops.  As the number of families learning at home grew, we started getting together from time to time, but we had no formal classes or co-op.  When we got together, it was to play, or put on a play.  Our basement was the stage for numerous child written, directed, and acted plays; our backyard, the stadium for our own version of the Olympics.

Don't get the idea that we never went anywhere - that we were some kind of weirdo recluses.  We visited friends and went hiking and swimming in the river together.  We were regulars at library story hour.  We went to concerts and got to know a lot of college students.  We visited neighbors - more on that in another post.  We were out and about.  But mostly we were at home

When I moved from that small, rural New England town to the suburban outskirts of a big NC city, I made a startling discovery.  People spent a whole lot of time in their cars.  Even those moms of young children who said they were homeschooling were in their cars - a LOT!  They were going to art class, science class, drama class, PE class, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, and orchestra.  They weren't homeschooling.  They were carschooling.  This was a little shocking to me.  Whatever happened to tea time and read alouds, to playing by the creek and bike riding, family meals and walks in the woods?  Somehow, listening to teaching CD's while finishing your fast food on the way to the next activity didn't strike me as conducive to family cohesion and the kind of learning life I wanted. (Yes, I know CD's are outdated.  But that's what it used to be. Now everyone has their own iPod and earbuds.  Even less family communication/cohesion as everyone is plugged in to their own thing)

It is true that, if you are homeschooling, there is great benefit as your kids get older to outside classes and co-ops.  We've been involved in our share since our move as our kids got older.  But I've always had to ask myself if the benefit of the class or activity is worth the investment of time running to and fro.  Often it is, especially with older children.  But with little ones, there wasn't much that trumped quiet, calm, orderly, creative, focused, free, work and play, indoor and outdoor time at home.

My good friend, Mary (front and center in the photo) just emailed this picture to me yesterday.
These are our old buddies in a group photo after our Treegano Olympics.  (TREE was the acronym for our group).  This must have been in 1998, around the time of the Nagano Olympics.

Can you find the Pinckney kids in this photo?  They're all in there!


Susan said...

I agree, it really hurts family time to be running, running, running. And as our kids have gotten older we have added some outside activities. Last year it was speed stacking. This year is/was speed stacking and science olympiad.

Not only can we not afford a ton of stuff from a financial point of view, we can't and won't become too busy to be a family, together, learning and growing and loving. Some of our best theological discussions startt over dinner and carry over into the evening. We wouldn't miss that for the world.

Kimberly said...

So beautiful to hear - and I echo Erin and friends' asking "What did you do?!" I'm super excited to read your recollections. The Lord has definitely been helping me to stay home - and honestly the biggest obstacle has been me: wanting to "get something accomplished". But He has been changing my heart, and now I think we need to drop something else in order to have fewer than the 2 "out" days that we have, and I really have started to enjoy just being home! I can enjoy my babies and love on them so much more! In an effort to re-prioritize, Arch helped me figure out what were the "Absolute Essentials", and I was actually a little surprised at how short it was: Time with Jesus, Running (I need exercise to maintain a healthy mind- not to mention body), and Training/Disciplining/Discipling my children. So now I'm just trying to make sure I can check those off, rather than fretting about the state of the house, whether we had a super-academic "school" time, read 10 books, or even put the laundry away. :) Jesus, and these little people, give me so much to enjoy! Thanks for sharing, Beth!

Kimberly said...

We stay home a lot. I don't know how anyone can manage a home and family when they are always out! I can't. We have a lot of fun and work and play hard, but we do it at home.