Guest post by Traci Matt
There is a new breed of creature among us. She’s called the retired homeschool mom. After blazing a path for freedom in education, she has finally put down the red pen, boxed up the kids’ papers, taken down the bulletin board, and reclaimed the dining room table.
Each fall, the endless parade of back-to-school blog posts and social media updates probably find her waxing more sentimental than she would have guessed she’d be. Sometimes, when a cute little blonde preschooler dressed in pink pops up on her newsfeed, or she hears the pip-squeaky voice of a little boy in the grocery store, she gets a little teary.
Sometimes, she wishes she could sit down and share her homeschool tips and encouragement with weary parents in the midst of the home education task. Here are some things she would tell them:
Just enjoy it.
Of course, there are seasons when every young mom wants to scream when someone tells her she will miss the chaos once it’s gone. But for the most part, you know it’s true.
Find at least a few seconds each day to close your eyes, listen to the laughter, the pages rustling, the toilets flushing, and just thank God you are together at home.
Control technology; don’t let it control you.
When the retired homeschool mom tells you to put down the phone and focus on the people around you, she does understand. Don’t think for a moment she didn’t have her own distractions before the prevalence of the Internet and mobile devices.
Just imagine how distracting it was to manage a home and school while being tied to a phone hung on a wall, or watching the clock so she didn’t miss the day’s only showing of Sesame Street.
Think about how Herculean a task it was to coordinate every detail of a group field trip in advance, knowing she could not access a map or communicate with other moms once she got in the car.
Work hard on your marriage and your friendships.
There are days when you don’t think you can have one more conversation, rub one more set of sore shoulders, or do one more thing for someone else. The retired homeschool mom knows you might not have money for date night every week, or maybe not even once a month.
She wants you to be creative and make ways to spend time alone with your spouse. She wants you to continue to build friendships because you must maintain a healthy perspective, and because you will need these friends desperately once your kids are grown.
Get out of the house.
That endless tick-tock of the clock between nap time and when Daddy gets home can be the hardest part of the homeschooling day. Especially if you have only littles at home, the isolation can be stifling.
Kansas City is a treasure-trove of places to go, things to do, and people to meet who will enhance your home education efforts. Take a walk or a drive. Go to the library. Plan a field trip at least once a month. Get out there!
Ask questions about how to homeschool, please!
Home education may be one of the few things the retired homeschooler considers herself an expert in. She would probably be flattered to share homeschool tips with you, look over your new planner, or recommend a homeschool co-op. If she’s newly retired, you may even be the recipient of free curriculum and supplies as she cleans out her school closet for the final time.
So be on the watch for this new breed. She just may have the answer to your burning homeschooling questions, or the exact right word of encouragement for today’s step in the journey.
Traci Matt is an experienced journalist, editor, marketing copywriter, social media manager, and homeschool teacher.
Her first book, “Don’t Waste Your Time Homeschooling: 72 Things I Wish I’d Known,” features reflections on 20 years of homeschooling.
Traci also blogs about other random topics such as colorblindness and social media at tracimatt.com.
This guest post was originally published in September 2014. It has been updated for timeliness.
Traci, thank you for such an encouraging message! I loved reading this.
You mentioned technology and how much it has changed over the years as you homeschooled. As someone who is considering homeschooling (my daughter is still a preschooler), what have been the biggest changes, technology-wise, in your homeschool? Did you have to limit screen-time, for instance, for your kids in watching TV and playing on the computer?
Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the kind words and excellent question. The biggest technology change from the first year of our homeschool to the last was of course the Internet. I know it’s hard to imagine having to go to the library and physically pick up a book to do research. It took much more organization and planning ahead than jumping online to look something up. We did limit screen time once the computer made its debut. In the end the best rule we had was no electronics (including and especially the phone) until after 3 pm on school days. That way no one was tempted to hurry through schoolwork to get to the Xbox or reply to texts.
Traci, we love you 🙂 that is all.
Aw, thanks Jami! I love you guys, too. It seems so strange not to have a Lobdell in my class at Southland this year. 😉
Great post! Everyone, check out her book, too. I did….it’s filled with great advice!
Thanks for all your support, Melanie! I especially appreciate you taking the time to write an Amazon review.
Great article! I really enjoy reading the MPE blog posts.
Thank you, Jennifer!