Startle your kids!

Startle your kids!

One way to bring energy into your family life is for you, the homeschooling parent, to embark on your own adventure. Pick an adventure that is yours alone (not bound to your kids in any way). That adventure can be grand (like planning a trip to Europe by yourself—I mean it!) or it can be homespun (like refurbishing dolls or growing organic vegetables in your front yard).

We want our kids to pursue their interests with commitment and heart. We certainly homeschool them with that energy (after all, home education is our grand adventure—truly). Yet because the homeschool adventure is bound up in them, it is somewhat invisible to them (they don’t realize it is an adventure for you), unlike, say, learning to surf, or painting with oils, or writing a novel in a month, or going back to grad school, or running a half marathon, or horse-back riding in Montana, or getting your real estate license.

Take it in baby steps. Perhaps you will simply take yourself to an art museum sans children for the sake of pure pleasure. I did that once. I met a friend from the Internet (we had not yet met in person) in Chicago to go to the Art Institute together over a weekend. It was a rare escape and it took me some time to save the money for the flight. That commitment to art, though, carried me and my kids a long ways in our homeschool. It was a natural part of our lives because it had become a passion of mine—one I nurtured without them around all the time.

You might start running each day—short half mile lengths, alternating with walks, until you build up to a 10K or a half marathon. Your kids will then say about you, “Yeah, my mom’s a runner.” It will mean something to them—the commitment, the willingness to make time for it, the sheer joy at having achieved your goal. It’s a meta-lesson in learning and passion, determination and practice. They get to root for you and celebrate your achievements—a lesson in valuing you, the way you value them.

I have a friend who has a dream book. In it, she puts pictures of her aspirations for different years of her life. As we paged through it together one time, I noticed that she had a photo of a trip to learn to surf in Mexico. She had taken that trip in time for her 50th birthday. I looked at that beautiful blue image. I grew up next to the ocean yet had never learned to surf. I made that my goal for my 50th birthday…and went! She surprised me and met me there. It was a magical week, one I’ll never forget.

Of course, when my kids were younger, my adventures were of a smaller, less expensive, scale. I learned to quilt, I wrote articles for magazines, I got interested in birding, I became passionate about Shakespeare, poetry, and art, and I took guitar lessons.

Each time you branch out for yourself, you are investing in your family. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the truth. Because you are such a zealot for home-everythingness, I trust you to not overdo it (you won’t let yourself!). Rather, what I’m suggesting is that you not let your own adult life—these healthy years—scroll by in service exclusively of your children, thinking that a later date will come when you can go to grad school or visit a full service spa in the Red Rocks of Arizona.

You grew up to this age so that you could use your full adult powers for good—for your family, for your community, and also, just as importantly, for yourself. When you take that time and initiative to create a good happy life for yourself, as much as you do for your kids, you give your family energy—energy that rebounds into home education. The world becomes alive with possibility for all of you.

Most importantly, your kids can look ahead to adulthood and SEE that it is worth growing up and learning all kinds of things because that’s when you get to DO COOL STUFF! Like Mom! Like Dad!

Startle your children! Be the model of adulthood to which you hope they aspire.

Last thing: If you find yourself frustrated that your kids aren’t into learning as much as you are, forget them for a bit. Dive deep. Learn all you want. The more you indulge your cravings, rather than foisting them on your kids, the more likely it is they will want to “get involved” eventually, in some aspect of your current passion because passion is contagious.

Surprise your family; surprise yourself! Set a goal today and go after it, right in the middle of all the muddle.

Image by Zweirad-Industrie-Verband e.V. (cc cropped)

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