Approximately eight months ago, my husband and I decided that we will be homeschooling our girls, now ages four, two and a half, and 11 months.
Four months ago I took my oldest daughter out of preschool. After that it took me about two months to get into a good routine, a groove, if you will. Since then, I feel like I have been enjoying mothering more than ever. I sort of feel like a new mom. Well, not new mom, as in just-had-my-first-baby-and-I’m-a-crazy-mess-of-hormones-and-sleeplessness new mom, but rather a newer, more serene and content version of myself.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy being a mom before. I’ve always loved being with my girls, playing with them, reading to them, teaching them all sorts of things. This was, of course, part of the decision to homeschool. But since making this choice, I feel like I am somehow much more engaged and present with them. More engaged and present and mindful and happy than I was four months ago. Why?
Before that, Miss was in preschool twice per week. Both of my older girls were taking gymnastics classes (separately because of their age difference), and I had Miss in swimming lessons. I felt like I was constantly running them around in the mornings and then afternoons were reserved for naps. After naps, I had to cook dinner. I didn’t have the time I wanted to just be with them.
Now I do. It’s awesome. In the past four months we’ve slowed down. We don’t rush as much. We do lots of talking and reading and exploring and playing.
Since my girls are still just preschool age, exploring and playing is the majority of our homeschool anyway. Play, read, repeat.
But my girls also love to have “school time.” Especially Miss, who asks to “do school” on a regular basis. So I’ve found a little routine for our school that I love. It feels perfect for us. And finding this rhythm with my girls has brought me so much enjoyment.
The thing is, since becoming their “teacher” in addition to their Mom, I get so much more into teaching and playing with them than I ever did before. I’ve found that I’m so excited about doing activities with them now. I used to do crafty things with them from time to time, but didn’t typically put a ton of time into preparing these. Now I get so excited to cut out hearts for making Valentines or create a special art activity to go with a book we’re reading. I’m simply giddy each time I turn on my laminator.
And every time one of our activities or lessons is successful (mostly judged by how much they enjoy it), I feel such satisfaction knowing that I’m doing this with them. Every day we spend exploring and testing our limits and stretching our minds and bodies, I nearly burst with gratitude that we’re in this together, now and for years to come.
Something about taking that step to committing myself to being “it” as far as the majority of their schooling goes has flipped a little switch in me. It has brought me more enjoyment of my role and more engagement with my kids. It has made me notice more the things they’re good at and interested in. It has made me focus more on what they’re learning and how. It has made me very excited about the years ahead of us.
I know homeschooling won’t always feel joyous and wonderful. Some days it might feel like a drag. Some days I will get overwhelmed. There are plenty of frustrating moments even now, in preschool. But I know that I will never regret choosing to keep them home with me so we can undertake their education together. It’s making me feel better about what I do, which is making me be better at what I do.
Please note that the title of this post does not say, nor do I believe, “Homeschooling Makes Me a Better Mom Than You” or “Homeschooling Moms Are Better Moms” or “Everyone Should Homeschool Because It Will Make You a Better Mom.” That’s not what I’m getting at.
I’m not trying to compare myself to anyone else as a mom in writing this.
I’m comparing myself to myself. Every day I try to be a better mom and teacher than I was yesterday. Just like I strive to be a better wife, cook, writer, and photographer. It’s part of the process of growing and constantly improving and moving forward. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. Homeschooling makes me feel like I’m succeeding at being a better mom. At the very least I’m enjoying it even more than I did before, and that’s saying a lot.
Amy is a stay-at-home mom to three girls under five years old. Before marriage and kids she was a clinical and forensic psychologist. Now she focuses on raising her girls, loving her husband, pursuing her passions for reading, writing, cooking, photography, and homeschooling her children. She writes about motherhood and more in her blog Motherhood and Miscellany. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.