But one thing I know for sure: I don’t miss sending my kids to “real school.” NOT AT ALL. In fact, I find myself looking on all the “normal” parents with a certain amount of pity. I’ve seen them wandering through the local Walmart with mile-long school supply lists in their hands, desperately trying to find protractors or composition books or 12-packs of colored pencils, and I don’t envy them. In early mornings I watch moms herding backpack-laden kids toward family cars or down the street to bus stops and I give a happy, contented sigh because it’s them and not ME. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, not even for more “me time” or a clean house or for daily hours of silence.
Honestly there are SEVERAL things I don’t miss about sending my kids off to school.
1. I don’t miss starting school in early August.
I would argue that once the homeschooling mindset has taken hold in a family, school continues whether it’s actually in session or not, but, just the same, I can say I DO enjoy a long summer break. For one thing, I use the time to catch up on all the big household projects I haven’t been able to get to throughout the school year. But I also ADORE summer! I love sunshine and bare feet and flowers and warm dirt and the buzz of locusts in the trees. There’s something amazing and magical and just…delicious about summer!
But around here, kids miss out on nearly 1/3 of it! Schools have already been in session here for more than two weeks, and our county started later than many in the area! How awful to have to make my children trade sunshine and summer freedom for florescent lights and a cold classroom!
2. I don’t miss having ZERO flexibility when it comes to starting school in the mornings.
I’m an early riser and I like operating on somewhat of a schedule. But I also love the freedom to adjust our school plans to fit our circumstances.
If one of the kids has been up sick all night, (which always means I have been, too,) I LOVE being able to make the executive decision that school will start 2 hours later than normal! If something happens to put us home late on a school night, I don’t have to worry how I’ll get my kids up and out the door for school the next morning! If family or friends visit from far away, my children can stay up late and enjoy the company rather than being forced to bed because they have to be at school by 8:00 the next morning.
As homeschoolers, we can start school at noon if we want to, or even cancel altogether for the day if need be! And I don’t have to write an excuse note for anybody!
3. I don’t miss dragging my kids out in awful weather.
I. HATED. THAT.
I had to drive my kids to and from school every day and it was very possibly the thing I despised most about having my children in school. There are few things I find more wretched than a cold, rainy day. Going out in weather like that is bad enough myself, but dragging four children out in it with me is utter MISERY!
Even sending a kid to a bus stop can be hassle enough! Every morning I used to pass parents who had to drive their children to and from their bus stop. But even if a child can catch the bus at the end of their own driveway, they still have to be suited up in layers and then pushed out in frigid temperatures so they can go spend their day with scores of kids carrying every cold weather illness you can think of.
No thanks! I believe I’ll just watch from the warm coziness of my own home…
4. I don’t miss buying uniforms!
I always took some issue with the idea of uniforms to begin with. I suppose they’re intended to maintain some standard of modesty while reducing the possibility of distractions, but I’ve never been convinced they actually accomplish that. It always seemed to me the kids who pushed the envelope with their normal clothes just continued to try the same with their uniforms. And true uniformity can only be achieved by depriving children of their individuality. Of course that seems to be the ultimate goal of the public school system in general, so maybe they figured dressing everybody the same way was a good place to start. But I digress…
To me, uniform shopping always felt a lot like throwing dollar bills down a sewer grate. I was spending good money on clothes I didn’t even like and my children liked even less than that! And finding the right color polos and the right tennis shoes and the right cardigans and getting it all in the right size without breaking the bank was never easy.
But my kids can wear tap shoes, Superman capes, and cowboy hats to school, ALL AT THE SAME TIME if they want! So long as they can focus on whatever work we’re doing, I couldn’t care less! They homeschool in their pajamas much of the time and that’s fine by me. The kids are comfortable and I’m stuck with less laundry to do, so it’s a win-win for everybody!
And speaking of pjs…I haven’t done it yet, but I love the homeschoolers whose “shopping for school clothes” consists of buying several new pairs of pajamas. That’s MY kind of thinking!
5. I don’t miss packing lunches.
This was another thing that added incredible stress to my school mornings! How do you come up with an interesting, filling, and at least somewhat healthy lunch for everyone every single morning? Most of the quick, prepackaged lunch goodies you’ll find in the store are not only pricey, but high in fat and calories and loaded with preservatives. I could always find lots of lunch-packing ideas in magazines and on parenting websites, but 95% of them were things my children would NEVER eat. (Half a turkey sandwich on rye bread with celery sticks and fresh edamame? You’re kidding, right?)
At my daughters’ small Christian school, they even had access to a microwave, which certainly gave me more options than your average parent, but I still felt limited and I also found that good microwavable containers aren’t easy to come by!
I love being able to fix my kids good, hot meals for lunch almost every day. Sometimes it’s soup or hot sandwiches or every once in a while I’ll throw together a chicken pot pie. It’s also easy to pull out supper leftovers and reheat them, which is usually what we have at least a couple of times per week. I know my children are eating healthier, and eating better also means they usually do far less snacking in between meals.
And just never again having to clean out any forgotten lunchboxes is reason enough to be thankful I don’t have to pack them anymore!
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