For an American family, we would be considered larger than average with our six: Mom, Dad, and four kids ranging in age from 12 down to 6. And, currently, we would not be considered normal.
Seven years ago, we were more normal. Maybe average is a better word than normal. Our oldest child was in public school kindergarten, and Mom was working more than 40 hours a week as a physician assistant at the county indigent clinic, working through lunch, staying late to finish charting, and feeling rushed all day. Dad was driving at least 30 minutes toward Houston for his job as an accountant, some days working until bedtime.
We hustled and yelled to get out the door every morning by 7 to allow for daycare drop off and rushed out of work to make sure one of us were at the door of daycare by 6:30 before they closed. That busy work schedule, combined with our desire for the kids to be in bed by 8, did not allow much time for the life we wanted. It wasn’t hectic because of added soccer or dance or after school activities. We didn’t do any extras other than church on Wednesday nights. The weekends and vacations were the highlights of life.
Then, the changes began. Our small daycare closed to much sadness. The new daycare was huge and impersonal. We would find our three kids clustered together at a table when we picked them up, seeing each other for the first time all day. The baby entered our lives, two daycare kids stayed home during 12 weeks of maternity leave, and Mom never went back to work full time.
Even more changes. If Mom was going to stay home, why not keep all the kids at home? We could all be together everyday and not have to plan a day’s schedule around school pick up times or hold off on doing fun activities, so she wouldn’t miss out. Maybe we would even be able to take more vacations. When Kindergarten ended that spring, public school attendance ended.
Homeschool it would be.
Here we are seven years later, living small town life in Georgia with a stay at home mom, a daddy home by 5 most days, and four kids who get to live the relaxed life we have always wanted. We look back on that chaotic life and wonder how we did it.
Instead of the busy days of before, our days are filled with wandering, wondering, and exploring. We stay busy living life on our schedule (while Daddy works). With an audiobook playing in the car, we wander around the Georgia countryside, finding hikes or parks or new places. The kids are allowed to live a life of wonder as they days are filled with a relaxed childhood of books and games and pursuing their own interests.
And we sure have figured out how to make travel a regular part of life. If we aren’t currently away from home, we are dreaming and scheming where the next adventure will be.
The four kids do get the traditional reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic done. Just nontraditionally. We are still attending Classical Conversations, and our oldest is now in her first year of Challenge in 7th grade. But it’s done… differently. Nontraditionally. Books are read while laying upside down on the bed or cuddled on Mom’s lap. We skip math for the day to play games. Instead of worksheets about flowers, we’re off on a hike identifying plants as we go. History is found by traveling to see it. And this life works.
Ever thankful, we see how God took our yucky, busy days and turned them into the life we have today.
May our wandering life inspire you to take your family on a new adventure and see learning as a life you build together. Education is everywhere. It all counts. We just have to open our eyes to see the wonder of our world, take the time to wander, and explore all aspects of this wonderful life we’ve been given.