what I learned last summer

Since I’m heading back to studies, can I write a ‘what I did last summer’ post too?

I’ve tented for the first time as a parent. I’ve begun building a house and homestead. I’ve gardened, and blanched and canned and eaten. I’ve learned to lay on a beach. I’ve learned to swim with the kids. I’ve done roadtrips. Read about writing. Attended writing seminars. And incorporated writing practice every.single.day. My mornings are spent more in my made up worlds than in my real world. And of course I’ve planned our upcoming homeschool year.

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But what did I learn this summer?

1. I need more alone time. When schooled parents are anticipating their children coming home, I am anticipating kids heading to summer camps. Which means of course, that I will get alone time. And I need it. More often than a few weeks in the summer. Likely one of the reasons that parents strike homeschooling off their mental list…possibly for good reason.

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2. Being outside takes me outside time. Might need to read that again. Swimming, gardening, hiking, canoeing — doesn’t matter the activity, I feel I am meaningfully existing when I am outside. Set me in front of screens, I am conscious of the time, and that I am using that time in less meaningful ways. I am more at peace outside.

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3. Being around a host of other families and children at these said summer camps, I see that my expectations are awful high, sometimes unreasonably high, of my children, and definitely myself. I don’t need to do as much as I do during a study day.

4. And I need to give myself, and my kids, more space to transition from one study activity to the next. My goal should be less “get stuff done” and more “luxuriate in the learning”. If they’ve really come to process why the French were willing to sell Louisiana, then maybe I don’t have to read another three pages just because it was on today’s lesson plan.

5. Homeschooling is a marathon sprint. The first year or two homeschooling are collecting your family, figuring out what works for each of us, but somewhere in the fourth or fifth year, there comes a realization that this is really hard work, requires an incredible effort from the parent’s alone, and “I dunno if I can do this” becomes a reality, not just a nagging doubt. And when you push past that, just as in pushing past a fitness level, you discover that indeed you are capable of continuing, you’re just going to have rejig your pace. Naturally, I’ve already lived this and am sharing at the seven year mark.

Turns out learning didn’t stop in the summer. Mama had a lot to learn!