We definitely moved here to have more time together as a family.
In fact, I would say that was the main reason why I wanted to get out of the mainstream.
But sometimes it feels like I spend the whole day hoping that the kids will find something to do somewhere else or be invited over for a playdate.
I think about a long time ago, when people used to spend their lives in close proximity to their families (and I guess that there are lots of people who live this way now). Specifically, I think a lot about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. (Shouldn’t be surprising that I loved those books and have now moved to a homestead-ish place on the prairie.)
What I imagine is that the parents spent the whole day working–chooping firewood or mowing hay for the horses or pickling vegetables to survive the winter or building a house with their bare hands and an ax. And the kids were just sort of around. Maybe playing off to themselves, maybe helping sometimes. Definitely doing chores on a daily basis. But for sure Ma and Pa were not entertaining them or finding fun and educational projects for them to do when they were bored.
Now we too have moved to a more basic lifestyle in many ways, and we spend a lot of our time dealing with that basic stuff–getting water, dealing with our poop, picking, preparing, and preserving food.
But we haven’t let go of a 21st century definition of what it means to be parents.
Parents have not always been seen as the educators/enrichers/entertainers in their children’ lives, but that is often what is expected of us. Most parents that I know feel that it is their job to make sure that their kids become interesting, accomplished, imaginative, insightful, strong, confident, and creative adults. But really, how much do I even matter when it comes to all that? (And how can my kids be confident and independent when they are depending on me to instill all that?)
So I feel torn–what is my role as a parent? Obviously, love my kids all the time, but what about beyond that? Find educational and artistic activities for my children? Or make sure that they survive to adulthood by feeding them and brushing their teeth on occasion?
All this thinking brings me to my current dilemma: what to do about homeschooling this year. We had talked with other parents about making a homeschool co-op where the kids go to a different house for a day or two each week to be taught in a small group by one of the parents. At first, I was super excited about the idea of having days free to do work or garden or whatever. And the other parents are incredibly interesting and educated and excited about teaching.
And my attempts to homeschool by myself last year were not super successful.
But when I thought about packing lunches and sending the kids off to school for the day (just like I did for years before we moved) I felt really sad.
So I sent out an email asking if we could work something else out.
I’m not sure if this will work, or how a complicated plan will go over with the other parents involved.
And I guess that this puts me back in the role of entertainer/educator/comer-up-of-craft-ideas-er. But maybe we can work some good old fashioned chores into the mix as well?