How to Make the Most of Everyday Homeschool Moments
The longer I homeschool, the more I’m convinced that life and real relational connection happen in the unplanned, quiet moments.
These are the moments when we’re driving in the car, or making dinner, or the few minutes here and there between activities.
Each of us have these moments everyday–no matter how busy our lives are.
Therefore, here’s the million dollar question: If the everyday moments—the running errands, doing dishes-type moments—are rich with opportunities for connection, why aren’t more of us able to access those opportunities for relational growth?
What’s the great disconnect here?
I believe the missing piece is availability.
Note: I’m not talking about shove, shove, shoving one more thing into an already full family life, but instead making the most of the moments we’re currently given.
I’m finding that the simple act of availability (combined with a touch of creativity) during these everyday hidden moments has opened up amazing new avenues of connection for our family.
The Forgotten Character Trait
My husband and I are currently working through an incredible book called The Power for True Success: How to Build Character in Your Life in our morning devotions. Let me tell you—I can’t even express the richness found in these pages. Highly, highly recommend it.
Here’s how the book describes how to develop availability:
—by not seeking our own pleasure
—by not seeking great achievements for ourselves
—by developing efficiency in meeting personal needs
—by discovering the priorities of those we serve
This is tough stuff to grasp because it is an all-too-important reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around us.
I’d summarize the above list as simply “availability requires sacrifice.” It requires saying no to what I might prefer in a given moment in order to potentially bring blessing to someone else.
I’m learning to have eyes to see when these moments might occur (more on that in a moment). Then, in each of these moments, I’m learning to ask God: “Are you presenting me with an opportunity for connection?”; and, if the answer is yes, I ask for the strength to say no to my selfish momentary wants and to instead choose to do what’s been put before me.
Please don’t misread what I’m saying: Sometimes these in-between moments are the only time we moms get to rest. Yes, there are times when we have absolutely nothing left to give. And yes, we still have to keep boundaries on some parts of our time (and ask our family to respect those boundaries).
It truly is a delicate balance that we must manage. Right now I’m personally working on taking time to enjoy my life and not keeping myself in a continual task-oriented state.
So please hear me: I’m not advocating that we take on more on our to-do list.
I’m just saying that these hidden moments are potentially incredible, open-ended opportunities to connect with our families (and with the Lord) if we are open to accepting them.
And in accepting these opportunities, we may need to say no to other things that we often fill our time with: things that—let’s be honest—may be more mindless than truly replenishing.
There isn’t anything magical about this. It’s simply listening and looking for opportunities, or initiating interaction.
Although I’m no supermom in this area, here are some regular opportunities I’ve discovered in our family’s current rhythm:
- Morning and Afternoon Snuggle Time With My Toddler. Around 7:15 a.m. each morning, I take a planned break from my morning writing time because I know I will soon hear my sweet two-year-old’s voice echo through the house: “Mom! Mom!” I tell him, “I’m here!” and he runs over to me for a 5 minute chat and snuggle. In the afternoons, I also try to make it a point in-between subjects (or even if I’m laying down for a 20-minute nap) to hold and cuddle with my little guy. Lately I’ve been selfishly longing for these snuggle times because I see him growing up so quickly and I know they won’t last much longer!
- Late-Night Car Conversations With My Tween. On Wednesday nights, I drop my oldest son off at youth group on my way to my women’s Bible study. It’s a good 35 minute drive (to and from) to the youth group location, and it’s just he and I in the car. While it’s tempting to turn on the radio and veg out during these times, I feel like these two 35-minute car rides each week instead are a priceless opportunity to connect with my oldest son. Of course, I interact with him all day every day as a homeschooled student and parent. But the conversations that we’re able to have during these weekly late-night car trips alone are amazing. Even though it’s late and I’m definitely ready to take off my “mom hat” for the day, God has taught me the value and importance of these times and so I pray for deep, in-depth conversations with my emotional and ever-changing tween. Not every conversation is life-changing and powerful (sometimes it’s just me listening, or we’re both tired so we don’t say much beyond the basics of what he discussed that night at youth group) but I know that he greatly appreciates the ability to have my uninterrupted ear during these 35-minute car sessions.
- Driving To And From Lessons. On Monday afternoons, I drive my second-oldest son to his horse-riding lessons. This also is a 35-minute drive. While he isn’t going through as many emotional changes as my aforementioned tween, this is also a time for us to share and to connect. I know that if we didn’t have this time I wouldn’t hear all his wonderful asides about the horses at the ranch or the other kids he rides with. More importantly, I treasure these times with my sweet boy because he is more quiet than the others and tends to only open up during these one-on-one times.
- Cooking Dinner Together. My husband’s work schedule varies widely from season to season, but on the days where he’s home fairly early or works from home, we make it a point to work together to make dinner. Yes, it’s nice to have an extra pair of hands to chop and cook, but really, many days, this has become an invaluable time for he and I to share about our day. Since my main love languages are quality time and words of affirmation, this time allows me to feel loved and cherished by my dear husband.
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- Unexpected opportunities. Of course every day is different and opportunities for connection abound! So I try to listen to God all day, doing my best to have an open ear to discover these precious moments that I know build our family bonds.
How about you? What hidden moments for connection regularly pop-up in your homeschool day? How have you seen your family connections grow during these times? Share about them here.