When I was kid... oh lord I'm old enough to say "when I was a kid" ah well.
When I was a kid I played one sport at a time. It wasn't intensive, there were no competition leagues that we paid a fortune to participate in. Maybe one kid in my neighborhood took music lessons, another gymnastics. Most of the moms stayed home or only worked part time. Everyday all the kids were home after school and all summer long. We played and played. Sun up to sun down.
Now, no one is home. After school means after school care, lessons, activities, sports, camps, scouts, church and a million things that keep families away from home.
As this became more mainstream it still was a life only public school or traditionally schooled kids experienced but now it seems so many homeschoolers are living a very similar existence. Over and over I hear from mothers of younger children, about how no one is available for simple play dates with friends, impromptu meet ups at the park, spontaneous field trips to the zoo just because it's beautiful. Everyone is otherwise occupied,
Homeschool moms (a lot of them) seem to have bought into the idea that all that motion we see in our traditionally schooled neighbors and friends, equals some measure of success. The ones who choose to stay home experience isolation and loneliness unless they join Classical Conversations, Co-ops or other Community Learning Groups because that seems to be where everyone is these days.
This post is meant to be a cool compress on the burn left by feeling lonely and isolated because everyone else is busy.
The only way to truly embrace anything new is to let go of the thing to which you are clinging. Let go of those comparisons. Let go of those notions, those ideas. Let them go.
Now reach out and grab hold of a simple, ordinary amazing life. It's a life with God and family consuming all of your time and I mean ALL of it. Like all. Really all.
I spent some time one year contemplating the faith of the Apostles. They were so faithful in fact that they died for what they believed. I wanted to know how to grow a faith like that. How do you live so faithfully that you would get up and walk (a LONG way) to a place you are called with no money, no food and relying on God to provide all you need. That is most certainly counter-cultural.
As I pondered this and prayed over this one thing came to me. They walked.
They walked everywhere. It took months and months to get places. They had no iPods, no phones, no books, zero entertainment. They had carefree timelessness in the classroom of silence with God. They knew him as well as themselves. They lived an ordinary life. A simple life. It was quiet.
The way to be closer as a family, a couple and in our relationship to God is carefree timelessness in pursuit of an ordinary life. Have you ever heard of two 8th graders on the phone for hours or teens texting for hours? You ask them what they were talking about and the answer, nothing. Carefree timelessness.
It's no small task unwiring a brain from the constant input and stimulation we are accustomed to now, but it's possible.
For our family it doesn't mean a total blackout of technology or activities. It means a greatly limited amount and not by construction so much as habit. We just have better things to do. So many times I would suggest something to my kids and after examining the amount of time away that it would require they flatly refused. They enjoyed playing sports but giving up evening and weekends to practice, compete, and travel sounded exhausting. Hard pass.
We do not have any television programming. No other decision we have made has had quite the impact that eliminating programming as had on our family. We stream TV with a number of services so watching any program is very intentional. You have to know what you are going to watch. We only watch TV a few days a week in the evenings for maybe a couple hours at the most.
We are curious people. We are entrepreneurs we love having side hustles and working. We love biking. Gardening, long boarding, reading. We love arts and crafts, projects, cooking, we play lots of games and spend time with friends. We love Geocaching and music. We love the library and the zoo which are free. We love parks and exploring around our area.
Life is cozy. I love to cook and bake. Meals are an important part of our day, we sit and we enjoy the meal. We often sit at the table for a couple hours talking after a meal. We might have a glass of wine while our son plays guitar on the deck and we all just hang out.
If it sounds super chill and relaxed, IT IS! We watch sunsets and fireflies and neighbors stop by when they are walking and chat. We walk the dog and enjoy a nice night while the kids ride bikes. Warm fires, steaming bowls of soup and fresh bread in the winter while we read a book. Little shows and programs from the kids on a Friday night. Music in the park.
An entire afternoon spent constructing buildings from foam board for a game one of the kids is creating. We have lost entire Saturdays to a game of Risk with cookies and homemade banana bread. Bird watching, volunteering in our community and so much time with friends over grilled hamburgers. It's so ordinary. It's learning together as a family living life.
Two of my kids are grown and they have their own families now. It's 8:30 PM I'm writing and my youngest son and dad have been playing guitar for the last hour downstairs. They've just talked and played since dinner. When they were little they would have all been in the floor with dad (who lives and works for the time he gets to be on the floor with the kids) and they would have been playing- action figures, puppets, Legos, Barbies, puzzles, anything.
It's simple, it's calm. It doesn't cost a lot of money. Everyone gets all the attention, love and quiet their souls, their hearts and their brains need. They go to bed and we have grown up time. Time to connect, snuggle on the couch, relax.
Look at the world we live in. It tells you the good life is all this stuff, all these activities, all these accomplishments. If the world is walking in lock step in one direction the surest, safest path for us, to live our best life is walking in the opposite direction.
When you do. When you abandon that lifestyle and embrace a completely new one YOU WILL LOSE FRIENDS. You need to lose those friends. Those friends may be poisoning the well. Flashy phones, huge friend groups, parties with dozens of little friends from all their activities. It's a lot for your kids to resist. You are offering them time to play in the dirt and stay a little kid as long as possible. Their friends are trying to grow up at lightning speed. Those mom friends make you feel guilty, make you question yourself.
Find a new tribe. The new friendships, they won't look like the ones you used to know. Nope. Those friends won't sacrifice family time when dad's been out of town and needs time to decompress. They may need to leave early to get home and start dinner and let everyone unwind. But friends who are trying to live the same ordinary life will "get you" and they will get those priorities that everyone else thinks are crazy.
It might sound boring. I heard someone say if this kind of life sounds boring you are not going to like heaven. Simplicity. Nature. God. Family. Ordinary.