thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

homeschooling and quality time with children

To some people, the concept of “quality time” brings to mind the mommy war debates over which is more important, “quality time” or “quantity time.”  Homeschoolers are well aware that both are important.  After all, if you came to my home for Thanksgiving dinner and I served you one tablespoon of stuffing, even if it is the best stuffing you have ever tasted, the quality wouldn’t matter would it?  By quality time, I am referring to time spent alone with individuals within the family, husband and wife, mom and one child, brother and sister, etc.

Dr. Gary Chapman lists quality time as one of the five needs that all family members have and for some human beings, it is the most important “language” that they speak or have spoken to them.  If you are someone whose love language is quality time, it doesn’t really matter what sort of activity you are doing, you feel loved by the person who initiates spending time with you.

I remember one Christmas, the year when one of my older sons had just started his paper route.  Several times he mentioned to me how he was going to buy presents for everyone in the family and he diligently saved his money each week.  Life was pretty hectic with three preschoolers in the house, older children to homeschool, as well as my own holiday preparations, and I hadn’t yet taken time to take him shopping.

One afternoon I sensed that he was feeling a little down and then I remembered how important buying these presents was to him so I suggested that we go to the mall, just the two of us.  His face lit up brighter than the decorated tree in the living room!  “You mean, just you and me?” he asked.  I felt my heart sink to my shoes.  I hadn’t realized it until that moment, but he really needed one on one time with me. In the midst of being a homeschooling family, I had missed being somebody’s mom! That evening we went out to dinner, just the two of us, and I mostly listened as he talked and made me laugh. And then we spent several hours shopping as he proudly bought gifts everyone in the family would love.  Both of us went home with “emotional buckets” that were full!

Spending a lot of time together with our children was one of the main reasons my husband and I wanted to homeschool.  But, as happened to us, I think many families assume that because you are home together all the time and are whizzing through your lesson plan books that you have spent quality time together.  The truth of the matter is that quality time involves listening to your children and learning from them.  It involves doing things you might not ever chose to do yourself, alone, like launching model rockets, playing a board game, or watching an episode of The Three Stooges!  (Believe me, I would never in a million years choose to do that alone!)

It also means that each parent must find time to do these things with each individual child.  Since homeschooling families are typically larger than other families, you have to use all your creativity to pull this off.  It can be something as simple as taking just one child along to the grocery store or to sit with you while the oil is being changed in the car.  When our daughter was in college, my husband would take just one of the other children along on the 14 hour car trip to pick her up.  He was able to enjoy the company of one child on the way and my daughter alone on the way back when the younger one took a nap in the car!  All of them have great memories of those times with dad.

Quality time doesn’t necessarily require talking about the great truths of life.  You need to avoid having “a hidden agenda” for those times because your children will know that that is what you are doing and the delight will be gone for them.  Don’t be tempted to think that “redeeming the time” means only doing spiritual or academic things or attending outings with other homeschooling parents and their children.  It is important that the way you spend your time is unique to your family.  If you decide to plan activities because you have seen other homeschooling families do them or because they are suggested by favorite homeschooling speakers, your children will not feel valued. 

How often do we see examples throughout the Gospels where Jesus is taking time to get away from the crowds of people?  He knew it was important to relax and spend time with his disciples.  In the process, they asked him questions about the Kingdom and he answered them.  If you are spending time alone and your child is feeling valued and listened to, those important conversations will happen but they will happen naturally and spotaneously. 

Next time we will talk about the importance of quality time between mom and dad.

Copyright 2007.

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9 Comments»

  janell wrote @

What you have said is so true. You have defined quality time perfectly.Sometimes we forget and need reminding. It has been so encouraging to read your posts.

  thatmom wrote @

Hi Janell!

I am assuming that you are “my” Janell and if you are, WELCOME!. If you are another Janell, welcome, too!

  Corrie wrote @

Karen,

This is so true. Just because we are with our children all of the time doesn’t mean that we are spending quality time with them. There is so much to do as a homeschooling mom of many children, especially now that the ages of my children span from infancy up to early twenties. It was so much easier when they were all little. 🙂 Now there are so many things to do and so many lessons to teach and so much laundry, cleaning and cooking! I think that there are many homeschool moms struggling with disallusionment because we are told we can “do it all” but that is a myth.

  thatmom wrote @

Corrie,

I think you are correct…myths about within the homeschooling circles I know. Something always has to be put on a back burner. What was really helpful to me was being able to discern which of my children needed that quality time because it is their primary “lvoe language.” Everyone needs quality time, but some kids need more of it. That helps, as it does to discern how other children feel the most loved by speaking another language to them.

So, speaking of stuff to do, how is it going with the move? I am so glad to have seen you online…that computer HAD to get unpacked, huh? 🙂

  janell wrote @

Yes, its your janell – The boys and I had a podcast marathon the other day and they loved your story about the chicken. It was great to hear your voice. Samuel Said,” What’s grandpa and grandma doing on the computer are they famous or something.” I thought that was so cute.
love,
janell

  Sue C wrote @

Karen,

Thank you for bringing this topic to my mind once again. I find that by letting one child sit in the front seat, it is a “half-way” one-on-one time. They talk and talk and talk, even though their siblings are also in the car. I think they know that they have more of Mom’s attention then.

I’ve struggled with taking one child out because when I have a baby, I want to go out ALONE!!! Now, my youngest is 4, and I’m able to get more time for me to recharge while at home. Also, the other children are older now and can watch themselves if Dad is busy at work when I take one out.

Sue C
Peoria area

  thatmom wrote @

Corrie,

i would love to know some ways that you have come up with to creatively spend time alone with your children. I know you have a large family and it has to be a challenge. Please share.

  thatmom wrote @

Janell,

Give that boy a hug for me! I sure do miss him, as well as Ethan and Vienna!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  thatmom wrote @

Sue,

Are you coming to the conference? I look forward to chatting with you if you are. At least stop by for chocolate! 🙂


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