Will This Be the Year of Too Much Togetherness?
Will This Be the Year of Too Much Togetherness? How to Redefine our Homeschools for a New Normal.
This time last year as we all made plans for a new year of homeschooling, we could not have imagined the turn our world would take in just a few months’ time. If you had told me that we’d all be navigating homeschool and learning at home with our kids without museums, field trips, and library programs, I wouldn’t have believed you for a second. If you had told me that thousands of families would be new to homeschooling (many not by choice) and more kids than ever before would be learning from home, putting the practice of homeschooling under fire in new ways, the idea would have seemed like a weird dream.
But here we are. We’ve been here for a while already. And we’re making it work.
Still, we have our doubts.
Parents want to know whether it’s okay for their kids to hang out with them instead of their friends. Many are trying to work out how much learning can really take place without a certified teacher around. Most want to know how to hold down a job while working from home with their kids underfoot.
And we’re all wondering, “Will this be the year of too much togetherness?”
I totally get it.
I write about ways to make family togetherness easier and more fun, so naturally, when I talk about my work these days, I get all kinds of questions and comments. Recently, I was surprised when a question came from my college alumni association asking me to share tips and advice for parents worried about too much family togetherness in an online presentation.
So, I shared a bit of what I’ve learned from juggling full-time work from home with being the primary leader of our homeschool for the past 11 years. I tried to focus on tangible tips for parents who are struggling, but ultimately, I had to admit something.
I don’t believe we can ever have too much family togetherness. I believe families being together more than ever right now is a really good thing.
I know this isn’t a popular opinion in every crowd, and I’m okay with that.
I believe this because I see so many families making the most of their time together right now. I see families having more meals together, talking more, and getting to know each other more. I see moms and dads stepping up to be present with their families in new ways – homeschooling, helping kids navigate anxiety and worries, and creating the most amazing adventures with their families in ways they never knew they could. I even interviewed seven of these parents and asked them to share their families’ togetherness magic. Their words made my heart leap.
But I also know that family togetherness isn’t always easy, especially when homeschool gets thrown into the mix, and we may have to redefine a few things to make it all work.
We may have to redefine family togetherness by making the hard choice to do what’s right for our families regardless of what others are doing. We may have to stay up late and get up early to plan ahead and set our intentions. We may have to try a few things before something sticks. We may spend months or years trying our best and then picking ourselves up again when things fall apart.
We may have to redefine our homeschools by prioritizing relationships over everything else – mandates, curriculum requirements, standards, and our own perfectionism included. We may have to change the way we’ve always done things to facilitate better relationships at home. We may even have to make some sacrifices to make sure learning and togetherness can happen at the same time.
And we may have to check our mindsets and redefine those, too.
This school year will be an interesting one for all of us, to be sure, and there may be a multitude of things we’re not certain about right now.
But one thing I know for sure is that we can redefine our homeschools if we need to so that family togetherness never gets old and we can thrive in this new normal.
If you need encouragement or resources to support your dedication to family togetherness in this new normal, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and get what you need.
Read a good book. (Here are seven I wish I had read so many years before I did.)
Take your time.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. (Our worldschooling family is trying a new kind of worldschooling this year and preparing for our first New England winter!)
Reset, redefine, and try again as needed.
When our kids have launched themselves into college and adulthood, we’ll look back on this year and be so glad we did.
Celeste Orr is the author of Togetherness Redefined: Finding a Different Kind of Family Togetherness, a guide for parents who long to build deep, lasting connections with their families but may not always know where to start.
She once described herself as a full-time traveler chasing family togetherness away from suburbia, a nomad, a gypsy Mama raising her kids on the road without roots, but after living overseas and traveling to 49 out of 50 states in the US, she’s realized that togetherness is possible anywhere as long as it’s welcomed.
Celeste currently lives on the coast of Maine with her husband Matthew, their two sons Elijah and Malachi, and a rescue kitty named Bacon. When she’s not hiking the mountains of Acadia National Park, you’ll probably find her reading a good book with a steamy cup of tea, staring at the ocean, or working on something new for family-loving moms at togethernessredefined.com.