This piece was published on a different blog by the same author in 2016.
It happens every year. Fall rolls around and kids go back to school. Many of my fellow homeschool families are busy forming schedules and registering for classes. For us though, Fall is just like Summer, which is just like Spring, which is just like Winter. While we love the change of seasons, they don’t bring required changes to our daily routine.
It’s lovely. We chose this. It is what is best for our family. We are committed to living in a way that fosters family connection, real life learning, and passion following. We believe that our children are people and are learning to practically apply that to daily life. With every fiber of my being I believe that this is best.
But still, every fall it happens. Without even realizing it I demand more of my kids. I’m upset with them for not “wanting” to do more school-like things. I get angry because we have spent another day not doing anything that looks like what a September day “should” look like for a 7 and 9 year old.
“Should”, of course, refers to what the rest of most of the world is doing- to what I did as a child… right along with what all my siblings, cousins, and neighbors did…. with what my parents and all of their siblings, cousins and neighbors did… starting school. What September “should” look like is so deeply ingrained in me, that my anxiety from choosing differently peaks in the Fall.
Except I did not know that. I had not realized until this year that autumn does not only bring crisp air and beautiful colors, it also brings expectations and the reminder of how out-of-the-box we are living.
We are first generation homeschoolers. As Boston Irish Catholics, my entire lineage attended Parochial school- where the teachers and priests were always right, and Childism was the basis of their education and culture- where routine, inflexibility, and standardized learning were fundamental.
We did not simply deviate as far as homeschooling- we are Unschooling. (What is Unschooling? Click here.) This is perhaps the polar opposite of what my parents and their parents experienced as children. Living this way is not for everybody, but it is exactly what my family needs and I love it. I am grateful for our life…for our choices…for having the courage to step our of a box that was not working for us and trying a different way.
Yet here we are. Another Fall where I find myself unsure and floundering. Where I start thinking I should be “boss”, our schedule should be set, and bedtimes should be inflexible. Even though I do not actually believe any of this.
The “Fall routine” is so ingrained in me that its expectations subconsciously change my relationship with my kids. It disrupts their world- and mine. Every year.
Now I know- I am aware, and that changes everything. Next Autumn, I will be prepared. I will know what is coming and will acknowledge it.
As Fall next approaches, rather than letting anxiety and expectations creep in I will be able to say “hello”, tell them that they serve no purpose in this family line any longer, and send them on their way. I will remember the only changes we need to embrace are the colors of the leaves. I will breathe. I will relax into this life we have designed that brings us joy, growth, and connection. Most importantly, I will practice gratitude that my kids’ fall looks so different than mine did.