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Is There Life after Homeschooling?

Sunset...or sunrise?

Sunset…or sunrise?

Many years ago I talked to a cashier, a former homeschooling mom, whose life fell apart when her teens unexpectedly went to school.  For a year, she suffered from depression and was unable to do basic tasks around the house.  In fact, it was not until she became a cashier that she began to recover.

I could understand that.  Looking forward, seeing the end of this most beautiful calling fast approaching, the future looked frighteningly bleak.  I could understand her hopelessness and her helplessness.

Not long afterwards, I bought used high school curriculum from a mom whose children had just graduated.  “I can’t wait to set up my craft shop,” she bubbled.  “Oh, I enjoyed the homeschooling, but I’m so glad it’s over and I can move on to my dream!”

I could not understand that.  At all.

Since then I’ve watched other moms deal with the transition.  Almost all are sad, but many are excited as well.

What is it that makes the difference?  Why do some moms eagerly look forward to life after homeschooling, even while mourning its end?

What they seem to have in common is that they have found something meaningful to do with their newly available time.  Some have plans to go to school themselves.  Some are busy with grandchildren.  Others volunteer in their community or church.  Some have found their niche helping moms who are still homeschooling.  Others plan a year off to rest and rejuvenate after decades of unceasing work.  Some transition back into their former careers and some begin new ones.

For those who transition well, the end of homeschooling is not only an ending but also a new beginning.  That seems to make all the difference.

Of course we can plan all we want, but let’s be realistic.  Sad emotions will come.  Change is hard, and perhaps it is good to allow oneself time to grieve.  Perhaps it is wise to treat the end of homeschooling as the major transition it is, like retirement, empty nest syndrome, or the life/career planning we help our teens with.

Even so, it is wise to look ahead.  We should ask God how we can serve Him best after homeschooling and start preparing for that time.  While our youngest children are preparing to graduate, we can learn to look forward to our future, confident that our heavenly Father has our lives in his loving and powerful hands.

My youngest is in grade 6…but I know from experience how quickly time passes.  I want to invest in homeschooling the next 6 years and simultaneously prepare for the future, whatever that may hold.  I want to accept what God gives me to do now and trust Him for the future.

May God bless each one of you—you young moms as you deal with the busy days and exhausting nights, as well as you older moms who are approaching the end of your homeschooling life.

Although I have not found any books about life after homeschooling, a quick search shows there are many online articles about it.  One wonderful book that helps Christian women deal with unwanted change is Lynn Austin’s heart-felt book, Pilgrimage, reviewed here.  Of course, your best resource is probably to talk to retired homeschool moms you know and respect.
Photo credit: Paulo Brandão via photopin cc .

This post is linked to: Domestically Divine Tuesdays, Works for Me Wednesdays, Wise Woman Link Up, Hearts for Home.

12 Comments

  1. Diane says:

    I have wondered what my life will look like after my daughter who is in 9th grade this year graduates. I am involved in other activities but it will definitely be an adjustment.
    Blessings
    Diane

  2. I’m with you, Annie Kate…after we graduated our last wo in June of 2012, I have really suffered…but the Lord has redeemed it with placing blogging in my lap. Still I am first a WIFE and MOM. It is actually busier and a bit more intense with young adults…so much to process and talk about…so many dangers!
    Thanks for helping me process…I still am!
    Blessings in Jesus!

  3. JoAnn says:

    I think having something to do does help a lot. As someone who has one child graduating this year and one graduating in 2 years, I am very close. But we had our children start doing more independent learning early in highschool, and that was the start of me having more time to myself that I wasn’t used to. I prayed then that the Lord would show me what to do with my ‘extra’ time. He gave me a part time job that I do from home that I love. There are times the transition is sad and different, like when I’m getting ready to order curriculum for just one this time, instead of two. But I am excited for my oldest and the new adventure in life she’ll be starting. Plus I love how much more time I get to spend with my hubby. That is great. 🙂

  4. Machelle says:

    I look forward to those days! I have homeschool six children, 3 have graduated and gone on to college, marriage, missions etc. My youngest is 10. I love having them home. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Yet I also look forward to the next season in life.

    Valentine’s Day: A Change in Perspective

  5. Laraba says:

    I can totally imagine being depressed when the kids graduate. Such a huge change. It will even be very odd when I only have 2 or 3 and they are in high school…has to be less “hands on” then now. Still, since I am 44 and have a baby dancing in my womb, it is SO far off that I don’t think about it much :-).

  6. Annie Kate says:

    I wish you a good transition, Diane! May the Lord fill your life with good and satisfying things to do.

    Jacqueline, your blogging has been such a blessing to so many! I’m thankful that the Lord gave you the opportunity to do that. But, as you say, you’re still a wife and mom first. Sometimes keeping that balance can be difficult.

    JoAnn, it’s wonderful that you have that at-home job. And I’d never thought that finishing homeschooling would give me more time with my husband, but perhaps that would be so. Thanks for that input!

    Laraba, at 44 with a baby on the way, you will be one of the lucky ones who can go straight from homeschooling to retirement! But I can’t imagine you not being involved and busy; somehow the idea of retirement does not really suit you.

  7. Elvira says:

    Because I had my youngest when I was 40…I thought I would be ready for this and excited to be done. I am on one hand excited to be done, but on the other, wondering how to redefine myself? I have been a Sound Engineer and worked in Hollywood and Las Vegas. I became a hair stylist, then wife and homeschool Mom…at 58, I am not ready to “retire” and have a lot of life left in me. Although, after having colon cancer, I am re evaluating what my life will be like after homeschooling…it has been especially difficult because I moved to a new area where I do not have relatives and am just making friends. Is there such a thing as an “After homeschool support group”?

    1. Annie Kate says:

      It sounds like you’re ready to make decisions about the rest of your life. Having a life-changing illness does change your priorities, doesn’t it? I pray you will find out what to do next.

      Our area had an informal after homeschool support group. Perhaps you could organize one for your new area, because lots of moms are interested. Or maybe an online group would work better for you. If you set up a Google+ group, let me know and I’ll join even though I have another 6 years left to go.

      God bless you as you settle into your new area and ponder your future.

  8. I am right there right now. Over the past few months since our last one at home got married I have been discovering the concept of vocation or calling. When we say we are called to home educate our children, that may be so for the time being, but that cannot be a life’s calling. Though some will find they are still contributing to the homeschool community once their children are grown, most will move on to other contributions. The key is to discover what you were made to do. I believe I am a teacher at heart even if I never taught my own children at home. I may do some tutoring or start a Bible study. I don’t know yet, but the empty nest has been a perfect setting for me to explore, pray, and seek to know God’s plan for this next stage in life. I encourage those who are grieving to do the same. We have so much more to contribute! 🙂

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, homeschooling is a calling, but only for a certain time. That is an excellent point.

      I wish you God’s blessings as you seek to understand his calling for you in this new stage of life.

  9. Lisa says:

    I am at this point now, done with homeschooling, but i still have children at home. After 18, years of homeschooling, i am done due to severe long term burnout. I am experiencing a feeling of loss because it has been such a huge part of my life for so long. I have no idea what i will do with my time! I have started a blog to help women like myself who have found themselves unable to homeschool any longer (no matter the reason) because it is a big change.

  10. Annie Kate says:

    A major change always leads to feelings of loss and sadness, I think. Perhaps resources about grieving could help you deal with it and find your calling for the next stage of life.

    And, as you pointed out on your blog, you still have many children at home. Realistically, between them, your husband, your home, and your blog, you’re plenty busy enough!

    After long term burnout, you probably need time just to decompress and refresh. May God bless you as you heal and find new direction.

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