SummaryMary Ellen Barrett says this is a perfect time of the year for some all-important faculty team-building activities. She’s speaking of you and your spouse.
July is an almost magical month for many homeschooling mothers. Especially for those with young children who are not yet at the stage of life when they need to be constantly shuttled to and from activities.
In July, the school work is over, and if it’s not, at least most families take a more relaxed approach to learning. There is more outside time, sleeping in a bit, ice cream trucks, and sandy feet.
School books are shelved, and pleasure reading is in full swing. Hopefully, your children are immersed in the adventures of Henry Huggins, the mice of Redwall, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte, Wilbur, and the March sisters.
Since the tempo now is andante, this is a perfect time of the year for some all-important faculty team-building activities. What’s that you say? Faculty? Team building? I’m speaking of you and your spouse. The principal and the teacher. You need some time together to relax, talk, reconnect, and plan.
Faculty team building is a real thing (just Google it), and I truly believe that its value for homeschooling parents is immeasurable. To take some of this glorious free summer time to focus on the person with whom you are sharing the joys and burdens (yes, it can be burdensome) of this homeschooling lifestyle will refresh you and renew your joint commitment to educating your children.
The primary relationship in your home is your marriage. God himself is the author of marriage and “the well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life” (CCC 2210).
This means that your spouse comes directly after your relationship with God and because of that, it’s important to make that a priority. The health of your whole family, and in a broader sense, that of society, depends upon healthy marriages.
Scheduling this time can be very difficult in the busy days of the school year when so much attention is given to lesson plans, spelling tests, driving commitments, earning a living, and a million other things.
When the opportunity presents itself to spend some time enjoying each other’s company and, yes, sparking a bit, as the more relaxed schedule of summer gives us, then all married couples must make an effort to take advantage of this.
This July and August commit to a few dates with your spouse. Schedule it. The same way the children’s important dates are firmly scheduled in the calendar, then these, just as important dates, must be firmly inked on the calendar. That way, should something else come up, you know that you are unavailable and can decline with thanks.
This time, together, is a time to support and encourage mom (or dad, if he’s the primary teacher) in her homeschool mom career. Discussions regarding each child, their needs, their development, workloads, and family issues – all of those things can be shared, hashed out and resolved, or at least you can get on the same page about them.
How to manage all of this on a tight budget or if you have small children? I’m glad you asked because, for many years, I was in this exact situation.
If family members are unavailable to help with childcare, then one solution is to barter with a friend who also has children. We would often switch with a family friend who had children the ages that ours were for a night and once or twice a year for a whole weekend.
The kids would get a fun sleepover, and we would get some valuable couple times. When it was our turn to host our friend’s children, we were happy to provide them with the same couple times.
Another idea is to wait until the children are in bed and have an at-home date. Some special food, candles, and quiet conversation need very little prep and is an inexpensive date night.
Some other budget friendly ideas are:
- Take a walk, hike, or a bike ride together
- Step into a nice coffee shop and linger over coffee and sweets
- Drive to the beach and watch the sunset
- Browse in the library or the bookstore together
- Pursue a common hobby; tennis, golf, chess, cooking, wine tasting…
- Visit a shrine or basilica together
- Go to a museum
Check out the local papers for other fun and thrifty ideas for things to do this summer. Any time you spend planning and coordinating time away with your spouse is time well spent.
It can seem like too much effort, to make child care arrangements, or even if you have adult kids living at home, to coordinate schedules and meals so that things continue to hum along while you are away. Yes, it is an awful lot of work; however, the sacrament of marriage is one that needs lots of care.
To spend this time alone as a couple will benefit your children by strengthening your marriage and your commitment to each other. It is not selfish nor is it foolish to take this time, but rather, it’s necessary and good that you should do so.
So get out the calendar and a pen (permanent ink!), and schedule some “faculty meetings” for this summer and enjoy some quiet time with the person God chose for you!