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When the Kids Are Gone: Hidden Lives of Homeschool Moms - by Patricia Purcell

When the Kids Are Gone: Hidden Lives of Homeschool Moms


Patricia Purcell has fun thinking about something homeschool moms don’t usually consider: what do do when the kids are gone. Her ideas sound exciting! 

I was recently chatting with my homeschooling mom friends, and a subject that we all secretly think about came up. What will we do when our kids grow up?

What role does a mother who has dedicated her adult life to raising and educating her children have when her babies go off to college and leave the nest empty? What kind of life will it be?

Thoughts ranged from going back to school (too expensive while putting kiddos through), to finding employment (you know, at one of those companies that prefer employees who have been out of the workforce for twenty-odd years). One mom even thought about helping to raise grandkids (my hubby says a flat out no to that).

I’ll admit that I don’t like to think about that time. In just a couple of years, my oldest will graduate high school, which makes me cringe. I can’t even imagine how I’ll feel when the youngest is done. Likely I’ll be conflicted between pride in my children, and sadness at the time of my life that is passing.

One thing I don’t think I’ll be is bored.

You see, while I don’t feel that I’ve put my life on hold to homeschool my kids, I’ve definitely made sacrifices both large and small. They’ve been willingly made, but I do have a running list of things that I’ll do when my kids grow up.

1. Extra Income

After living on one income for so many years, Hubby and I will have to pay for our retirement somehow. I’ll have a lot more time to write. Perhaps I can write a book utilizing my hard-won expertise in education and child development.

Or maybe I could job search as a retired homeschool mom. With the fabulous second education that I’ve received through teaching my kids, I’ve developed knowledge and skills in some highly specified areas. Let’s see, my resume could highlight such qualifications as:

  • Childhood Literacy Expert (can teach anything from Bob Books to Shakespeare)
  • Fashion Designer (can make nearly any costume from an oversized T-shirt or a cardboard box)
  • Science Teacher (certified in kitchen combustibles like vinegar and baking soda, and can identify roughly 23,503 different species of insects)
  • Nurse (able to calmly apply bandages, ice packs, and hugs)
  • Math Drill Sergeant
  • And much, much more!

I can just picture the job offers rolling in! While I wait, I can work on the rest of the items on my list.

2. Home Organization

I’ll be more organized. When I clean a closet or a cabinet, it will stay that way. Maybe a dust bunny or two will creep in, but things will be in their places. I could live in a clutter-free house.

I’ll finally finish updating all of the baby books. I may have forgotten a few tiny details, such as exactly when each kid lost every tooth, but I’ll get the gist of it down.

3. Health and Nutrition

I’ll be in better shape. Time to myself will allow me more time to exercise. I’ll have no excuses then. Dang! Well unless I’m too old and creaky by then. In that case I’ll just relax.

Hubby and I can eat quinoa every day if we want to, with no gagging sounds in the background.

On the flip side, we can skip dinner and go straight to dessert if we want, with no kids around to witness our decadence.

4. Leisure Plans

I’ll pursue some interests of my own that there never seems to be enough time for right now, things like…ummm…bird watching, horticulture, and becoming a connoisseur of fine chocolate (M&Ms count right?).

I’ll learn from my kids. My daughter has been attempting to teach me to crochet. Let’s just say I’m not a natural at it. Maybe I’ll finally successfully learn when I’m not busy homeschooling anymore.

I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of reading material to keep me busy. My kids are bound to write tell-all books about their childhood experiences. The titles will read something like:

  • Brothers Forced to Be Roommates: A Sibling Story
  • I Survived a Disney-Free Childhood
  • The Store in the Attic: My Hand-Me-Down Life
  • How Can You Say the Dog Ate Your Homework When Mom is Your Teacher?

Maybe they’ll include some pictures of Hubby and me. We’ll be famous!

Hubby and I will do some traveling. Family trips are fun, but they tend to fall short of relaxing. We may go where the wind takes us or (more likely) show up on our kids’ doorsteps for frequent visits.

5. Family Time When the Kids Are Grown

I’ll be an awesome mother-in-law. My future kids-in-law will just love the free advice I’ll give! Who wouldn’t?

I’ll be the fun Grandma. You know the one who has the grandkids over to bake cookies and do messy projects, and then sends them home tired and full of sugar.

Plus, hubby and I can spoil them with some of the extras that we can’t budget in right now. Who knows, maybe that’s when we’ll finally get the family to Disney Land!

Most important of all, I hope to be proud of my kids and what they will have accomplished as they grow into adulthood and pursue their dreams. I imagine I’ll look at them in awe, remembering them as they are now and realizing that I got to see it all happen…how they became the people they were meant to be.

So yes, I have a list of things to do someday, but it can wait. I’m in no hurry. Right now I’ll enjoy spending these years homeschooling my children, watching them start the process of becoming the adults they will be one day. It makes me feel like the luckiest mother in the world.

What about you? What things will you do when your children grow up? I’d love to hear them…

Maybe it will inspire me to add to my own list!

About Patricia Purcell

Patricia Purcell
Patricia Purcell is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She now lives in New York state with her very patient and handsome husband and their three active, homeschooled children. After teaching and shuttling kids to activities, she spends her time writing, reading, attempting to garden, and cooking. Not content with turning only her own children into bookworms, she manages book clubs in hopes of turning their friends into booklovers too.

Header photo © Monkey Business Images / Dollar Photo Club

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