There are a handful of typical responses to homeschooling families from non-homeschooling families. They often sound something like this:
“That’s not for us.”
“I don’t have the (confidence, time, patience, money, etc.).”
“Why would you do that to yourself?”
We have become a society where being with children, even our own children, is often viewed as a punishment, whereas the Bible calls children our greatest reward. Every fall there are a slew of pictures on social media that show rejoicing parents eager to send their kids away for most of the day. It is supposedly humorous to show the excited parent next to the dejected looking child. I recently saw an entire video that is a parody on a song called “In Da Club,” rewritten as “In Da Tub.” It is a two-minute glorification of bubble baths, going to the bathroom alone, and television binges. What a sad reflection on priorities not to mention an inaccurate message. Bubble baths and television watching can definitely still happen no matter if you homeschool or not (especially once you are out of the baby/toddler phase).
In this day and age where there is such an overriding emphasis on “self-care,” I have found a little secret. It’s a secret about how homeschool parents actually get some of the best care there is, even while being with their children most hours, of most days, of most weeks, through most of the childhood years. The secret is found in the pages of the best book there is.
You see, God says that His ways our not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). In walking with the Lord for many decades I have seen this time and again in my life. I have experienced the miraculousness of God’s counter-intuitive promises, directives, and principles.
Here are just a few examples:
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
God’s principles often fly in the face of conventional, worldly wisdom and yet Biblical principles work, and they work every time.
So, what does the Bible say about “self-care”? I’ve found it addressed in three distinct ways.
First, the Bible says that when we refresh others, we will be refreshed.
Worded another way, He who waters will himself be watered (Proverbs 11:25). What is homeschooling if it’s not refreshing and watering our children most of the time? As a society we have our heads in the sand when it comes to how we view the school day. It’s so easy to think of the school environment as some utopian, idyllic environment, especially in the younger grades. We envision engaged little faces smiling up at a loving teacher and little bodies skipping rope at recess. Certainly, those things happen but there is also a continual chaos in dealing with difficult social situations, bullying, cheating, foul mouths, sexual deviance (sending “nudes” through text message, for instance, is a common high school practice), peer pressure to dress/act/think/look a certain way, standardized testing, ranking, and the like. There are many things that go on beyond the eyes of adults. It’s stressful for kids. Period. Parents are often surprised to hear that even the child who seems to adore school will jump at the chance to be home. Children want to be with their families. They want to be home. And families, even without degrees or teaching certificates, have the most to offer their offspring.
“A child in the government school whose parent has a master’s degree or a teaching certificate will score 25 to 30 percent lower, on average, than a homeschooled student whose parent has only a high school diploma or less. In homeschooling, it is the customized content and the parental involvement that make the difference, not the academic pedigree of the parents.”
–Answers for Homeschooling, Top 25 Questions Critics Ask by Israel Wayne.
What else does the Bible say about self-care? It says that there really is no such thing as self-care, there is only God-care.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).
Our walk with the Lord is a daily walk; one where we seek His guidance for each step forward (Psalm 119:105), ask for our “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and believe He will provide (James 1:5). Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). His provision is beyond what we could ever provide ourselves (John 10:10, 2 Peter 1:3, 1 Timothy 6:17, Matthew 6:29).
Finally, God is clear that in our weakness, He is strong.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I get the question, “How do you do it?” regularly. “Where do you find the energy?” We had five kids in 8 years and the youngest (who is now two) can’t seem to change her body clock from a 10:30 bedtime and she is still nursing throughout the night. My life is weakness. Logically, there is no time, or space, or margin and yet, here we are: warm, clothed and fed with an abundantly full and indescribably rich life.
According to Scripture we have this self-care thing backwards. Let’s not boast about our bubble baths, our Netflix binges, and our “me time.” Instead, let’s boast about how we can’t do it and how we don’t have all the answers. Let’s boast about how we have to take this life day by day and how we must begin each morning with our knees on the floor. When we embrace our weaknesses, Christ’s power shines through our lives and is a powerful testimony. Good, Biblical self-care stems from seeking God first, caring for others, and casting our cares on Him. There is no better self-care than the one that our Heavenly Father provides us according to His principles.
Ginny Yurich is a local Michigan homeschooling mother of five. She also blogs at 1000HoursOutside.com where she challenges parents around the world to consider matching outside time with the amount of time kids spend in front of screens. In America, average screen time is currently around 1,200 hours a year. Outside time, and especially free play outside, has been shown to benefit child development in innumerable ways.