I’m Done Homeschooling—What Do I Do Now?
We are well into spring and the end of the school year is fast approaching. For Catholic homeschoolers who are graduating their last child and entering “homeschool retirement”, this will be their final spring of homeschooling. A question I’m hearing more and more lately is, “I’m done homeschooling. Now, what do I do?” It’s a question I can relate to as my own nest is nearly empty.
Being a homeschooler is similar to being a mother or being a Catholic; it’s not just something you do, it’s something you are. It’s a certain way of being, centered on a whole philosophical approach to educating and parenting that is at variance with the norms of our society. In other words, homeschooling is an identity. When the homeschooling years are over, there is a shift in identity; the underlying question isn’t simply, “What now?” but also, “Who am I now?” Or, “What is my purpose?”
Motherhood brings many seasons. New mom. Mom of toddlers. Mom of tweens and teens. Those seasons bring changes in our lives but they are so fast-paced, that we rarely stop to reflect and make major adjustments. For the most part, we are going with the flow. We are making decisions in the moment. Sure, there are times when we step back and make big decisions for our children’s future. However, our role is still clear. We’re still Mom in Charge.
Having an empty nest is perhaps the hardest season to adjust to in our lives as mothers. Our role is not likely to be as clear as it was as a mother of littles. You may be a new mother-in-law and learning how to navigate those waters. Perhaps you are blessed to be a grandmother, which comes with its own set of rules. If your children vary in age, it is likely you’ll be eased into these roles—I was a new MIL and grandmother while still homeschooling young children. You may have an in-between time—between homeschooling and grandparenthood. A space of time when you feel you don’t have a solid role in the home, in domestic life.
These can be challenging times, indeed, as you discover your new identity. While you sort it out, here are some ideas of how you can avail yourself of the new time that the empty-nesting season brings.
Tutoring. You are in high demand as a tutor! You didn’t know that? Well think about it, you’ve spent years, maybe decades teaching children and working through a whole slew of subjects. You’ve got some serious experience. Put that experience at the service of other families by hiring yourself out as a homeschool tutor. Trust me, the demand is there!
Mentoring Younger Homeschool Mothers. You have run the race. You have fought the fight. But there are other, younger mother’s still doing laps! You have a wealth of knowledge and experience you can draw on to help those moms who are still homeschooling. Especially consider reaching out and mentoring younger mothers who are just beginning the homeschooling journey. Having a friendly, knowledgeable voice when you’re just getting started is invaluable.
Part-Time or Full-Time Work Outside the Home. As most homeschooling mothers are also stay-at-home mothers, the end of homeschooling means you no longer have all the obligations of home life that you once did. Perhaps now is the time to get out of the house and supplement your income with a part-time or full-time job?
Part-Time or Full-Time Work Inside the Home. Of course, work doesn’t need to be out of the home. There are tons of work-from-home opportunities available these days! Start an Etsy shop. Work as a customer service rep or medical coder. Get into freelance writing or editing. The options are endless!
Homeschool Grandma. Maybe you haven’t quite gotten rid of the homeschool itch yet? If your older children have started having children of their own, you can stay in the game by becoming a homeschool grandma. Volunteer to homeschool your grandchildren a few hours per week. The benefits are threefold: you build bonds with your grandchildren, take a bit of the load off of your own children, and get to scratch your homeschool itch. It is a win-win.
Volunteer Work. Volunteer work is something that generally attracted empty-nesters. It gives you something to do with a cause or organization whose values you believe in. It helps to make your time meaningful and keeps you engaged with your community.
Go Back to School. One option with your newfound free time is to go back to school. Perhaps you started a degree you’ve never finished and it’s always been bugging you. Or maybe you just want to start something from scratch. Whatever your rationale, going back to school can be a great way to build your mind and put another notch in your professional belt.
Start a Business. Have a business idea you’ve been turning over in your head for years? Now’s the time to put it into action! For millions of people, running your own business is the great American dream. The empty-nest years offer the free time to pursue that dream. Who says you’re too old? Did you know Martha Stewart did not publish the first issue of her now-famous magazine until she was 50? And the “Colonel” Harland Sanders didn’t start Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 62!
Whatever you do, look to St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, to be your prayer partner. Pray for guidance, and take it before the Blessed Sacrament. As mentioned above, homeschooling is an identity, and finding your identity once the homeschooling years have passed takes time and discernment. If you’ve already moved on from homeschooling, let us know in the Community what you are up to these days!