One great advantage of homeschooling is that we’ve been able to go on holidays when everyone else is at school. This not only gives me a delicious feeling of playing truant…in a legitimate sort of way…but also it’s cheaper and campsites, countryside, beaches, museums etc are all quieter.
Since the boys started college, we’ve not had this luxury and so haven’t sneaked away as often. However, we had the great blessing of being able to stay in a friend’s house by the sea over half term, and I realised afresh the value of going away together. It’s a place we’ve been to over many years, and as I looked back over our entries in the visitor book, I noted how often I’d used the word “oasis” or “sanctuary” when referring to our time there. So often we have arrived in rather a heap of people, bags, food, sleeping bags etc and just flopped down into the comfy and welcoming space, drinking in the stunning views.
The first time we arrived was just after we’d decided to start homeschooling, in a somewhat stunned state of awe and anticipation. We’ve retreated there at numerous other significant times; when we’ve been bruised and battered and in need of a place of healing, when my heart has been full of unfulfilled dreams and my mind of stacked up ideas, when each precious daughter has joined us. I remember hiding away in a cafe with my Bible and journal as I prepared my heart for the arrival of Sparkly Eyes, and choosing a little toy for her together.
Now our children are older. We have less time altogether, as the boys branch out and find their own way. Yet I realised these times hidden away from the normal demands of life are just as, if not more, important for us now. It was so good to just “be”. The boys stashed their revision away for a few days, and it felt liberating for both them and me!
This special place has been a part of the children’s growing up; there is a reassuring familiarity, good I think for all children, but especially for those with change and trauma in thier early lives. They tumble into “their” rooms and enjoy making them home for a few days. I do a big Aldi shop beforehand, with as many easy meals as possible to ensure a rest for me, too.
There are our favourite places to go and things to do, kite flying, walking, shell collecting, eating delicious pasties, a National Trust property, ice creams at a beach cafe….And we have that precious gift of time…to talk, to laugh, to enjoy meals, to read. Plus, there was far less squabbling than usual!
We also had our traditional tide fight. This year it was children versus parents, and as the waves rolled in and the inevitable small crowd gathered, our tower fell first, and the kids were victorious!
We would have loved to have hidden away for a little longer, but eased the journey home by visiting one of my favourite National Trust properties, Killerton. The spring bulbs were blooming and I think we all had a sense that we’d been refreshed and were a little more able to keep plodding on until Easter, with its (hopefully) blue skies and warmer weather.
Thank you Lord for your good design of rest and work, and for this much needed time of rest for us.