This past weekend was so special for us. Our God is so faithful.
Two weeks ago, the morning after Ron and I got home from the hospital, it was a gloomy one. We enjoyed fresh baked market muffins (delivered by a friend) and warm coffee on our bed with the twins. There was lots of snuggling and hugs and lots of sadness and tears too. But I also vividly remember feeling an unspeakable joy. A joy that comes only from Him. From the reassurance in knowing that my God is so good and so faithful and that He holds our family in His hands. And that we have that complete reassurance that we will one day be reunited with our baby girl and see her healthy and whole and hear her cries and giggles for the very first time. What a wonderful day that will be.
That morning two weeks back as we sat on the bed together, we decided with the twins that we would make pictures and notes for Paisley that we would send to her in balloons up to heaven. The boys both took this task very seriously as they drew her the most beautiful pictures and dictated to us what they wanted to tell her in notes on the back of their pictures. It brought so many laughs and smiles as they imagined her opening their pictures and suggested that God would probably pop the balloons for her because she might be too scared. We folded up the notes and told them that we would take them to a beach sometime soon when the weather was a bit nicer and send them to her then. The weather was not so great the few weeks following so we waited patiently for the right time to come.
About a week ago, I started chatting with a stranger on facebook who had come across Paisley’s story and reached out because she too experienced a still birth a year ago around the same time and our due dates were just days a part. I felt so connected by our stories and as we kept talking, we realized how much we truly had in common. Before I signed off that evening, she asked me if we would like to use her cottage on the lake that coming weekend just to get away as a family together. I was in tears reading her offer because I just couldn’t believe that a complete stranger would offer such a thing. It just felt like it was completely God using her because we were hoping to get to a beach that weekend as the weather forecast was looking so good and we wanted to send up our balloons. I should mention that the beach was where we wanted to let up the balloons because Paisley’s due date was during beach season and the boys would always talk about how excited they were to take her there and show her the water and help her splash around. So it was a special spot for us. My God cares about the little things. “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
We were so blown away by this act of kindness but so incredibly grateful for this stranger who listened to His voice and reached out to us in our time of need.
It was such a special weekend for us and we felt God’s overwhelming presence so strongly from the start of the trip so I know without a doubt that it was so orchestrated by Him. As we started out on the two hour drive, I sat there in the car feeling so thankful for this time to get away as a family but so saddened at the same time because our next cottage trip was supposed to include our baby girl. A friend on ig had sent me a message prior with this verse “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief”. Proverbs 14:13. She went on to say that our God knows the struggle of feeling two very opposing emotions at the same time but that also there’s such reassurance that we’re not alone in feeling that confusion. He’s right along side us.
I started to get a bit teary. And then I saw the first road sign. Ron had mapped out the route ahead of time and chosen 1 of 3 possible routes. This particular route took us through a town called “Paisley” 5 km away. WHAT?!?!? I didn’t even know that town existed, let alone that we would go through it on this exact trip and at the exact moment that I was feeling so many mixed emotions. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably by this point because it was just so clearly evident to me that my Jesus cares. He looks down upon his children and He cares and He will show us He does so evidently if we just invite Him in and look for His faithfulness in the littlest everyday things. My sweet baby girl is so safe up there with Jesus and I smiled so big through my tears that evening as I was so reassured of this truth.
This weekend, we flew kites and threw stones in the lake. We cried but we laughed a whole lot more. We snuggled and we prayed. We listened to worship music and read His word together. It was such a special time. On the Sunday morning, we went into town and bought the white balloons. We put our pictures and notes inside them and later that evening before sunset, we held hands and prayed together on the beach and sent them up to heaven, to Paisley.
I wish I could say I came back from our weekend away feeling so much better and stronger and happier than before. But that would be lying. As much as it was a healing time for us and memories we’ll always cherish, the void still remains and I still miss her miserably each and every day. I can’t help but think about all the things we have to do without her as the weeks and months go on and it hurts so, so much.
But I do know, that He will give me the strength to keep going when I feel I can’t. And no matter what heartbreak and loneliness and tragedy I face, He says in His word, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Thank you Jesus, for your faithfulness. Even in the hardest of times, you are so so good.
On Wednesday morning, March 22nd, I sat at the breakfast table sharing breakfast with Ron before he headed out the door for work and I casually mentioned to him that I hadn’t felt the baby move much this morning. Her gentle kicks normally woke me around the same time the boys would come prancing into our bedroom asking for breakfast. We just decided she must be sleeping in today as she had had other quiet mornings in the past and I didn’t think much else about it as we said our good byes and off he went to work. I then began hustling to get myself and the twins dressed and ready for playgroup at our church and it wasn’t long before we were headed out the door. I remember how frigidly cold it was that morning because we dressed for the warmer spring weather we had had the past couple days and didn’t realize until we stepped out the door how cold it was.
We had such a great morning and I remember excitedly talking with friends about how my pregnancy was going and how the nursery plans were coming along. The boys and I went back for lunch and I put them down for their nap. The crazy thing is that I had an ultra sound scheduled for later that afternoon. They missed just a couple measurements at my last one because of the way she was situated so it was just supposed to be a quick one. I was so tired from our busy morning and decided I would lay down myself for a bit. I went to the bedroom, lay in bed, on my right side, one hand on my belly as I always did, feeling for her kicks. About 10 minutes went by and I felt nothing. I rolled back over to my back, both hands on belly now, waiting patiently for her to let me know she was ok. Just one little kick baby, thats all I needed. Still nothing. I started to worry a bit, changing positions every few minutes. I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of cold orange juice hopeful that it would wake her up. I went back and lay down again, now praying desperately for just some little sign that she was ok. I started to google as I lay there on my phone and the first things that came up were all positive. (baby might be facing towards my back and I wouldn’t be feeling any kicking or it’s not uncommon to not feel much movement some days) But I knew my baby girl. And in the past she would move when I asked her to. Something wasn’t right. I began to panic and called Ron at work. He tried to reassure me that everything was likely fine as there were no other signs that anything could be wrong and as I was getting an ultrasound within the hour anyway, she would be checked over thoroughly for a peace of mind. After I hung up, I put on the song “Good Good Father” on my phone. One of my favourite worship songs. I needed to hear it to calm my soul but I also held it up to my belly in hopes that the music would wake up my baby girl. Tears ran down my face as I prayed that all was fine but deep inside I felt something wasn’t. I keep imagining that maybe it was that moment, her heart actually stopped and she was ushered into heaven, wrapped in the arms of her good, good Father. I got up a few minutes later, woke up the boys and we headed downtown for my ultrasound.
As I waited in the waiting room with the twins for Ron to meet us, I had a mental battle with myself. Both hands still on my belly, I kept praying for just the tiniest little movement. I was dreading the ultrasound at this point but also kept trying to convince myself that I was over reacting and within a few minutes, I would be fully relieved. They called my name and in I went. I lay on the bed and as the tech immediately began to snap pictures of what she was looking for, I casually mentioned I was a bit worried because I hadn’t felt much movement today. She moved the probe to a different area on my belly and immediately turned the screen away from me. Thats when I knew something was very, very wrong. I started to cry and asked her if there was a heartbeat. She responded by asking me if I had had any cramping or bleeding. I was shaking and sobbing by this point and told her no. She moved the probe around a bit more, but I could see it all over her face. She told me she’d be back and went to get another tech. They both looked at the screen as she kept moving the probe around on my belly, obviously searching for something. The other tech shook his head and they exited the room again, saying they’d be right back. What was probably 5 minutes, felt like 3 hours. I wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to grab the probe myself and find my babies heartbeat. I tried my hardest to stay calm and begged God for there to be a mistake. I knew deep down what was true but I was in denial. I guess the techs aren’t allowed to release such information so they had to get my midwife on the phone. They came back in to get me and I remember seeing Ron down the hall in the waiting room and bawling on the spot, motioning to him that things were not ok. My legs felt like jello as I tried to make it to the room where the phone was. My midwife confirmed to me in the most sensitive way she could that they were unable to locate a heartbeat. I couldn’t process everything she was saying but all i knew was that my baby was not alive and I was broken. I was so so broken. They brought Ron into the room while the secretary kindly entertained the twins and I bawled on his shoulder while he spoke with my midwife. He tried to stay strong but it wasn’t long before he was crying too. We held each other and cried and cried but we had to compose ourselves to go out and get our boys who had no idea what was going on.
What happened next is still a blur to me. After trying to explain what had happened in the best way possible to our precious boys who were so excited to meet their baby sister, we drove straight to the hospital to triage where my midwives met us and they would do another ultrasound to confirm what we already knew. I texted Britt who so kindly came to get the twins immediately. I remember laying on the bed in that room just praying there was a mistake. Praying that my baby girls heart would beat again, praying that it was just all a bad dream. How could this be? I had felt her kicking me so strongly just the day before. I was healthy, she was healthy. There were no signs or any reason to be concerned that anything could possibly be wrong leading up to that day. They did the ultrasound not long after and it was confirmed. They was no sign of movement, no beating heart. My baby girl had gone to be with Jesus, and no part of me was ready for this. Ron and I wept and wept together, hugging and holding each other. They did a ton of bloodwork and the doctor on call came in to discuss what the next steps would be and give us some options. I could either go home and allow my body to naturally go through labour when it was ready, I could stay in the hospital and be induced or they could preform an alternate surgical procedure so I didn’t have to go through the painfully emotional process of birthing her which to me personally, was not an option. But no part of me wanted to go home. There was no way I could lay in my bed and get any sort of rest with my lifeless baby inside of me. Ron and I both decided without any question that induction was the route we wanted to go. There was quite a list of people ahead of me however, so they actually ended up sending us home anyway until a room became available. We made the long drive home across the city, completely broken, crying and asking God why. As soon as we got in the door however, we got a call that there was a room available and to come right back.
I was so flustered and an emotional mess while I tried to think of what I may need in my “hospital bag”. This is not how I imagined packing it. Packing your hospital bag was supposed to be a joyous activity with lots of happy anticipation. Not this. I couldn’t think clearly or see much through the tears and just grabbed whatever I could, while both Ron and my mom tried to help.
I remember going into the twins room where they were fast asleep and just weeping over them, kissing them and holding them. I was devastated beyond belief yet had never been more thankful for these two beautiful blessings in my life . We left the house and made the trek back to the hospital. My midwife met me at the desk and after registering, we followed her to a room at the very end of the hall. I got dressed in a hospital gown that was laid out for me, got as comfortable as I could in the bed and after speaking with the OB on call and hearing what the induction would entail, the process began. They started the oxytocin drip but I was also given an internal medication every four hours as they said I wasn’t far enough along to have enough receptors for the oxytocin. We were told it could take as long as 24-48 hours before I was fully dilated and ready to birth her. This was so hard to hear because I just wanted it all to be over. It was so painful lying in that hospital bed, waiting to give birth to my precious, lifeless baby. I never in a million years imagined I would have to do this. What mother ever does?
We tried to get some sleep that night. Ron had a cot beside me in the room. But we both couldn’t stop crying. We just hugged and cried and hugged and cried some more. We just didn’t understand how this could have happened. Not this far along. My last miscarriage had happened at 8 weeks along and once I passed that point, I remember taking a big breath of relief, resting assured that our baby was going to be just fine. And to think that that morning everything (as far as we knew) was perfect. Our entire world felt like it was flipped upside down in a matter of hours and we just didn’t know how to deal with it. We prayed together, and cried out to God asking for peace and clarity and comfort. We put on some worship music and that helped to calm our hearts a bit but I just couldn’t sleep a wink that night. I was shaking and feverish from the medication and my mind just wouldn’t shut off.
At 7 am the nurses and OB’s switched shifts. I wasn’t prepared for all the questions that lay ahead in the hours leading up to her birth. So many questions. Questions I never imagined I’d ever have to answer about my own child. Painful questions that brought me to hysterical tears. Did I want to see/hold my lifeless baby when she was born? Did we have a name picked out? Did we want to go forward with an autopsy if there wasn’t any obvious signs as to what happened? Did we have a funeral home in mind? These are questions no mother should ever have to answer. I was so thankful during this time for the support of my amazing midwife and the incredible nurses we had who made me feel as comfortable as possible and took the time to talk with me and just listen to me when I needed it most. I feel like God just placed all the right people in all the right places along the way.
I started to feel some bad cramping around 8 am and we decided to move forward with an epidural so I could try and get a bit of rest having not slept through the night. I was a lot more comfortable after that and was able to sleep little bits on and off between hourly blood pressure and temperature checks. We asked our Pastor and his wife to come by that afternoon and as hard as it was to be so vulnerable and allow them to see me in the worst emotional state I’ve ever been in, it was exactly what we needed during that time. They listened to us tell share our broken and heavy hearts, they prayed with us and spoke words of truth into our lives. Truths we hung on to with everything we had in the hours to come. We are so thankful for them.
Around 6 pm I started to feel very intense cramping on my left side. I had been laying on my right side for quite a while and I guess the epidural had worn off on the other. The cramping went from a pain level of 1 to a 10 in a matter of minutes and after checking me, the OB resident said she could feel the head. As they prepped for me to give birth and went to locate the OB on call, Ron held my hand and I remember weeping and telling him I couldn’t do this. He looked me in the eye and said “You Can, You are so strong, You can do this.” I asked him what we were going to name her. He said “what do you want to name her babe?” We had a running list of 4 names but hadn’t picked one yet. I asked him if we could call her Paisley. He cried and nodded. The reason I said Paisley is because out of the 4 top names, I had a favourite, he had a favourite, we had one new one that we had found and loved but Paisley was one we both absolutely loved from the start and the one we had most recently talked of.
They told me to push whenever I was ready and with one small push at 6:19 pm on March 23rd, Paisley Young was born. Our beautiful, baby girl with all her tiny fingers and all her tiny toes. She had the cutest little nose and perfect little lips. She was everything we dreamed of and more. Up until that very moment, I hadn’t known if I would be strong enough to hold her. Strong enough to even look at her. But the moment I laid eyes on her, I couldn’t take them off. She was perfect. So tiny yet so incredible perfect. Fearfully and wonderfully made by her heavenly Father. I wanted to hold her and hug her and kiss her and never stop. Ron and I were in awe of this beautiful babe that we would never get the chance to know, we would never get to look into her eyes or hear her little voice. But she was beautiful and the moment we met her, we were both forever changed..
They told us we could have her with us as long as we wanted. I expected to just see her and then say my goodbyes, but once we had her, we didn’t want to let her go. I was staying one more night in the hospital and we both decided we wanted our families to meet her. How could they not? We had to share this beautiful blessing with them. We had our wonderful friend Sophie offer to come and do some photos for us which we were so incredibly blessed by. It’s all we have left to remember little Paisley and we’ll cherish those photos forever. It was the next morning at around 9:30 am when we said our final goodbyes to our sweet angel. We sobbed over her and prayed together. We sang her the song that we sing our boys every night before they go to sleep. Walking away and leaving her in that hospital room was the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life. Leaving the hospital without my baby girl was so completely and utterly heart wrenching. But yet we still had this incredible and overwhelming peace. A peace that we knew where she was. And a peace that even though we don’t understand why, His plans are perfect and good and she is where she is supposed to be.
It really is hard to understand why these sorts of things happen. Why did my babies heart just suddenly stop beating at 22 weeks along? She was perfect, I was healthy, there is no clear explanation and no reason as to why. It’s been over a week and as autopsy results have started to come back, we still have no answers at all. That is one of the hardest parts for me. That we may never know why.
But God does. He knew what her life would entail before the was placed in my womb. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
He knows how and why and for whatever reason, He allowed it to happen. And even though, that’s hard to accept. Even though it doesn’t make sense in the least bit right now and I’m an emotional, broken mess, I’m choosing to believe with everything in me that the way my baby girl’s life ended was not meaningless. While we may not be able to see what He’s doing right now, we will one day and until then, I will keep praising Him and blessing His name. God says in his word that He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). But His perfect timing isn’t necessarily my perfect timing. And while it’s so painful and hurts like hell not having my sweet baby girl with me to hug and to hold, to love and to raise, I will not lose heart. ( 2 Corinthians 4:16)
Our sweet daughter Paisley has taught us more about life and trusting in the Lord in the short time we knew her, then anything ever before. We have experienced the power of community and His faithfulness during this difficult time like never before. We found out after we named her, that “Paisley” is a Scottish derivation of the Greek word “Basilica” meaning “church”. Our church family and so many others have gathered around us, cried with us, loved on us and supported us in ways we never could have imagined. There are no words to express how grateful we are for this powerful community standing behind us and the way we’ve been lifted up in our time of need. We only pray that we can be the same hands that have reached out to us, to others in the future.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
A good friend of mine sent me this song the day after Paisley went to be with Jesus, and while I lay in my bed weeping over the loss of my sweet girl, it brought so much comfort to my hurting soul and I wanted to share it with you.
Well. We’re past the halfway mark. July seems so far, yet so close. I’m just dying to meet our baby girl, to see what she looks like and to snuggle her close. Britt and I went out thrifting yesterday afternoon and we found some of the most adorable newborn outfits for summer. Hanging them up in her nursery closet just made things feel a whole lot more real.
How Far Along? I’m 22 weeks but I feel more like 30.
Weight Gain: The honest truth?! I’ve gained 16 lbs so far. Eek! I know it’s mostly in my thighs, bum and hips. haha. Thats where I always gain first.
Sleep: Sleep is fine! I normally wake up to pee a few times through the night but that’s about it.
Symptoms: So much better than before! The nausea has gone away and with the exception of the odd one, the headaches have mostly subsided as well. Thank goodness! I still experience extreme exhaustion from day to day but that’s pregnancy I guess! On Saturday it was a friend’s bridal shower and I was helping to host it. I woke up feeling great that morning but I had a few last minute errands to run for the shower so I headed out pretty early. After running in and out of about 3 stores, I came home feeling like I needed to take a 3 hour nap. Making a baby is tiring!
Movement: I swear little girl is gonna be a dancer. I feel her kicking all day long…mostly when I’m sitting or laying down. I was telling Ron yesterday that I almost feel like she moves more then BOTH the twins did around this time but maybe I just can’t remember. All that to say, she is very active in there! But I just love every minute of it.
Food Cravings: Carbs and sweets. Bagels, muffins, pasta, give me all the comfort food. And chocolate is just a given. I was so turned off of healthy foods all of first trimester…I couldn’t stomach a salad or any sort of raw vegetables and most meats made me nauseous. Thank goodness that’s gone away and I’m eating much more nutritious meals again. Now it’s just the extra snacking that’s the problem but what’s pregnancy for right?! In my first pregnancy, I had a thing for cheerios. I would go through a huge box of them weekly on my own so I’ve recently gone back to eating those and that’s typically my go-to evening snack. A big bowl of cheerios topped with strawberries and banana yum! And better then a bowl of ice-cream or chips right?
Stretch Marks: No new ones!
Names: Not any further along in the name department. In fact, we’ve added a few that we love which just makes the list we have to choose from longer. Names are so hard you guys!! Would love to hear any ideas you have!
So I think that’s all for updates. Thanks so much for reading!
If you’ve been following along with my blog the past few months, you’ll know that our family has been on a journey towards living a minimalist life. (You can view our minimal kitchen HERE!) So what does this actually mean? For us, it’s not just about getting rid of stuff, but it’s about living a life with intention…in every area. Our home, our calendar, our relationships. It’s been quite the journey but we’re already seeing the benefits of the changes we’ve made thus far and it’s been so so freeing.
Today I want to share what we’ve done in our playroom as I know a lot of parents would argue that it’s impossible to have a minimal and tidy home with children. I mean doesn’t everyone tell you (in baby mags, blog posts, and on pinterest) everything that you need when you have kids. I mean seriously, right from the newborn stage and as our children grow into toddlers and then reach school age, we feel the need to provide them with so much stuff. I’ve come to realize how wrong this way of thinking is. Living with less, has proven to not only be freeing and beneficial for myself and my husband but for my kids as well. It’s completely changed the way they play and interact with each other and I’m so excited to share HOW!
We have literally gotten rid of garbage bags of toys, books, stuffed animals, etc. from both their bedroom and playroom over the past few months and they haven’t missed a single thing! At first, I began the mission on my own, during nap-time or when they were asleep at night and for real, they never noticed that things were disappearing. They would just tell me how much they loved the open space. They noticed right away that there was more space to run around and play instead of every square inch of the outside of our playroom occupied by toys or toy storage. (I wish I took some before shots but our playroom was a disorganized clutter filled MESS.) But then I read somewhere that it’s important to make our children part of the process of de-cluttering/minimalizing, teaching them from a young age to have a healthy view of their stuff. I want to teach them that the items we own, should enhance our lives, and not hinder them. Therefore, I have started to talk to them about donating items to other children who would have a better use for them. We talk about which toys they haven’t played with in a very long time and why it’s time to remove them from our play space to give us more space to play with the things we do have. So while I used to sneakily get rid of things while they were at pre-school or in the evenings, I now allow them to see me dropping off their old toys at the local Goodwill, or giving them to a younger friend who would get better use from them and they are starting to get joy out of this. I love that they’re learning not to become too attached to material things from such a young age.
So what have I noticed about the difference in their play? In the past, I would go down to their playroom after a half hour of them being down there and there would be toys EVERYWHERE. Not that that’s a bad thing…I mean what’s a playroom for right? They’re welcomed to make all the mess they want while they’re playing. But it was evident with the time that had passed, that they never stuck with one activity for more then a few minutes. They were overwhelmed with all the choice and would hop from one bin to the next, dumping, playing for a few minutes then moving on to the next thing. I don’t blame them one bit, I would be the same way with so many options! Their play was not focused or intentional. It was scattered and disorganized, like our home. Now, every toy we have down there serves a purpose, we have removed the clutter, we have removed everything mismatched and everything that wasn’t enhancing their play. For us, this was A LOT of plastic…silly items we had grabbed over the past years at yard sales, toys that were missing pieces and parts, old happy meal toys, extra stuffed animals, etc., Most of those white bins below used to be stuffed to the brim with mismatched items. Now, everything has a spot, a designated home. We have one bin for playfood, one for toy animals, one for balls, one for cars and trucks, one for instruments and one bin for odds and ends (mr. potato head, a fishing game they love, a doctors kit, etc.,)
They are really into building and constructing lately so they have a separate small expedit in their room with duplo, lego, and bright builders. We also have a puzzle cupboard in our upstairs living room as well as a games closet where we store all the board games we own. Other then art supplies, playdough etc., this is the extent of their toys you guys.
So now, they will literally go down to the playroom for an hour and a half together and be so engrossed in a game of make believe that I have to go down there and sadly end it so we can eat supper or head out for an errand. Their make believe games include grocery store, fire station, beach day (where they use my blue yoga mat as water ha!) and they often pretend the spare room next door is a hotel and set up a restaurant and everything. Some days they’ll play trains for a good 30 min and their absolute favourite game right now (since they got mini sticks and nets for Christmas) is hockey because now they have enough ROOM to play it! Their play in general is so much more focused and they spend twice or three times as long as they would in our playroom then when there were SO many more toys! Sounds ironic huh? Try it…I promise you you’ll see the difference.
While I did such a large initial purge of the playroom, it’s important to note that this is an ongoing process. They have grandparents who like to spoil them and they’re always getting little knickknacks from birthday party treat bags, souvenirs when we’re on holidays, birthday and Christmas presents etc., so we need to constantly be purging in order to maintain a minimal play-space. But it’s SO worth the up-keep to see them so much more creative and focused with their play.
And every good play room needs a chalk wall right? This one has been well used!!
A dress-up collection is another essential in my opinion! This was theme of their Christmas gifts two years back and they’re really just starting to use them now!
So that’s how we’ve minimized our play room and the benefits we’ve seen from it! Hope it’s inspired you a little? Thanks so much for reading!
Ever since I shared our decision to homeschool the twins next year, I’ve had a ton of people ask me to share the reasons for our decision.
I’ll start by saying that I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I have so many great friends who are already sending or planning to send their kids to public school or private school and I completely respect their decisions. After all, it was what we were planning to do too until we strongly felt it on our hearts over the past months to go this route. This post isn’t meant to try and persuade anyone or make you think that we believe homeschooling is the better option. We just feel it’s the right option for our family at this time and since I’ve been asked, I’m happy to share some of the benefits we see in it. Most of these reasons come from my own homeschooling experience growing up as well as my own experience with teaching in the public system. But some of them we found while doing our own re-search on the benefits of homeschooling and we couldn’t agree more. For those of you who don’t know my background, I was homeschooled myself from JK-grade 11, went to Catholic school for grade 12 and then went on to University followed by teachers college. I supply taught for a year before I had the twins and then I never went back.
So here are some of the benefits we see in homeschooling that have really helped us to solidify our decision:
Flexibility and Freedom
This is probably one of my personal biggest draws of homeschooling. I love that while homeschooling, we will have the freedom to teach our children what we want, when we want. Of course we’re going to ensure we’re meeting the curriculum standards of our province. However, I love that we won’t have to live by the schedule of the private or public schools. We don’t have to rush the kids out the door at a specific time each morning. We can go on as many field trips as we want for real life learning experiences. We can be done school at 10 in the morning if we want, leaving lots of time for other interests and hobbies. We can take holidays through the school year, taking our work on the go, if we want. And the list goes on. It works really well with my own work schedule as an entrepreneur as well, as I can take my own work on the go too!
I think we would all admit that we learn more effectively when we’re learning about stuff we like and interests us as individuals. While I realize this has become a priority in the school system in recent years, it would be impossible to allow each child in a classroom of 25 kids to focus on what specifically interests them. Just not possible. So while my kids will have core subjects and lesson’s we have to work through, there will be lots of room for them to explore what specifically interests them while also learning at their own pace. Sometimes kids just need to slow down to fully understand a concept before moving on and sometimes they may be way ahead of everyone else, sitting around waiting for their classmates to catch up. I even notice this just between my two twins. One of them gets certain things faster, and the other gets other concepts faster. Homeschooling will allow my children to move along at the pace that’s just right for them.
No Homework woooo!
I know it depends on the teacher, but while I was in teachers college and supply teaching, I was sometimes shocked at how much homework went home in the evenings and weekends. Kids are in school at desks all day long and they are expected to do MORE desk work after that? I mean the obvious reason is because there is often so much wasted time during the school day and it’s not the teachers fault…it’s simply the way the system is set up. So many children to one class, so much time spent moving from one class to the next, lining up for recess, waiting for other students to quiet down so the teacher can actually teach etc., etc., With more focused work time around the table, we will be able to get done in 2 hours (and more like 30 min in kindergarten) what would take the entire day in the classroom setting. Then we can spend our evenings and weekends with my husband doing fun family things and spending quality time together or taking them to extra curricular’s without having to worry about cramming in homework before bed.
More Opportunity for Hands-On Activities
While everyone has different learning styles, I feel from both my own educational and teaching experience that there is so much value in hands-on learning and that children should be given more opportunity to do so. As mentioned above, I love that on any given day we can leave our desk work at the drop of a hat to go and have a real-life experience. Whether it be to the supermarket to let them help me plan healthy balanced meals or count out change at the till. Or maybe to the fire station? Or perhaps a local conservation area to study eco-systems and journal about it.
Ok this is also a huge one coming from my own experience. One might have thought that I would be completely lost once I got to University after not experiencing the classroom setting, lectures etc., until my final year of highschool. It was however, quite the opposite. Thinking back to what I saw in a lot of my peers around me, I don’t feel the school system adequately prepares most students for what is ahead. In most University classes, you listen to lectures and then you write exams at the end of each term. Sometimes, you have essays or assignments to complete. But no special help or guidance along the way, no reminders or anyone checking up on you, not normally any formative assessment with quizzes or small tests to ensure you’re understanding the concepts. You’re basically out on your own to pass or fail. While a lot of students do catch on and do perfectly fine, I would also see a lot of my classmates leaving say, 3 papers until the very last minute and having to pull all nighters because they didn’t know how to manage their time in the weeks and months prior. I watched some have breakdowns and eventually drop-out. While university was still a big challenge for me, the format was nothing new. I had learned to manage my time properly from a very young age, having been given the same sort of flexibility and freedom with my studies. I had assignments to complete and deadlines to meet but for the most part, I could decide when I wanted to get it done. I had learned to be very independent with my learning and these skills have carried on to my adult years as I’ve started my own successful photography business in where I essentially taught myself everything I know about shooting as well as running a business.
Or one-on-two or three?! haha There is most obviously so much benefit to learning in a smaller group setting. I will more quickly and easily be able to pick up on what my children’s strengths and weaknesses are and focus on them. I will have the opportunity to cater to my kids specific learning styles which likely wouldn’t happen in public school. We will also be able to get tasks done more efficiently. I remember how some days, when I was homeschooled, I would be done my desk work by 10 in the morning if I was determined. Then I could spend the rest of the day reading novels I was interested in, doing art, practicing an instrument I was learning, cooking or other hobbies. How cool is that?
More Sleep = Better Health
Kid’s need sleep. My twins still nap 2-3 hours most afternoons, especially after a long morning of pre-school. They come home just exhausted and basically collapse into their beds by 12:30. Every child is different of course. (Some of my friends pre-schoolers dropped their nap by the age of 2!) Thinking about sending my boys for full day school next year just made me cringe. I know as their mom that they would struggle to get through the day and would likely be little irritable monkeys by the time they got home. Not having to wake them up super early to rush out the door in the mornings and giving them the flexibility to nap still if they need it while they’re so young is another huge benefit in my opinion.
Increased Family Time and Instilling Values
This kind of goes along with my last point as I love that I’ll be able to spend time pouring in my children’s lives during their best and most alert hours of the day. My husband was telling me the other day that recent studies have proven that physical activity at the start of the day is very beneficial to your focus and attention span through the rest of the day. The fact that we would have the flexibility to implement things like this, even if it’s just a short walk first thing, is so great! As far as transmission of values, I love that we will have the freedom as our kids educators to emphasize and focus on things that our very important to us like our Christian faith, scripture memorization etc., and leave out things that we don’t agree with in the public school curriculum. I am fully aware that there is lots of time and opportunity for instilling those values outside of school hours but how much more awesome will it be to have that much more time to teach and equip them while they are young.
Now don’t get me wrong, while I have laid out all the great benefits of homeschooling, I don’t expect it to be easy by any means. I know that taking my children’s education into my own hands is going to be a huge challenge and there will likely be days I regret my decision altogether, especially with a brand new baby to tend to as well. I have thought all this through, trust me. But I truly feel that the benefits I’ve listed will be entirely worth every hard and trying moment and I’m so excited to give it everything I have.
I also wanted to note that some may argue that homeschoolers aren’t socialized enough or that they don’t get to experience things like track and field, participate in school plays, etc., The good news is, they DO! There are so many support groups, co-ops, etc, in place where our kids can have the opportunities to be a part of larger group activities like plays, book clubs, nature groups, and there IS even a track and field for homeschoolers (something my husband was happy to hear! 😛 ) We will also make sure, as my own parents did that our kid’s are involved in extra curricular’s, and have the opportunity to meet lots of other children, whether it be other homeschoolers, friends at church programs or on sports teams. They’ll get socialized so don’t fear!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this you guys! Again, I’m only sharing it so that you might get a better understanding of why we made this decision for our family and so that it might help you to better understand some of the benefits if you are or ever have been curious about homeschooling yourself!