Sweet Spot

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on December 18, 2013. 

There is something about having a four-year-old and seven-year-old that makes me feel like we’re in a sweet spot of time. My eldest has not acquired that “attitude” that older kids are prone to get. My youngest has emerged from the terrible threes and is beginning to become a little more independent. He still needs his mama, but he’s not glued to my hip anymore.

We’ve had a very good year so far. There’s a rhythm to our days, and it feels good to me. I created a homeschool schedule at the beginning of the year, and though we don’t always stick to it, I use it like a compass to get us back on track whenever I find myself wondering what we should do next.

But wondering what to do doesn’t happen for my boys, who are full of ideas for playing and making, so I don’t have to wonder much. My eldest son always has some kind of project he’s working on. Just when I think one project is winding down, he’ll come up with something else.

For example, he’s working on a model kit of the U.S.S. Constitution with his father. My husband is not thrilled that I bought such a difficult model kit, but I thought it would give them something to do together, and it has.  My son has been able to do a lot of the work with support from his dad, especially since they aren’t trying to make it “perfect.” He’s also started asking questions about the ship, otherwise known as “Old Ironsides.”

At Thanksgiving, my son heard the story about the pilgrims again, and he decided to make a Mayflower ship out of clay, and he did a good job. Then he came up with the idea to make a model of the Mayflower out of cardboard after he finishes the U.S.S. Constitution. Again, he started asking questions about the Mayflower too, so we looked up pictures online, and we took a trip to the library.

We came home with a big bag of books, and two of them were about the U.S.S. Constitution and the Mayflower. We’ve begun reading the one about the Constitution. Did you know it was one of America’s first Navy ships, and it’s still owned and operated by the Navy?

These projects are just part of our days. Both my husband and I spend time with our son on reading lessons. I also do math and Spanish lessons with him, but that’s not so interesting to write about.

My four-year-old is watching and listening during his older brother’s lessons, and he’s fortunate in that he’s never had to sit down and do a formal lesson himself. But he’s teaching himself many things, and recently he taught himself how to count to 12. He counts everything. He’s completely different than his older brother was at that age, and sometimes I forget how smart he is because he shows it in different ways.

He loves books, especially books about dinosaurs. I won’t lie. I’m sick of books about dinosaurs, but I read them anyway.

We’ve been going to classes and play dates, watching wonderful documentaries on Netflix, and when the weather is nice, we get outside for hikes at Fort Yargo or the Botanical Garden.  We have been cooking together more, and the boys have been gracing me with lots of quiet time as they play more and more by themselves.  That more than anything, is why I’m calling this era of their childhood “the Sweet Spot.”  And it’s also why I’m grateful we can homeschool – they have time to play and foster those imaginations.

I know someday I’ll look back at this time and think of it as a happy time, despite the normal ups and downs daily life can bring. We’re blessed to be together, doing meaningful work and play.

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FYI – I have lots of things I’d like to share with you. For example, we’re doing something a little different with reading lessons. And I want to tell you what we’re doing this year for math. In addition to this, there are projects, art and all kinds of other little stuff that I just can’t seem to find the time to write about. Eventually, I hope I will. Unfortunately, you may see less of me in the coming weeks, though I will be posting my columns each week. Due to the holidays, I’m trying to relax more. Due to a deadline, I’m trying to get another project done. But you never know. Sometimes I get my best writing done when I’m procrastinating on something else! ;) Please e-mail me to chat, if you like. I’d love that.

9 Responses to “Sweet Spot”

  1. I love to read your experiences with homeschooling. I don’t homeschool yet but have been considering it for awhile. My oldest daughter is six, in kindergarten and smart as a whip, she was reading long before going to school and loved her books. Since going to school she’s completely lost interest in reading. AND she’s already developed that “attitude” that you spoke of. She loves going but I DON’T love how she behaves when she comes home and that wasn’t an issue before she started school. There’s a dozens of reasons why I want to homeschool but at the same time I’m a little scared. So thank you for sharing.

    • Anonymous – I hear you. I know it’s scary considering homeschooling. Do you have supportive family members? I wish you the best in making the decision, and I’d be happy to chat with you about it any time. If it helps at all, I have heard countless stories about families who finally turned to homeschooling for one reason or another – not sure about it – but then ended up loving it and decided to never go back. Just like parenting, it’s one of those things you have to try before you know what it feels like. And really, you CAN always try it for a year and just see. You don’t have to feel like you’re committing for the long haul. Let me know what you decide!

  2. Your days sound so similar to my days with a six-year-old and a four-year-old! I also love the togetherness of them and the togetherness of us. I was telling someone the other day that we were in a lovely spot as well.

    • Yes, Natalie. I love the togetherness too. I think many families never consider homeschooling because they think it would be too much togetherness, but they don’t realize that once you get into it, once you get into a rhythm, once (hopefully) you set the stage for independent play and learning, it’s not too much at all. In fact, it feels natural and the way it’s supposed to be! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Love this post, Shelli! I’ve been enjoying my little ones lately too, but at 5.5 and just-turned 2, they still keep me pretty busy. And as much as I have always loved toddlers, I am looking forward to my youngest getting a little more independent and a little less impulsive! I think my sweet spot is a little ways away still, but I’m sure we’ll get there too. :-)

    • Thanks for your comment, Peggy! I remember too well looking forward to “a little more independent.” I tried to savor that time as much as I could, but it feels good to be a wee bit past it! lol So hang in there….it will be here before you know it!

  4. love this update — and that photo of you guys is wonderful, too. :)

    • Thanks, Lori! I like that photo too! The boys thought it was silly of me to want to get a photo of me with them, so I told them we needed it so that they would remember me in my hat! LOL

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