My Kids Know That I Like Them (Just Because We Can Days!)
Just because we can. Sounds a little boisterous, right? I think by its first impression, the term seems to the planner-at-heart to be a deviation from the predictable routine of homeschool days, maybe a little unruly and too lively.
But unruly and lively can be good things.
Let me explain.
Where We Were
It was a kindergarten day. A day like any other. I had just finished listening to The Homeschool Solutions Audioblog Episode #100: Just Because We Can! (Sarah Mackenzie) (if you’d rather read the blog post, see it here). I was amazed by how much curriculum we were seemingly covering in my son’s kindergarten year. A budding engineer and first-born son, my son at the tender age of 5 was willing to please me. Oh, the mistakes I have made as a homeschool parent! Let’s save all of them for another post. Expecting too much. A lot of copy work. A long math curriculum (not the worst one around, but it was a lot of seat work, if I say so myself). Pushing him too hard on phonics. Suffice it to say, I was overworking the little guy.
We were burning out, y’all. The little boy had only lived on this earth a mere 5 years, had been talking for only 4, and had just started forming letters a little over a year ago.
At the time, I was also a walking dairy farm to my youngest, a son. He was born the winter before.
So here I was, reveling in all Sarah Mackenzie had to say about this “just because we can day”. The idea sounded enticing! But… how was I going to implement it without feeling guilty or lazy or like I was going to be falling behind?
Days Without Measure
Let me ask you this: do you believe that some of the most important work you do as a parent is done without record of quantifiable results? Are the results measurable when you get on the floor and play make-believe with your daughter or son? Can you calculate the impact on a child when you show him that he matters more than your to-do list? How does it affect them as adults? Do they grow to be secure in knowing they are not just loved, but also liked by parents who will take the time and enjoy them?
What Is A Just Because We Can Day?
It’s almost so simple it’s stupid. A JBWCD (acronym to the rescue) is when you deliberately and intentionally plan out a day to relish the kids God has entrusted to you. You don’t try to squeeze school in. You don’t take the time to go do your own thing.
A just because we can day is simply this: a day we did something other than school, just because we could.
I believe the benefits are immeasurable. Binding our hearts together, these days keep us going. They give us momentum when we need it most. Does it surprise you that one of our JBWCDs was in mid-February? It shouldn’t. Homeschooling parents know this is prime “burn out” time.
Do You Like Your Kids?
You see, what Sarah and others like Kathy Koch, Ph.D (Podcast Episode #31) have said struck me: do your kids know that you like them?
No, not love them. They know that you have to love them. But do they know that you like them?
“Dr. Kathy”, as she calls herself, recalls a time she went to observe families interacting on a playground, as she was in the process of writing her 2015 book, Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World.
She saw something that broke her heart.
Children were playing on the playground. She was asking questions as she observed. A young boy in the midst of other children said, “You know my mom watches me play, but I wish she would play with me.” Other children piped up saying, “That’s my story, too.”
“They take pictures of me playing, but I wish they would play with me.”
“My mom is on her phone. Those people are more important to her, and she doesn’t have time for me.”
Dr. Kathy goes on:
“Children will often say to me: Dr. Kathy, my parents have to love me, they don’t have a choice. I wish they liked me…when your children feel liked, that’s the bonus… when we play with them, they feel that we like them. When we want to ride bikes with them and go to ice cream after dinner, when we want to play catch with them and teach them how to play catch better, when we want to do a new jigsaw puzzle with them… when we play with them and don’t just watch them play, they’ll feel KNOWN and WANTED.”
Oh boy! Is this convicting to anyone? My hand was up and my ears were burning. Don’t get me wrong. I do play with my kids.
My kids know I love them. But how often do I communicate with them this LIKE? Will they feel the power of LIKE?
Moms and dads, does this make sense?
Why Do You Homeschool?
I think a prerequisite for being wholeheartedly sold out on a Just Because We Can Day rests on your ability to voice that one of the most important reasons you set out to homeschool was not only to teach your kids, but to ENJOY THEM.
So, you would say that relationship drives your homeschool, right? I would.
Look, I have academic expectations for my kids. Yet, we are teaching whole persons, not little machines.
So, what we all need every few months is the JUST BECAUSE WE CAN DAY.
The First Just Because We Can Day
Back to Kindergarten.
I took notes. You can go look for yourself to see what Sarah Mackenzie described as her JBWCD.
Ours looked like this:
-The night before, I did not lead my son to believe that he would be doing anything other than school the next morning. THESE DAYS ARE SURPRISES!
-The morning of, I dropped off the daughter at her preschool (a 5 minute drive from home). It was just me and the boys. After we got settled in again, I announced to my 5-year-old that we would be having a Just Because We Can Day. A what? Yes, son. We get to have fun in a different way today that does not involve school.
-I asked my son what he would like to do that day. His answer? Play with ME. Build with LEGOs. Enjoy a good read aloud. The list really didn’t get much longer than that.
-And so we played. I distinctly remember the LEGOs. I remember him asking when our next JBWCD would be. I had that planned out for May (it was February).
Now, with a first grader this past year, I took a different route with JBWCD. One of our most recent JBWCDs (in February again) involved going to downtown Raleigh to visit the Museum after a breakfast stop at Sir Walter Coffee. Just me and my son. (Remember the Mercer Mayer book, Just Me and My Mom?) We had a great time. He felt loved. He felt liked. We didn’t go to the museum to squeeze in a school day. I had to withstand the temptation to tie in what we were learning with our trip. We went to the Museum because I had taken note that he mentioned it earlier in the year.
How Often to Schedule
You know your family. You know what’s best for you. However, I do believe scheduling our JBWCDs once every three months is a great fit for us. Our next one will be in September, since we begin our school year in August.
-December (we love Christmas fun!)
-February (because we feel the burnout here)
-May (the weather is absolutely heavenly here)
Want some ideas? Here just a few to get you going. I made a list so you don’t have to take time to think up ideas; it will just be grab and go. Now, go enjoy those kids and let them know you like them!
Until next time! XO