Are you nearing the end of your homeschooling journey and wondering what’s
next? Tune in to today’s Homeschool Heartbeat as our guest Gina Smith
talks about the joys of life after homeschooling. Now here’s your host,
Mike Smith: I’m joined today by Gina Smith. She’s
an author, blogger, and former homeschool mom of two children who are now
grown up. Gina, welcome to the program.
Gina Smith: Thank you, Mike. I’m honored to be here.
Developing positive relationships [0:28]
Mike: Well, thank you. Gina, why did you and your husband actually
decide to homeschool your children?
Gina: Actually, I just look back and I see how God led us very
clearly to homeschool. When I was in college, I actually wrote a paper against
homeschooling. It was in the 80s, and homeschooling wasn’t quite as accepted or
popular then. So, I had all the answers to why homeschooling was not good for your
family or your children.
And then, about my third year in college, I was mentored by a godly woman who
actually homeschooled her children. And as I spent time in her home, and I
observed the relationship she had with her children, the relationship that her
husband had with the children, and also to see children that actually enjoyed learning,
it really opened my eyes and it caused me to long for that dynamic in my own home one
And then, after my husband and I got married and had our own children, we found
ourselves living in an area of Maryland that had the second worst school system in
Maryland. So we couldn’t imagine sending our little ones into the school system.
So I believe that those years spent in my mentor’s home actually were preparing me
to be open to God’s calling on our family to homeschool.
Mike: So let me ask you this question: Now you’re through
with homeschooling—looking back, what’s the greatest benefit—or what
did you really like about your homeschooling experience?
Gina: I loved having the relationship with my kids. We had the
flexibility and the time spent with them where we could just really pour into their
lives. We could stop if they were having a hard day and do what needed to be done, and .
. . Yeah. That’s what I loved about homeschooling.
And then, after homeschooling, what I love is again the relationships. We were able
to build such strong relations with our kids, and I just really love who they are as
adults and enjoy them. And then, of course, my relationship with my husband;
I’m able to spend a lot more free time with him, so I love that about after
Mike: See, I think that really should be the objective of
homeschooling—is that through it all, we develop relationships with our children
that last a lifetime, and they’re positive relationships. Because so many parents
don’t have positive relationships with their children. Homeschoolers have
a tremendous opportunity to nurture that relationship because of the
time. On the other hand, there’s a tremendous challenge not to
mess it up because we have so much time.
So you did it right.
Life after homeschooling [2:51]
Mike: Gina, what have you been doing since your kids graduated?
Is there really life after homeschooling?
Gina: Well, there certainly is life after homeschooling.
Actually, I’m really enjoying the fact that I’m not the teacher anymore, and
that I can just focus on being a mom and their friend. And it’s also opened up a
lot of fun doors as far as ministry opportunities: I’m able to write a lot more
and I was actually able to write my very first book, which I don’t think
personally I could have done while homeschooling. So yes, there’s definitely life
Mike: What’s your book about?
Gina: It’s a book, actually, about relationships with
your children. I observed a couple of wonderful examples, when my children were young,
of moms who were building relationships with their children. And my book is called,
Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Everyday. And it’s basically
written about what I observed: learning to show your children grace, allowing them to be
in a process of learning and growing on God’s timetable, not ours as parents. And
then I give a lot of examples of what God has led us to do as a family to
celebrate our children like God celebrates us, and to show them the grace that God pours
out on us every day, and just learning to tune into them, and to walk with them and be
Mike: Well, what a tremendous subject to write a book about.
Avoiding burnout [4:18]
Mike: Gina, homeschooling parents are some of the
most dedicated people in the world. They pour themselves into their children’s
lives and education, but sometimes that dedication can leave them feeling drained and
even depressed when their children leave the nest. How can parents keep from burning out
at the end of their homeschooling journey?
Gina: Wow, that is probably one of the most important things to talk about it.
And my husband and I did go through a season of burnout, and when I look back over those
years the two things that come to mind are again, relationships—nurturing your
relationship with your spouse. My husband and I found ourselves at a crisis point
several years ago and we realized that we had been so consumed with parenting,
homeschooling, and daily life that nurturing our relationship had moved pretty low on
our list of priorities. So, thankfully during that difficult season, some friends of
ours took time to begin meeting with us weekly, and they helped us sift
through why we were burning out and that helped us to move forward.
And then the second is nurturing friendships and being involved with people outside
of our home. Another reason my husband and I struggled with burnout was because we had
been in some circumstances for several years [where] we had very little fellowship or
outside encouragement, and it just wore us out. I don’t believe God meant for us
to live life alone. And it’s important to have a support system and to engage in
times of fellowship and to make time to serve
But I think even more than trying to keep yourself from burning out, which is very
important—I think the even more important message is that God wants to use our
marriages and families for his purposes, and our marriages and families reflect
God’s image and can be used to point others to him. We are here to be a light to
this dark world and to offer living water to those who need Jesus. So, by keeping
ourselves from burning out, we actually glorify God.
Mike: Amen, and it, kind of, sounds like you
got back to priorities didn’t you? It was God, and then you and your husband.
Gina: Yes, we just had people come along side us
and we just kept praying that God would knit our hearts together as a couple and he has
done that incredibly.
A tricky transition [6:24]
Mike: Gina, one of the hardest transitions for parents is when
their children grow up and become independent adults. Do you have any advice for parents
who are trying to make that transition while still maintaining a healthy relationship
with their children?
Gina: Well, I’m actually currently in the middle of that
transition still, so I am continuing to learn how to walk through it. But what I’m
finding now is that I really enjoy no longer being responsible for their education. It
frees me up to focus on just being their mom and their friend. And I also find that they
do still need me—only in a different way. I’m needed more now for stability
to make our house a home for them and their friends to come to and to be a source of
input if they need it.
And it’s a good thing that my children are taking steps that are leading them
to becoming more and more independent, but it’s also a scary time for them, I
think. They can be unsure of themselves, there can be insecurities, and I want to be
their biggest support system and cheerleader. So, I’m intentionally learning how
to relate to them as adults, which requires less mothering and more listening and just
being there. And that, as a mom, can be tricky at times, and I am certainly not perfect
at it, but mostly it’s just very enjoyable and really freeing for me when I focus
on not mothering but just being available.
Focus & priorities [7:40]
Mike: Gina, what is your favorite part of life after
Gina: There’s a couple things I can think of. First of
all, of course, I love that my husband and I have large blocks of time to spend alone
together. [It’s] almost like before we had children, but it’s even better.
And the other thing that I love is being available to young moms from our church or who
I happen to know from different arenas. I love having them over, I love loving on their
2-year-olds and just spending time with them, talking to them and encouraging them. And
that’s something that I try to do on a regular basis. And I also have enjoyed
doing some ministry with my husband with a young married group. So basically, I just
feel like I have a little more free time to just build into the lives of others.
Mike: Okay, this question has to do with the homeschoolers that
are listening out there—homeschooling parents. If there is one thing you could
tell them, that you think would be most beneficial to them, what would it be?
Gina: There are so many important things. I think that one of
the most important things is that it’s really easy to take our freedom to educate
our children for granted. And I’m really so grateful that I live in a country
where I was able to make that choice and that there were several options to choose
I would encourage parents to keep in mind that each schooling option will have its
weaknesses, and it’s important to prayerfully evaluate each option and be aware of
any potential challenges that might come with the option we choose and then plan
accordingly. I would encourage parents to ask God to help them to see if their child
ever reaches a point that the schooling option they have chosen isn’t a good fit
or if there is something He wants to accomplish in them that can only happen in another
I loved, loved, loved that I was able to homeschool and I can’t imagine doing
anything else because that was God’s calling for my family. But I’m reminded
of Philippians 2:13, that says: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and
to work for His good pleasure.” And just like it is God who works in me as a
parent, He also is the one who works in our children. And I think that it is very
important to remember that our hope and confidence should be in God alone and not in a
schooling or parenting method.
Mike: Well, Gina, thank you so much for sharing that with us
this week. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you.
And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.