3 Things Home-Educating Moms Don’t Know about Retirement

Woman resting

We began home educating our kiddos in the early ’80’s, when things were just beginning to fire up a bit and there was almost no homeschool support to be had, anywhere. No advice. And for SURE, no advice about retiring.

Because we spaced out our children*, mostly at roughly four-year intervals, it took me 25 years to finish the job. Then I retired.

I’d like to give you a short list of shocking things I found out about myself and the whole retirement thing. I hope to save you some grief:

1. You do NOT necessarily get more done with all the children gone.

Nope. Sorry.

I know; it was a shock to me, too. I was so sure. I had to think about it a long time before I got it.

But it’s true.

You may have thought:Β There will be less laundry to do and fewer mouths to feed. There will be NO mud tracked in the door. There will be no more events to chase. I’ll be FREE!!!!

Think again.

You only get more done when they are gone if you keep on doing things.

Don’t feel bad; it took me ages to get this.

I remember my thoughts that first child-free morning:

Ahh—listen to it: NOTHING! The beautiful sound of no clamor, no to-do guilt—nothing in the world stopping me from that third cup of coffee.


Hours later, I was still basking in it, although I had somehow extricated myself from the recliner. I roamed around the house thinking I’d just take inventory and spend a day marveling at how simple life would become, now. Mentally, I gave myself a couple of months to coast and figure out what direction my life should take. I thought longingly about several projects I could now finish.

My stomach growled.

Wow. It was past noon. Hmm.

Ah well, only one sandwich and a cup of tea would take care of all my lunchtime duties. Cleaning only one knife, one small plate, and a cup would get me up and out of the kitchen and on with life. I could even eat in the sunroom, where the recliner beckoned.

And so it went, for days. Many days.

I thought I must have been really tired, to collapse like this.

2. The needs, schedules, and opinions of your children are what get you through it all.

I began to see this when I had my own desires for something outside the four walls. Most of the world works on a schedule and you cannot go to the library to chat with the librarian if the building is locked and she’s gone home. I acquired a young child to tutor. I ran out of stockpiled food (not feeding eight anymore made bulk-buying a bit silly.) I had to organize my life, somehow! Why was I always late?

The answers lay in the fact that, in the past, I did my level best at every task I took on, kept up with the outside world, and kept a brave, cheery face about it because:

  • My children had long heard lectures from me about doing our best at all times,
  • My children needed to be places without the embarrassment of arriving late and needed to see a good example set for timeliness,
  • My children got into serious trouble if they griped or grumbled.


It was about the children? They were watching?


And now, no one was.

And the truest self-test of character is to see what you do when no one is watching.

3. Your children work hard.

Unless you’ve already died of overwork, you make your children do a few things around the house.

Mine folded half the laundry, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, kept their own bedrooms clean, dusted and vacuumed the living areas whenever I asked, mowed, tended trash, fed pets—I know I’m forgetting something. Oh, I paid them to do windows.

If you’ve taught your children to help around the house, guess what: Your children graduate and get new jobs. They help around a different house, eventually .

Now days, I fold all the laundry and load and unload the dishwasher. Dust still falls into their bedrooms and the whole house, grass still grows, trash still piles up, and strays still adopt us.

And I still love sparkling windows.

When we first began homeschooling, I remember the serious lecture I gave my family:

“I will be like any mom who works outside the home. I will have many hours when I cannot do housework. I will need help from the whole family, the same as if we were not able to live on only my husband’s income and I was forced to supplement it by going out of the home.”

That truth remains. Just remove the many hours when I cannot do housework, and insert: me.

Me doing housework.

How can you do better?

  • Spend your last year or two seeking God about what He wants you to do in your retirement.
    Get ready for those tasks.Begin walking in them before the last child leaves, so it will be less of a transition and you’ll have your new schedule nearly in place.
  • Keep a to-do list as you always did.
    Make yourself obey it for your OWN good, to please the Lord, to do your best.
  • Work, work, work!
    As we age, we lose muscle mass. Plan on a quick burn, maybe 30 minutes of hard work, every day—the kind that makes you perspire.
    Think of mowing in summer as a lovely multi-task that keeps you out of the weight room, the tanning bed, and the sauna.
    Wrap crime-zone tape around the recliner!

Any more discoveries? Ideas? Solutions? Share! Thanks!

*Those who know me know: When I say “children” I mean anyone under age 18, and several who are 18 or above. Mostly, I just mean “my own kids, grown or not, still living under my roof”. No offense meant to any kids who think they are grownups although still dependent, nor to any 32-year-olds who act like two-year-olds! πŸ˜‰

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

10 thoughts on “3 Things Home-Educating Moms Don’t Know about Retirement

  1. We have been “retired” here in Colorado for about 13 years and I too thought when the children were gone the house would be spotless. WRONG! Your thoughts spoke to my heart. I will continue to seek what plan God has for the rest of my life here on earth. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    1. Paula from Colorado: Welcome to Home’s Cool! πŸ™‚
      Thanks so much for this kind comment and for your openness!
      Yes, having a plan in effect and realizing the need for it are the big needs I see for retirement. If the Lord shows us mercy, we will live as long as, or longer than, our parents did and we will need to keep our minds and hands busy.
      I’m glad you liked the post and found encouragement in it!

  2. How true this is! I’m a new homeschool retiree and I’m finding all of this out. Thankfully, I did start some new activities before-hand. I’m amazed at how time gets away from me. It doesn’t seem like I’m nearly as productive as I was while homeschooling. Oh, well. It took me awhile to find my groove when we started that, so it’ll take me awhile to find my new one. I’m giving myself a grace period.

    1. Oh, I KNOW! Yes, it takes time to “get it”.
      I think I was not as productive, because I was positive I needed a schedule and a todo list, back then, but now, it seems as if I could get 3 things done without that tyranny hanging over me.
      If I don’t write it down where I can see it, it still doesn’t happen. :\

  3. Ok…not that I’m rushing my kids’ lives away but I dream about the days when all the kids are self sufficient and I think of the freedom that comes with that. I also think that I may be pretty sad as well. I’ve got at least 14 years to go though! Great advice and I hope to be able to keep this in mind once I’m nearing the end stages of homeschooling πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for this great comment, Renee, and WELCOME to Home’s Cool! πŸ™‚
      I found that once every baby finally reached age 4, things began to calm down, for me. No more half chewed papers, no more diapers, no more sippy cups, it all just begins to smooth out, then.
      And then graduations, ball games, “special friends”, etc., begin to take over.
      But also, someone learns how to drive. It’s a juggling act, and it seems that once all the players move on, it’ll be quiet and easy breezy.
      I was not sad, though, because most of mine stayed on WAY past age 18, attending a local college for their first 2 years… I got to a point where I realized these were other people and had other agendas, and I just became full. So full of the joy of each one of them, that I was satisfied.
      I pray the same joy for you. ❀

  4. Oh my gosh I love this! Its so very true, and no one tells you that the man you married, that wonderfully decisive, disciplinarian of a husband, somehow reverts to his second childhood once the kids are gone—leaving dirty towels and socks in places not so desirable, and forgetting how to put a dish in the dishwasher or take out the trash LOL.

    1. Haha! I know! Sometimes it’s just a riot, CCarter, and who’s to say who’s right? πŸ˜€

      Thanks for this great comment and for your kind opinion, and WELCOME to Home’s Cool! Hope you visit again, soon!

  5. It was really fun to read your perspective. We have some similarities. It’s funny that when the kids leave, we need some time to adjust. I imagine standing in a cloud of dust, wondering, “what happened?” I now give the same advice as you, for homeschool moms to start new endeavors before the kids actually leave, to help with the transition.

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