Many of you have probably heard the term carschooling which is about homeschooling on the go. But I would guess you’ve never heard of the opposite – Hibernation Homeschooling. That’s because I made it up to describe what Caroline and I have done this winter.
Rather than going through a detailed telling of all the events over the fall that led up to this, I’ll summarize it by saying that we were worn out from running around, sick of being sick, and basically hit the wall. When Caroline got Influenza A in early December, that was the proverbial last straw. She had had something every month since July. In addition, I was worn out from dealing with my health stuff.
When I tallied our medical expenses at the end of the year for our taxes, I counted up that between the three of us we had had 176 medical and health related appointments in 2014.
Yes, 176 appointments.
For 3 people.
I told David that Caroline and I were going into hibernation. I was totally serious. Because we homeschool and work from home, there was nothing to stop us from making this decision.
And so we did.
For the rest of December, all of January and all of February Caroline and I have stayed home. Especially during late December and January when all of the crud was rampant, Caroline and I stayed home. David did the grocery shopping and errands. We live in a small town so almost everything we need (library, post office, banks, Meijer, etc.) is literally a mile from our home. David simply took over the running around. When necessary, we supplemented with ordering from Amazon where we could get anything we needed.
There were weeks when Caroline and I got out on Saturday or Sunday to take a drive and then didn’t leave the house again until the next weekend. Some weeks we left the house to go to a necessary medical appointment. Caroline went to the library a couple of times in February, but that was it. We have a babysitter who comes once or twice a week and we did continue that. Other than that we were pretty much on our own.
Yes, we were that committed to our hibernation.
We haven’t ended our hibernation yet. I imagine we’ll continue it for most of the rest of March since we live in a cold and snowy place. It’s been so cold that we would rather just stay home anyway and avoid stressing our bodies if we don’t have to do so.
I know some of you are thinking that we must be crazy. How could we stay home all the time? What about church? What about activities? What about playdates?
We decided that the most important thing we could do was take care of our health and there was no way we could do it if we were constantly exposing ourselves to everything out there. We basically let everything go.
By the Shores of Silver Lake
It’s funny that people think staying home for weeks on end is radical because it happened often in the past. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes in By the Shores of Silver Lakeabout the winter the Ingalls family lived in the surveyor’s house and they saw almost no one for months. The girls did all their learning at home.
We have the children’s picture book Snowed In that is about a Wyoming family in 1915 and the preparations they made before they were snowed in for the winter. They purchased pencils and paper at the general store. They stopped at the library and filled up two huge boxes with books to read during the winter. They homeschooled when the children couldn’t get to school. (This book is also part of my series A Month of Cozy Books!)
Staying home and waiting out the winter is not that radical of a concept except in our culture that is obsessed with being on the go all the time.
Hibernation Homeschooling Results
So what are the results of our hibernation so far?
- We have all been healthy. Caroline and I have not been sick at all this winter. We sincerely thank God for this.
- We have gotten lots of rest and sleep. Because we have been home, we have been able to keep regular bedtime hours and sleep in to ensure we get a full night’s sleep.
- We have greatly reduced our stress. By not running around, coming and going all the time, our stress levels have dropped. Transitioning in and out of the home is wearing, especially for introverts and children.
- We’ve enjoyed lots of fires in the fireplace and family time together. The vast majority of the evenings we’ve had a fire in the fireplace for supper and enjoyed being together in the winter coziness.
- We’ve accomplished much. Because we weren’t running around, we had much more time to be home and work on the things that interest us. Entire days at home are long days in the best sense of the word.
- We’ve been learning. We’re relaxed homeschoolers so our learning just continued on. Obviously hibernation homeschooling is much easier today with laptops, Kindle Fires, etc. Even though we were home all the time, we had access to so much online that we never really felt cut off from the outside world the way others might have in the past.
I Wish We Could Do That!
While I’m sure some people reading this still think it sounds crazy, some people love the idea. Probably a few of you wish you could do the same thing.
If hibernation homeschooling interests you, think about it for next winter. If you are worn out from sick children and running around in the cold and snow to the point of exhaustion, it is something to consider. Taking care of your health is important. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Many families would probably be much better off and happier if they chose to make a similar decision.
I know I am glad we did.
Cait @ My Little Poppies
Sallie! I feel like you’re reading my mind. We have had a pretty tiresome winter. Illness, construction, snow, illness, fatigue. I’m thinking of heading north to my parents’ little condo in the mountains for two weeks. No joke. To hibernate with my littles. Read books, play in the snow. Thank you for this.
Cait – Go for it! Go hibernate! If you can get away and swing it, why not?
Hi there! I am so happy to have found someone as “crazy” as I am! I have done something very similar for these past two winters that I have been homeschooling my daughter. She went to Kindergarten, and we spent the ENTIRE year sick. Maybe I had a week off of being sick…but when my poor daughter suffered a single cold it kept her up all night coughing (which sometimes led to vomiting-fun) for more than two weeks at a time. Combine that with having to get up early for a long drive to school, her immune system was less than optimal. She was beginning to worry me that she would end up with asthma, just as I did from having pneumonia numerous times as a child. I’ve worked in a field which requires knowledge of infectious disease control, and realized that with the quantity of kids in schools now (compared to even when I was a child, not too long back : ) is creating a breeding zone for viruses; many viruses of which did not exist just 20 years ago. Nasty. I read that the average child nowadays has a stomach virus up to ten times per year. That is cleaning up vomit and likely becoming sick yourself, almost monthly! Add that on top of the chronic nausea that I suffer with due to hormonal imbalances, and there is never a “good” week. Our method of attack was to do school every day through the morning (sometimes even weekends), have lunch, finish school work up, then head outdoors; regardless of the weather. We spend between one and three hours in the woods walking depending on the weather. If it’s pouring down rain, and cold, we do stay in and often get to bake. We walk anywhere between one mile and three miles almost every day, which we have both benefited from since winter is a tough time to get enough exercise and fresh air. Time outside also gives us time together, mother and daughter, just out exploring nature. When it comes to stores, I only bring my daughter out during early morning hours if we must go together. Most of the time I run out alone when my husband is home and they get to have their alone time to work on electronics or creating something. It’s a win-win all-around. Last year my daughter finished first grade work in less than 5 months. She’s already pretty far advanced in most subjects for having just turned eight years old, and staying in has allowed me to focus my teaching in areas that suffer because of dyslexia and decoding struggles. This has been an opportunity that I realize most families could not do, and we as a family understand how blessed we truly are for this ability. In regard to your post, I completely support the idea of “hibernating” through the winter for the good of the family and of the homeschooling student(s)!!
I’m so glad this was encouraging and it’s fun to meet another “crazy” person! LOL! It’s great that you can see other benefits to this as well such as more focused time on learning, lots of walks, etc. 🙂
Loved your article and the whole idea of hibernating – for a variety of reasons. Simplicity probably being on the top of the list as we are thankfully all in good health and with the exception of myself having the flu in early december, have managed all winter without more than a sniffle. My question/curiosity is this…did you get stir crazy?!?!?! I have 3 boys (ages 11 1/2, 9 and 4 1/2) and the energy level is H-I-G-H 🙂 We usually get nutty this time of year because we’re sick of being INside so much. I sometimes just get out to the store for the sake of leaving the house and giving everyone “something out” to do. So how did you tackle the “cooped up” feelings if they came?
I think it helps that Caroline and I are both homebodies anyway. Most days during the year if you ask her what she wants to do that day she’ll say, “Stay home!” LOL!
Without internet access and Kindles I’m sure it would have been MUCH harder. She likes Minecraft, watching videos, playing with her stuffed animals, playing with her daddy, doing crafts, etc. So she’s kind of wired to enjoy hanging out at home.
I honestly have only felt slightly stir crazy a couple of times and going for a drive gets me out of it. Part of it was being so thoroughly and completely sick of running around last year. It has been such a relief to just be home that I think that really outweighed any potential cabin fever. 🙂
We didn’t do it quite to that extreme, but we’ve done that to a point. Once the holidays were over, I went into hibernation mode. We didn’t skip church (I’m the education director and a sunday school teacher so it’s a little more than the average commitment), but we stayed almost all of the rest of the time. Our going out was basically one day every few weeks. I’d do any grocery shopping and errands all on one day and anything that didn’t get done, just waited for the next one. And then my daughter is in a book group that meets at the library once a month. But it was a LOT more time at home than in the fall when we had weekly tennis lessons and were making it to homeschool playgroups and at least once weekly trips to the library.
Kelly Expedition Homeschool
We are in Australia and the state I live in, we get no snow. However it gets horribly HOT here. So we don’t hibernate in winter, winter we love and we can go out and do a LOT. In Summer we hibernate inside in the Air Conditioning LOL. Summer has just finished here and it’s Autumn but yesterday was between 35-40 degrees celcius (95-104 Fahrenheit) so we are still hibernating LOL
One of the reasons we need to hibernate in the Summer is also for health reasons. My son has a bleeding disorder and in the heat it is much much worse and he is constantly bleeding from the nose, extremely lethargic from all the blood loss etc. He also has problems with his muscles and the cramping is much worse in the heat. So we stay at home. My son loves it, as it’s cool in the air con and we will call his Dad and let him know what we might need (groceries, medication, post office run etc) and he does that on his way home from work for us. I read your post and despite it relating to the cold and snow – I was nodding and agreeing with it all, just on the other end of the scale 😉
My son has Aspergers, Anxiety disorder and ADHD as well and the fact we can relax at home and he has NO pressure to go out means he is in heaven. All our friends know that if they want to see us over Summer to come to us, or wait till a change in season and we will then be back out and about again.
We pretty much did this too! Ours was forced, though, because I have Cystic Fibrosis and caught the flu right after Thanksgiving this year, so it was weeks upon weeks of medications, home IV antibiotics, etc. My husband also did the errand running Dec.- Jan., and then I took it up and I am the “scary masked lady” at Walmart, haha. We definitely needed the slow down though after moving, so in a way, it was a good thing (blessings out of the bad). I am enjoying your blog a lot, your days sound a lot like ours and I also have an only child, so I will be following! I will also need to thank my friend who posted the link on Facebook!
Glad to know I am not the only one. I have 4 small kids at home and with all the work of moving this year and trying to keep up with the usual, and homeschool… well, I was burnt out. After Christmas we just took winter off. We homeschooled sporadically. but due to our amazing curriculum choices this year, we stayed on track for finishing in May or June. (that is actually a first for us!) I even let go of my commitments, realising that I needed to get back to good mental health. The up sides were that we did stay healthy, we went outside alot more as a family and the girls learned how to self entertain inside…. not as easy as summertime. Mind you my house looks like it was yarn bombed, as weaving, knitting and crocheting were the crafts of choice!
We’ve been very blessed to have had almost no illnesses this winter. But moving has been very disruptive to our daily and weekly routines, and I am setting some hard limits on our activities.
I’m so glad to meet so many other families doing their own version of hibernation homeschooling (whether it is summer or winter)! It is great that we have the option to do what is best for our families and individual children when they have special health and/or learning needs.
We had so much sickness this winter! This might be us next year. Though I think we catch much of the illness at church. The other thing is winter here in SC is not too bad. I’d be more tempted to hibernate in summer when it is just so hot! Often over 100 degrees!
Amy L Robinson
I love being snowed in!!! Hibernation Homeschooling sounds wonderful!!
I would fall into a deep depression, as would my daughter. My son however, might think it was awesome.
I say, do whatever works for your family.
I’m sure hibernation homeschooling wouldn’t be a good fit for some people and families. It might not even work for us again another winter. But for that particular winter it was exactly what we needed!
I know this is an oder post, but still so relevant to me!!!
I love this idea, and although I haven’t heard or used the term, I certainly have participated in it!
We do the same, as much as possible, leaving only for Mass on the weekends.
My husband is always happy to stop on pick up groceries or take out.
We find that we grow closer, stay healthier, do more cozy activities, and just enjoy being.
Thank you for this post!!!
Thank you for the validation~
Hi Billie Jo!
It sounds like your experience has been very similar to ours. I’d be happy to stay home most of the time all year. It’s a bit harder to do it now that Caroline is involved in a few activities, but I still try to keep us at home more than half the days in the week so we get downtime and aren’t constantly coming and going.
And, yes, to the healthier! I pray about this daily. Really and truly.