I have found the more we are away from home, the more stressed our whole family feels. One reason I homeschool is so I can watch my children learn. And not just learn, but enjoy learning, soaking it in. There are many, many activities we could be involved in: homeschool groups and co-ops, sports, clubs, dance, gym, church activities, volunteering..... They all have their place, perhaps few and far between instead of crammed 10 to a week. But the more we are gone from home, the less these activities are enjoyed or are even helpful. As a stay at home mom, I have decided it is best for me to do just that: stay at home.
Our family ~ mom, dad, brothers and sisters~ creates an atmosphere that is relaxed because we don't have to hurry and get ready for our next activity. We create interaction with each other. Yes, much sibling rivalry happens, but there is also a lot of older kiddos coming up with games and plays that involve the youngers. If they weren't "forced" through the rivalry part (by being "stuck at home" for so long with "no friends to play with"), they wouldn't learn the joys of that interaction. As Teacher I spend more time on school subjects that catch interest, discuss readings more deeply, take the time to get out the timeline and globe or research via the internet. As Mom I take time to snuggle, read fun books as well as school books, play a game, let my kids help in the kitchen. I find when we have some place to be that day, or even someone coming over, those little things get pushed aside, we get done with school quickly and our atmosphere is tinged with a nervousness that the kids as well as mom certainly feel.
So to learn to say 'no' to so many good things that are offered. To simplify. To realize that our family is a golden entity itself ~ we do not need to add others or outside activities into the mix in order to make it worthy. A few good things sprinkled in become great things. And our home becomes a place of solitude, enjoyment, respite, and belonging.