Cabin Fever and Marathons

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slow days


Just before sitting down to write this I was busy hanging ornaments on our Christmas tree. Some are there only for beauty, but most hold a surprising amount of memory. I have a few from my own childhood (that survived the Great Fall of 2012) including a wooden soldier from when I was four and another from Alaska in 1982 as my family began our homeschooling journey. It’s fun to remember my own youth, but in many ways seeing the baby ornaments of my own children is even more evocative.

If you’re a young parent you hear others tell you how quickly childhood passes. As a mother of little ones spending my months wiping up messes, cooking, and endlessly cleaning, it was hard to imagine there was much truth in this. But now, looking at the picture of my first few a decade later, I experience its reality.

Life is short. My time heavily investing in my kids is going to be over before I know it. I will have time soon (God allowing) for the things I’ve laid aside as they become more independent.

Especially in midwinter, stuck indoors so often, I need Jesus’ reassurance of this truth. It can be hard to maintain any standard of civility when we are sick, cooped up, and tired of the same routine after the excitement of the holidays. Even I find myself unable to keep up the pace as germs steal my voice (for reading history and literature) and my mental abilities.

What helps me hold the line when things get rough like this is remembering the long-range goal of our choice to homeschool—It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. In a sprint you’d never dream of stopping for a glass of water, but in a marathon, you would die without a breather. I don’t have to keep up a breakneck speed to reach the end successfully. In fact, teaching the kids how to have grace for themselves and their families as they experience the underbelly of home life is one of the big things.

As I look back at where we were in our school life years ago, I realize that even though I’ve had to spend part of every summer “catching up” on history, and we tend to take twice as long or never finish secondary courses, the kids still do just fine in situations testing their education as compared to their peers.

In many ways, this has been the greatest gift to me as a 2nd generation homeschooler. I know my education was eclectic, somewhat haphazard, and often delayed because I was rotten at self-motivation until my teens (not to mention how few resources were available back then). But for all that, I turned out as prepared for life as my more rigidly trained fellow students.

So, as you battle runny noses, scratchy throats, cabin fever, mid-semester doldrums, and the other obstacles January hurls our way, may you remember God is there, and it’s not going to be a big deal if things take longer right now than we planned.

If I and my kids still like each other as we head for bed, it’s been a successful day.


Cheri Fields is a 2nd generation homeschooler involved in learning and teaching at home since 1982. She currently teaches her seven kids in Michigan and has found ways to include them in the online ministry God has called her to, particularly as cohosts for their family’s podcast. You can find her at She is a member of the International Association of Creation and a graduate of the Institute for Children’s Literature.

4 Comments to “ Cabin Fever and Marathons”

  1. JoAnn says :Reply

    So true. We live in the northwest mountains, and we can get cabin fever pretty easily around here. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. ELOIS Bell says :Reply

    PTL! Children, at all ages, are growing and maturing spiritually, mentally, and physically! Homeschooling allow us parents to be a part of this in such a blessed and precious way! Praying for all families!

    1. Thank you, Mom. You did an amazing job. 🙂

  3. Yes, Joann, beautiful as mountains are, they make travel difficult at times. We all need people who understand what it’s like. I know for me, I can set my personal standard so high no one could achieve it for more than a day!

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).