I joke that the ONLY reason I homeschool my kids is so that I can winter in Florida.
Of course like all good (and inappropriate) humor, there’s a lot of truth buried within!
For 5 of the past 6 winters that we’ve been in America, we’ve been fortunate enough to spend at least a month down in beautiful, warm and sunny Naples, Florida.
Back in 2009 I had the idea to escape the brutal winter weather in Boston and drive down to Naples with my kids.
I found an unrented condo on Craigslist and made a lowball bid just 3 days before January 1st. Back then, I managed to spend only $2,300 for a 2 bedroom condo close to Vanderbilt beach, given that it was so last minute and that January is a less in-demand month.
A great deal, yes. BUT the ROI (return-on-investment) was even greater.
Winters are painfully long in arctic New England. My 5 and 3 year old wouldn’t be outside much for nearly 5 months had we not made the trip.
So the kids hit the park, the pool, and beach everyday, got the much-needed fresh air and made it 3 consecutive New England years where they didn’t so much as catch a cold. Missing the germ factories, aka “schools”, also helps a lot in this department.
But Mom and Dad also got to swim, comb the beaches, and enjoyed their fair share of outdoor exercise.
It was a truly magnificent experience all-around. Understand that I had endured decades of winter in the Northeast throughout my life, perhaps escaping for a few days to Florida or the Caribbean. While those little excursions certainly helped….they CANNOT compare to full-on SNOWBIRDING for a month plus!
We went again in 2011, 2012, 2013….and now 2016. We just arrived in last week. (In 2014 and 2015 we were living in London.)
Each snowbirding year has gotten better. We have good friends in Naples with whom we get to spend a lot of quality time. At this point we are familiar with a lot of the attractions and good restaurants. Altogether it makes it our home away from home – even though we own no real estate down there. In fact, we have rented a different condo each time.
Oh, yeah, that.
Well it hardly misses a beat.
I get a Naples library card shortly after arrival for the whopping sum of $10.
The kids keep up with their singing, piano, and chess lessons via Skype. Of course their textbooks make the trip south as well. Math, chess, vocabulary websites are totally indifferent to where the kids logon from….so why not in sunny Naples???
I broadcasted my radio show last week from my PC like I never left. I keep up with my clients and students via early morning Skype sessions. And Inez, my wife, found an office .5 miles away that she can walk to and work out of all month long.
So what exactly are we escaping, besides the dour weather???
Well for me, as the primary chauffeur and train escort….I’m ESCAPING all those, from my perspective, dreaded ORGANIZED ACTIVITIES.
We had the most glorious, peaceful 14 months in London (2014-15), and it was so relaxing PRECISELY because we were liberated from weekly classes and activities.
I vowed that when we return to New York, that I would say “no, thanks” to every enticing, and they are enticing(!), organized activity for my kids.
HOWEVER, when this fall came my wife went nuts signing the kids up…
Dance, gymnastics, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, soccer, karate, and recently basketball.
This is all on top of their homeschool classes and activities and my burgeoning client workload.
I somehow survived the fall and the beginning of winter but at some point I felt really overwhelmed. That’s when I started perusing Craigslist and pushing for a last minute (March) Florida vacation/escape.
Here’s a little window into our first week:
So homeschooling will not only help you ESCAPE vastly inferior institutionalized education…
It can help you ESCAPE the snow, ice, and cold…
And it can help you ESCAPE your daily grind, your boring routines and your obnoxious neighbors, inlaws and all your local nemeses.
Our month, like life, will go by fast enough.
All the activities, all the “culture”(!), all the same people, and all that New York traffic will be there waiting for us when we get back.
But I’ll be able to cope better with a little more chi….and a precocious sun tan!