As homeschooling moms, our sanity is vital and often at-risk, isn’t it? Here are five strategies I have for keeping my mental and emotional buffer padded.
Homeschooling Lists in Abundance
During this month of homeschool lists we’re starting with the essentials, and even more essential than the book lists (which, I know, are quite important), is mom’s sanity. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And if the kids aren’t happy, they probably aren’t learning very well. We can do more and serve our families better if we maintain our health and attitude about our daily work.
Homeschool Mom Sanity
Rather than things to do like “get out by myself” or “carve out reading time” or “get exercise in the fresh air,” all of which are important to, the five things I am sharing today are mindsets, perspectives, ways of thinking that shift the focus off whatever is dragging me down and fix it on something that will lift me back up.
1. Homeschooling is more than mothering; homeschooling is a part-time job.
It took me an unreasonable amount of time to learn why I couldn’t get to my to-do list in a day. My list was full of phone calls or cleaning catch-up or personal projects. And often ONE thing on that list of 8 was all that happened – and sometimes none of it did.
It wasn’t until last school year that I finally had a revelation: “I am a work-at-home mom: I homeschool!” Now, I know some women work a job and homeschool and more power to you. This blog thing is sort of a work-at-home gig as well. However, the category we put our responsibilities in matters to our expectations and our evaluations of ourselves.
I teach sixth grade, fourth grade, first grade, and toddler-preschool. That’s going to take some serious time and going to use up a lot of my energy. I can’t discount it or not count it in a day’s work.
Give yourself the credit of being not only the teacher-tutor of your children, but the school administrator and first-tier principal as well. Most of our day is spoken for in this.
2. Our health directly impacts our children.
Moms set the tone for their homes. Our ability to govern our tone and our attitude is directly tied to our health. So our health is a huge factor in our families and homes. The healthier we are, the more energy we have, the easier it is to keep cool and govern not only our household but even ourselves.
We can’t always manage a full night of sleep, or preparing a satisfying salad for lunch in the middle of a draining school day, or getting outside for fresh air and exercise. But when we can’t, we have to make allowances elsewhere and not keep our expectations up as high as they might be if we were in better shape. And if you feel you need to up your game as a mom, your own health is the best starting point.
3. Have a plan, and even a schedule.
Yes, it seems like the list is creating the frustration you feel, but that’s only because it’s expressing impossible expectations. No plan isn’t going to make it better.
4. Cultivate a growth mindset.
There are many opportunities to learn and grow in the context of family life. It is also easy to take the path of least resistance and just slog on through the mundane and menial tasks before us without taking an interest. That is the fast track to burn out.
We will find more satisfaction in our life if we use the situations and responsibilities before us as a path for sanctification, for learning, for growth. We will find plenty of food to foster it if we’re open to it. It seems like it takes extra energy that’s not there, but learning and improving is one of the best ways to increase that energy, which will in turn spill into every area.
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing. – William Butler Yeats
5. Make down time count.
When we’re tired and used up, the easiest thing to do is turn to time wasters – a way to bury our heads in the sand and ignore our stress, concerns, and exhaustion.
The time sucks that distract and flip the off switch, however, are only temporary and very short-lived reprieves. When we get back to our life we will not feel refreshed or ready to jump back in. Instead, we’ll anxiously await our next chance to just turn it off.
When we have down time in the morning or evening or on a weekend if we’re out by ourselves, we need to experiment and find out what fills us back up, what puts us back in touch with God, with our minds, with an art. Then we’ll be able to enter the fray again renewed, which is what we need to give our best to our families.
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