Over the years, I have read numerous hints and tips about how to facilitate healthy habits in our children; things like personal hygiene, keeping bedrooms tidy, and putting toys away. While we often relegate healthy habits to our children, they’re just as important in the life of a homeschool mom.
Think of your vehicle for a moment. (My boys are car obsessed, so bear with me as this is the first example that came to mind!) You probably have regular habits that keep it running and able to do its job: filling the gas tank, oil changes, tire rotations, and even going through the car wash.
Likewise, when we regularly incorporate healthy habits into our own lives, we nourish and care for ourselves, equipping us with the strength, energy, and fortitude we need to homeschool our children.
Homeschooling Is a Challenging Job
Over 11 years ago, when I decided to homeschool my firstborn, I had no idea about homeschooling for the future. I was more of a take it one year at a time kinda girl. That was probably a good thing because had I been able to see into the future, I might not have decided to homeschool!
Honestly, have you ever considered the many roles a homeschool mom fulfills during any given homeschool day? Here are a few that come to mind: teacher, principal, guidance counselor, janitor, and cafeteria cook. You might also add a reading specialist, personal tutor, researcher, and advocate.
If someone had told me I would fulfill all those roles, I would have asked how much I would get paid! That job description would have overwhelmed me when I was just getting the hang of being a mom.
Years later, despite more knowledge and experience, I still continue to face homeschool challenges on a regular basis. I’m sure you do as well. Some days are just plain hard. Other times, the issues are weighty and require serious consideration, guidance from others, and lots of prayers.
Remember the car analogy from earlier? As we travel the road of homeschool life (and all the challenges it can bring), be mindful that caring for the engine of our homeschool is crucial, and that engine is you!
Helpful Healthy Habits
The details of how we care for ourselves can look different from mom to mom. Part of your self-care journey is deciding what that looks like for you. However, if you start prioritizing these five healthy habits, you will build a solid foundation for yourself (the engine) and the health of your homeschool.
1. Give Yourself Grace…Daily
Unfortunately, most moms are way too hard on themselves. We compare ourselves to an ideal homeschool mom that is non-existent, and in return, we only see our flaws and failures. The reality is: any mom that takes on the challenge of homeschooling is brave and courageous.
In the day-to-day, our humanity is apparent as we run short of energy, lose our temper, and fail our children. However, this is no excuse to talk so negatively to ourselves. Please give yourself the grace you deserve when harsh thoughts attempt to remind you otherwise. We can all benefit from kinder self-talk.
2. Connect Regularly with Other Moms
Most of the time, homeschooling occurs in our own homes day after day after day, which can result in feeling alone on the journey. We wonder if other moms are having the same struggles we are. We feel isolated from social relationships that were a natural extension of being in the workplace.
The best way to combat this tendency toward isolation is to connect regularly with other moms. While homeschool moms can truly understand the joys and trials of the journey, we can also find a connection with non-homeschooling moms. Several of my friends fall into this category but are wonderfully supportive and encouraging when I share my homeschool challenges.
3. Engage in Hobbies That Bring You Joy
Think back to hobbies you enjoyed before you had kids. What activities gave you a creative outlet or provided community with others? Perhaps you were part of a scrapbooking group or enjoyed photography or knitting.
It’s easy to lay aside time spent on hobbies as we have children and care for our families. Sometimes, just trying to survive with babies and toddlers is all we can manage. I understand!
When your life season permits, re-engage with one of those lost hobbies or investigate something new. You can model for your kids the importance of creative pursuits and find fulfillment in doing something you enjoy. We all need a little more of that!
4. Allow Time for Rest and Relaxation
This habit includes moments of rest during the day, plenty of sleep, and even time for retreat. Tailor this to fit your needs because everyone has different requirements.
Find out what adequate sleep you need to feel well-rested with good energy during the day and aim to get that as much as possible. Find small moments of rest during the day to allow space to gather your thoughts, process emotions, and give your feet a break. Enjoying a cup of tea, reading for 30 minutes, or just sitting down while you eat lunch can make a difference.
You can also plan an extended time of rest by scheduling a mom retreat. Often, one hour or day here and there is not enough of a break. With intentional planning, a mom retreat can be an incredible time away that is life-giving.
5. Take Time to Plan
When you carve out time to consider what you want, where you’re going, and how you might aim to accomplish it, you’re planning. Depending on your personality, you may be a planner that likes all the details mapped out, or you may (myself included) be more comfortable with a general plan with plenty of room for flexibility.
Wherever you fall on that scale, planning will help you assess what’s necessary for your homeschool and for yourself. Most moms spend time planning before the school year starts, but it’s also a good idea to have additional planning times throughout the year. Natural breaks like Christmas or spring break are good times to reassess your homeschool and make adjustments as needed.
Lastly, remember to plan for your own self-care! It is equally as important as planning out your homeschool year. If you continuously push aside your own needs until they are completely off the radar, you may be on the path to major mom engine malfunction! It’s better to invest in yourself regularly and intentionally, than try to recover from total homeschool mom burnout.
As the driving force in your homeschool, when you implement healthy habits, you will reap the benefits, and so will your homeschool. When it comes to creating or improving habits in your life, patience and gentleness with yourself are critical. Be encouraged! No homeschool mom excels in all of these areas all of the time. Each of us is a work in progress, traveling this homeschool journey as best we can.