“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” —Benjamin Franklin
If our well is dry, homeschooling (the good and the hard) can feel impossible. Homeschooling doesn’t offer us planning periods or lunch breaks. We don’t get paid time off or teacher work days built into our schedules. Our days are dictated by the things we say yes to.
- Yes to piano lessons and helping each child with their math.
- Yes to read-alouds, meal prep, co-ops, French lessons, and play-group.
- And yes to everyone in the car, everyone out of the car, and back in again.
We can say yes to all good things and still feel run-over, our well dry. Why? Because so many of us, moms especially, say yes to everyone else’s needs first.
And this tendency can create resentment. Have you ever felt resentment build to the point of anger? This can be a struggle for homeschool moms who are always saying yes. And let's face it, there are so many good things to say yes to.
Here’s the thing. We can say yes to ourselves and yes to our people. We don’t have to choose. In fact, when we fill our well up, we’re doing our family a favor. When we take care of ourselves, we have a better self to give. We are more present, we probably check our phones less often, and because our needs are met, we enjoy our time with our children. The time we give ourselves matters and can help us to let go of any resentment and anger.
As homeschoolers, we have to schedule time for ourselves the same way we plan lessons and playdates. Time for ourselves can be as simple or as complex as we want to make it. What matters most is following through with our plan.
Create time in your homeschool schedule just for you. Fill up your well. Because you are worth it.
Step 1: Choose something you love to do or want to do.
Step 2: Do it.
If only it were that easy. If you’ve taken care of everyone else’s needs for a while, you might not know what you would enjoy. Here's help.
1. What Did You Enjoy Doing Before You Had Kids?
Think back to before kids and homeschooling. What brought you joy? Were you crafty? Did you enjoy scrapbooking, knitting, or drawing? Did you like the outdoors, sports, or gardening? Were you an avid reader, gamer, builder, tv binger?
- Make a list of the things you enjoy or might enjoy doing.
2. What Would Feel Good Right Now
Take your temperature. Not really, but assess how you are feeling: sluggish, anxious, sore, scattered?
What might help you reset your temperature? A bath, a run, a walk with a friend, journaling, going to bed a little earlier, drinking a glass of water or a hot cup of tea, or taking time to wake up before the kids wake up?
- Make a list of the things your body and mind need.
3. Make Space in Your Day
Whether we recognize it or not, our day is made up of the choices we make. We have to say yes to ourselves just like we say yes to giving our time to others.
When do you feel your best? Your worst? When are the kids asleep or preoccupied? When is the yoga class offered or when can your friend meet for coffee?
Maybe take time for yourself in the early morning, during screen time, or head to bed early a couple of nights a week. Maybe take some time throughout the day. Making time for ourselves is okay. Look over your schedule, readjust it if needed, and carve out time, every day, just for you.
- Put something for just you on your calendar. Better yet, carve out a little time each day or at least once a week.
4. Call in Support
How many people do you help on a given day? Homeschoolers are helpers, and my guess is you’re not only helping your kids, but you’re also offering support to your family, other homeschoolers, friends, your community, your spouse, etc.
They can help you, too. Your spouse can do bath and bed one night a week; your older children can make breakfast, friends can child-swap (a win-win for both moms), or your family can take your children on a special field trip or come over and do a lesson.
We don’t have to do it all. We’ll do the things we do better when we take time to care for ourselves.
- Who are your supports? Who might like to take your children for a couple of hours in exchange for you taking their children another day? Talk to your spouse, friends, or family and find time for just you.
5. Steal Time
Busy days and schedules mean we need to be prepared for the moment when things get quiet. Because these moments happen, but we have to claim them. The kids are all reading quietly. A lesson runs over, the neighborhood kids invited yours over, or maybe you have an hour-long drive to the art museum—take me time.
Whatever you do, don’t do laundry or dishes or make the phone call you’re dreading. This time is bonus time, and it’s important to take it.
Keep a book or journal in your car or purse. Download an audiobook or podcasts and listen to it while you drive. Grab your sneakers and walk while the kids have soccer. Make your favorite drink and sit on your porch. We don’t have to be busy all the time, and it’s okay to see an opportunity to take a break and seize it.
- Be prepared for bonus time. Put a few things you enjoy doing in your car, a bag, or download them onto a device. Buy your favorite bath salts, snacks, and magazine.
Taking time for ourselves isn’t a luxury, rather, it’s a necessity. It’s not selfish. It’s care for the homeschool mom, and the better we care for ourselves, the better we will care for others and the less anger we will feel. So create a self-care plan, and know that in doing so and in implementing it, you and your children will enjoy homeschooling even more.
About the Author
Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.
Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.