Homeschooling your kids and taking good care of yourself are not mutually exclusive.
I’ve been there, friends. I’ve been the excited, new homeschool mama who researches everything and throws herself into all the homeschooling things. I’ve been the mama whose body has shut down multiple times because I ignored warning signs. I’ve been the mama juggling kiddos with major health issues, moving, job changes, and more. Just like so many of you.
Taking care of you isn’t selfish. Please write this down and repeat it all the livelong day. Your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are not secondary to teaching math, conjugating verbs in Spanish, reading aloud, or doing an art project. They are more important.
There, I said it. I'm saying this to myself too. I’m saying it as I sit here with three teens who are very independent but still need guidance and snacks (so many snacks). I’m saying it to my younger self because, like you, I need copious amounts of grace.
Why Do We Put Our Health Last?
A couple of years ago, I was leading a workshop for a small group of homeschooling moms. We were sitting in a circle in a large conference room on uncomfortable chairs and poor lighting. Everyone had their journals and colorful pens. I had chocolate to pass around because that's what I do.
We started discussing how homeschooling can take a toll on our health if we're not careful. A soft-spoken woman was sitting to my left. I noticed her head was down. She suddenly looked up and said, " I don't even know what television shows I like anymore. I don't even know what to watch. I've spent so much time giving and giving to my kids. I don't know what to do."
My heart sunk. The other mamas in the circle nodded as if to say, "Yeah, we've been there too." I put my arm around her and handed her an entire chocolate bar. She needed it. She deserved it. And when she tried to refuse it and was worried about being selfish, I stopped her, kindly, and told her to let me gift it to her. I let her know it was okay to let her guard down in this circle and just breathe.
This incident has stayed with me as I continue to explore my self-care path and as I speak up about it through my writing, podcasts, Instagram posts, and everyday conversations.
Why are we putting our health last? I asked my community this question and the top three answers were:
Lack of alone time
Spoiler alert! Just because we homeschool our kids doesn't mean we don't need (or love) alone time. Alone time isn't just for introverts either. I'm an extrovert and I absolutely need lots of alone time. Also, five minutes alone in the bathroom doesn't count.
How and when you find your alone time is up to you. You must communicate your needs to your family. Write it down on the family calendar. Write it in your planner. Toss the guilt out of the window and don't let it come seeping back in.
Lack of energy
If we're not taking care of ourselves we probably don't have lots of energy. When we're constantly pouring out our energy to everyone else all the time, we're tapped out.
Please don't take this to mean that you cannot and shouldn't help others. As a life-long people-pleaser and "helper", one of my biggest joys in life is giving to others in a variety of ways. But, I've also come to realize that overextending myself and never saying "no" is detrimental to my health on all levels.
Trying to do everything ourselves
Raise your hand if your way is always the best way? I'm standing here with both of my hands waving high over my head.
Ah, to always have to do all the homeschool things and do them the best and make sure the house is clean, that the kids are not in pajamas at 3:42 pm, and that dinner is always homemade.
Some of you are awesome about asking for help and have a system in place. And for that, I applaud you. For the rest of us, now is the time to put down our waving hands and ask for a hand (or 10). We're not meant to carry everything on our own.
Our health cannot keep taking a back seat to homeschooling. We can be mindful and take care of ourselves and homeschool and take breaks when needed. There will be seasons of life when this is hard to do. And that leads me to the next section...
How We Can Put Ourselves First?
I wish I could wave a magic wand and we'd all just do this with ease. But the truth is, I do not know where you are on your homeschool journey. I do not know if you have a gaggle of little ones, a posse of teens, or a mix of the two. I don't know if you work outside the house, have a partner or are a single parent, and I do not know all the best ways that you can put yourself and your health back at the top of the list.
I just know that it has to happen and that the longer you push it off, the harder it will become to do, and the harder it becomes to do, the more likely you will burn out. Quickly.
Something that has helped me the past two years is finding my FLOW. Small habits and reminders and practices that I can weave into my days and weeks and months to ensure that all areas of my health are being cared for in some way. And, I've got to say, it's made a huge difference. So, what does following your FLOW look like? It's simple!
- Feed your body in a way that honors your unique self.
- Love yourself and lean into your season of life.
- Own your time and space. Make time for sleep, move your body, and have fun. Create spaces of beauty in your surroundings.
- Weed out what's not working, welcome the new, and enjoy the wonder.
Everyone's FLOW will be different and that is the beauty of it. You're worth it, friend. Your worth feeling rested and vibrant while rocking your homeschool duties. Modeling health and wellness is important for your children to see and to understand.
So, grab your journal and favorite cuppa something warm and yummy and get flowing. I'd love to know how this resonates with you.