I sat at the school table fighting back tears, for the third time that week. Not understanding why this had become such a struggle. The heaviness of my heart was almost more than I could bare as I tried to wade through the guilt and frustration at my inability to get the kids excited about this topic and actually have a full school day without any negative attitude from them or me.
This was not the “perfectly, perfect in every way” scenario I had envisioned when I took this on. As I look back, the worst part is that I just kept doing the same thing and was expecting different results.
I have described this to you before, but I want you to picture this day in and day out for several years of our homeschooling journey. It was a hit to my self-worth as a homeschooler, mom, wife, and person. I was not happy with my decision to homeschool.
Things have improved. There are days when we struggle or something throws a wrench in our day. Individual days are gonna happen it is when that pattern of frustration, failure, and tears seems to be on a relentless cycle of repeat that it can be apparent (at least to everyone else) that there needs to be a few changes.
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Are you a mommy martyr?
I have thrown myself on the sword and been a mommy martyr. If you don’t know what a mommy martyr is, it is a mom that gives up her identity and sense of self once she becomes a mother. She totally neglects who she is as an individual in order to meet the needs of her family and fill the role of wife and mother. Mommy martyrdom is typically passed down from generation to generation.
In the day and age of digital comparison, it can be hard for parents to feel like they are doing the best or even just enough for their kids. This has just made the problem of being a mommy martyr so much worse. The constant need to second-guess ourselves based on a Pinterest perfect or Facebook world comparison is a new problem, but a big one.
Let’s talk about that self-neglect that leads to becoming a mommy martyr. Homeschool moms are especially skilled at neglecting themselves. Many of us were taught that good mothers put their own needs second. The problem is when their needs are always being pushed one more rung down the ladder, until they are NEVER met. It leads to raw nerves and tear rimmed eyes.
You are a priority
For all of these reasons, homeschool self-care needs to be a priority. When you feel energized, excited, and fulfilled then everyone in your home benefits including your homeschool.
How you execute homeschool self-care is really going to depend on you. It might have been so long since you have thought about yourself that you don’t know where to start.
I recently read a great book by Gay Hendricks called The Big Leap. In this book, the author discusses how we have four zones of functioning and that we should all be striving to work in our zone of genius. It is a good book to help you remember what you love doing and what you are really good at.
It looks different for everyone.
I know that some moms write all of their own curriculum. They do it and that is where their talents lie and it is awesome, but for the rest of us – there are great curriculums on the market. Don’t waste your precious energy redesigning lessons if your talents lie in photography, music, organization, or some other area.
For me, I was good to produce my own curriculum when it came to science. I was not good at creating reading, writing, or math curriculum. The result of many hours of work would often be frustration.
If you are spending all your energy trying to overcome your areas of weakness, there isn’t any energy left for your areas of strength. We are on this earth for a purpose. We all have a gift to share and when we waste our time on mediocrity we lose our chance to share our gifts with the people we love, work with, and the world at large.
Loving your kids, your spouse, and your family is awesome and necessary. It can not be at your expense. You have to make room for yourself. Homeschooling is rewarding but requires you to exercise homeschool self-care.
The world needs curriculum writers, organizers, humor, love, great cooks, the ultimate boo-boo kissers, and all the other things that I know are talents that some of you have that are reading this. The thing that makes you who you are needs time and energy to develop and flourish. One of my favorite tricks is outsourcing, which I talk about a little here.
So here are my tips and tricks to make yourself a priority in your homeschool:
- Create calm. Set aside time (daily is best) to just meditate, pray, plan, and be calm. By taking 15 minutes or so out of your day, you create the mood for the day. You’ve heard if momma ain’t happy, no one is happy. The reverse is also true – if momma is stressed, everyone is stressed.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. If there is already a good curriculum, system, or plan in place don’t reinvent it because you think you might be able to do something better. This has more to do with a need to control than a need to improve – that isn’t good for anyone.
- Don’t feel guilty about your areas of weakness. We all have flaws. I suck at organizing and keeping things tidy. I have taken a few courses and worked through some of it with the help of a friend/coach. The result is that I am better, but it will never be an area of strength and I am totally OK with that. I have other gifts that ROCK!
- Celebrate your areas of strength. I am strong in math, science, and music. I’m deeply emotional and can make deep connections to people. I’m a creative thinker and often find alternative solutions to problems. I am incredibly happy at this point in my life (and age) because I am confident enough to be comfortable in my areas of strength and weakness.
- Invest in products, services, and courses that will make your life easier. You are creating margin in your life to spend in your area of strength. That is the sweet spot where you are able to make a bigger difference. These might include things from file folders, a cleaning service, babysitting, a tutorial or co-op, to a gym membership. Whatever you need that will give you margin and this can be things you buy, things you trade for, or things you sit down and schedule.