For those of you who are a few weeks into your homeschool journey this year, I want to share something a friend of mine told me a few years ago that helps me.
“Human mothers don’t eat their young.”
This is hard. Parenting is hard. Teaching is hard. Putting those together is really hard. And in 2020, it is even harder as all our normal coping mechanisms may not work in a pandemic.
Burnout is real.
When you find yourself having the kind of day where you need this reminder, take some time for yourself. You can declare a “teacher workday” on any given day. Take the day off from school and regroup. How do you do that? It depends on what helps you feel better about life. For some moms, grabbing the kids and heading out to the woods for a hike helps. Getting outside and remembering that homeschool is more than the curriculum is good for everyone. For other moms, parking the kids in front of a movie while they take a long bath and read a smutty novel helps.
You do you.
Do what helps you regroup. Not sure what that is? It may depend on what you need right now.
Do you need to feel connected to your kids?
Then choose a non-school thing to do with them. Play a board game, sing songs, or bake brownies together. Dropping everything to have a dance party or a sword fight can burn off a bad mood. It is okay to do things the kids like. It is okay to do things you like. Some of the best lessons in life come from real life, and not from the curriculum at all.
Do you need to feel like a human and not just a mom?
This is when you just give the kids the day off and do some self-care. Call a friend to chat or meet them outside for some socially-distanced heart-to-heart time. Set up a Zoom book club or knitting night to see someone outside your home. Spend time on your own hobbies. Read, write, draw, or sew. Whatever makes you feel alive. Heck, you can start Christmas shopping right now, if it helps.
Do you just need to be alone and get some peace and quiet?
Ask your spouse to watch the kids so you can go for a walk around the block. Take a long bath. Go for a drive and get yourself a drive though treat in the next town over. One of my odd guilty pleasures is to just go get a large drink at a fast food place and sit in the car to drink it while reading a book. Quietly, in the car, where no one can bother me. It lets me take a tiny, mental vacation, which I need.
Doing It All
Being a homeschool mom often means you are doing everything. Cooking, cleaning, parenting, schooling, and even working or volunteering. To keep your own head above water, I recommend finding several things from above to do each week. Take time to do something you enjoy with the kids. Friday can be board games and cookies day if you want. Give yourself an actual lunch break and sit outside to eat or take a short walk alone. Take an hour off and leave your spouse in charge for a bit. Even if you aren’t drained, give yourself the benefit of some time away. It will help you stay sane. Trust me.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.