Have you ever felt resentful that you are always at the bottom of the list, trying to figure out when to exercise or go buy a bra or squeeze in a dentist appointment? Me too! Homeschooling is HARD work at times. Especially as children get older and you are trying to meet academic needs that are more demanding, more social needs and extra activities. You may end up feeling pulled from early in the morning until later in the evening after you get home from whatever activity was going on. This happens, even in Waldorf families, especially when we are homeschooling teenagers.
I recently got to spend some days alone. Our dog just came out of the ICU. She was too sick to travel and needed rest and quiet at home to recover, but we also had our once a year vacation plans that were paid for and we couldn’t get a refund. So, my husband and I decided that he would take the children for the vacation and I stayed home with our sweet dog. The wonderful thing was that she wasn’t so sick that I couldn’t run out for an hour or so and come back. (And thank goodness, because there was nothing worse than seeing her so sick! So grateful she is feeling better even if she has a road ahead!) So I went to the gym AND also walked on the SAME day! I cleaned out closets and the pantry and the garage. I did much of the paperwork kind of stuff that I almost never have time to call about and follow up on (or I have to miss time homeschooling in order to do that!) I also went through things for homeschooling, including looking at things for high school next year, that I probably would never had time to do if I wasn’t alone! I did all kinds of things that were so much easier in solitude.
And here is what I thought about this week: we, as homeschooling mothers, often do put ourselves last. We really do very often. We may go straight from one child to the next with homeschooling to meal preparation to activities for children to housework with no break at all until in the night after the children go to sleep. And then we are tired! Teaching all day is tiring! Many times this pace is a necessity in homeschooling. IAs people say, it really is just a season, but it can be a long season when you are in it. So short of giving up homeschooling,which most of us are not going to give up for varying reasons, what can we do for self care in the meantime?
Here is my list; maybe it will inspire you to make your own list and share it here! Here is mine:
- Make sure you have scheduled time every day to exercise. Yes, that might be at 6:30 in the morning or 8 at night, but if that is what it is , then so be it! I will be thinking of you at 6:30 AM. It is NOT selfish to take care of your health and according to nearly every research study out there, exercise is a major key to good health! Take charge of your health and exercise. It is really important!
- Make and keep your doctor and dentist appointments; make and keep appointments for things that nourish you and make you feel fabulous – whether that is finally getting some new clothes (even if they are thrift store clothes, they are still new to you!) or having a date with a friend..whatever that nourishing thing is outside your family, put it on your calendar, arrange someone to watch your children and go do that!
- Be the meal prepper – but not just for the family, but for your too. If you Meal Prep Monday, you can have meals for the whole week for you. This is especially important if you need a diet that is different in some ways from your family’s diet. I like Amanda’s Instagram account to follow for healthy meal prepping, and I like divided containers or mason jars to put healthy food in when I prep food. Planning out things like breakfast and lunch for the whole family has also helped me immensely. I generally always have a plan for dinner, but everyone was getting tired of the standard fare for breakfast and lunch, including me. Take your time and think ahead for meals; can you cook in bulk or use a crockpot?
- Don’t let your passions die. You are more than a mother and a partner or spouse. You are the unique and wonderful you! Is there any time, once a week, where the children could all GO and you could be alone? This isn’t always possible with traveling partners and family far away or partners who work long hours, but then could you cultivate a mother’s helper, a babysitter, a friend to trade with? You are so worth this! If your children are very small, under the age of seven, again, this may be very difficult, so don’t torture yourself over it, but do start making strides when children are five and six toward having some time to yourself for doing your passion – whether that is painting or hiking or reading or music. I think it is important to make that effort.
- Get organized – yes, use your calendar, and set boundaries on your time. You cannot do it all, and the more you run from morning until night, the more it will eventually lead to burn-out. Steady pace counts for a lot in life.
- Get your house in order. Things are naturally going to be more chaotic with more people in the house and things will have to be “over-hauled” perhaps more often than you think..for example, I cleaned out all the dressers, drawers, storage areas over the summer and it needed to be done again. Things pile up and especially with the change in seasons, they need to be gone through again. Or maybe you could use Flylady where you really clean out clutter each week! Getting rid of the clutter makes it much simpler to clean!
- If you feel nourished, calm, healthy …well, then you feel great! You feel sexy! And that is such a great boost to those of us with partners or spouses in the house.
I guess most of all, what I have been thinking is to set your priorities and boundaries! We all only have 24 hours in a day, but if nearly all of those hours are devoted to our children’s schooling and activities and we can’t even get a twice a year dentist appointment in, for example, something is wrong. We want to invest our time in our children and families, but we also really need to invest in our own health and well-being. This is about being a great model for our children when it comes to health and sanity. Also, when we feel physically good and emotionally nurtured, everyone in the family benefits!
Please share your best ideas for self-care in the comment box.