Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.
There are days in every homeschool mom’s life when she wonders if it’s all worth it. Days when breakfast is late, siblings are squabbling, the toilet is overflowing, the dog threw up on the carpet, and your daughter is crying over her algebra.
I know. I’ve been there.
When people find out that I homeschool our five children, these are the comments I often hear:
- “Wow, you must be so organized!”
- “You must be a very patient person!”
- “I could never do that.”
- “You’re amazing! How do you do it all?”
The truth is, I”m not amazing at all. I’m a perfectly normal mom, with a very normal family. We have our share of arguing, whining, and disagreement.
And to top it all off, I also happen to be an introvert. As in, I gain energy from being alone and having time to think/read/pray/meditate. And time alone is hard to come by for most homeschooling moms.
So how does an introverted mom of five keep her sanity and learn to thrive in the midst of a very busy and active household? Good question. Sometimes it’s a huge struggle.
Here are a few things that help me, and they’re useful things for any mom to remember (whether you’re an introvert or not!).
Make Time to Nurture Your Soul
As an introvert, I need regular and frequent periods of solitude in order to stay sane. If I go for long periods of time without this time to recharge, I start to feel weary and discouraged.
The years when I had a baby, it was harder to find time for this, and I would often end up staying up late just to be alone (and then I’d regret my decision the next morning!). Now that I have older children (17, 15, 13, 11, 7), it’s so much easier to find time to breathe.
My time of choice is now early in the morning (but having teenagers means it’s harder to get to bed earlier, so I still end up going to bed later than I should much of the time).
Spending some time with my Bible, my prayer journal, and a good book can really refresh and renew my spirit. It gives me the strength and grace to go on and to face the day cheerfully.
Make Time to Nurture Your Marriage
If you’re married, it’s so important to make time to nurture your relationship with your husband.
Homeschooling can become such a huge focus in our lives that we unintentionally push our marriage relationship into the background. And when our marriages aren’t strong, everything else suffers.
I know how hard it can be to make time for date night. My husband works Monday through Saturday, and we’re both so busy that occasionally we’ll fall into a rut. (And to complicate matters, we’re both introverts!) We suddenly realize we’re living like “two ships passing in the night.” When this happens, we know it’s time to refocus and plan a date night!
Even if you can’t afford to go out on a “real” date (or maybe you don’t have childcare available), just having an at-home date can be wonderful and relationship-building! (Here are some free date night ideas.)
Make Time to Learn Organization Skills
I really am an organized person. But you might not guess it if you dropped by unexpectedly for a visit! We have seven people and several home businesses living in a small house.
I am always trying to reach a greater level of organization, but sometimes it’s like swimming upstream. It’s hard when not everyone in your home is on board with the idea of a clean and orderly house!
Whether you’re naturally organized or not, homeschooling does require a certain level of organization. And I would say the need goes beyond basic organization skills. I had basic organization skills before marriage, children, and homeschooling. Homeschooling brings along its own set of challenges. Just having everyone home all day makes it more complicated!
In order to feel like I’m thriving (not just surviving) in this homeschool lifestyle, I need organization and routines to keep things running smoothly.
Learn to create a basic home management schedule, a menu plan, a filing system, and daily schedule, and life will run so much more smoothly! Make sure your kids are helping and learning valuable life skills by adding a chore system or checklist.
Make Gratitude a Priority
There are going to be hard days. Anything worth doing is hard. People are involved, and that always seems to make things more complicated. 🙂
When I allow myself to feel self-pity for some of the difficulties the Lord has allowed in my life, no one benefits. It’s just Mom having a bad attitude. (How embarrassing! 🙂 )
When I instead choose to turn my heart towards gratitude and thanksgiving, when I focus on Jesus and pleasing Him, then my perception of the difficulties changes.
The sun comes out again and I’m able to have a better outlook on life.
Being thankful doesn’t make all the problems disappear. And sometimes it’s a huge struggle. By nature I’m not a Pollyanna type of person (at. all.), so sometimes it really is a “sacrifice of praise” that I bring before the Lord. But I do feel that being thankful makes a difference in my attitude and coping skills, so I keep right on filling my gratitude journal with happy thoughts and thanksgivings, even when I don’t feel like it.
Make Time to Discover Your Why
I’ve talked about this before, but it does make such a difference if you know why you’re doing this in the first place. (Read why we homeschool here.)
There have been days in my 14-year homeschooling career that were so hard and discouraging that I might have given up and put my kids in school—except I already knew that no matter how hard things got, I wouldn’t give up. It was too important for me to give up just to find immediate relief.
This tenacious determination and the strength of my “why” kept me going during the most discouraging seasons (usually when I was dealing with severe morning sickness and toddlers at the same time as trying to homeschool the older ones).
(I’m not saying that homeschooling is always right for everyone in every situation and that you should never take a different path than we have chosen. I’m just saying that homeschooling has been the right choice for us and knowing why I’m doing this has kept me from giving up on the hard days!)
Be Encouraged and Don’t Lose Heart
Dear moms, it is possible to thrive during these years that you’re homeschooling your children! Yes, even if you’re an introvert! That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. Some days/weeks/years are full of struggle and hardship. But even though it’s hard, it’s worth the struggle!
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” ~Galatians 6:9
Any other introverted moms out there? What helps you to feel like you’re thriving and not just surviving?
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