Simple Things That Help Me Stay Balanced While Homeschooling
As wonderful a journey this homeschooling adventure is, it can be overwhelming at times. The following are a few practices, or habits, that I have developed to help me stay balanced during this adventure.
Quiet Morning Time:
I know this might be hard when you have a toddler, but shortly after my youngest was three I began implementing this. I am more of an introvert and rely on a bit of quiet time in the morning to keep my equilibrium throughout the day. When my youngest turned three, I began explaining to my children that each morning I need to drink my cup of tea slowly while reading quietly. For about two weeks I had to repeat this to them gently and kindly. But soon enough they began to come up to me in the morning (after wake up snuggles and such) and look into my tea cup to see if it was empty. If there was still tea in my cup, they knew my quiet time was not over and would either go play, or snuggle quietly with me while I read and drank my tea… ever… so… slowly. Inadvertently, a beautiful thing grew out of this. Both my children ended up modeling my behavior and now also spend the morning reading or looking at books.
I put this at number one because it changed my homeschooling life. Being able to have a bit of internal time before a day of teaching (and talking) is so essential for my wellbeing and has really helped me start my day in a more grounded and focused manner.
Frequent Breaks Throughout the Day:
I don’t know about you, but one of the greatest challenges I face while homeschooling is hearing myself talk, read out loud, or hearing other voices talk to me for so many hours of the day. I need moments to air out and space out in order to stay clear and focused. A while back we began taking frequent breaks by dispersing ten to twenty minute breaks between every one or two subjects. This has worked beautifully and not only because it sustains my balance throughout the day, but also because it has almost eliminated whining about focused work, as my children always know a break is coming.
Afternoon Tea and Quiet Time:
I know there are homeschooling mothers out there who have somehow miraculously managed their lives and schedules so that they have large chunks of alone time each week. I am definitely not one of them, though I admire them tremendously. So the way I balance that out is to take small bits of alone time each day while my children are with me. I know that might sound unrealistic or like an oxymoron, but it actually works. A half hour here and there makes a huge contribution toward nurturing my well being. As my morning tea and reading time is vital for my wellbeing, so is a tiny bit of tea and reading time in the afternoon, after lessons. What makes this completely realistic is that after homeschooling, my children are ready to run outside or into one of their rooms and loose themselves in imaginative play. This is a perfect time for me to grab my book and my cup of tea and have a bit of internal time. I have found that even if 15 minutes is all I can manage, it still makes an enormous difference. And once again, I have noticed that modeling a love of reading has had a profound impact on my children. You might be reading this and thinking, “I have a ton of dishes to do when they are playing,” or, “That is when I prepare dinner so I am not swamped later.” I also have all of those thoughts enter my mind. I combat them with the knowledge that if 15 – 30 minutes can have such a tremendous impact on my well being, it should have its place in my daily schedule, even if it means we eat dinner 15 – 30 minutes later.
Hiking and Nature Time:
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
This about sums it up. There is nothing in the world so rejuvenating as going into nature, whether it be for a hike, a picnic, or just to be in absolute awe. Our nature time is always a time for all of us to rejuvenate. Not only individually, within each of us, but as a family. Nature brings out the wonder and curiosity in all of us. It sparks our excitement while simultaneously calming any stress or irritations the week might have presented us with. It is our collective exhale and inhale you might say. In addition to this, I also love mixing things up by taking an impromptu picnic or even a dinner picnic to watch the sunset. We are a picnic loving family and we have discovered that bundled up autumn picnics are as delightful as summer beach picnics. They can be enjoyed in any weather, other than rain or heavy winds.
In our home we have two read aloud periods per day, as we are a literature loving family, and yet, I find audiobooks a necessary blessing. Because my son is three years younger than my daughter, there are a few subjects I need to work on with my daughter fully focused and alone, such as writing, grammar, and math. All other subjects we enjoy together as a family, with each child participating at varying levels. When I am working on advanced work with my daughter, my son has independent time. He has developed the habit of going into his room and building legos while listening to an audiobook on cd. For anyone who knows the difficulty of attempting to work with an older sibling while being interrupted by a younger one, you will appreciate this. Before audiobooks, there were frequent interruptions while trying to work with my daughter, but after incorporating them into our day, those interruptions have become nonexistent. I choose quality literature or stories that incorporate science, history, and adventure. Often, my son comes out after listening and narrates the story to me out of sheer excitement. In addition, it has taught him that he is capable of enjoying independent time, which before audiobooks, he wasn’t convinced of. I would highly recommend using audiobooks for helping with younger siblings. Older children can simply be assigned reading while you work with younger ones, but when you need to get that focused time in with the older kids, it is an absolute blessing to have audiobooks around.