Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
The homeschooling lifestyle isn’t sustainable when you’re doing it on your own. Yet many of us attempt to do so.
That concerned me when I began considering this path years ago. I already had two sons only seven months apart in age, and a daughter with special needs would join our family soon via another adoption.
Traditional school seemed like the natural, “normal” thing to do–and it seemed possible, compared to being with the kids 24/7. I always try to think positively, but I just wasn’t sure if I could do it. It didn’t seem like a long-term solution.
Yet in my heart I knew homeschooling was for us. So I began to read and study the opinions of other home educating authors. Many of them, women I deeply respect, expressed that homeschooling is a chance to die to ourselves as mothers. A chance to choose a lifestyle of service over comfort. As a Christian, I could appreciate their point.
At the same time, on weary days, it didn’t appear like I was of use to anyone. A mom with burnout is never a pleasant or joyful mom, no matter what facade she presents. Most of us vacillate between the mountaintops and valleys, visiting seasons of both in our attempt to cultivate an intentional life.
Then last year I happened across A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot. I found my guilt lifting as I read her words:
“So many times over my years as a mother, I had felt tired, overwhelmed, and worn out. So often I felt I couldn’t get any personal space to think, what with the continual onslaught of “Mommy! Mommy!” coming from the children, or the work I hadn’t finished staring me in the face.
I needed quiet time alone.
We need to do what we can…because our psychological and emotional health is essential to the fulfillment of our vocation. We can’t give to others what we don’t have. We can’t minister fully to our families when our eyes are turned inward to pain.” (pages 68 & 59)
I’m not kidding when I say that after reading these words, I sat with the page open, staring for at least 20 minutes. Could it really be that the way I felt made sense, wasn’t selfish?
I do believe I am called to a life of service; that’s exactly why I must care for myself–so I am best equipped to serve.
I am still a homeschooling mother of three young kids, now ages 7, 6.5, and 6. I’m also a blogger who writes 10-15 hours a week. I now have a weekly sitter who comes for a few hours during the morning.
I use those hours to write and run an occasional errand. But I don’t use that time solely for work. I also use it to rest, read, think in peace, and dream.
Look for other ways to give yourself a break even if you can’t currently afford household help. Trade afternoons with a friend. Make sure your children have a rest time in the afternoon, no matter what their ages. Author Holly Pierlot arranged with her husband to take every other Saturday “off” to get the break she needed.
We all have unique situations, unique stresses, unique seasons. We all have a love for our family, which often led us to homeschooling in the first place.
Don’t feel guilty about putting yourself back on the map. It makes the world a better place for everyone you love.
How do you care for yourself? Has there ever been a time when you failed to?