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A day in the life of an introverted homeschool mom

a day in the life of an introverted homeschool mom ~SimpleHomeschoolWritten by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

I always knew I was an introvert but I knew it in my bones by the time that fifth or sixth child arrived. At first, I thought it was exhaustion that sent me to my room every afternoon during naptime, no matter how much work I was ignoring. I blamed myself for being so lazy.

But then I remembered: I’m an introvert! And there are people here all the time! No wonder I feel overwhelmed!

personalities at home

Now we have seven children we homeschool. My husband works from home. And there’s me, the introvert. That’s nine people at home: all day, every day.

A girl’s gotta figure out how to cope, right?

Admit who you are.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy. It just means I don’t derive energy from being around people. At some point, being around people all the time will exhaust me. I recharge from quiet and solitude.

Embrace Who You Are.

I had to admit that to continue our lifestyle and stay sane, I would need to make allowances for my personality. This doesn’t mean that introverts shouldn’t homeschool. In fact, introverts make great teachers because we encourage creativity and autonomy in students.

Being an introvert makes me sensitive to the personality traits of my kids. I understand their need for space and am happy to give it to them.

The Key: Plan Breaks Into Your Day

I love my people. I love serving them, listening to them, spending time with them. So I want to give them my best. But I know myself and I know that in order to give them my best, I need to build in breaks to decompress.

Coffee

After the flurry of fixing breakfast and getting dressed, I make sure that I drink my cup of coffee before we start school. It isn’t always ideal, sometimes I toss it back in between changing diapers and breaking up squabbles, but I try to take ten minutes to pour some caffeine down my gullet and read a few blog posts. This helps me decompress briefly before we begin school.

We do roughly an hour and a half of focused school time where I am actively teaching. During this time, my kids get my undivided attention.

Afterward, I send the kids off to play or give them a specific assignment and I take a moment for quiet. Now, this doesn’t mean they don’t interrupt me. They do. But I check my email, read a blog post, or some other mindless activity that doesn’t require any deep thinking.

Then I move on to the list of chores I have to get done before lunch.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed by the noise, I will grab a protein bar and eat my “lunch” first. This gets my blood sugar back up and prepares me to jump into the lunch hour with renewed gusto.

After lunch, my Littles nap and my older children work on schoolwork that doesn’t require my presence. This is when I disappear for a bit.

My room is my safe place. My bed is my nest and I am always happy to head there.

My children interrupt me for questions about math, but that’s ok. We often discuss how Mommy’s Time Out makes her a better mommy. So they think long and hard about their questions before they disturb me. And likewise, if their question is school related, I am always happy to oblige. My responsibility to my kids still comes first.

While I’m in my room, I will try to do something mindless for a few minutes (word games on my phone, a quick TV show) before I move onto anything complicated like blogging or email.

If I feel like a nap, I’ll give it a try, recognizing that no nap is sacred when my children are home. Sometimes, instead of sleeping, I’ll just close my eyes and listen to a podcast. That way it’s not as frustrating if someone interrupts me.

podcast

Recently, I’ve started exercising during this time, but I do it alone, so that counts as “quiet time” for me.

After rest time, I jump back into the fray for the late afternoon and dinner time rush. I know I have a few hours until bed time and then the noise will settle back down.

Develop Time Out Signals With Your Kids and Spouse

Sometimes, it’s all too much. If the kids are being boisterous, the baby is crying, the toddler is whining, and I’ve just finished four math lessons in a row, I think it’s fair to ask for a time out.

The key is to ask gently BEFORE your head explodes.

My kids respond much better when I warn them, “Mommy is feeling overwhelmed, could you lower your voices please?”

Often, I ask them for Five Minutes of Silence. Out of respect for their time, I set a timer and don’t take one second longer than I requested.

I have a similar signal with my husband. Sometimes during dinner prep after a long day, I will greet my husband when he enters the fray with, “Hi. I need a time out. Ten minutes?”

chocolate

Then I run to my room, eat a piece of chocolate and play a word game on my phone, just to release the pressure from between my ears. When I emerge from my room, I return the favor to my husband (even though, by God’s grace, he’s an extrovert and doesn’t need as much quiet as I do.)

When I request a time out, I try to be respectful of his time and I promise to always come back.

When You’re In, Be All IN.

When it’s time to be “on,” I want to do it well. I tune out the other noise in our lives and focus on the noise of my kids. When I’m teaching, they have my total attention. When four of them talk to me at once, we will back it up and take turns, but I will listen to every word.

I ignore my phone, shut out my computer, and give them all of my mental energy.

And I can do it, because I know that there will be silence later on. I can do it because there is the promise of solitude ahead. And I can do it because I genuinely WANT to hear my people.

My children matter, their words are important, and my time with them is so precious. They deserve my absolute (introverted) best.

kids

So tell me: Are you an introvert? How do you build breaks into your day? Are you an extrovert? Even extroverts need coping mechanisms. What are some of yours?

About Lora

Lora Lynn earned her stripes becoming mom to seven kids in seven years. She’s lived to tell about it and shares her mothering know-how with comedy, common sense, and a whole lot of chocolate at Vitafamiliae. Through infertility, high-risk pregnancies, adoption, and life as a homeschooling, twin-raising, stay-at-home mom, Lora Lynn writes with humor and honesty on what’s most important in all the crazy – a life defined by family.

Comments

  1. Candis Bayes says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart. God is using it to encourage others . I am a “working” mom/ homeschooling mom. Though all moms are working mom’s, I need to work outside the home 24 hours a week to supplement our income. I work evenings as a nurse and then homeschooling our children during the day. I am also an introvert and find these two tasks (working and homeschooling) are all I can think about accomplishing. My social life has completely disappeared as my need for solitude trumps all social interaction. My husband is in ministry and I help out with our Awana program, attend church Sunday morning and one Bible study a week. Aside from that I found all my friendships disappear for lack of time spent. I don’t dislike people, on the contrary, I love them. However, I feel I am continuously on people “over-load” and have to withdraw from society. Its a frustration for me but I know I need to break away for my sanity. I am thankful there are other introverts out there. Its encouraging. God has created us all differently and its nice to have sisters in Christ that understand this. As introverts we have a requirement to “Be Still”.

  2. I am so glad you said it. I love that you added that you are all in when your kids need you. I agree. I am not shy, as well, but am not a social butterfly. I need an escape route sometimes. I absolutely love being home with my children and they are getting to ages where I can have a small amount of quiet time to recharge, so that is great and helps me be a better Mommy. I do compare myself to others that are not like me and sometimes make myself feel bad that I’m not more extroverted. I’m thankful for your post because I feel like as long as I am doing what needs to be done and giving myself fully to God and my family, then I am allowed those little breaks.
    Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Melissa says:

    Thanks for your post! I am a mom of four. I am homeschooling a first and a second grader and also have a 1 and 3 year old underfoot. I am also a home daycare provider for 5-6 other little ones Monday through Friday. I could not figure out why I felt so exhausted and overwhelmed even on the days that went pretty smoothly. I am an introvert!!! The constant noise and activity was totally wearing me out! I am trying to build in quiet times for myself. It is very challenging though! Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. This is me, too. Four kiddos being homeschooled, and husband self-employed and working from home, and being “on” all the time sucks the life out of me! It is so very essential to carve out those blocks of time throughout the day to just decompress. It’s always a consolation to read something that shows me clearly that I am not the only one.

  5. Do you have any thoughts about playdates? I am homeschooling a 6-year-old girl with twin toddlers underfoot. I feel like the homeschooling part is mostly going pretty well, but I find the social/connecting with other moms aspect very draining and difficult. It’s not that the other moms are problematic at all, it just takes all my energy to deal with people I don’t know very well. My daughter enjoys some classes and activities with other kids, but hasn’t made any close friends (with kids–she’s great with all her Aunties and Uncles and her younger siblings). Do you have any ideas?

  6. Coreline says:

    Totally, totally get this. And so much of what you do, I also do during the day to cope. Not in a terrible sounding way but to allow me to be the best wife/mom/teacher I can be. I get up before everyone else to have a cup of coffee, quiet time and catch up on email. Then half way through the morning I send the kids outside while I again have some solitude, and then we have about an hour of quiet time in the afternoon where the kids have to go to their rooms. I have one child that is an introvert and one that isn’t so they definitely both don’t relish it but it’s good for all of us. I also have a cut off in the evening when I am literally just done. It’s how we function and I think acknowledging that makes us better in the long run :)

  7. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I couldn’t pin point it but you just did! I home school and my husband works from home also. This totally makes sense to me. No more feeling guilty for taking a few moments to my self.

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