What about ME: On taking care of yourself as a homeschooling mom

On taking care of yourself as a homeschool mom
The following is a guest post written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy.

I was ready to quit.

I originally chose to homeschool because I thought it was absolutely the best decision for my kids. I wanted them to have the excellent education, individualized curriculum, and flexible schedule that homeschooling could provide.

But last spring, I found myself wondering if it was the best decision for me.

For the past two years, I’ve been homeschooling my 4 kids–ages 9, 7, 5 and 2. But I’m also a writer, and work part-time in my pre-kids field. As we neared the end of our second year of homeschooling, I found myself intensely dissatisfied with its opportunity cost. Sure, my kids were getting a great education–but I felt like I was giving up too much of myself to make it happen.

I felt frazzled, and with 4 kids, my house was never quiet for a moment. Meanwhile, I was daydreaming about all the things I could be getting done if I repurposed the hours I was spending homeschooling: all the time I would have to write, all the ambitious projects I could tackle.

My time management was awful, and it was making me cranky: I was constantly trying to snatch bits and pieces of time to focus on my stuff, but I was never able to actually get anything done in the fragments of time I was stealing from homeschooling. The frequent failed attempts frustrated me.

I was ready to quit. I considered enrolling my kids in actual, factual school for the fall, just so I could get myself some breathing room.

My morale had reached a low point when my husband and I headed to a homeschool conference in April. We talked for hours that weekend about the state of our homeschool–and my attitude. I soaked up the sessions, listening closely for practical tips on how to fit more of me into my days.

I chatted with women I admire–like Susan Wise Bauer–about creative and practical ways to find time for my work and for homeschooling my kids, too.

At the end of that weekend, I asked myself, What would it take for me to be happy with this situation? The answer was pretty straightforward: I didn’t want to send my kids off to public school. I just wanted some peace and quiet, and two hours a day to write.

And you know what? Those two things were totally do-able.

Step 1: Take care of my introverted self.

I’m an introvert who homeschools four kids. In practical terms, this means my house is always noisy, and I’m always talking. Both of those things really drain me.

I reviewed our schedule looking for ways to cut out the noise: I made checklists for the older kids so I wouldn’t have to remind them to make their beds or brush their teeth. I streamlined snack time, which had been a draining twice-daily ordeal of circular conversation.

Instead of reading The Story of the World out loud like I’d been doing, I bought the audio versions. My kids loved them, so I bought and borrowed many more audio books. I instituted 30 minutes of silent reading time mid-morning so I could have some peace before lunch, and tried to recharge by crashing on the couch with my own book while my kids read theirs.

I got strict about Rest Time: everyone–including me–would spend 2 hours alone every afternoon. The kids can read, play quietly, listen to music or audio books, or watch the occasional movie–as long as they do it by themselves.

Step 2: Carefully guard my working and writing times.

Photo by AnastAssia

I knew that I’d be satisfied if I had 2 solid hours to write everyday. I’d love to have more time, but 2 hours would keep me from panicking that I’d never get to work on my own projects again. I planned on rising early and writing every morning from 5-7. If I was lucky, I’d get another hour at 8pm.

I also planned in advance how I would spend rest time. That time wasn’t suited for intense writing, but it was perfect for responding to blog comments, checking social media, making phone calls, and knocking other small tasks off my to-do list.

Knowing I could count on these dedicated work times kept me from futilely trying to work in bits and snatches during the school day.

Ready to quit? The solution might be easier than you think

My kids are loving the new and improved routine–and so am I.

Homeschooling is such a big-picture life decision that when my life wasn’t working well, it was easy for me to blame homeschooling. But it wasn’t the root cause of my problems.

If you’re thinking about throwing in the towel, first look at the root causes of what’s not working. You may find–like I did–that your problem is smaller than you thought, and much easier to solve.

Have you found ways to care for yourself as a homeschooling mom? What would it take for you to be happy with your homeschooling situation?

This post originally published on August 29, 2012.

About Anne Bogel

Anne is a certified bookworm and homeschooling mom to 4 crazy kids. She loves Jane Austen, strong coffee, the social graces and social media. You can find her blogging at Modern Mrs Darcy.


  1. I loved this, thank you! Another introvert here, and I am absolutely going to introduce the 30m silent reading time in the morning – probably with a free art option, since my daughter is on the young and crafty side of things :). We’ve just begun, and it’s already clear that managing my own energy is going to be really important. For instance, I love the idea of “fun Fridays” – haha, fun for who? Tweaking that this week to go back and forth between daughter’s picks and my own!
    Brenna’s latest post: Figuring Out 5 Years Old

  2. Thank you so much for this post! We haven’t even officially started home schooling yet (kids left their school in June but I wanted to give them a full summer holiday first) and already I’m exhausted from the constant contact and despairing over the state of my house !
    I’ll definitely be introducing the “rest time” each day and I’ve also started making a point of not just doing everything for them (like fetching cups of water, tidying away rubbish etc.) I’d love to know more about your streamlined snack time as that’s a bit of an ordeal here too 😉

    • Jemma, I’m also trying not to do all my kids’ bidding. They’re old enough to get their own drinks and snacks, if I can just be willing to give up that bit of control. It’s not always easy to give it up, though!

      For snacks, we set defined snack times and they have a set list of options for what they can have. They will ask me before actually grabbing anything from the fridge, like, “Mom, it’s 10:30, can I get an apple?” The older ones are good about helping the younger ones who can’t reach the snack cabinet.

      Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan recently wrote a nice post about streamlining lunch packing, and I’ve been thinking about doing something similar for snacks at my house and maybe even lunches (which aren’t my favorite thing to make every day). Here’s the link: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2012/08/teaching-kids-to-pack-their-own-lunches.html
      Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

    • Jemma, I am semi-retired from homeschooling our 3 (last child is a senior!), and daily afternoon “read and rest” was a necessity for my serenity. You ARE with your kids ALL the time and that has its wonderful and awful aspects.

      Anne, “opportunity cost” — thank you for putting a name to what I wrote a bit about on my blog today, although I am looking back and feeling glad I paid it, AND glad I found ways to keep “thinking my own thoughts” during twenty years of home educating. Your new plan of action is remarkably like what worked for us.
      Lori’s latest post: September – Summer’s Swan Song

  3. These are wonderful reminders. I’ve done rotating snack times. Pretty much everyday, it’s a piece of fruit. All 5 kids can snag a piece of fruit once it hits snack time. I also only let one snack at a time, that way, one is occupied for 10 minutes and I can work with someone else doing school stuff. The other thing that has helped, is checking my expectations for how my house will look and what type of meal I can get on the table. I feel like each year things get easier and easier too.
    Carrie’s latest post: Drinking sodas and making friends (1)

  4. Great post, Anne!
    We do a reading time in the morning most days, and then I also do mandatory rest time. I don’t know what I would do without that. I definitely think there has to be some space or I go nuts!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: The Successful Passing of the Baton

  5. Anne I love these tips, and incidentally I also do all 3 of these things! I even bought the CDs of SoTW too for this year so I wasn’t doing quite as much read aloud. 😉

    When I think about homeschooling’s opportunity cost I remind myself how much homeschooling aligns with my highest values. I LOVE learning alongside my kids. I love revisiting my own education. I love being surrounded by books, pencils and paper. I love the flexibility, that it’s ok to scrap it all one day to just hang out and read our dozens of library books or do arts and crafts with Grandma or whatever. I love the lifestyle.

    Great post, I’m going to share this with my weekly faves. 🙂
    Carrie’s latest post: Good Mood Checklist

  6. Great article – we had to do something very similar to this as well. I felt like I was spending all my time giving to the kids and there was nothing left OF me at the end of the day. I just needed to know I had that couple hours a day to do my thing (which, coincidentally, was also writing) and once I modified our schedule to allow for that, it has changed everything. Thanks for the great post, good reminders for Moms!
    Amy’s latest post: the problem with mom’s plans

  7. We don’t homeschool yet but my daughter is in the process of giving up her naps so I’ve been instituting rest time. This is an absolute must for me. I’d go crazy without it.
    Steph’s latest post: What I Don’t Do

  8. Also an introvert—I totally get that. We have always incorporated a rest time after lunch and it’s the difference between me liking my kids and trying to hide from them in the office! I have two kids close in age but they both stay in their rooms for 2.5 hours everyday, and that is non-negotiable. It benefits everyone, in so many ways.
    Thanks for sharing your story,
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Visual Monday: Knitting

  9. Just starting out homeschooling, this is very helpful! I work from home, so having a schedule with lots of me/work time is important. Of course that’s not really going to happen with my 9 month old, but as he gets older, he will join my 4 year old for quiet time. I’m also an introvert!
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s latest post: Driline Baby Giveaway

  10. I absolutely love this….well except for the getting up at 5 am bit, haha. I am at the frustrated stage right now, especially as I think about starting next week and augh, the noise! The chaos! The two things we’ve always done is nap time after lunch, and SOTW on audio. I hatehatehate reading out loud, so I try and do audio books as often as I can. The kids will even listen to those discs before going to bed. But over the summer, our nap time has gotten quite lax, and I’ve about had it up to here with the noise all day long, which is frustrating because I know part of it is my fault.

    Love the idea of streamlining snack time, too. I swear, all day yesterday the kids were eating. I was so annoyed.

    So this was encouraging to read. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to realistically keep writing once school starts, and I know I just need to make it a priority.
    Caris Adel’s latest post: Random Pieces of My Brain

  11. I don’t homeschool but I am a SAHM by choice (and I SO get the luxury of having that choice). Part of the reason that I wanted to be home was so that I could be more involved parenting. And as an introvert I get the burnt out feeling, especially having an active, extroverted daughter! And a huge desire for my own projects.

    Love the ideas – it’s a good lesson to the kids to see their mom looking after herself too.
    Sandra’s latest post: August Break – Love Letter to…

  12. Shared with my readers and couldn’t agree more. If you aren’t fresh and re-energized as a mom, how can you help anyone else. Loved this…just like everything else you write, friend. 🙂

  13. You failed to mention the one and only thing which will keep you and your sanity in tact… time spent alone with the Lord and His word. I have been homeschooling for 15 years. I have a M.A. and a B.A. in English and am a writer as well. I gave up teaching at the college level to stay home and homeschool my children. Time for writing??? HA!! Hard pressed to find time for it while schooling my younger three. Time with the Lord? A MUST!!! Can’t live without His grace and presence in my life everyday. Jesus is the only way anyone can sustain the homeschooling journey for the long haul:)

  14. Thank you, Anne! I feel like I wrote this blog post myself. Great ideas and encouragement and I totally agree with Susan Allred, above- must find time for your spiritual life, as well. 🙂 (not that I’m succeeding in this area, either). My kids are still really young and it’s frustrating, sometimes. But encouraging to know that this stage will pass.
    Tori’s latest post: Summer School and Flowers, too!

  15. As an introverted writer and homeschooling mommy, I loved this! I hadn’t ever thought about how being an introvert can hinder my homeschooling; but, yes, having my little lovelies hanging on me everyday, and never getting to stop talking…it’s wearing me down! I have to block out time for writing, and it’s hard, because it never fails, that’s exactly when the dog needs something, the phone rings, someone gets hurt, the fridge is being raided, the house burns down…hahaha. I also work outside the home, teaching ballet, ten classes a week. I just feel so frazzled and “school” hasn’t even started yet. I am a deflating balloon… Trying your tips to get back in the air – thank you!
    melyssa’s latest post: The Nutty Bird

  16. I think you are right on! I also get up early-3 days at 4:30, 2 days by 6:00. It gives me the needed quiet time for my soul, time to exercise, and time w/ Brian. I also have had a quiet time in place for most of my kids’ lives. It slipped a little last year, but got reinstated when I realized that we are too busy NOT to have it. I love that yours is 2 hours. So is ours. I rarely admit that because I thought people would think I was a bad mom, but really it is for my sanity.= )
    This year my qt is going to be for my blogging, and reading.
    I do read out loud to my kids. This summer it became a habit, and I want to keep it up. But it is going to be limited to half an hour. We have another 1/2 hour earlier in the day that the older kids are reading to the younger ones. It gives me a moment to do what I need to that day-whether study, or shower, or start bread.
    Barefoot Hippie Girl’s latest post: The Rhythm Method

  17. “We have another 1/2 hour earlier in the day that the older kids are reading to the younger ones.”

    What a great idea! Good for the big kids, good for the littles, and good for mama 🙂
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

    • This is a wonderful idea!! Both of my kiddos are great readers but, reading to each other might make it more interesting…and when baby comes in November, they can read to him! 🙂
      G.’s latest post: Insta-Summer.

  18. Well written article! You have hit the nail on the head. Such truth. Thanks for sharing.

  19. If it helps take any guilt away, we’ve had the 2-hour rest time rule in our house since my son was three years old. I can’t live without it, and honestly neither can he.

    Good for you for figuring out a way to look after yourself!
    Angela’s latest post: Selling a house.

  20. Anne that is such good insight, especially about looking beyond what we think is the problem to searching out the real issue. It’s so easy to focus on the immediate barrier and not see that there is an easy way to get around it if we only step back a bit. Nice job.

    I also agree with the getting up earlier part. My wife and I get up before 4:30 (she a little before I do) in order to pray together and then work out. (The gym opens at 5.) When our kids were young, getting to bed early to get up early was easier, and we’d stagger our workout times so one of us was home while the other was out. As the kids got older we could both be out of the house while they were still asleep.

    Of course, as the kids got older it consequently got harder to get to bed early, but we put in the effort and still made it work. Then in late high school our son decided that the time he wanted to chat was after we went to bed. He’d come in and start telling us about his day. When he started doing this it was such a change from the laconic teen we were used to that we stayed up to listen. Sometimes we had already turned out the lights, but it didn’t matter to him; he still came in, plopped down on the bed and started talking.

    This was another obstacle to getting the amount of sleep I needed to be able to get up early and be ready for the next day. I stepped back from the obstacle and took a look. Then I decided that my son’s desire to spend time with us was awesome and I wanted to take part. So on those nights he stopped in to chat, I stayed up to listen. It turned out that my desire to get to sleep early and have the “right” number of hours sleep was the obstacle to having that time with my son!

    Tim’s latest post: Our Living Resume*

  21. The one thing that has been my sanity saver and has thus produced more time and space for me is to hire someone for some housecleaning. It isn’t much (2 hours every other week) and it isn’t fancy, but it is just enough to take off the pressure. That then allows me the freedom to spend time reading or writing or whatever-ing.

  22. I appreciate this post. This is our first year homeschooling and it’s already become quite apparent that I need “me” time to keep us all sane. Thanks for the tips.

  23. Thank you so much for this post! My children are still quite young (nearly 3 and 1) but I started thinking about homeschooling and love the idea. One of the main obstacles is that there will be less time for myself which I find hard to handle. I love that you are so open and honest about needing time for yourself and for your writing.
    I think many times mothers don’t dare to admit it (even to themselves) because they see other mothers (so it seems!) doing everything for their children without any major break.
    I definitely need lots of time for myself. At the moment I’m trying the early morning one… thank you!
    Halina’s latest post: German Health Loaf

  24. This makes me feel better; I often feel like I’m not giving my 2-year-old daughter enough, even though she’s very happy. She still takes a 2-3 hour nap midday, then I usually let her watch 1/2 an hour of TV at some point and put a gate in front of her bedroom for “room time” for another 1/2 hour.

    That’s a LOT of time to ourselves, but it works for us. Now I just need to buckle down and get more done during those times since summer is winding down!
    Michelle’s latest post: The Lady Who Ran from Bible Study

  25. I’m not in exactly the same place as you, since I have younger kiddos, but this is my second year attempting some sort of homeschool. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be easier with the younger ones because the subjects are easier, but I find it takes a lot of time preparing to make it fun and interesting and bring it down to their level.

    I’m always explaining to my husband how I would be content being quiet all day, but just the fact that I have to talk at – tell, explain, reprimand, yell, etc. – the kids all day is draining. I’m so glad it’s not just me!

    If I let my kids have “free reign,” they’ll get involved in their own play (which is good…) and the not want to do anything remotely structured. Or they’ll completely wreck the house while playing. *sigh* I like some of your suggestions, though. Even though the kiddos don’t usually nap anymore, I still make them take naptime and hope they stay in their rooms for two hours.

    Now, if I DO get some free time, do I fold laundry, wash dishes, clean up the toys… or something just for me? I usually find myself staying up late if I want to sew or whatever.
    Karla’s latest post: This Week

  26. Oh, Anne, I feel like you’re speaking right to me in response to my post from yesterday. I’ve always wanted to homeschool, but I am such an introvert that I’m all but ready to put my son in preschool just to give myself some breathing room.

    I’d love to hear more about how other introverted homeschooling moms manage – my son is constantly saying “talk to me momma!” and I get so tired of talking.
    Sheila @ Seasoned Joy’s latest post: Week in Books: Twitter for Good & 31 Days of Twitter Tips

    • Sheila, I so relate to the “tired of talking” syndrome! And it’s so hard with really little ones. It just is.

      I just left you a novel in the comments to yesterday’s post.
      Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

      • Kathryn Pearson says:

        I do both. 2-day a week preschool (which my extrovert son loves) and homeschool preschool-type things every day ( have 2 older kids, too). I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. It’s wonderful. He’s happy, I’m happy. The school is only 3 minutes away, too. It’s like a structured playdate for him and I get to practice on my own while he’s away; something that hasn’t happened for over 6 years straight.

  27. I have to say I only got to step 1 and had to stop. What? The History of the World on audio!!?!?!?! I went and ordered the audio version. That will give me 30 mins of peace and quiet. Thanks for the great idea.

  28. Wow! We have always homeschooled, and my eldest is ten. I never imagined I would get to the same point at which this writer found herself – almost too frazzled (perfect word!) to continue. Yet, I found myself last night speaking to a friend, and I’m pretty sure some of my words were identical to the author’s. I am printing this post, and we are going to review it at our next family council. I appreciate the balanced perspective, and the renewed hope I have for a new phase of homeschooling. Thank you for being candid, and for sharing your wisdom!

  29. Just a question for those who get up @ 4:30/5:00. What time do you go to bed and what do your evenings look like?

    • Melissa, I need to go to bed at 9 if I’m going to get up at 5am. For just a night or two, I can fudge and stay up till 9:30 or 10, but I can’t sustain that for more than a couple of nights.

      I have 4 kids: the younger 3 go to bed at 7, the oldest goes to bed at 8, and the hour in between is pretty placid. We eat early, at about 5 or 5:30, and spend the hour in between hanging out, reading stories, and getting ready for bed.

      After the kids are in bed, I’ll prepare for the next day, talk to my husband, and do a little writing if there’s time. I love to unwind by reading before lights out.
      Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

    • If I am exercising and staying away from junkfood, I have found I don’t need as much sleep. I need 7 but can do okay with 6 1/2 and sometimes I can sneak in a catnap-amazing what 10min can do. Or just laying down and shutting my brain off for a few minutes.
      I try to be in bed asleep by 10:30 and get up at 5:30 but my kids don’t get up until 7:30 so that is nice.
      This has been a big change b/c I am a night owl and so is my husband so I look forward to Sat. nights when I can stay up.
      But I love it and things go so much better for me on this schedule.

  30. This will be my 4th year of homeschooling my 2 kiddos and in a couple of months I will give birth to my third. I’m wondering how on earth I’m going to do it. I go back and forth all of the time about the same things you addressed. I find that in the midst of staying home with my kiddos that I have indeed “lost” a bit of who I am. My husband can attest to the fact that I do not really take the best care of myself as far as finding other interests, etc… The reasons I homeschool are mostly for my kids and not for me and I often feel selfish when I think…”gee, if I could just have some peace and quiet.” and I remember the reason I’m staying home isn’t really for me, it’s for them but, I know that I still need times of refreshing and times of quiet. I feel like I would be more patient and a much happier mom! Thanks for your post, I really appreciate what you shared. 🙂
    G.’s latest post: Insta-Summer.

  31. Perfect! As we move into our first year of homeschooling this will be very valuable for me to consider. A schedule of breaks and a commitment to not being overcommited, lol.
    Leah’s latest post: Smelling Spices

  32. I love your ideas, Anne. I’ve never been much of a morning person, but by golly, I’m at a point where if I’m going to have time for myself to write, that early morning time is going to have to be it– there is just no other alternative. 🙂 It feels good to know so many other home schooling moms are in the same boat and trying to balance it all, too.
    Anna’s latest post: 10,000 Reasons = #891

  33. And all the introverts said, “AMEN!” I adore audio books for those reasons and I make my oldest do reading time with my daughter. Quiet times are an absolute must as well.
    Alia Joy’s latest post: Love Letters: A Prodigal’s Welcome

  34. I learned several years ago that introvert did not just mean shy, it also means we are recharged by being alone. Knowing this and being able to put it into practice as a homeschooling, stay at home mom are two different things though! I appreciate your story and also how simple the solution was for you. I am considering a similar option. Our local Christian school also offers after school care and I think they’re on a 4 day schedule. I think that also means I could send my son there for 6 hours each Friday to get in some alone time and get planning done. When I have a good plan I feel so much better, but not having time “off” to do the planning is a problem.

    One thing I recognized about myself after reading this was that there are many times when I feel tired and want to nap, but I end up doing the things I enjoy doing online instead. Maybe it’s not always that I’m physically tired, just in need of less input? Thanks again for sharing your story!
    Kelly’s latest post: Farm TV

  35. I think I am going to invest in some ear protection like you would use around an airplane. I’m calling mine “kid cancelling” headphones. Sometimes SILENCE is needed not just “quiet”.

  36. I have found getting up early to pray, study, exercise really sets the tone for my day. Yes, I have to discipline myself to go to bed on time, but I really have so much more peace and the day runs more smoothly and even if it doesn’t I don’t get as frazzled. I don’t have babies anymore so I know how tough this is if you don’t get much sleep but you will get there. My 3 yr. old still naps so I can catch a little catnap and I plan to try to quiet time where everyone does their own thing for a while. I made a chore chart for all 4–ages 11,9,5,3 and the older to are getting really good at doing them without me having to tell them. Of course, I have to tell/help the others too but it’s a start. These are big steps for me b/c I am not very good at schedules but I’m getting ready to homeschool for the first time (for the most part) and this will save my sanity!!

  37. This was just what I needed to read. I’m so big into routines and schedules for the kids, but I often overlook myself.
    I’ve been noticing lots of typos in my writing lately, and I often don’t catch my mistakes for hours or days afterwards. I think it’s due to me trying to sneak in some writing here and there, while my mind is still everywhere else.
    Dedicating time to myself, when I can be completely present in whatever I’m doing is going to be a new goal this school year. Thanks for the push in the right direction Anne!

    • Kelly, I can definitely relate to the sneaking-in-writing feeling! I’m trying to structure my days in such a way that I’m not (as) tempted to do that.

      I want to be completely present in what I’m doing this school year, too. (Love the way you put that!)
      Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

  38. My goodness what I just read completely mirrored how I am feeling right now!! I mean exactly!!!! I am tired (being 28 weeks pregnant probably doesn’t help) but tired of the constant noise, mess and preparing food. Tired of the talking and the questions BUT I know God lead us to this place into homeschooling (currently 11, 9, 7, 5 and 3 year olds). He changed my and my husbands heart and lead us here, so why is it so hard at times. Thank you for your honesty and I will be taking stock of where we are and how it can improve, insteading of me threatening to send them back to school, like I did today! Maybe I to can find some regular writing time!!
    God Bless You
    Sharni’s latest post: Delighting….

  39. Personally, I’m the absolute worst at sticking to a schedule or routine…and I absolutely LOVE them when I can manage to do it, lol.
    I’m wondering how others have managed a strictly enforced rest time in the afternoon for younger ones. Short of a gate at the bedroom doorway, (heck, my 2yo doesn’t even have the luxury of a bedroom yet!) how does one enforce rest time w/ a younger one. Or is that supposed to be the “she naps at such-and-such a time everyday” thing that is never consistent here for a 2yo who often has to arrange her time around older brothers’ outside activities? (Some days those soothing car rides are too much to resist!)

    I also wanted to add some words from our house about snack times as well. Long ago, when my 2nd child was born, I realized that I could never keep up the snack control I had taken on for my then 3 1/2 yo and still nurse my newborn on demand as I had decided to do. So, w/ a newborn in tow (and some help from my mother) I rearranged my entire kitchen to create a lower cabinet where ALL non-refrigerated healthy snacks go. (Notice that any junk food that finds it way into our kitchen usually gets another home.) Sometime later I instituted the fruit bowl on the table, and snacktime has been history ever since. Being a real pusher of fresh veggies and fruits, hummus, etc., I will also cut up things from the fridge and put them out on the table at my convenience. Just a word to mention that they are there usually aids in their disappearance. I realize that won’t work for some families who may have issues of snackers who oversnack and then don’t eat meals, but, by sticking to healthier snacks w/ the emphasis on produce, it has worked for us.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Audra, those are great ideas. I’m amazed at how many moms get worn out handling snack time! But maybe I shouldn’t be, because I’ve been there too 🙂 Thanks for sharing what’s worked in your home!
      Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: What About ME?

    • Audra, the thing that helped the most with getting my kids to do “quiet time” was audio stories. We always did quiet time on the couch in the living room while listening to audio stories. They were never required to sleep (because my younger daughter would have fought tooth-and-nail against that) but they did have to rest while we listened to the story. I always started quiet time with them. I say started because once they fell asleep (and they almost always did within about 20 minutes) I was free to get up and do what I wanted. Those 20 or so minutes were very restful for me, too. On the rare occasion that they didn’t fall asleep, they knew that they had to rest for an hour. They usually slept for 2. I would shut off the phone and the answering machine and close the curtains. I still use this method when watching my nephews, and I’m the only one in the family who can get them to nap – lol!! I keep telling the rest of the family that audio books are the key, but most of them don’t believe me 😉 There’s a great website called Storynory.com that streams free audio stories for kids, and there’s also a kids audio magazine called Boomerang (Boomkids.com) My kids LOVED these when they were younger, and we still sometimes listern to them now even though they’re 15 and 11. You can also download audiobooks from the library. Good luck! It does get easier!!

  40. Taking care of introverted self … yes!

    We’ve returned to quiet times this summer, though not as regularly as I’d like. It makes such a difference when we all go our separate ways for an hour or more during the baby’s nap. I’m totally honest with my kids too (ages 12, 10, 6 and almost 2) about how we are always together, and some time alone is good for us.
    Christie’s latest post: Mobile Storage — $1 pick-me-up (literally)

  41. I am an extrovert and I think this has a lot of application for extroverts as well. I have done quiet time ever since my oldest stopped taking naps and I think it is healthy for my kids as well as me. However, I am finding that time is not a good time for me to be productive, so I am needing to figure out some better “me” time. I am not a morning person, but I am thinking it may be time for me to try to become one. Thanks for the motivation!
    Julia’s latest post: The Maryland Zoo

  42. This article is one of the many reasons I love this blog and will always subscribe to it. Real life situations from real homeschooling Moms and EXACTLY what I needed to hear. It’s clear to me that I must get more organised and get more rest! It’s a challenge to implement quiet solo time with my children at such a young age but this definitely gives me hope for the future years of homeschooling. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  43. Is your brain alive for writing at 5 am? Mine is still struggling with coherent thoughts!!! Great post!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: High Desert Haven by Lynette Bonner

  44. Anne, this is so lovely and helpful, thank you! It’s so helpful to hear your perspective as another introverted mama. I think for me I often feel my stress levels rising but can’t think of a “reason” I should feel so stressed…..it really is often that I am “on” so much of the day. I am working on getting up at 5 to work also but struggling to protect that time as my 3 year-old gets up early too!

  45. So, so true about the snack time! I’m going to take your advice and make a snack chart! What a great idea! I’m currently homeschooling 3 of my 6 kids and am SO drained. I, too, implement the 2 hour hap time everyday. They read for the 1st hour and then can have computer or tv time for the 2nd hour. “Me time” is such a foreign concept, even with the 2 hour nap, nobody will leave me alone for a minute or two (I ate my breakfast in the BATHROOM today, just so I could get a break!).

  46. The house never being semi-clean is what sadden me the most about homeschooling. I have two girls ages 6 and 8. I told them since I help them learn all day they need to help me clean at night. Between 6-8 pm we clean. (They also get their baths between this time.) Then at 8 pm we stop and I read to them for 30 mins. Then it is their bedtime. I have the rest of the night to do whatever I want until I go to bed.

  47. Taking care of mom is so important. As a 18 year veteran homeschool mom, I have found that out the hard way. I just recently wrote my own post on taking care of the homeschool mom.

    llmom’s latest post: The Tempest

  48. Thank you SO much for this! I was so relieved to get this in my inbox this morning. It’s nice to know I’m not alone! I too am homeschooling four kids (7, 5, 4, 2) and I too am a writer trying to cling to my career in whatever spare time I can find. Thanks for the hope and encouragement – I definitely needed to read this today. 🙂

  49. Love this! I have eight children – grades 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and K – and a one year old baby. And i know it’s not always as easy as a few little tweaks – babay needs tonurse, teens need to talk :), and middlies need not to be ignored. What works for me this year 😉 – no snacktime. They can wait. Fruit is the snack if someone really needs it,but this helps mealtimes go smoothly, too. Lunches – simple, and let a teen do it :). Bedtime is carved in stone. I’m loving Ann Voskamp’s free printable daily planner sheet for organizing my thoughts and planning out the day to come. Four “sessions” for homeschool, two “10 minute tidies” with all hands on deck, working together. Two “recess” periods immediately after working together. First session is mom with the littles, biggies have second session. I’m so introverted, and trying to get better at hospitality, but it feels like giving too much blood. :). I like writing, but i dream of having time and space to write music again. And i can’t see anyway for that to happen, when i can’t even play six bars without being asked a question. But i do try, every year, to figure out a way to make it happen. If i could rent time at a church, i would :). Maybe i have a neighbour with a piano who wouldn’t mind a littlemusic once a week :)…

  50. Thank you soooooo much for writing this!! I only have two kids (almost 5 and 2.5) but I’m (very) pregnant with my 3rd and the thought of starting homeschooling is overwhelming sometimes. I am a fellow introvert and already get wiped out by managing housework, training, errands, etc. along with all the talking involved…I can really identify with that! So, I haven’t quite started homeschooling yet but it’s so helpful to read advice like this that I can implement in the future! I’ve already had thoughts of throwing in the towel but I too couldn’t go through with the public school thing. Thanks again for the great post!!

  51. Great post! What honest open dialogue that so many hs moms need to hear. I love your blog and can’t wait to read more. Thank you for your great advice.

  52. You’re post came at just the right time! I am experiencing everything you talked about in your article– trying to raise two children, homeschool my special needs son, teach two courses in the evening (with about 50 papers to correct every week) and continue my weekly blog post (by the way, I’m very disappointed with this week’s because I wrote it on the fly, “stealing time” to get it done)–and I need to make a change. The problem is that I’m so busy and overwhelmed that I haven’t had time to make a plan for improvement. So….I’m heeding your advice. I scheduled a babysitter for tomorrow so my husband and I can take a few hours of time for ourselves to think, talk and craft out a workable plan. Maybe it’s not time to throw in the towel. Maybe we just need to make a few adjustments. Thank you!!!

  53. Ooops! Rushing! I meant your not you’re!!
    Heather’s latest post: Hold Up. Did I Just Call the Dog My Daughter’s Name???

  54. Excellent!! I really needed this today! I too have been feeling like I had given up my life to homeschool. I have been threatening to send my 11 and 9 year old back to school almost everyday. But, I really just need to re-structure our day and give myself some “me” time.

  55. I struggle with making my time for writing as when I feel I plan it, something happens that is more important than taking care of myself. I find many days that often I don’t even have time to eat myself, let alone to do anything like write. Thank you for reminding me that I need to plan it out better.
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Week #3

  56. I really loved your post! Last year I was so frustrated homeschooling my 4 noisy, energetic, young children. I couldn’t figure out why I was so overwhelmed when I love organization, planning out the curriculum, teaching, learning, and doing crafts with my kids. My days were sooooo full and so loud and there was so little alone time that I felt absolutely frazzled. I’d stay up really late in the evenings trying to get alone time, only to be cranky when the kids got me up at the crack of dawn. In the last couple of years I’ve realized I’m an introvert. Having this realization has REALLY helped. I do exactly like you now, I take 30 minutes in the morning by myself before lunch (kids have recess outside) and strictly enforce quiet time after lunch, without feeling guilty. My husband has realized I’m more fun to be around with if he lets me read or hang out by myself for an hour after the kids are in bed. That hour of quiet really recharges me after a day of constantly being needed. I also simplified my exhausting homeschool routine. We’re keeping things super simple with Classical Conversations this year, and all 3 of my 4 kids of school age are doing Foundations so things are really streamlined. I’m a much happier homeschooler now!

    • “My husband has realized I’m more fun to be around with if he lets me read or hang out by myself for an hour after the kids are in bed. That hour of quiet really recharges me after a day of constantly being needed.”

      Oh my goodness, YES to this. I completely relate, and am glad I’m not the only one!

      • I’m going to bookmark this post so I can come back and read it (and the comments) over and over again. Introverted mama, extroverted child, AND homeschooling. I’m recharging in my room after our day. 🙂
        Melissa D’s latest post: Top 10 Posts of 2013

  57. Thank you for this! I have been really struggling the past few weeks, this week in particular and I KNEW the answer wasn’t putting the kids back in school, but I have been feeling like I’m drowning. I am going to look into the audio version of Story of the World immediately – any ability to reduce my talking is a welcome solution. I, too, feel like I talk all. day. long. I just want a little peace! Not a lot…just a little. 🙂

  58. Not a homeschooling mom, but a parent who juggles the homework and activities while her spouse works, and THANK YOU for the reminder that schedules can be built to your entire family\’s advantage! (ie Quiet reading time, etc.) we have had a harried first quarter and I\’m looking for any way to improve!
    robbie @ going green mama’s latest post: Natural bug repellents that work

  59. i still don’t get how you did it. Did you have a sitter come in?

  60. I needed this today.

  61. My apologies, I haven’t read through all 2 years worth of comments 🙂 But if anyone is listening in, please do tell me how to get the rest time to actually happen. I can manage 30 minutes, but with 3 boys, one of them being 4, it’s hard to send everyone to their rooms and not have a fight erupt over lego pieces or something silly.
    Sakeenah’s latest post: Crochet For Charity: Start a Stash Just for Giving

    • I am in the same boat. My 5yo girl is happy to be alone for rest time most days, but my 2.5yo boy will not do it. Often there is screaming and crying and he comes out of his room repeatedly. When they are together, there is fighting or other mayhem. All while I’m trying to help the baby nap, who will not sleep without being held. They usually wake her up. How do people manage without a mother’s helper or suchlike? It’s such a struggle.

    • Sakeenah,
      I saw your post

      • Sakeenah and Cameron, Let’s try this again… I have 5 kiddos from 14 down to 18 mo and it is possible. Have you tried sending them to separate areas with boundaries and only the toys you deem appropriate for the time? I had to ban legos for a bit because they are so stinking noisy as they sift through a pile to find that one piece. My kids went from napping to quiet time on your bed to quiet time in your room and I had better not hear any thumping, bumping or noises. It was in stages and you will have to work up to it. Figure out how quiet you want it and the minimum you need to stay sane and work from there. Use consequences as you see fit because some of the protesting will be an obedience issue once you set the rules. Don’t be afraid to use a dvd to extend the time if one of the kids can put it in themselves. I bought ear protection,like you would wear to shoot a gun, to give me more space when I can’t get away from their presence. The sheer noise even when they are behaving is WEARING! Yes, a mother’s helper makes it easier : ). I have also been known to put them in their carseats with a story or movie in the van and get a short break that way. Nap time didn’t come soon enough today!

  62. Great post. I went through an analogous process last year when having my middle child at home didn’t seem to be working for either of us. He spent a day at school, and we were on the verge of enrolling him after the holidays. But I rethought, and made adjustments, and he is still homeschooled nine months later. He does some classes outside the home, and I consider how necessary the work he hates is, and I have changed my approach in some subjects. It is not perfect, but homeschooling him no longer feels like it’s ruining my days.

  63. Lindy Botha says:

    Definitely agree with everyone having some “me-time” on their own every afternoon. Even children need this alone-time believe it or not!! And I have more to give to them after that. But above all…prayer…I find that praying with the kids (or alone) before we start our homeschooling day, helps a lot. God gives His wisdom and peace and guidance and our day is then so much more enjoyable!

  64. Ashley Barnes says:


    Just read this. Was looking g for ideas and pre comfort to homeschooling. I have three kids. But my middle chd is disabled. This last school year is hard on her. We just came out of homelessness. It’s her third school in 2.5 years due to moving from. Hotel to hotel and shelter to shelter and finally to our own place. She doesn’t take change well. She’s a bit of an introvert like me but she also likes a bit of attention. I’m already busy with her appointments. Cleaning the house and having an at-home job idea. Since with her health I have trouble finding work that’s flexible much less understanding. In noticing how she’s struggling socially this year I thought about homeschooling. Knowing that being an introvert who suffers PTSD, high anxiety, and severe depression who most likely out me over the edge on top of busy with other stuff. Also I’m a single parent. So I googled about “me time” I like me time. I like quiet. I’m shocked I have kids. Lol I love them. Luckily my daughter’s therapy place offers at-home learning through their online academy. And they do have the option to have someone come in. Being that they work with kids like her I might just do that. Thank you for your blog. It was very helpful.

    Public schools get so upset when you mention he schooling. How dare we parents think we’re capable of doing such a thing. Well when my daughter who can’t verbalize well starts cussing at the principal because she doesn’t like her and can’t tell her that she is just a little girl who wants to be left alone, how could I not think homeschooling might be better than getting phone calls because of meltdowns. My daughter is autistic but with other health issues. There was only one school that worked well with her and actually gave out homework. Why parents don’t like their kids getting homework but running into criteria the parents don’t agree with in school because they “didn’t know because they aren’t involved and need someone to blame” is beyond me. Anyway I’m blabbering.

    Again thank you.

    • Ashley Barnes says:

      Sorry for misspelling. My computer is down and my phone doesn’t like to keep up with how fast I type via thumb. And it likes to double on the “g”.

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