Written by Alecia Baptiste.
There is nothing like illness to put a huge monkey wrench in your homeschooling plans. Or any kind of plans!
Many years ago, when my children were much younger, I spent two years battling severe fatigue and just feeling bad all of the time, and being scared because no one in conventional medicine could give me a clear diagnosis of what it was.
I was eventually diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, and I later learned that I had a chronic dental infection. After that tooth was extracted, my world changed!
But during the two years of my illness, I continued to homeschool. There were literally days when it was a battle just to get myself out of bed, much less care for, AND teach my children.
Though it may have seemed foolish to others to continue homeschooling, I was actually very blessed to have had my children at home. My oldest son was able to help with the younger kids. I didn’t have to juggle two little ones at home along with school schedules.
We were able to have a very relaxed pace.
Since that time, I’ve encountered many homeschool moms who have some type of health challenge. Often along with illness, comes the guilt that they aren’t the “good” mom that they could be— if they were well.
They compare themselves not only to other moms, but they compare themselves to their “healthier self.”
Some feel bad that their children have to take on a lot more responsibility at home. Some struggle with feeling like a slacker, or thinking that others perceive them that way. And most struggle with feeling isolated.
Photo by David K
Being ill can be a lonely place.
It can seem as if no one understands.
It can feel as if no one even cares.
In a world where everyone is so busy living life, being ill certainly doesn’t fit in our schedules. And often, having a sick friend, doesn’t fit into our schedules either.
I remember feeling so alone. Even when I finally became desperate enough to ask for help, most people were simply too busy.
Don’t get me wrong, we did receive some help from time to time, just not consistently. We also experienced so many miracles during this time of our life.
It was a hard time, but it was also a blessed time. It’s a time I greatly cherish as it has made me the woman I am today.
But it was still hard.
I’d like to share a few nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gained from going through this difficult season.
For the mom who is ill
Be kind to yourself. Rest when you need to. Don’t expect to do what a healthy “you” could do. Accept your limitations.
Recognize that when you don’t feel well, your perspective may be skewed.
Mole hills become mountains when added to your health challenges. A kid with a bad attitude, or your husband coming home an hour later can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
When you feel this way, take a moment alone to get some perspective. It’s probably not as bad as you think. Having a friend to text for perspective would be great. Meditate for 5 minutes. Journal. Go for a walk. Lie down for a few minutes. Read something uplifting. Pray.
The life lessons your children are learning are more valuable, than anything they can learn in a book!
Do less, for greater impact. Illness can be a blessing when it forces us to be thoughtful about what’s really important to us and encourages us to focus our limited energy. It can be the ultimate “bootcamp” for simplifying your life.
Let people help you. That includes your children.
Spend time daily giving thanks.
Illness can often be like a dark cloud hovering over you. You must be intentional about recognizing the good in your life. It’s there.
Don’t feel guilty about what you can’t give your children. There is much you can give them over time, but no one can give their children everything.
It’s ok to consider others forms of education if homeschooling becomes too much. Homeschooling isn’t the only good way.
To those who have a friend who is ill
Visit. Call. Text. Listen. Please don’t allow awkwardness, or not knowing what to do, or wanting to make it all better, to keep you from doing the one simple thing your friend needs from you.
She needs friendship. And honestly, sometimes she may not have the energy to reach out to you. Just let her know you care even if she’s unable to respond right away.
Offer to help in some practical way.
Don’t say, “Let me know if I can help.” Most moms don’t like inconveniencing or burdening their friends, so they don’t ask for help.
Here are some ideas:
- Offer to take the kids for a couple of hours once a week.
- Offer to bring a meal.
- When you’re planning to run errands, see if they need you to pick up anything for them.
- Don’t feel guilty about not being able to do more. Every small act of kindness can have HUGE effects.
Don’t try to cure, or diagnose her.
It’s not your job to save her.
Tell her she is an amazing mom.
Point out the awesome things she’s doing with her children. Help her to see the wonderful life lessons her children are learning.
Pray for her. Miracles really do happen when we pray. I’ve experienced many!
Are you homeschooling with illness? How has your homeschool changed because of your illness? How has your family been able to experience peace, and joy in the midst of this difficulty?