As a homeschooler, you wear a lot of hats. There is the normal parenting hat, the home organization hat, the cleaning hat, the cooking hat. Then there are the errands that need to be run, the appointments to get the kids to. Your kids participate in sports or other extracurriculars, that also falls on you. And then you decide to homeschool your kids. Now, not only are the normal parenting hats being precariously balanced on your head, you then have to contend with the teaching ones as well. There is research on what type of homeschooler you want to be. You have to look at all the different curriculum options. Do you need to make a change? Is your child succeeding with what they have? What about emotional outbursts during your “school time?” How do you deal with that?
There are so many hats that we, as homeschoolers, wear every day. Trying to balance them all is a struggle, and can lead to a decline in emotional wellness. Do you feel the stress weighing on you? I know that I do, a lot of the time. How do we manage all of those hats? What tools and strategies can we put in place in order to succeed in our homeschool? These tools are going to be the key to managing our emotional wellness.
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Trying to do All.The.Things
Do you do it as well? Try to do all the things? It is one thing to wear all the hats, but then to also add all the different things you and your kids and your family can do, it becomes impossible. Instead of serving your family well, you end up stretching yourself – and most likely your kids – too thin. There are so many amazing opportunities available to us. We want to do them all, but if we do them all, we end up doing a disservice to our kids. Why? Because we aren’t able to do all of those things well.
When you think about your week, does it seem manageable? Are you able to work through everything that you need to? Are you getting the kids’ school done in a manner that you would like? Do things fall off to the wayside? Are you feeling so drained that you can’t give your best to your kids because you are out 5 nights each week doing other activities?
Now, I know that there are some amazing people who are able to do a lot of extra stuff. There are people who thrive in that space, and I think that is amazing! However, I think that even if you thrive in the perpetual motion of getting out with your kids, there could be some struggles – we will talk about those later on when we get to how to help our kids deal with big emotions.
It can be very easy to get completely overwhelmed. And in those times, it is important to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities. Oftentimes what happens is that we sign up for all the things, thinking they are what we would like to do, but then realizing that it is too much. In these times, sitting down and getting back to the bare bones minimum is OK.
I have had to do this several times over the years. Sometimes you need a break, otherwise, you are going to break. Taking a break is a necessary part of life – it is part of why we have are supposed to observe a day of rest each week. We were not designed to keep going going going. And if we try to, what happens is we hit a wall. You don’t want to hit a wall, but if you already have hit that wall, let’s try to fix it.
A Tale of Two Lists
I have hit the wall before. It isn’t pretty. In fact, there are a few key moments over the past 10 years that I have had to stop and completely re-evaluate everything. Not just homeschooling, but how we are running our lives and what we are doing. When you feel like you can’t move forward anymore because you are so overwhelmed, stop, sit, take a breath, and make two lists. The first list is going to be everything that you are currently doing. The second list is going to be everything you think you can actually do.
You need to be honest about these lists, write down everything you are currently doing, then really look at that list to see what you can cut out. You will have to cut stuff if you are in that state of overwhelm. There is nothing wrong with that!
In the fall of 2013 I did just that. I stopped saying yes and instead backed out of everything. I had hit a wall, and I knew that I couldn’t continue that way. So we said no to everything. I had to, for my sanity, and for my family.
Just say No!
Saying no is one of the hardest sentences to complete, isn’t it? You feel like you need to justify your no, rather than saying no and moving on. You want to make sure the other person knows that you aren’t trying to hurt them, that you are sorry for inconveniencing them etc. But, are they sorry that they are putting a hardship on you when you say yes to something you don’t actually want to say yes to? It doesn’t even register on their radar that it is a hardship for you. They don’t even view it as a hardship to you, why? Because you said yes!
Here’s the thing. When you say no to someone, it may slightly inconvenience them in that second, but 9 times out of 10 they are going to move on and ask someone else for help instead. It is easy to think that if we say no the whole world is going to fall apart, but that isn’t the case. You can say no, you do not have to give a reason, and you can move on.
If you are having trouble saying no, take a minute and think about what you are saying no to. What are you able to say yes to now that you are saying no to something else? Is it self-care? Are you able to do more fun stuff with your immediate family? Are you saving for a big purchase or a vacation? It doesn’t only have to be the act of volunteering or extracurriculars that you are saying no to. The instant gratification purchases also can be told no. Or the upgrade purchases. You have a savings goal, or the goal to be debt free, and so in the short term, you have one vehicle instead of two.
Say No to say Yes
These are the types of decisions that will cause people to look at you a little bit differently, but you can’t let it matter to you. Why? Because that is more stress that you don’t need in your life. You are already trying to juggle so many balls in the air, you can’t let other’s opinions cloud your own judgment.
When you are able to say no, you are then able to say yes to something that is important to you. Sit and think about that for a second. I know it can be a bit jarring to hear. When you say yes to all the things, you are inevitably saying no to the activities, trips, experiences, that you actually want to do.
However, if you do start to say no to the committees that you aren’t passionate about, it will free up your mind space to do the things you love again. The same goes for sports or other extracurriculars your kids are involved in. If they are young, it isn’t going to be a big deal to skip a season. In fact it might show light on whether or not the kids even care about that particular activity. Sometimes, as parents, we want them to be involved in all the things as well. I know that I overcompensated with activities when I was worried about how others would view our life as homeschoolers. But, it isn’t their business. Their opinions should not have an impact on my decision making.
What about the Laundry?
I know we have been discussing a lot about outside commitments. But, there are a lot of inside commitments that you have as well. Those are all the hats we talked about at the beginning of this post. When the weight of the home falls on you, the weight of planning the education for your children. The maintenance of your marriage and relationships with your family. It often falls right on mom’s shoulders. It is a huge weight, and it isn’t something we can just say no to.
Someone has to make the food, pay the bills, clean the house, research the curricula. And most of the time, that person is you, isn’t it? It is overwhelming to have all that weight on your shoulders. I know, it is incredibly heavy, and trying to move forward can sometimes seem impossible.
We are going to talk about this more next time. In the meantime, make your lists – figure out what it is that you are doing every day, and what can you say no to in order to free up some time so that you can manage your home life better. No matter how much we talk about rhythms and tools and systems you can put in place, if you don’t have the space to enact those rhythms and tools, they won’t help.
What is one thing you can say no to today so that you can say yes to something you are passionate about?