5 ways to look after your mental health as a homeschooling mum
Let’s cut to the chase. Homeschooling can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. It can even begin to take a toll on your mental health.
Don’t get me wrong, it is rewarding, life-changing, phenomenal and such a blessing… and as a homeschooling mum, I wouldn’t trade our journey for anything. But, as homeschooling mums, we give so much, so it is important we take care of ourselves.
Here are 5 simple ways to take care of your mental health!
Take regular breaks
It is so easy to try and fill up every minute of the day and every day of the week when homeschooling. Be sure to take regular breaks. This not only helps to lower the anxiety of getting to places on time, and the stress of being perfect but also allows your nervous system a chance to regulate itself.
Take a walk in nature
There is just something about being outside, preferably somewhere in nature where it is quiet and you can get lost in the beauty around. For those who live in the city, find “that park” or a hotspot for you to go to when you need that time out.
Do something you love
Sometimes it is hard to know what you love when you feel so lost in motherhood, wifehood and being everything to everyone else. But start small, read a book, watch something new, go out with a friend, make a call, do a word search. It can be anything that you enjoy.
Plan something to look forward to
Planning a day out, activity or trip somewhere can vastly improve your mental health. Knowing that something fun is going to happen can give you something to look forward to and help you get through the more challenging days.
Get it out
There is something about getting your thoughts out of your head. I can’t explain it, you just have to try it. There are a few ways you could do this. Journaling allows you to say whatever you think and feel without a filter, and no one else has to see it. Speak to someone, whether it is a friend or family member. If you have no one, why not try one of the charities for parents. Praying is known to improve mental health too.
Just as we take time to drink water, exercise and look after our physical health, it is important that we look after our mental health too.
What do you do to look after your mental health?
Why endings are so devastating
I never realised how challenging I found endings until I had to end my time with my counsellor. It was a choice I had to make, and deep down I knew it was the right one for me. But it didn’t take away from me being up most of the night, anxiously going over in my mind what I was going to say to her and how. You see, the real problem wasn’t necessarily that the sessions were going to end, but I needed them to end…. For me. It was that I didn’t want to hurt her. Have you ever felt like that?
For all the mums out there that have struggled with endings, you are not alone.
1. Endings means someone may get hurt
When a relationship ends, almost always, someone, if not all people are hurt. After investing time, yourself and even money (in my case) ending a relationship can be painful. I’m not talking headache pain, I’m talking heartache pain.
2. Endings means change
When I decided it was time to end my son and I’s breastfeeding journey together, it was one of the hardest things I had done. We had created such a bond, a routine that worked, a relationship. All of that was now coming to an end, and it was uncomfortable, sad, concerning. I worried how he would cope going to sleep at night, eating solid food only, not having that comfort he needed all those years.
Even when friends or close family members get pregnant, move away or maybe you find a new job. The ending of one way of life, and a new beginning to another brings about change. The unknown is scary… and we don’t like scary.
3. Endings bring up a fountain of emotions
With endings come emotions we didn’t even realise existed. There may be feelings of frustration, uncertainty, confusion, loneliness, deep sadness, happiness, excitement. The list can go on. For many, the way these emotions feel are uncomfortable, and so it is easier to busy ourselves without allowing ourselves to actually feel the emotion.
4. They feel finite
When things end, it is so easy to think that it means nothing better is going to come. It can feel complete, but not in the good sense.
I realised endings don’t have to be bad. They don’t have to be a negative thing. I don’t have to push my emotions down and pretend they don’t exist. Endings are an opportunity for something new. It gives birth to the unknown, allowing it the opportunity to take you to new heights and new places.
Yes, endings can leave you feeling vulnerable, but that isn’t a bad thing. Endings aren’t to be feared, but a chance to embrace the next part of your life. With each disappointment comes a new opening.
But you’re right Mama. No one said endings were going to be easy….. And you know what, that’s o.k too.
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – Book Review (being vulnerable)
Book: Daring Greatly; How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead
By: Brené Brown
Audiobook & Paperback
Brené Brown is an American researcher and has spent many years researching vulnerability. She has one of the most viewed TED talks on vulnerability where Brené led by example and was vulnerable with not just Houston, but millions around the world. A mum and wife, Brené understand the challenges parents go through and has used her research to, show us as parents, how we can be vulnerable and show up for our children in a different way. No more feeling like we are “not ______ enough”, but learning to be a wholehearted individual.
Inside the book – more about being vulnerable
Brené starts with part of a speech by Theodore Roosevelt and uses it and her vast research to share the power of vulnerability. Brené has a way of helping you to see what your thoughts are on vulnerability and busting the myths that come along with it. Brené exposes the culture we live in, fearing we are not enough and worrying about the negative consequences of being vulnerable in a world where vulnerability is perceived as weakness. It is not just having a negative impact on us personally, but also on our children. Shaming has become a way of discipline, dare I say motivation… or lack of and making ourselves feel better about ourselves. The beauty is once you have been made aware of this, you can start to do things differently. Think differently and act differently. Brené explains how this change of thought allows us to be more courageous, vulnerable and transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.
My thoughts – of the book and being vulnerable
With all the mums I have coached, spoken to, worked with and befriended, comparison and feeling like you are ‘not enough’ causes the most havoc on our mental health.
“I not smart enough to homeschool”
“I am not pretty enough”
“I am not thin enough”
“I am not cool enough”
“I am not organised enough”
The list can go on. This ‘not enough culture stops us from being unapologetically us, constantly worrying about what others might say or think if we try something new or step out of our comfort zone. As a result we ‘armour up’ as Brené calls it in her book, to protect ourselves from the shame and vulnerability we might feel.
We want to be the perfect parent, look for every book to make us that perfect parent, better than everyone else, raising perfect children. But there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Instead, be vulnerable and be willing to try, get back up and say sorry to our children when we shout out of frustration, let them know you are scared of failing this exam…. this is where the child meets parent and your child learns the necessary skills to survive, grow and enjoy life.
This book teaches you how to recognise, acknowledge your feeling, without beating yourself up, putting yourself down or comparing yourself to others. Instead, it encourages you to dare greatly. Not to show up as the best parent or person, but be willing to give it your best shot. This is all every parent needs to do. Do your best, and try again when we get it wrong. It’s not what others say that is important, the important thing is you showing up. So dare greatly Mama!
Who is this book for?
I don’t just recommend this book for parents, I recommend it for anyone who wants to dare greatly and doesn’t want to be bound by the ‘not enough’ culture, telling us we are not worthy. If you want to be able to show courage, live the life you were designed to live, and step out in fear… this book is for you. For any parent who is tired of trying to live up to the parenting standards set by society, and fed up with being the ‘best’ parents, whilst feeling like they are failing miserably inside…. this book will show you another way.
You can get a copy of Brené’s book here.
Have you heard of any of Brené’s work? Let me know what you think below.
Don’t Overthink it by Anne Bogel – Book Review
Book: Don’t Overthink It, Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life
By: Anne Bogel
Published: March 3, 2020
Audiobook & Paperback
Anne Bogel is well known for her blog Modern Ms Darcy and her trend podcast what should I read next. Anne loves to read books and shares her love and what she learns with those around the world. The title of her book is what intrigued me the most. I saw a friend reading it and being a fellow overthinker, though I shouldn’t say this as Anne clearly states in her book, I knew I just had to read this.
Inside the book
If you’re a mum that overthinks, and it stops you from making decisions, whether small or big, then this book is for you. If you are up at night mulling over the decision you made, you should get a copy. If you are unable to decide what to have for dinner and it leaves you stressed and frustrated, I recommend you grab yourself a copy of Anne’s book. Inside you will find simple strategies to help you overcome those negative thought patterns, replace them with positive ones and reduce how much precious time you spend overthinking. Anne gently breaks down the walls of perfection, allowing us the opportunity to embrace mistakes and be human.
Let’s face it, mums have make over 1000 decisions a day. If you overthink each decision, this can slow you down tremendously and cause a great amount of unnecessary stress.
For anyone who knows me, they know that I can be extremely indecisive, and for many good reasons… good reasons to me. I love how Anne hit the nail on the head for nearly every reason why I overthink. Splurging has always been an issue for me, I can tell you a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t, and honestly, this has hindered me and my family from making more lasting memories. Whilst Anne doesn’t condone spending outside your means, she does give practical tips on how to live in the moment, make memories and make those hard decisions about one-off splurges. Family time, lasting memories and experiences are really important to me, and this chapter spoke to me personally.
When Anne spoke about routines, my whole face lit up. Obviously, I am all for routines, but Anne adds a twist. She shows you how to use both routines and spontaneity without feeling guilty or stuck in a rut.
I listened to this book on audiobook, it was an easy listen, and allowed me to complete housework as I was going. If you know me, I am not great with audiobooks, I feel like I miss a lot, but it was a pleasantly positive experience. With great tips, next steps after each chapter and someone whom I could relate to.
Who is this book for?
I recommend this book to those who struggle with overthinking as I do. As mums, we have so many decisions to make on a daily basis, what if we could make them quicker, with less stress and still be happy at the end of it all. Anne shows you how.
You can get a copy of Anne’s book here.
If you have read the book, let me know your thoughts down below.
How to create a homeschool schedule
Every mum wants to know how to create a better homeschool routine. I would go so far as to say every homeschool mum has grappled with their homeschool routine at some point.
Do I do it like a school day?
How do I begin my mornings?
Should we be doing morning baskets?
Individual work or work as a family?
The questions are endless, and it is so easy to feel like you are failing your children when your homeschool day looks like it is all over the place. Don’t worry Mama I have been there! And after 7 years of homeschool, I can boldly tell you, your homeschool routine will always be changing! Why? Because your family change and you have to change with them.
In this post
I will give you the best tips for creating a homeschool routine, so as your children grow and change, you can continue to grow and change your family’s routine.
Show you how to work out how long your homeschool day should be
Share how to stay sane whilst homeschooling
How to set up a homeschool schedule
There are a number of ways you can set up your routine schedule. Before you start there are a few things to think about
1. Identify your reasons for homeschooling
Yes, I know, this isn’t the schedule, but it is great to know and remember why you are homeschooling and your goals for homeschooling because this stops you from following everyone else and adding things to your homeschool routine that has no place being there. Your why will keep you grounded and hold your routine together.
E.g if you want to have a less structured homeschool, you may decide to start your day with everyone reading snuggled up on the sofa, some fun exercises followed by Maths or English.
I discuss this further in the homeschool course
2. When is the best time you all work?
There is no set time for homeschool either. I recommend you have a look at what time would be best for your children to do their work. Do they begin to lose concentration in the afternoon? If that is the case, then starting early so you can finish early may work better for your family.
3. Do you want to block schedule or loop schedule?
Don’t try and do all the subjects every day. Remember though we call it homeschool, it doesn’t mean that you have to work like a school. Schools are set up in a particular way in order to manage the number of students they have.
Homeschooling gives you a chance to really focus and allow your children to grasp each subject. Block scheduling is when you spend your time each doing focusing on one subject. E.g Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday for 2 hours a day on Maths.
Loop scheduling is when you pick a subject to do a day, then the next week you start again. Eg Monday is maths, Tuesday is Science, Wednesday is Art
4. Make a list of the subjects you want to study
If you know me, you know I love a master list. Before putting together any schedule, I make a master list of everything I want to include.
Write down on a piece of paper all the subjects you want to do for the year, then ask your children what they would like to study. Then decide if it is realistic. Remember, you are homeschooling, so you don’t have to do all 14 subjects, you can choose which subjects you want to focus on or maybe you would prefer to do homeschool topics that include all the core subjects in it.
You may find you have to take some subjects out or you have space for more subjects. It requires a bit of tweaking, and that is ok!
5. Now put your homeschool routine together
You now have all the information you need to put together your own personalised homeschool schedule. You also have the best times, how long you will be doing your focused activity for, and on which days.
How long is a typical day?
Honestly, there are no set times for your homeschool day. It is what works for you. In order to distinguish the day for my children we call the work we do “our focused activity”, but I am constantly reminding them that they are always learning, even if we are not sitting down at the kitchen temple.
The rule of thumb is you do 45mins to 1 hour of work for each school year your child is in. E.g Year 1 is 45mins – 1 hour of focused activity.
Remember that your homeschool isn’t just doing worksheets, but the learning that takes place. Your children cooking dinner with you or sorting out the laundry is as much learning as is doing a maths worksheet.
How can I homeschool without losing my mind?
It’s so easy to feel like you are going crazy when you are homeschooling. Constantly on the go, ideas floating around your head, feeling like a failure when you have a bad day. Know what I am talking about?
Here are 5 ways to not lose your mind whilst homeschooling.
1. Find another homeschooling family
Homeschooling can be really lonely at times. Try finding a homeschool coop or another homeschooling family to meet up with. Also, you can get ideas from other homeschooling mums. Don’t use this as an opportunity to compare, but instead learn from others. Try what you think will work for your family, and leave the rest.
2. Make sure your homeschool is fun
It is so easy to stay in teacher mode and become so worried, focused, and stressed out about ensuring your children will learn, that you forget to have fun.
Believe it or not, the more relaxed you are and the homeschooling atmosphere is, the more likely your children are to learn.
Make laughter and fun an everyday occurrence in your homeschool day.
3. Tell yourself well done for the things that are going well, and amend the things that aren’t working
Don’t be so hard on yourself Mama! I needed to tell you that because I know how easy it is to focus on everything that is going wrong and everything that you are ”failing at”
It is always a good idea to do a quick evaluation at the end of the day. Ask yourself these simple questions
What went well today in our homeschool day?
Why did this/ that not go well?
Are there areas I should change/adapt?
What should I keep?
Then make a game plan to adapt the things that need changing and give yourself some praise for the things you are doing well!
4. Give yourself some grace – homeschoooling is a journey
Stop telling yourself how bad you are! You are doing great.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day” is the saying.
This can be the same for your homeschooling journey.
“Your homeschooling day isn’t developed in one day.”
Like a new business or a new skill, your homeschooling day will take time before it is just right. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some days will be great and others not so much.
Remember those “bad days” don’t mean you are a bad mum!
5. Include self-care into your daily routine
More than ever, you need to remember to take time out for yourself! It can be challenging being with your children 24/7. Include quiet time into your routine so that you can have a moment to breathe, read, rest or just do something you enjoy.
This will give you the energy you need to keep going.
Remember this when planning your homeschool routine
Remember Mama, that routines take time, consistency, and effort. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen in time!