With the holidays coming up, this has been a great opportunity to teach Jackson the highlights of family, friends, and being thankful. We have finished Halloween (with an AWESOME co-op Halloween party) and are starting to plan our Thanksgiving at my mom’s house this year. We’ve started some new books in our curriculum and our co-op session is coming to a close in the next couple weeks.
And that’s about it.
Just kidding. We’ve been crazy busy.
Yes, all those things are true; Halloween was great, we are loving the new books, and Jackson is really starting to get a concept of being thankful for everything we have and get to do. But, even with all of that, we have been so crazy it almost hurts. Sometimes it does hurt.
Today’s post is about balancing it all–or at least trying to–and finding the right way to do it for you. Every family is different, and I can’t tell you what will work for your family. Lucky for us, we are moms and we are women, and we strive to make things better and easier for ourselves and our loved ones, every chance we get. If there is anything I have learned since beginning homeschooling, it’s that we are not alone.
Get a Routine
This is fairly obvious, and probably something we all do without even realizing it. We have routines in the morning, routines when we shower, routines when we clean the house. It’s no different with homeschooling. Plus, I work inside and outside of the home as well, so staying consistent is especially important for us.
To foster independence and get a little extra help around the house, I encourage my son to do his chores throughout the day to stay on top of everything. He’s only four, so he doesn’t have the big stuff, but even little hands can make a big difference. Find a small list of chores your little ones can do to help you out and gain their own sense of belonging. Make a game out of it if you like!
Set Aside Some Quiet Time
Part of our routine is quiet time after lunch, not to be confused with nap time. Those with preschoolers know that they are no longer babies, but big kids, and I’m sure they are happy to share it. Quiet time in our house means quiet playing or reading in his room while I take a few minutes to gather my thoughts for the second half of the day. It’s only about an hour, but what a difference it can make! I’m able to make my work calls, clean my bathroom, fold some laundry, plan the evening’s dinner, or even read or play on my phone, all without having to worry about if I’m doing enough for his enrichment. Kids need that play time, that time to themselves. So much learning happens in that time.
Sometimes, if I’m especially tired (who am I kidding, that’s always), I’ll let him lay down with me in my room to watch a movie so I can take a nap. It’s not ideal, but sometimes self-care and quiet time means getting some rest by any means I can.
Take Care of Yourself
Speaking of self-care, it’s important to find those moments to ourselves to unwind and de-stress. Sometimes that means a face mask or bubble bath, sometimes that means scrolling through Pinterest and not using our brains for ten minutes. Do whatever it means for you.
Include your child in self-care when able, or communicate clearly to teach them the importance. Kids, especially preschoolers, don’t understand the concept of self-care and they don’t (frankly) care that you need five minutes to scream into a pillow. Does your child like to play with your hair? Let them play with it for a few minutes while you close your eyes. Implement reading time, and even though they may not be able to read yet, they can pretend they are reading next to you. Ultimately, never underestimate the power of good communication. Even very young children are capable of understanding “I’m having a hard day, honey. I’ll play with you in a few minutes.”
Find a Tribe
This is probably the most important of all the things you can do to balance it all. Find your tribe. They are out there. Before I met the moms in Rivah Homeschool, I didn’t think I’d ever find someone, especially someone who shared my values and approaches, and treated my son like their own. The support your tribe gives you can (literally) save your life.
Start looking locally where you’re comfortable. The park and library are good starting points, then go from there. Facebook even has private groups that moms join looking for playdates and the like. And, who knows, maybe you’ll find someone selling some shoes on marketplace and you each hit it off.
Ultimately, when all this is said and done, you have to find what works for you. For me, some close friends, quiet time, and my planner SAVE. MY. LIFE. This is not a recipe for perfection, nor is it a formula to find a groove. All children and their parents and lives are so vastly different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other through blog posts and play dates.