Everyone needs self-care, even and especially, homeschool mamas.
There isn’t a profession out there that doesn’t require a practice of self care. As a homeschool mama, I wouldn’t claim to think self-care was more necessary for a homeschooling mama, a front line emergency worker, an airline pilot or a landscaper.
Unique to homeschooling mamas is that we have a steady, continuous stream of child presence and are wildly invested and aware of all aspects of their well-being.
We homeschool mamas have moments of pure gratification watching our kids harmoniously engage each other, pursue new interests, jump hurdles in learning and skill development; and we get to just be with the kids we brought into the world. But there’s also a continuous stream of fledgling emotions, sibling bickering, attempted bickering with parents, complaining, and mundane work too.
Even when we respond in healthy ways to the challenges, distancing their fledgling emotions from our own egos and sense of well-being, we still have invested so much in them.
We parents have our heartstrings tied to our children’s successes and failures, to their struggles and joys, to their disharmony and harmony. Though they might have come from our womb, they are not us. Their choices are theirs. Their struggles are theirs. Their developmental stage is theirs. The unique stamp of their personhood, their unique purpose in this world, that’s theirs. We are not the main character on their stage. They are.
Yet, the instinct and the desire to hold it all like it is ours, is a constant temptation and an incredible expenditure of energy. And so we must take care of ourselves.
Julie Bogart, owner and creator of Brave Writer and Homeschool Alliance, offers excellent self-care tips from her book A Gracious Space. (Listening to this woman’s encouragement is a self-care strategy for me too).
Commune with God, aka meditate.
Meditate on things that are true. Be still and know that God is above us, below us, ahead of us and behind us and not apart from the experiences of our lives. Be still and know that though a storm might feel like it is brewing within you, or you may feel overwhelmed or uncertain, a still small part of you remains separate from the challenge. So connect with that still voice.
The powerful anti-inflammatory effects of yoga has provided me years of benefit, keeping me limber and pain-free. In some circles, there is a stigma attached to it that disables many to not participate. Poor yoga, so misunderstood. Just try it. That is all.
A glass of wine preparing dinner on a weekend evening, listening to a cooking show, and enlisting the kids in food prep is a lovely way to enjoy the weekend.
Giada knows how to cook, and she writes beloved children’s adventure food-based books that our kids loved to read. So we all enjoy her.
I also love Barefoot Contessa: her cooking, her home, her garden. And she’s such a pleasure to include in my kitchen.
Just an ounce of really good dark chocolate. (And daily magnesium supplements that supplement our brain’s desire for chocolates and also help you sleep better.) Chocolate is tastier.
And all the other supplements that you could be taking that might increase your overall sense of well being. Learning to take daily vitamins.
Dr. Daniel Amen, a medical doctor that focuses on brain health, has written excellent resources and supplement suggestions for providing nourishment for our brains. What is more important than takine care of our brains?
A hot cup of coffee or mint tea before anyone talks with you. Quiet space to think. Quiet space to determine our thoughts toward our day. Time to journal, to plan, and to be quiet. Time speak our daily homeschool mama affirmations.
A powerful tool to understanding ourselves is to sit and listen to our uncomfortable feelings. Why do we feel what we feel? Be gracious with ourselves and don’t judge our feelings as good or bad, but observe them instead.
Accept all your feelings. You are human and humans feel all sorts of feelings: disappointment, disgust, overwhelm, sadness, frustration, contempt, glee, and elation. Recognize that feelings often pass like clouds in the sky: they don’t stay static, yet they’re not entirely predictable either. Unlike any other self-care tip I offer, this one, “observing yourself,” is a profound one. It helps to unlock intense, uncomfortable feelings.
Somehow, some way, every day. (Or at least, most days). We need endorphin rushes. (That don’t come from children squabbling, or someone getting hurt or complaints about math problems.) Burn off that tension with high-intensity exercise that you enjoy.
For me, writing, gardening, reading, and nature. For you, needlepoint, poetry, 1950s deco, clothing design, makeup techniques, or travel blogs? You tell me.
Whatever it is, do it every day. Just 15 minutes. You can do that or you can learn to do that (and your kids will learn that you are indeed going to do that).
Nurturing friendships enables connection and satisfies the desire to know and be known. Friendships can be like comfort blankets. They can also be nurturing connections. Sometimes they can be novel experiences, like travelling to a foreign country.
These are my top ten. What are your top ten self-care practices?