Over my two decades of mothering and homeschooling four kids, I’ve learned the most important help I needed wasn’t finding resources, or deciding which curriculum I should use, but how I need to show up in my homeschool.
I wish someone had told me that I needed a plan to address my big emotions, my triggers, my frustrations, my doubts, and my uncertainties.
Since our emotions, triggers, frustrations, doubts, and uncertainties originate from our thoughts, let’s dig deep into addressing our thoughts.
We need to create boundaries for our minds, so we don’t allow ourselves to think thoughts that don’t help the homeschool mom (and don’t help our homeschool kids either).
It’s my intention here to give you some practical homeschool help for moms:
How many thoughts do we think in a day?
Lots going on up there (pointing to my head).
Have you ever sat for a few minutes and tried not to think at all?
Rather challenging to do that. (Especially because you and I both know you will be interrupted!)
Hold your middle fingers to your thumbs, then rest them on your crossed legs on a yoga mat in a quiet place in the house.
(Okay, I lost you when I suggested there was a quiet place in your home.)
If you’ve sat to meditate for any moment ever or attempted to quietly listen to God in prayer, without listening to your own anxious or organizing thoughts, you’ve discovered that your thoughts move faster than clouds in a stormy sky.
The more you sit to listen, the more you observe your thoughts, and the more you recognize you are not your thoughts. You are separate from your thoughts.
Homeschool mom, why would we sit to listen to our thoughts? Don’t we have enough thoughts in the day? We have stuff to do.
Many of our thoughts aren’t helpful, our thoughts aren’t always true, and sometimes create more trouble when we respond to them as though they were true.
Have you considered that your thoughts are separate from you?
(No, I’m not suggesting you hear voices.)
We all have many, many thoughts.
If we sit long enough, in a quiet place (where there aren’t little voices or to-do lists screaming), we discover there is a still person behind the thoughts: a person behind the worried, frustrated, uncertain, sad, or concerned thoughts.
On a particular day, I might think: the kids will grow up to live in a dilapidated cabin they found on an abandoned mining road because the bank won’t risk lending them money, no one will befriend them, and no one will employ them. The signs are there: they grab their siblings’ toys too often, demand they get whatever toy they want, don’t finish their work, and they spend every nickel given to them.
Though our thoughts have a reason to exist, it’s also true that some thoughts aren’t helpful, so we need to be active in helping ourselves.
If you are a homeschool mom in need of help, let me remind you that feelings and thoughts are part of the human experience, and you are a human.
We feel our feelings. We think our thoughts. Much of the meaning we ascribe to those thoughts or feelings aren’t always accurate.
And sometimes, when we ascribe the incorrect meaning to those feelings, we get ourselves in trouble.
Like the anxious thoughts that worry that we’re not going to get everything done in a day.
- What exactly will happen if we don’t get our to-do list completed?
- Will the house explode?
- Will the children wilt into the compost pile?
- And will the social worker remove the children from our home because we didn’t return the dentist’s reminder call to get their teeth checked?
Or like the angry thoughts that say…
“She shouldn’t have said that to me. I have to make her understand, or she will not maintain a relationship past “hello” when she grows up.”
What would happen if we told ourselves a different story about those thoughts?
What if we told ourselves we might have put too many things on our to-do list?
Or that our child will eventually learn how to speak respectfully because they are watching their respectful parents be kind.
Do you notice how some days those thoughts come out rather negatively?
- “Oh no,” we think to ourselves as we see someone we didn’t want to see, “not that person again.”
- Or, “There she goes again, getting upset with her sister.”
- Maybe, “The flab on my tummy is not going away,” as I munch on another potato chip.
Do you notice how some days those thoughts come out rather positively?
You hear the kids squabble and think, “They’ll figure it out. Just a learning opportunity in relationships.”
You answer the phone even though you don’t recognize the phone number and hope you can be a warm spot to an underpaid telemarketer’s day.
Or you think, “I like how my non-photoshopped, non-regularly-exercised body reveals a lifetime of stories.”
Homeschool help for moms: recognize that our thoughts are sometimes random and sometimes fleeting.
Some days we have better perspective than other days.
This is the human experience.
Ever hear of positive thinking challenges? “Don’t think anything negatively for a week; it’ll change your life.”
I know I couldn’t do it so I would just be disappointed in myself. (How negative of me, ha.)
Instead, I’ll slowly plod through my thought life one day at a time, focus on one thought at a time, and try to explore what’s going on in my brain and reframe as I go.
Positive thinking challenges begone!
However, analyzing my thought life, acknowledging that this is who I am, I feel frustrated when … I feel sad when … I feel overwhelmed when … I feel shamed when … leads to understanding ourselves which facilitates a quieter internal state.
So, when I have challenging feelings, I can ask myself once again:
- What is the thought behind the feeling?
- Is the feeling true?
- Am I one hundred percent certain the feeling is true?
- If the feeling isn’t true, perhaps there can be a natural conclusion that doesn’t have such a dramatically imagined consequence.
If you want help, homeschool mom, plan to address your thoughts.
What are we going to do about our thoughts, both pleasant and unpleasant ones?
Instead of allowing the fuel of unhelpful thoughts barrages our already busy lives, we need to practice responding to them.
It doesn’t serve us to pretend they don’t exist, though many people are very good at telling themselves they can.
We can ignore that someone really hurt us and pretend the hurt away for the sake of harmony. We can pretend that when our child ignores our request, we don’t feel angry.
When we’re honest with our feeling thoughts, we have a chance to address them.
Otherwise, how do we address something we can’t identify?
When we learn to acknowledge what needs to be changed, we can let go of what we can’t change.
- Yep, I feel uncertain for my child’s future when my child asks if she can try public school.
- I feel afraid when my daughter wants to get her driver’s license.
- Yeppers, I feel angry when my child sasses me in front of her Grandma.
If you’re like me and grew up with no discussion of feelings, and no discussion of your inner world, you might find it challenging to identify your feelings.
We need to spend time getting comfortable with our thoughts. We can’t deal with emotions we don’t know we have, so give them space.
Feelings are more difficult to differentiate if we don’t acknowledge them when they’re happening.
And feelings can be like the metaphorical dog hair clinging to a piece of fleece: one feeling upon another feeling, layers, and layers of uncomfortable feelings, woven together like a mohair sweater.
If you want to help yourself, homeschool mom, build a self-awareness practice into your days.
Some of our thoughts need paper and pen.
Writing them down helps to clarify what we think, and often disarms our intensity.
As part of our homeschool writing, I have always included journaling with my kids’ daily studies.
Learning to identify our feelings is step number one.
Whether our kids write, “I hate my life,” “I hate mom,” or “I hate my sister,” or whatever unpleasantries they may record, it is a useful starting point to learn to identify feelings. We can do that too.
Check your thoughts periodically by writing in a morning journal.
- Identify the unpleasant feelings; relish the pleasant ones.
- You don’t have to do anything with the record of your feelings.
- Just ponder and acknowledge them.
Journal your memories, dreams, and interpersonal interactions. Vent your frustrations without hurting anyone’s feelings.
If you’d like to include a journal practice in your homeschool morning routine, consider using these:
- Homeschool Mama Daily Journal
- Grappling with Overwhelm Journaling Workbook
- Deschool your Homeschool Journaling Workbook
- Build your Boundaries Journaling Workbook
- Big Emotions Journal for the Homeschool Mom
- Reimagine your Homeschool Workbook
Some of our thoughts need an ear.
Maybe a friend, spouse, or someone objective, like a counselor or a coach.
Some friends are not useful in hearing our thoughts, either because they don’t have answers, they have too many answers, or they encourage blame and don’t encourage taking responsibility.
Sometimes we choose to talk to friends because we don’t want to work on the struggle.
We want to blame and get sympathy instead of doing something.
Choose your listening ears wisely. (PS Schedule a conversation with me if you’d like to explore coaching.)
Some of our thoughts need quiet space.
Meditation, which is just listening to our thoughts, is effective. Sitting, quietly, breathing slowly, and allowing our thoughts to diffuse, often helps us gain clarity about what’s inside.
It’s essential that mom address her needs for quiet and self-care.
We need to address our thoughts like a well-argued lawyer.
I’ll reiterate because it bears practicing over and over:
- Look at your thoughts and ask, is what I think true?
- Is it possible my thoughts aren’t accurate?
- Is it possible I could have a different perspective if I thought something different?
- And this different perspective might influence us toward taking different actions.
Some of our thoughts might require us to change our behaviour because our behaviour makes us feel something we don’t want to feel.
We can’t tackle all our feelings at once.
However, we can try these thought experiments from Psychology Today author Hal Shorey, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Psychology at Widener University’s Institute of Graduate Clinical Psychology.
1. Look up from your screen and observe your surroundings. Suspend judgment and think about this thought independently of your feelings. Is there anything wrong at this moment? Many who do this exercise will respond “No.” Sometimes we focus too much on what has happened in the past or on our painful stories. Really, though, everything is okay right now.
2. If you lost your memory tonight and could not recall any painful past, would your day be different tomorrow? Would you go about your day and enjoy the things you see and the people you encounter?
3. Daydream. Imagine you are in a different world. How might you carry yourself or see yourself in the world? Would you feel differently? Allow the emotions and thoughts of that other form to come into your body.
4. Look into your eyes in the mirror and ask, “What am I?”
If you’re going to make up a story, make sure the story serves you. We need to acknowledge our thoughts, recognize when they’re limiting us, recognize how some of our thoughts create limitations in our lives and determine to take actions that help us create a story that serves us.
Learn more about mindfulness practice for the homeschool mama here.
“We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation, so we’ll become more awake in our lives.”Pema Chodron
Big Emotions Journal for the Homeschool Mom
Introducing the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, a set of resources designed to help homeschooling mothers deal with big emotions and specifically address their thoughts. Your brain and thoughts are important tools that need to be regularly sharpened, and the Toolbox is here to help you do just that.
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your homeschool is one of the most effective ways to separate yourself from your thoughts and be present. The Toolbox includes three questions from Dr. Amen, author of Change your Brain, Change your Life: What am I feeling? What is the thought behind my feeling? What is the story behind my thought? These are questions that you can practice regularly to get the most out of them.
The Toolbox also encourages a daily meditation practice to help you distance yourself from your thoughts and just be present. Guided meditations such as Guided Meditation on Controlling Negative Thoughts and Guided Meditation for Inner Peace & Calm can help you get started.
Additionally, the Toolbox offers a Thought Care Checklist to help you deal with challenging situations that may arise in your homeschool. By considering alternative perspectives, you can reframe your thoughts and deal with the situation in a more positive and constructive way.
With the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, you can learn to influence your thoughts and create a better reality for yourself and your family. Download the Toolbox today and start sharpening your tools!
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