Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Let’s chat about Teresa Wiedrick’s book, Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer, and how it can encourage you in your homeschool life.
If you’re looking for a veteran homeschool mom to come alongside you, share stories from her homeschool, like you were a fly on the wall, and make you feel seen and encouraged, then you will want to read her book.
In this series, I share how the book, “Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer” can influence your homeschool.
Here’s how I hope my book, Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer, can encourage you in your homeschool life:
Homeschool Mama Self-Care helps you acknowledge your homeschool realities.
Before I began homeschooling, I imagined that my homeschool world would include three little girls in white dresses running in and out of the kitchen, the screen door slamming behind them as they joyfully tromped through the garden.
We’d go outside with their nature journals after breakfast, and we’d sketch and label and listen to the robins tweeting.
Then we’d cuddle on our white sofa with a read-aloud to while away the afternoon. Maybe we’d read The Secret Garden, Little Women, or one of Jane Austen’s offerings.
It didn’t take long to discover little girls in white dresses get dirty, not every kid loves to nature journal, and some kids don’t want to sit at all.
Four kids on a white sofa meant territorial skirmishes (and white sofas in a family home are the epitome of unbridled homeschool optimism).
I learned homeschooling has as many challenges as it has its charms.
With each family comes different challenges, but here are a few common ones I’ve noticed:
Homeschool, in the beginning…
The first homeschool year feels like swallowing an open fire hydrant in one gulp.
Having all the kiddos in one place, trying to teach them something, anything, making lunch, reading French sentences, and answering math questions — a multitasking expedition.
Peace and joy in the first-year homeschool world feel like an unreachable goal.
- Sometimes the kids bicker more as relationships are being negotiated.
- Personal thinking time feels as endangered as a snow leopard on the beach.
- It’s a challenge to find time alone that isn’t on a toilet seat.
- In what part of our day does actual homeschooling even happen?
- And trying to keep up with housework? A mess is made right after one is cleaned.
In the beginning, a barrage of homeschool philosophies overwhelms us as we soak ourselves in homeschool research, learn from established homeschool mamas, read homeschool blogs, and peruse homeschool books.
This research provides ideas, but also provides proof that everyone else seems to know how to homeschool right, whereas the newbies swim in a sea of uncertainty, or drown, as it sometimes seems.
Slump month is a known thing in the homeschool community.
Somewhere in February the fog and clouds settle in low, and solidly, at our river valley homestead nestled between the Kootenay mountains.
Sometimes, the sun doesn’t visit for weeks.
After the excitement of the new year is long behind us, and the season of celebration ended, the only break to look forward to is spring, glorious spring.
In my part of the world, there is a lot of snow in February, which we use for entertainment and exercise, like snowman building, snowball fights, and cross-country skiing.
There is also a lot of overcast, the clouds are hung so low I can’t always see across the river, let alone past the edge of our lawn. These are the kind of days that make us want to do a workbook bonfire and watch movies all afternoon.
This is the time of year I sense the kids are ready to fly away from their routine like the geese at our neighbouring island in late fall.
Extracurriculars become ordinary. Everyone wants to run through the meadows barefoot, climb every mountain, and swim through the sea.
A very Sound of Music feel.
A continual stream of irritations flows instead.
The kids bicker about who gets to sit in the front seat.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
Another child demands, “I want to sit in the front seat of the car this time.”
Someone else in the car bickers, “Move your feet out of the way.”
Someone doesn’t want to share a footwell in the car with their sibling.
Bickering and complaining can get on a mama’s nerves.
We’re learning superhuman circus tricks as we try to maintain patience as we listen to yet another argument between siblings.
We fawn over them when they’re tucked into bed, but if they’re not in their pajamas when we’ve asked, or if they took twenty minutes to find their toothbrush, or if they still have their light on after nine, our sweet bedtime wishes turn into lioness roars of exasperation.
Homeschool Mama Self-Care acknowledges that boredom is a reality, not just for the kids.
Even when we are in the early parts of our homeschool years, we mamas might feel bored.
We’re not chatting at the water cooler on breaks (what breaks?) and we aren’t donning fashionable three-piece suits for our commute to the office.
We chat with little people much of the day and sometimes tire of hearing about Lego builds and Barbie houses.
Some days we might want to invite the postal person to sit for a cup of tea and listen to details of her delivery route instead.
Teach enough kids the Preposition Poem, and you might find yourself questioning the meaning of life.
Stare at that list of prepositions long enough and you might will, with laser-focused eyes, the First Language Lessons to blow into a thousand bits. (PS still it’s a useful book!)
Homeschool is messy.
Homeschooling isn’t just happily watching our kids’ interests and floating from one exciting activity to the next. When once we thought being at home all day meant we could maintain a tidier home, we discovered we live here: every room is used for something.
- Some days we can’t find erasers anywhere; until weeks later, we discover them growing under the sofa cushions like a nest of mice (ps that’s where the scissors might be too).
- Some days we’ve finally purchased all the ingredients for a science experiment, then discover the littlest brother dumped the entire bottle of citric acid into a box of baking soda. No experiment today!
- The house entryway always needs sweeping, there will always be dishes by the sink, and you will never be asked to photograph for House & Home.
- No matter our cleanliness standards, everything will not stay clean at the same time.
Life gets in the way.
- You trip into an argument with your partner before you’ve served breakfast.
- Your mother gets sick, and you have to cancel everything to drive her to appointments, talk to medical personnel, and plan future care.
- Your neighbour calls to ask if you can care for their dog as they are away because their dog is afraid of thunder and lightning.
- A friend needs to take their older child to a doctor’s appointment in another city, and you’re asked to look after their younger children for the day. You do not have a substitute teacher to call.
Homeschool Mama Self-Care acknowledges that every day won’t function like you’re on a homeschool train schedule.
You might even experience homeschool burnout.
If the notion of putting the kids on random buses doesn’t sound like a funny homeschool mom joke anymore; if instead, you mouth the words “help me” as the school bus drives by, you might be experiencing homeschool burnout.
Or if you find yourself reacting to kids’ squabbles or you’re perpetually irritated that a child won’t show interest in his studies, by saying, “If you don’t, then you’re getting on that bus Monday morning,” you might be experiencing homeschool burnout.
And if you have written “research the local school’s telephone number” on your to-do list, and plan to learn the school registration process, or if you’re spending more time lying on the couch and calling yourself an unschooler, homeschool burnout might be your diagnosis.
Homeschool burnout is not selective.
- It doesn’t come to moms who love homeschooling and moms who homeschool because everyone else is homeschooling.
- Burnout is not for classically focused homeschool mamas more than unschool mamas.
- Burnout isn’t just for moms who work part-time or for single parent homeschooling alone.
- Burnout doesn’t arrive on your front step in the second year or the fifth.
- And it doesn’t visit if you have five kids or just one, two, or nineteen (though I would guess burnout would happen faster with nineteen).
You love your kids.
You came into this homeschool thing from the beginning before they were the size of a bean.
Or you bounded into this homeschool thing when the kids were well into school because you discovered the brilliance and engaging nature of other homeschool kids.
Maybe you began homeschooling because it seemed like the best choice at the moment for many possible reasons.
And now, after you’ve made that choice, you are occupied:
- You spend hours reading about learning, listening to podcasts, and reviewing all sorts of books and curricula.
- You buy games you think they’d love.
- You plan unit studies and field trips.
- You make sure they have a balance of healthy and fun foods.
- You consider the best extracurricular choices for their aptitudes and interests.
- You shower them with extras you can afford, but also challenge their entitlement tendencies.
You love your kids.
Your homeschool benefits: the homeschool life isn’t a perfect life, and certainly not an easy life, but it is a charmed life.
- You get to be with your kids.
- You get to know them deeply.
- And you get to know the intricacies of your family unit.
They learn in a way that serves them, beyond the school lifestyle.
- You get to facilitate their interests jointly.
- You get to watch their aptitudes unfold.
- And you don’t have to wake up early. Or you can choose to.
- You don’t have to drive away from your house in pajamas to drop off the kids at school, or you can wear pajamas all day long.
- No expectations for you to don a dress-up wardrobe, or you can; yoga pants are just as effective.
- You don’t have to buy low-quality food for easy lunches.
Your home and community can be the education, the school doesn’t have to be.
- You don’t have to concern yourself about classmate bullying — you see bullying, and you’re on it because you birthed the bully too.
- You watch your kids choose when they want to hang out with their friends and how much time they want to invest in those friendships.
- There’s no requirement to fit random school events into your calendar.
- You don’t have to pay for childcare, bus transportation, or indoor school shoes.
- You don’t have to resist social trends, because your kids typically take longer to discover the trend exists.
- Also, you don’t have to facilitate after-hours homework unless you choose to.
- You don’t feel compelled to dress your kids in fashion trends unless you want to.
You get to reap all the joyful benefits of your child’s happiest childhood moments.
- You get hugs at random times of the day.
- And you get to read stories with them until they’re teenagers because you can call that literary hour.
- You get to explore subjects like classical music, art history, world history, ancient history, economics, and political science for your elementary school-aged kids.
- You can teach home economics and make dinner at the same time or sew handmade masks for frontline healthcare workers.
- And you can fit in errands whenever you want, and call errands a field trip.
- As the kids get older, you can fit in time to do what you like: read, write, build a home business, homestead, or pursue your version of creativity.
All these benefits are yours for the next twenty years or thereabouts.
(The length of time depends on your number of kids, when you started, and if you homeschool through high school.)
No matter the exact number, it’s a whole lot of years.
Ultra-responsibility and endless effort are required.
With all these years of benefits, immense responsibility is required.
No pressure, but that sense of responsibility you have for your child’s well-being and education stays with you no matter how many years you do this.
Homeschooling takes a lot out of mamas.
It’s a challenge to thrive, not just survive.
Homeschooling is hard work:
- a challenge to plan and coordinate,
- an effort to continually observe our children,
- listen to their needs,
- facilitate their curiosities & aptitudes,
- and encourage them to engage others in healthy ways.
When putting that much effort into others, you’d better be taking care of yourself.
You’ve poured yourself into your children, providing them with every good thing: hot lunches, nature journaling, violin lessons, patience, and coloured gel pens.
I hope you’ve determined how to take care of yourself as you are taking care of everyone else.
Take a good, hard, long look at yourself, homeschool mama. How are you taking care of yourself?
- May you enjoy all the charms of homeschooling.
- May you be encouraged and reminded you are amazing.
- And may you remember you are as worthy and valuable as those for whom you care.
May these words compel you to build into yourself self-care practices so that you can nurture the nurturer.
Despite the challenging and charming aspects of this homeschool lifestyle, I’m clear on why I homeschool:
Because living in this vast world, and discovering all it has to offer is intriguing, fascinating, and energizes me and I wouldn’t want to do life without my children, even for an abbreviated time. I want to learn about life with my family for the days we are given together.
This is my beautiful big homeschool reality.
“My homeschooling journey has included a growing pile of books that I have read, browsed, or barely got past the first chapter. This book is just delightful and a gem! It’s not only helpful and inspiring but also funny. The author is like that no-nonsense brave friend who is looking out for you and your well-being as a homeschooling mama. We all need that friend and I am taking my time as I work my way through the chapters and enjoying it all. I love the section on overcoming overwhelm, grappling with perfectionism, and minding and working through our emotions. This book is worth its weight in gold. Find a quiet place to read, bring a warm cup of tea, and enjoy!”–Sonia in S. Jersey
People also ask:
- Where do I sign up for the Homeschool Mama Book Club?
- Tell me where to find your Homeschool Mama Reading List.
- why kids don’t need school socialization & why they need you instead
- I’m a new homeschooler, are you able to walk alongside and mentor me?
- Do you offer other coaching too? Why, yes I do!