How long will it take to develop boundaries in my homeschool life, a homeschool mama asked me.
That depends, is the honest answer. Anything valuable and meaningful doesn’t happen without the work of the interior.
And the work of the interior depends upon your clarity and intention toward that work. That work isn’t always easy to determine, but it definitely takes time.
So how to develop boundaries in my homeschool life? Let’s chat.
What is the work of the interior?
It could be any number of things:
- Understand how our perspective isn’t quite as we might be seeing our life or circumstances.
- Learn how to navigate conflict with our important others.
- Render our painful stories.
- Build resilience muscles to navigate the hard things.
- Create practices to feel fully alive in our lives and enable creativity.
- Construct to deal with our homeschool challenges, be super clear on what those challenges are, and have a plan to deal with them.
- Strengthen our ability to accept the realities of our life stories and approach them with acceptance.
- Recognize how we can create attachment and connection with our kids.
- Continue to hone in on the most important things, aka the simple things, the most valuable things to us, and live into them.
- Understand how we’re relating to the activities we pursue, like homeschooling or mothering, and determine whether we know we’re enough in those spaces.
- Build self-compassion strategies into our lives so we can be kind to ourselves, despite imperfections.
- Create a plan to tackle our big emotions, recognize our emotional atmosphere, and know how to deal with those emotions.
A little bit of work;) And each of them helps to develop boundaries in my homeschool life.
Why develop boundaries in my homeschool life anyway?
Building boundaries will help you maintain…
- Your needs.
- Your goals.
- Also your energy.
- Definitely your peace.
- Your quiet.
- Also your cleanliness.
- And finally, your organization.
Here’s more on why you require them.
When our goals and needs are met, we have the energy and mental space to extend nurture to those around us too.
So what are your boundary challenges?
I share more about what boundary challenges might be in your homeschool life here, but I know from experience, and from coaching other homeschool moms, boundary challenges are as varied as the humans experiencing them.
Perhaps you might recognize a few boundary challenges in your own homeschool life here:
1. Not having boundaries around your time.
Do you not want to be interrupted during your regular homeschool hours?
Then you can unplug your landline and remove the notifications from your phone. And you don’t have to answer the front door. And you can let your family and friends know that you have a job, it’s called homeschooling.
Do you want to have time just for yourself once a week that isn’t interrupted by kids, partners, or family members?
Then you’ll have to find a time and place where no one can access you. Away from home.
2. Not feeling confident and guilt-free when you work at home while you homeschool.
This is a tricky one as kids and family members need to learn your expectations.
You both need to be realistic, the kids still need to see your eyeballs on the regular & younger kids don’t abide by separateness very well, so you’ll need to practice practice practice teaching them your expectation and make it very very clear (might I recommend placing a timer outside your closed door, so when the timer goes off, the kids can knock and get your attention).
PS If you’re working from home, I offer these journaling questions to help you address your special challenges.
3. Not maintaining boundaries around your separate morning time.
Getting separate every day isn’t an option. Oh, I know, it feels almost impossible to get it at certain times of our parenting journey, but it is a requirement for long-term parenting. Ya know, if you plan to parent for eighteen years (x however many kids you’ve got).
Even as a non-morning person in my early homeschool days, I wish I would have told myself, um sorry, but I’m gonna be your supportive parent and drag you out of bed with a carafe of coffee, a journal, and a yoga mat, so you can have just a wee bit of time by yourself, before the voices find their way to you again (voices=not your inner voices, I mean the little voices that you adopted/birthed).
4. Do you not want to answer the phone during your school day?
Take it from someone who doesn’t own a cell phone.
(Really, I don’t. And even if this post continues into the future, I’ll never have to update this sentence, because I just don’t want to be contacted all the time, so I’ll likely never own a phone).
5. Do you get quiet time during your homeschool day?
Maybe it’s a ten-minute coffee break after lunch when the oldest is leading the play in the backyard (don’t you love those leader-firstborns?)
Or maybe you need to hire a babysitter (another homeschooled kid you know?)
Or maybe you just intentionally turn on Magic School Bus and sit those kids down in front of a screen so you can take a Pinterest time-out.
(Kinda specific suggestion here, because I might have done this myself. I’ll also suggest you keep a stash of cookies under your corner chair in your bedroom, the kids will never know).
6. How do you want to create boundaries around inquiring questions?
Do you answer random questions about homeschooling in the grocery store?
Just cause someone asks you a question about homeschooling, doesn’t mean you have to answer.
It was my kids that figured this out before I did.
- They got tired of explaining that they are homeschooled, there is no day off from school today,
- They are in “no grade”, or whatever grade you’re expecting them to be at a give age,
- Their mom doesn’t really teach them every knowledge bit known to a public school teacher (although their dad almost can;)
- They have plenty of social opportunities and they’re definitely socialized, thank you very much! (They’re speaking to you respectfully, despite being asked some roll-your-eyes, stereotypical questions).
So I took a cue from their behaviour and recognized I don’t have to answer anybody’s questions about homeschooling.
7. Do you have boundaries around the way you communicate and others communicate with you?
Do you have boundaries around how kids speak to each other or you in your home?
We teach our kids how to relate, engage, listen, care, empathize, understand…all the relational words.
- When kids are listened to, they’re likely to listen.
- If kids are cared for, they’re likely to care for others.
- When kids are empathized with, they’re like to empathize.
- And when kids are related, they like to relate.
But not always. Cause they’re young and they have a penchant for unrelatable behaviours. And so we have to decide what we’re going to do with those unrelatable behaviours.
Like many children, as there are, there are unreliable behaviours.
So what is your action plan when your kids speak unkindly or disrespectfully?
Come up with a plan for what you’re already seeing in your home.
8. Do you create boundaries around your needs? You can read more about nurturing the nurturer here.
Know this: you can’t give everything when you don’t have your own needs met.
You are responsible to take care of your own needs first.
Though you are a mother, you are not a god. You’re not equipped to be everything to everyone. Yes, the culture does have tall expectations for us and we have even taller expectations of ourselves.
But it’s just not real. We can’t be everything to everyone. Not even just to our homeschooled kids.
We need to be intentional about building boundaries around our time.
How we can build boundaries in our homeschools.
Get out your journal and answer the following questions:
- Do a boundary assessment: where do you think you need to establish boundaries?
- Who do you have a boundary challenge with?
- Do you have time for yourself during the week?
- Do you build time during your day for quiet and separate times?
- Do you have a plan for responding to random strangers’ questions about homeschooling?
- Do you have a plan for how to address homeschool questions from family or friends?
- Do you unplug your landline during the day? Or do you turn off notifications on your devices?
- Write how you want to be spoken to and in what tone.
- And when you have conflict, how do you want to be spoken to during conflict?
- And do you speak to others in that way too?
- How do you unkindly speak to yourself? (In the confines of your own mind.)
- Are there mistruths you repeatedly tell yourself?
- Do you address your needs?
Self-awareness is the first step.
Read the Building Boundaries Booklist.
Read about all the things that have helped develop boundaries in my homeschool life…
1. Healthy communication.
Read the book Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
As we’ve seen, all criticism, attack, insults, and judgments vanish when we focus attention on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message. The more we practice in this way, the more we realize a simple truth: behind all those messages we’ve allowed ourselves to be intimidated by are just individuals with unmet needs appealing to us to contribute to their well-being. When we receive messages with this awareness, we never feel dehumanized by what others have to say to us. We only feel dehumanized when we get trapped in derogatory images of other people or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves.Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg
2. How to frame our hard stories.
Read the book The Choice by Edith Eger.
Our painful experiences aren’t a liability—they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life, by Edith Eger
3. Learning how to grow yourself up alongside parenting your own children.
Read the book Growing Yourself Up by Jenny Brown.
The ability to be both a distinct self and part of a close relationship is at the core of being able to grow our genuine adult maturity.Growing Yourself Up: How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships, by Jenny Brown
4. Create resilience-strengthening practices to deal with all the bumps and bruises along life’s journey.
Read the book Resilient by Rick Hanson.
First, we need to experience what we want to grow, such as feeling grateful, loved, or confident. Second—critically important—we must convert that passing experience into a lasting change in the nervous system.Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, by Rick Hanson
5. Enabling new habits to reinforce the real you.
Read the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza.
“If you want a new outcome, you will have to break the habit of being yourself, and reinvent a new self.” “Warning: when feelings become the means of thinking, or if we cannot think greater than how we feel, we can never change. To change is to think greater than how we feel.Joe Dispenza author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
6. Fostering creativity.
Read the book The Charge by Brendan Burchard.
No matter your position, circumstances, or opportunities in life, you always have the freedom of mind to choose how you experience, interpret, and, ultimately, shape your world.Brendon Burchard, The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel 41 likes Like
7. Acknowledging our homeschool realities.
Read my book, Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer.
Teresa gets to the heart of the issues surrounding your less-than-thriving experience with homeschooling and offers helpful tips and strategies that will take you beyond mere survival. While it contains tips for nurturing the nurturer, it is much more than just another thing for your to-do list. You will feel validated and understood, and enjoy some humor as well. Just starting out? Teresa has wisdom for you as an experienced Mama.Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer, by Teresa Wiedrick
8. Embracing acceptance.
Read the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.
Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
9. Understanding attachment.
Read the book Hold onto your Kids by Gordon Neufeld.
Unconditional parental love is the indispensable nutrient for the child’s healthy emotional growth. The first task is to create space in the child’s heart for the certainty that she is precisely the person the parents want and love. She does not have to do anything or be any different to earn that love – in fact, she cannot do anything, since that love cannot be won or lost…The child can be ornery, unpleasant, whiny, uncooperative, and plain rude, and the parent still lets her feel loved. Ways have to be found to convey the unacceptability of certain behaviors without making the child herself feel unaccepted. She has to be able to bring her unrest, her least likable characteristics to the parent and still receive the parent’s absolutely satisfying, security-inducing unconditional love.Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold On to Your Kids: Why parents need to matter more than Peers
10. Living your life on purpose.
Read Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka.
Once you make the unequivocal internal commitment to do something – when you absolutely know this is the time and the place to act – the world around you will shift in all sorts of apparently miraculous ways to make it happen.Sarah Susanka, author of the not so big life: making room for what really matters
11. Accepting yourself as enough.
Read the book More Than Enough by Kara S. Anderson.
Our job is inherently different than that of a teacher in a traditional school. So, let’s break out of the mental shackles and embrace the freedom that homeschooling offers. Homeschooling is hard work. But we make it harder when we try to measure up to standards that weren’t meant for us to follow.Kara Stephenson Anderson, author of More Than Enough
12. Developing self-compassion.
Read the book Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff.
With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
13. Fostering emotional self-awareness.
Read the book Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown.
To form meaningful connections with others, we must first connect with ourselves, but to do so, we must first establish a common understanding of the language of emotion and human experience.Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
If you’d like to join a Homeschool Mama Intensive on Boundaries or discuss any of these challenges with me, you can contact me here.
Build your Boundaries Journaling Workbook
Journal questions can aid in your self-exploration, to get curious about what your reasons for boundaries issues may be. They can be a self-coaching tool to help you clarify your needs, your relationships, and your identity, so you can get your needs met & become more you. This 31-page self-coaching workbook will be your best tool to build boundaries.
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