It took me a few years (okay, a lotta years) to be intentional about self-nurturing practices, and I only began to pay attention to them when I had to.
So from one homeschool mama to another, you gotta love yourself too. Not just your homeschool kids.
Coming to understand that I don’t have an endless supply of energy, organization, and happiness (that I need nurturing too) was a useful (& pivotal) moment to remember so I could love myself as a homeschool mama.
I share some of the practices that help me love myself as a homeschool mama.
I hope this can be an encouragement for you to nurture you too. So grab your journal and write anything that comes to mind.
I’m sorry this is cliché, but we’re going to include the cliches in this discussion too. Before the age of 30, I didn’t understand what people were talking about, this need for coffee. After I had my third daughter, I got it. I was tired. So tired. (As an aside, I was told that after two kids, it’s all the same. I asked my friend, a mom of five if that was true. She looked at me like a deer in the headlights.) Matter of factly, she answered, “No, Teresa, every child is more work.” (And she was right).
In my early homeschool years, I learned that I’m one of those early morning comatose mothers. I look like I’m awake, but I am unable to have a conversation without sniping. It only takes one good cup of coffee a day, maybe two, but coffee is required. And good coffee, because after this many years, I’m a coffee snob.
Where I live in the mountains in the early February month, cloud cover is a persistent friend. Like heavy cloud cover. I grew up on the prairies as a child, so there was enough sun for miles, and you could see for miles too.
Now, in the Kootenay mountains, we may have year-round phenomenal views, near the river, where we have a neighbouring island just 100 feet from our home, and giant mountains towering the front yard of douglas fir, larch, pine, birch, hemlock, and spruce, but some days we also have cloud cover so thick I can’t determine the types of trees just 20 feet from our Great Room windows.
Sitting in front of a UV Light for fifteen minutes every morning, an oral dose of Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex assist my brain in finding happiness through this season.
Oh, and also getting outside.
Seems counterintuitive to go outside when one is enveloped by that thick cloud cover, but the first few years I lived here, I practiced what the locals knew, and I got outside. In the darkest part of the year what saved me was, to my surprise, going outside.
Spending time outside helps me commune with the world around me. And to slow to the pace of natural creation.
Somehow it works.
So I find reasons to be outside: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking; tending goats, raising chickens, and planting a garden.
I make time for exercise.
I assume I need to exercise every day because when I don’t, I’ll know that I am exercising almost every other day. I exercise because it burns mental tension and infuses happy hormones into my brain.
Once a week, everyone is invited to a dance party (even the teenagers). And almost every day, I play tennis, other days we’ll shoot hoops, kick a soccer ball, throw a baseball or football, run on the elliptical, or play a YouTube dance video.
My favourites are canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and cross country skiing. And if it’s an especially warm August, I’ll swim in the icy mountain river.
What do you like to do?
I like to pretend I went to an art gallery.
Okay, so I don’t have the Louvre or the Met available to me, but I do have art books from those places.
Discovering the soothing effect of staring at a beautiful piece of art in actual galleries, that we’ve visited once upon a time, energizes me: my unschooled fine arts degree.
Instead of a daily visit to a gallery (I live in the mountains, not a major city center), I research a piece of art from a book.
This is my unschooled life.
Study composers while I build my Spotify list.
Similar to art books, I have a compendium of musical composers with historical tidbits and pieces that they performed. I love this stuff. (Guess who missed out on their fine arts degree?) Feeds my soul: good music. And I just love learning about different composers (& then listening to them on Spotify while readaloud to my kids).
I wouldn’t even believe I’d ever have written that sentence a few years ago.
This practice only takes a few minutes. While I do this colouring, I focus my mind on thinking the right thoughts and also producing a pretty page. (My version of producing a famous Monet). Alternatively, I’ve also turned on a YouTube meditation and focussed my breathing as I colour black and white colour pages of my Jane Austen colouring book.
I do mindful moments throughout my days, just to check in with myself.
- How am I feeling?
- Am I triggered by something?
- What is the trigger?
- What is my feeling?
- What is the thought behind my feeling?
- Is there an underlying need below my feeling?
And of course, can I reframe my thoughts behind my feelings? (Cause I usually can in some way and it always improves my happy factor and benefits my relationships when I do.)
Toolbox for Big Emotions Journaling Workbook
Journal questions can aid in your self-exploration, to get curious about what you’re feeling, how you’re taking care of yourself, and what your general thought patterns are during your homeschool days so you can show up on purpose in your homeschool.
Getting time for myself.
So when people ask me if I get time for myself, I see raised eyebrows when I tell them I get more time now than when they were in school.
Because I am far more in control of my time and schedule. Also, because my kids get a whole lot more of my focused attention, they don’t want to always be with me. But I also have to get more time for myself because, no surprise to any homeschool mom in existence ever, homeschooling is kinda demanding.
Kids need stuff. When they’re little, we assume they’ll be less demanding than when they’re older.
Um, sometimes, depends on the child’s personality.
Sometimes, older kids need more. (Sorry toddler parents, but it’s true).
Sometimes older kids need more processing time. For their emotions. Also for them to respectfully express disagreement with you. (They’re more, shall we say, vigorous, with their sibling conflicts & with you).
Older kids also want you to drive places. So your schedule is rife with an unpaid part-time taxi job. (& they even want you to pay for stuff, but that’s a different discussion).
Nonetheless, there’s not more time as they get older.
I need to feel separate.
So I purposefully spend time doing things that are just for me. (Not a lot of time but some time).
I’ve learned to delete a whole bunch of stuff.
Stuff that other people think is important to do, but I don’t.
- subject areas,
- and other stuff that I’ve forgotten because I’ve been deleting for a long time.
But even stuff I thought they were important but I didn’t have the time to include them, I could also not do them. (You just can’t do everything).
I’m a gal with great expectations, for my homeschool and for my family, so I’ve had to subtract an awful lot that was good, but not great, for my family.
And I had to include myself in it.
I pursue self-development.
My goal? To show up on purpose. In my family, my homeschool, and my life. (No, I don’t always hit it, hence the need for growth, but it’s my goal).
I share with you my Homeschool Mama Reading List for Personal Growth. But this list is always growing, because I’m always reading. And listening to podcasts and listening to something on Audible. (And discussing those books at the Homeschool Mama Book Club).
I’m also learning from a therapist or a coach. (PS I offer life coaching too).
This life thing compels us all to continue to grow, willingly or unwillingly, so we might as well agree to grow with the flow.Teresa Wiedrick, author of Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
I continue tweaking my diet.
I’m not trying to be the first runway homeschool mama supermodel. (Also, I occasionally feed my brain whatever baking the kids have done, this weekend, caramel popcorn, other weekends, brownies, homemade ice cream, french macarons. I’m not a martyr over here).
I also feed my brain supplements and loads of fruits and veggies, because food is fuel and useful fuel enables me to think clearly and function highly.
Do something, anything, that is creative. Whatever is the first thing that came to your mind that you really want to play with but you just haven’t had the time, when can you do it?
If homeschooling can fuel our children to be creative, it can surely enable us. So just as you hope your kids will play with creativity, you can too.
As Rumi so eloquently said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you love. It will not lead you astray.”
Build a community of support.
Whether the focus is on your ideas around homeschooling or your desire for self-development and how you’re showing up in your life, find a community to support you.
You’re welcome to join the Patreon community for the Homeschool Mama Self-Care podcast. You have access to other homeschool mamas on this journey too, opportunities for coffee chats, and extended live interviews. (And the Patreon community supports me to continue this podcast too).
I offer a Homeschool Mama Book Club as we explore books that help us get clearer on our homeschool vision and help us to show up on purpose in our homeschools (next book club, we’ll be discussing Julie Bogart’s book, Raising Critical Thinkers: A Parent’s Guide to Growing Wise Kids in the Digital Age is just a couple weeks, Oh & Julie will be visiting us too).
I offer Group Intensives to grapple with the most challenging issues in our homeschools and our lives: we discuss boundaries, overwhelm, and this week, self-compassionate techniques, just in time for Valentine’s.
These are some of my self-nurturing practices: what have you put on your list?
So what did you put on your list? Consider this your Valentine’s gift to yourself. If you do it, and let me know when you do it.
Because I’m here to help remind you to nurture the nurturer, you! And Happy Valentine’s Day.
People also ask:
- How do I get a virtual homeschool mama retreat?
- How to incorporate ten basic self-care tips for the homeschool mama?
- How to get homeschool mom community & connection: join the Homeschool Mama Book Club?
- How I Know You’re Smarter Than You Think, Homeschool Mama
- Get more encouragement in the book: Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod