What are your boundary challenges in your homeschool and what are the steps you use to deal with boundary issues?
Whether dealing with an unwelcome, opinionated family member, a child that doesn’t honour your stated needs, or your own mind self-criticizing or being unrealistic, boundary issues can sap our hearts and minds from living our lives on purpose.
So what are these practical steps to dealing with boundaries in your homeschool?
Building boundaries will help you maintain…
When our goals and needs are met, we have energy and mental space to extend nurture to those around us too.
So what are your boundary challenges?
Do you have 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 homeschool.
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.
Do you need to 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.
Do you have 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).
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).
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 homeschool 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).
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.
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.
- When kids are cared for, they’re likely to care.
- When kids are empathized with, they’re like to empathize.
- 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.
And like many children, as there are, there are unreliable behaviours.
So what is our action plan when your kids speak unkindly or disrespectfully?
Come up with a plan for what you’re already seeing in your home.
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.
To connect with that still voice.
The powerful anti-inflammatory effects of yoga have provided me with years of benefits, keeping me limber and pain-free. In some circles, there is a stigma attached to it that disables many to not participating.
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 ways 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 taking 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, plan, and be quiet. Time speaks our daily homeschool mama affirmations.
A powerful tool for 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.
Somehow, someway, every day. (Or at least, most days). We need endorphin rushes. (That doesn’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 traveling to a foreign country.
Do you have boundaries around your private toilet time? (Private toilet time, is that an oxymoron?)
Do you get any time for yourself throughout your homeschool life? (In other words, do you get to just be you and NOT a homeschool mom for a brief period of time?)
When our needs are met, we more easily share and address other people’s needs.
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?
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.
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.
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