Help for the Homeschooling Mama Who Is Trying to Balance It All

Homeschooling Mama, do you feel overwhelmed? Do you often wonder how you're ever going to get it all done? Is the stress of being wife, mother, teacher, maid, cook, nurse, taxi driver, personal organizer...a little too much for you?

Take heart. You're in good company. I think every fellow homeschooling mom I've ever talked to has felt the same way- even the ones that, at first, appear to me to totally have it all together. I certainly don't have it all together, but there are some things I've learned about achieving balance over my years of being a homeschooling mom. Here are the things I try to remind myself when I'm stressed, yet again, because I can't get it all done.

Finding balance as a homeschool mom
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You'll never get it all done.

I have a very wise husband who occasionally imparts his knowledge in a way that is really annoying- more so because what he says usually turns out to be true. After the birth of Rachel-#4- I had a day where I was particularly struggling with all my roles-cleaning to be done, schooling to be done with the older kids, feeding kids that needed to happen- all while carrying a baby around in a sling. I threw up my hands and - in what was meant to be a rhetorical question- asked when I would ever feel like I caught up. When will I adjust to four kids and finally be able to get it all done? Jason answered by assuring me that I would never get it all done.

Even though that wasn't the answer I wanted to hear, it's really the answer that was needed. It's true. I'm never going to get it all done. It's the very nature of housework and homeschooling and child rearing that the work is never done. The laundry will be overflowing again tomorrow because we wear clothes. I'm going to need to make food again in a few hours because we eat three meals a day. There is always more to learn, so school is never ending. The fact is that I needed to adjust my expectations and understand that I wasn't ever going to do it all.

Prioritize.

Once I accepted the fact that I was never going to get it all done, I had to learn to prioritize. Even though there are many tasks clamoring for my attention, some are really more important than others. Obviously the crying baby who has a soppy wet and stinky diaper takes priority over moving the laundry from washer to dryer. But I have to weigh emotional and relational needs as well. The child who is being unkind to a sibling needs my attention more than the dirty dishes in the sink, but it's easy to overlook that or push it to the back of my mind.

Long ago I was part of a discipleship Bible study. One of the things we discussed was the "tyranny of the urgent." This happens when we allow things that are more demanding to push aside things that are more important. This is a problem with my phone on occasion. I'm listening to something that a child is telling me, trying to give my full attention because I know that conversations build relationships. All of sudden, I hear a text or phone notification. Because it's a sound that demands my attention, the tendency is to stop the more important thing I'm doing- listening to my child- to do the more demanding thing of checking my phone.

Make a schedule.

I know to some people, the word "schedule" immediately evokes a bad reaction. With visions of strict, to-the-minute schedules in mind, some people instinctively cringe. I've learned, though, that your "schedule" doesn't have to be strict and structured to really help with balance. It can be a flexible changing thing that just helps you to focus your attention on certain things and keeps you from becoming distracted by unimportant things.

In our family, we use routines. I don't have strict, set times for our whole day. But we do have certain times we try to aim for. And in between those times, we follow the same patterns. For many years our school routine looked like this: We began school with devotions at 8:30am. Was it always exactly 8:30? No. I'm not a morning person, and it's sometimes hard to get moving. But it was close to that.

After devotions we followed a routine of schoolwork, usually covering the same subjects in the same order each day. We followed the same routine of Charles and Kathryne working independently in their rooms. At around noon, we had another check in point when we met for lunch. It was not always exactly noon, but we aimed for that time. Routines kept us from veering off- playing video games instead of schoolwork or, in my case, writing a blog post instead of getting started with teaching.

Have a support system.

I'm an introvert. Socializing with groups of people just isn't my favorite thing to do. But I've learned over the years of being a homeschooling mom that I need support from others. Even though I'm not someone who constantly wants to be with other people, I need to find other moms who are like minded so that I can get and give encouragement.

At different seasons of my life, this support has come from different places. I've been in co-ops where I could meet and socialize with other moms once a week while we taught each other's kids. I've had close friendships with other moms who came and brought their kids to play while we talked. I've been part of a small group of only two other families. We took turns teaching our kids science but had time to talk and just hang out with each other as well.

I've found support online as well. I've made connections with other homeschool moms through blogs and Facebook groups. I happen to have a Facebook group here, if you'd like to come join us. However you find encouragement- in real life or online- support is important.

Delegate.

One of the most difficult things for me in terms of all of my roles as wife and mom and teacher is to delegate. I sometimes use the excuse that it's easier for me to do a chore than to teach a child to do it. I use the excuse that I don't want to ask Jason to do things because he'll complain. I use the excuse that I don't want to ask grandparents to keep the kids because I don't want to be a burden. But the reason that delegating is really difficult for me is because when I delegate I give up control.

I like control. I like to do things my way in my time. So, I often resist delegating because I don't want to give up that control. I've had to learn that it's okay to have something done in a different way. The kids will live if someone feeds them lunch at 1pm instead of noon. And they probably won't die if they eat a food I don't usually let them eat. When I've been willing to delegate without stressing about it, I find that I can get more done and get it done more efficiently when I have and accept help.

Finding balance as a homeschool mom

Balance is something that can be awfully hard for a homeschooling mama to find. But these things have helped me to have a little more balance and to be able to breathe a little easier. It's something I don't think I'll ever be really great at- finding balance. I think the search for balance will be a lifelong pursuit.



This post was originally linked up with the iHomeschool Network. Stop by and check out all the great posts on juggling all of your responsibilities as a homeschool mom.

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2 comments :

  1. good post Leah. :) good to remember we can't do it all.. not that we should have to either. :)

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