When I began homeschooling in 1985, I was naively oblivious of the time commitment I was taking on. . .for the next twenty years! But it didn't take long to figure out that being a homeschool mom tends to be a 24/7 career because our kids are always there, always needing something to be fixed, explained, picked up or cooked. Now, don’t get me wrong—there are amazing benefits to this job that money can’t begin to buy. If you want to have the ongoing energy to stick with this demanding career, however, there are a few things that can make a real difference. One of them is giving yourself permission to go “off-duty” at times.
For me, one of the lifesavers of homeschooling was the daily quiet zone we had after lunch. Once the dirty dishes hit the sink, we would each go to our rooms to sit on our beds for an hour! (You're dubious, right? But your wrigglers are no wigglier than mine, and you are already training them to sit for meals and church and car rides. We just took one more step.) As long as the activity was quiet, each of us could do what we liked. For some, it was the perfect time to build with Legos, for others, it was a treasured free reading time. For me, I could rest, read, chat on the phone or contemplate new thoughts over a cup of coffee—ALL BY MYSELF. If you can imagine lounging amidst the palm trees and water of an oasis after hours toiling in the sun-baked desert, you will understand how welcomed this daily break was for each of us.
Once a week, I had a date with my husband, while a friend baby-sat. Because we had limited funds, it was always a cheap date. Sometimes we just walked and talked, other times we splurged on a bite of food, while discussing everything under the sun. It was vital time for us as a couple to catch each other up on our thoughts and ideas, and, since sharing about our respective jobs was a big part of what we needed to share, it also provided me with a sounding board for the difficulties I had encountered that week. These weekly breaks provided fresh perspective, renewing my zest for work (that 24/7 homeschool mom job!).
And, for a time, I was scheduling monthly friend time at a lovely English tea shop with another homeschooler. What refreshment! In that completely "off duty" time, we enjoyed the break, enjoyed the pampering, enjoyed the friendship. And, by the time we had laughed and cried and shared the daily challenges we were each facing, we had not only gained an understanding that our unique problems weren’t all that unusual, we were energized and excited to get back to our kids.
I know that nowadays, interaction with other homeschoolers is as close as your internet connection. But the luxury of tea served in a china cup, with a precious friend to share it, and the mini-vacation aspect of a few hours away still makes it richer and more deeply refreshing than our daily face time with a computer screen.
Daily, weekly, monthly. . .taking time for restoration and renewal is time well spent. It will pay huge dividends for you and your family, because the old saying happens to be true: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”