by Katie Julius

I’m sure at some point in your motherhood and homeschooling journey, you have gone without – without sleep, without a shower, or without a meal. I know I have!

If you’ve ever flown on a commercial flight, you’ve probably heard the flight attendant’s safety instructions before you took off. Part of those instructions include directions, that in the event of cabin depressurization, you should put your oxygen mask on before helping others around you, even your own children.

As a mom, this is hard to fathom in a potentially life-threatening situation. We are naturally sacrificial in the care of our children, often putting their needs before our own. However, the reason we are given these instructions on a plane is because if we do not first care for ourselves, in a matter of seconds, we will be unconscious along with those we need to help.

While giving up sleep or a daily shower don’t have the same end result the scenario on the plane would, it illustrates our need to practice self-care.

I’m sure you’re thinking at this point, when in my schedule do I have time to devote to myself? I have tiny humans to keep alive and educate! But remember, if we don’t care for ourselves, how can we be our best for them? It’s important to be intentional in carving out that time, even if it’s just once a week or once a month.

The recommendations below are probably nothing you haven’t already heard before. We all need the reminder to practice self-care regularly, even if it’s something small.

Get sleep.
We’ve all heard the recommendation that we need 8 hours of sleep each night. This is one I struggle with a lot. I have always been a night owl. I am most productive after everyone has gone to bed. This sometimes results in some really late nights and very little sleep. Aside from the physical health benefits of being well rested, I also notice a difference in my mental health. Lack of sleep makes me less patient during the day and I can be irritable. Neither of these are a good thing when caring for children!

Take care of your body.
Like sleep, eating healthy regular meals and having an exercise routine, is vital to caring for your body and being in optimal health so you can care for and teach your children. We can all say we have been “hangry” at some point, and it certainly makes for a difficult day. Involve the kids in this. As age appropriate, have them help prepare snacks that anyone can grab throughout the day, you included! Exercise as a family. Go on a hike or walk, ride bikes, play a sport together. Be creative (afternoon dance party anyone?). This also helps lay a healthy foundation for your kids for the rest of their lives.

Another important aspect of caring for our body is keeping up with routine healthcare checks and knowing when it’s time to seek medical attention. Many times we wait until a minor ache or pain develops into something more bothersome before heading to the doctor. God created our bodies to give us warning signs when it’s not functioning quite right. We need to listen to those signs and schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional when something is off to avoid further complications later on in life.

Pursue a passion.
We all have activities we enjoy outside of being a homeschooling mom. It saddens me when I hear moms share about their passions and interests “in their former life” or “before kids.” Yes, raising and schooling children takes up a lot of time and many of the things we were able to participate in before having them just aren’t practical anymore.

But I encourage you, if you are able, to pick one thing that you enjoy and make the time to do it. It could be a class you take, such as sewing or dancing or cake decorating. It could be volunteering for an organization or cause you hold dear to your heart. It could be working part-time or running your own business.

But if you’re thinking, I don’t have time or funds for a passion of my own right now, don’t be afraid to let homeschooling be your passion! Attend a workshop or convention, listen to a podcast, or read a blog that encourages you in your homeschooling journey. Volunteer to organize a field trip or outing for your homeschool group, if you have one. We all will go through different seasons in life, and it’s okay to have your passion be homeschooling during this season.

Talk to other adults.
How many times have you gone through the day and thought, “I never even talked to another adult today?”  and the grocery store clerk doesn’t count. As homeschoolers, we pride ourselves on teaching our children to communicate with adults. We need to practice that too! Whether it’s joining a homeschooling group or attending a local park day, it’s so helpful to have a group of other parents you can talk with a few times a month. Not only for your own sanity, but also to talk “shop” about homeschooling and parenting.

Leave the kids at home.
My favorite night of each month is whatever night I have Moms’ Night Out with our homeschool group. Not only do I get to spend time with other moms who understand our daily life, but I often get to wear “grown-up” clothes, have the chance to wear my hair down and put on some makeup. Moms’ Night Out is a lifesaver for me. If you don’t have a group of women you get together with regularly, find one or plan your own. It’s that beneficial!

Spend time in the Word.
I saved this one for last because it’s the most important. Aside from the necessity to be in fellowship with God regularly in order to grow my relationship with Him, my days are usually a bit smoother when I carve out this time. My focus is on Him instead of my mile-long “to do” list or the piles of laundry or the bouncing-off-the-walls children.

For me, it’s always better when done in the morning and I try to get up before my daughter so I don’t have constant interruptions. However, if she’s up early or I slept late, my quiet time looks a little different, but it’s good for her to see me setting the example and making time with God a priority.

How ever you are able to get time for yourself, make it a priority. Pick one of the ideas here that makes sense for you and your family’s current situation and make it a goal to take that time regularly. I think you’ll find, as I have, you will enjoy your role as homeschooling mom even more.

Katie Julius serves as CHEA’s Editor. She is a homeschooling mom of one who also volunteers with several youth community organizations, a passion she has had since high school. She enjoys the time spent with the families in her homeschooling community, especially the monthly Moms Night Out events.