by Rebecca Kocsis
Isn’t it a wonder how we as homeschool parents can be so intentional about raising our children and yet completely neglect ourselves? I guess it shouldn’t be. As homeschool mothers we are consumed with the many needs of our families. We are mindful of what they eat and drink, what they read and watch, and who they spend their time with. It’s very easy to put our own needs on the back burner. Here are a few words of encouragement for you from my perspective at the other end of the journey.
Go to Bed
I know you’ve been working hard all day and you probably only get a moment to yourself after the rest of the family goes to bed. Ah, peace and quiet. Bookworms, I know you want to finish that book (in the name of making sure it’s acceptable for the kids). You need your sleep, too, Mama. You can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before you burn out your adrenals (speaking from experience here). Choose a reasonable bedtime and rising time that gives you your eight hours of beauty sleep. Stick to it. Waking up feeling rested and refreshed is addicting. You’ll feel better in the long run. Your 60-year-old self will thank you for this habit.
Eat Grown-Up Food
I was reminded of this recently while eating my granddaughter’s reheated Happy Meal for lunch. I told myself, “I spent good money on that. I’m not throwing it away.” Ah, but looking at the negative effect of the sodium, calories, and fats, is it really worth it? It wasn’t that much money. I’ve repented :). Take stock of your eating habits. Did your lunch consist of polishing off your kindergartener’s PBJ while you cleaned off the table? Bean burritos on a daily basis are great for growing boys, but mamas aren’t supposed to be growing. Most of us don’t need that many carbs.
Eating right takes time and planning ahead. It also requires slowing down. Slow down. Carve out time to make your meal plan. Don’t have time to shop? Have Instacart deliver it. Grill some chicken on Sunday night so you have lean protein to throw in salads for lunch during the week. It’s worth taking the time now. Your 60-year-old self will thank you when you don’t have to carry around that extra 20 or 30 pounds.
Do PE With Your Kids
Yes, it’s tempting to grade papers or answer emails while the kids exercise. If your kids are doing a team sport, it’s nice to just sit and visit with other parents. Maybe get the other mamas to join you in some exercise. Sitting at my desk in my 40s, a little voice in my head said, “It’s time to take fitness seriously.” Then in my 50s, I could hear that voice saying, “Move it to lose it.” Now in my 60s it’s saying, “It’s now or never.” And oh, the creaks and pops and funny little pains abound. Better to develop the habit when you are young. Your 60-year-old self will thank you for the strength and flexibility.
Go to the Doctor
Mammograms, regular check ups, annual PAP smears. Have you even had a PAP since you had your last baby? You are most likely the last one on the list when it comes to getting to the doctor. Sadly, I know more than one homeschool mom who concluded a wonderful homeschool career with a hysterectomy. Many serious health problems can be dealt with before they get out of control with regular screenings.
Many women, myself included, have no idea that “going through menopause” does not take place over night when you turn 50. I had never heard of that extended period before it, called perimenopause until I was experiencing it. For me it was about a 15-year-long process. In the meantime, I thought I was losing my mind. I’d get lost driving through the neighborhood. I completely lost my temper over the smallest, inconsequential things. I mean, serious temper tantrum throwing fits of rage. I didn’t recognize the person living in my head (and I didn’t like her either). If you are in your mid- to late-30s or older and can relate, yes, it could be perimenopause. I mean, you could be losing your mind, but probably not. Talk to your ob/gyn before you call a therapist. There’s treatment to help ease you through what my mother called “the change of life.” Your 60-year-old self will thank you for not destroying important relationships while enduring this temporary insanity.
I’m a firm believer in “We Time”—time with the Lord daily. When you do this, you won’t feel so desperate in between the “me times.” You’ll be much better able to cope with the constant demands of homeschooling, family, and for many of us who work, the demands of a job. Being something of an introvert, I know the feeling of just needing a little time to myself. Doing devotions first thing in the morning before the children woke up worked best for me. Regardless of when you do this, it’s essential to consistently carve out the time. If it’s when the kiddos are awake, then train them to respect that time. It’s important that you set this boundary. This also sets a great example for your children about how important time with the Lord is. Your 60-year-old self will thank you for setting this example for your grandchildren’s parents.
If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, please do take some time to assess your habits and make some lifestyle adjustments. I could go on, but I’d really like to hear some of your suggestions for homeschool moms’ self-care.