Oh mama, I see you. I see you working hard to run your home and give your children a wonderful childhood. I see you spending hours researching curriculum to find something just right for your children. I see you staying up late planning the next morning’s lessons, or baking lunches for the perfect poetry teatime. I see you running from one activity to another, trying to ensure your children don’t miss a single opportunity. I see you.
I see you neglecting yourself and your passions. I see you running yourself ragged. I see you losing yourself.
Mama, you need to give yourself as much love as you give your kids. I know it’s not easy. I know you feel like you don’t have the time, or that it’s not a priority. But you are important and you are worthy. You need to do this for you, and your children need to see you being kind and true to yourself too.
If we truly believe that children are more than their minds, and I would wager we all do; if we accept that our children need to be educated holistically, with regard to their body and soul as well, then we need to realise that we as adults need the same. We need to feed our minds, care for our bodies, and nourish our souls.
So today I want to talk to you about 3 things that I believe every homeschool mama needs to be doing. We need to do these things so that we can give of our best to our children, so that we can lead by example, and because we are worthy of doing these things purely for the personal benefit they give us.
Those of you on a Waldorf inspired path will probably have come across this term before; inner work. There is a similar term in the Charlotte Mason world. Mother culture is different in emphasis, but from talking to CM mamas, I believe it is the same in essence. Inner work is, put simply, the practice of learning to find your inner quiet, of working on your own creativity and personal growth (often specifically on spiritual growth), and learning to better understand yourself. From there we gain the strength and wisdom we need to nurture our children, lead them on their educational path and be worthy of their imitation. Inner work gives us the strength we need to get through the day, which is why it is generally recommended as a morning practice.
But let’s face it. Not all homeschool mamas are going to be willing or able to get up before their kids every morning (*guilty hand up over here*). So in case you needed it, I am giving you permission to spend time on inner work whenever and wherever is convenient to you. It is too important to push to the side just because we aren’t morning people.
Put aside some time, every day if you can, but at least a couple of times a week to start, to be by yourself. It doesn’t have to be a long time. If ten minutes is all you can find, take that ten minutes. Write it into your rhythm. Spend this time in meditation or contemplation. Spend this time creating. Spend this time reading books from your own spiritual or religious path. ‘But I’m not spiritual’, I hear you say. That’s ok. You don’t need to be. Find an activity you enjoy, that quiets your mind, and do it regularly. See where that takes you.
We spend hours upon hours researching curriculum, tracking down resources, ordering books online…and that’s all before we dedicate our time to reading aloud with our children. It’s also important that we devote some time to finding books that we want to read too. And I’m not talking about books that are meant to improve our parenting, or books on homeschooling philosophy or education theory. I’m talking books that are just for us. Books that lift the soul. Books that make you laugh, or cry, or even make you angry. When is the last time you read a book just to wind down?
Homeschool mamas are a curious breed. We devote so much time and energy in trying to turn our children into book lovers, yet so often we neglect our own reading. In fact, the best way to instill a love of reading in our children is to model the same behaviour by letting them see us read for pleasure. We want to see our kids take control of their education, and become lifelong learners, by developing the habit of reading widely, yet we feel we are ‘too busy’ to do the same. Why do we want these things for our children and not for ourselves?
Set aside some time each day to read for yourself, for pleasure or for learning, or for both. Perhaps set a basket of books beside your favourite armchair or beside your bed. Make yourself and your reading a priority. Even if all you believe you have time for is a few pages in the morning over breakfast, or half an hour in the evening before bed, try to read for yourself every day. Remember the passions you had before you decided to home educate your children, and rekindle them with good books.
Lack of time for play and for moving about is a common complaint I hear from parents when they are talking about their dissatisfaction with traditional schooling. It has become a key reason many parents choose to home educate their children. We know bodies need to move. It’s not just good for the body in a physical sense, it also helps with mood and concentration amongst other things. It helps us sleep well. So why do we prioritise movement for our children, and not show ourselves the same consideration?
Try adding in a walk at the start of your day. Perhaps a nature walk with the kids before the start of lessons will fit well into your rhythm. Maybe you would prefer a family walk after dinner where you all chat about your day? If going to the gym is more your style, make use of their creche and go! Your kids can be playing, or working on independent work if they are older, while you get your endorphins pumping and take care of you. YouTube a good yoga session to help you wind down before bed, or a dance routine to pump you up in the morning. Trust me; you will feel better for it.
These are just a few simple things we mamas can do for ourselves. Doing these three things will help us achieve the balance in life and learning that we are striving for for our children. Because if it’s important for them, it’s important for us as well.
Take care of yourself, mama. You are worth it x