Let’s face it. If you took a poll of the homeschoolers out there, most would say that the majority are being taught by their moms. Makes sense really, as in a “typical” family, dad is the one who goes off each day to earn a living. Luckily for many, that works. You can see smiles on faces and possibly even hear birds singing at the end of the day when dad returns to provide a break, a much needed break, in the action.
But what about the “non-typical” families? You know, the ones where no dad comes home at night to relieve a worn-out mom.
Whether due to a traveling business man, a single mom, a widow, a military mom whose spouse is deployed, or whatever the circumstances – there are a lot of moms out there schooling alone. There is no one to relieve them at the end of a busy and sometimes trying day. For this next year, we too have joined the ranks of those brave souls and are seeing, once again, the challenges.
So what’s a mom to do? How does one survive schooling while dad’s away?
Here’s what we have found:
Be easy on yourself.
Wonder Woman and Supergirl are fictitious characters and I am pretty sure they never homeschooled anyone! Try to be those women and you will wear yourself out. You cannot do it all – choose the best and let go of the rest! There are just going to be seasons in your life where teaching the 3 R’s are enough.
Be easy on your kids.
Kids feel our stress and they react to our moods and emotions. Remember that they may grieving the absence of your spouse in ways that we just cannot understand. Empathize and give them a little leeway.
Take a break when you need to.
Yes, my tendency is to just plow through the days to get it all done, but sometimes that is not best for everyone. We have learned that if we school hard for 6 weeks and then take a week off we are refreshed and better equipped to handle the next six weeks.
Get out of the house.
I’ll admit that I am a homebody and am perfectly content to stay in my house and not face the world. Nice, huh? But that is not good for my kids, or for me for that matter. Therefore, I TRY to make it my goal to get us out of the house at least once a week with a planned activity. Whether it is something as simple as a trip through a drive through for an ice cream cone, an afternoon at the park, or an excursion to explore a local museum, get out! You will be glad you did.
Take time to exercise.
You and the kids. Go for a walk, play at a park, or put in a record and dance til you drop. Whatever you do will get those endorphins moving.
Schedule a quiet time for everyone.
In our house, you have at least an hour of quiet time after school work is done – no matter what age you are. My olders regulate themselves of course, but our little guy is directed to his room to listen to quiet CDs or read books. Rough day? Try two hours!
Do something special for yourself occasionally.
I’ll admit this is the hardest one for me. I feel guilty being away from my kids for more than an hour or so. But I also know that when I get out by myself or with another grown up for even an hour, I come home refreshed and ready to tackle the next day with a better attitude and a renewed spirit. Allow yourself that time. Go the store alone, have lunch with a friend, browse a store by yourself, or buy yourself some dark chocolate and don’t share with anyone! You can do it, and you will be a better mom for it!
Keep the lines of communication open.
There is no reason to beat a dead horse about how challenging your journey may be, but we do need to allow kids to express their feelings. A once a month quick family meeting allows everyone to touch base, express concerns, share triumphs, and problem solve together. When kids, and moms, feel like they are being heard, it is easier to maintain that “we’re all in this together” mind set!
Ask for help.
Again, you cannot do it alone! No one can. Reach out to friends, neighbors, and family members. See if someone can teach a subject for you once a week if possible. Have a friend who is amazing at art? Ask if they will mentor your child an hour a week. Know someone who has an amazing hobby? Maybe they will teach your child once a month. Be creative and be resourceful. Sometimes it “takes a village!”
Above all, remember you are not alone. Parenting and schooling your kids can be a lonely endeavor. I know and I understand. Let us provide real help for each other, and above all pray for each other as we journey this road together.