When you have chosen the path less traveled by... it can make all the difference. Rober Frost did have a point in his famous poem, "The Road Not Taken." However, not taking that nicely paved path, can also send your stress into overload if you let it!
Choosing to homeschool your kids, although becoming more widespread, is still not anywhere near "mainstream" and going against the norm always has its challenges. You throw a working mother into it, and you have a mixture of what some people call "amazing" or just straight up "crazy," but either way you are doing your best to do it all and do it well.
Here are five tips on how to keep the balance between homeschooling, work and your sanity:
1. "Sharpen the Saw"
Although not new information, our dear friend Stephen Covey uses this analogy in his book "7 Habits for Highly Effective People."
The gist of the story is about a man spending his entire day trying to cut down a tree with a dull saw. And if he would only take a few minutes to sharpen it, he could cut that tree down in no time. Although we all "know" this, it is often forgotten in our daily routine of trying to make sure that we are taking care of everyone and everything within our care. We need to take time for self-improvement.
If we are our best selves we can better (and often times with greater energy) take care of the things and people that need us the most. So, just do it! Check out a new book, learn a new skill, or do whatever it takes to help renew and invigorate yourself.
Now some could say that this could fall under "sharpening the saw," and I suppose it could. But I think it is valuable enough to deserve its own recognition in this article.
There is endless research on the benefits of exercise and its effect on the body and the mind (aka your soul). I am not saying you need to spend 2 hours at the gym each day, or go out and buy the next beach body workout.
All I am saying is a go for a nice walk, get your blood flowing, and this will help you perform better in all of your tasks AND help you sleep better at night. (What mom doesn't need a little extra, quality sleep? Sign me up!)
3. Choose separate times to do school then work
Multi-tasking is what ALL moms do throughout the day. And for many things it works: holding the baby and making sandwiches, helping Olivia with handwriting, and Macey with her puzzle, reading a book and getting your feet rubbed (yeah right!) —but it simply does NOT work when it comes to work and homeschooling.
So, when it's time for school, do school. And, when it's time for work, do work.
If you work during school (guilty!) your kids KNOW you're not paying full attention to them, and they start to deviate as well. And the reality is, you can't do both well at the same time. Either your works suffers, or (worse) your child suffers. So make a time and stick with it. Although it's SO tempting to do "just this one thing real quick" for work, it's really not worth it for anyone.
4. Spiritual Rejuvenation
I am member of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) church. And this has given me great peace and direction in my life. But no matter what your beliefs are, take time to draw into the higher power.
For example, meditate and take at least 10 minutes a day to simply "be still." This doesn't mean making a grocery list, or a to-do list for later (I'm a list making maniac.). This means allowing yourself time to reflect on your life and the direction it is headed.
Ask yourself: are you doing the things you need to do, to get to where you want to go?
Being genuinely mindful and grateful for things you have in life doesn't seem to be part of our general culture at large (except during Thanksgiving, of course!).
As women, we often compare our "worst-hair day" selves with everyone else's best "Facebook-selves." We like to think if only we could "lose 20lbs, or be a better teacher like her, or run a successful business like so-and-so, THEN we will be happy." This is the worst kind of lie. We have so many things today, right here, at this very moment, to be grateful for. Even when times are tough (and they can be), there are silver linings all around us, if we have eyes to see them.
I went to a seminar several years ago where the keynote speaker recounted a fictional story of a woman with only three hairs on her head. The woman got up and looked in the mirror and said "I think I will braid my hair today!" and she did!
The next day when she looked in the mirror she only had two hairs left on her head. She smiled and said "I will do pigtails in my hair today." The next day she woke up and had only one hair on her head and she said, "I think I will wear my hair in a ponytail today." Then she woke up the following day with no hair left. She said cheerfully, "I don't need to blow dry my hair!" She saw the blessings around her, and she took what life gave her and felt blessed.
We can do this too. Look for the small things, perhaps even the hard things, and try to see the bright blessings that are there.
There is, of course, a never-ending list of things that need to be done in our lives. Kids will frustrate us, work will feel overwhelming and the laundry will NEVER be done (ever). But if we can keep perspective and follow these five above tips (me included), we can keep ourselves happy, healthy and balanced!