Secular Thursday: If Mama Ain't Happy

Sometimes the hardest thing about homeschooling is the simple fact that Mama sets the tone for everything.

This is, of course, true for all homeschooling mothers (and the few, the proud, the homeschooling fathers). I have noticed over the years, however, that extremely religious homeschoolers have a fallback position. They are homeschooling because of a religious conviction, and amongst their peers (other religious homeschooling mothers), they are likely to find that their reasons for homeschooling, as a whole, are relatively homogenous.

Not so with the non-religious, secular homeschoolers. Let's say we have x number of homeschooling parents at our co-op on Tuesday. If you compiled a list of their primary reasons for homeschooling, you would have x reasons - or possibly x+1. Your very well-meaning friend may attempt to encourage you by naming some of the benefits she most appreciates from homeschooling... only they may not be yours. Worse, they could even be opposite your own.

Many of us that do the primary teaching also are the ones that research, decide upon, and purchase curriculum. We're often the ones who are in charge of developing a plan for meals, and since we're home all day, that means three meals. Every day. Some of us are lucky enough to share grocery shopping duty, but not all of us are. There's a good chance we shoulder more than half the burden of the household chores.

In short, we aren't just the teacher, we're the parent, too, and we've got to keep things moving ever forward. How can we do it?

In an ideal world, every homeschool mom would be the recipient of massage weekly, or at least monthly. Since few of us live in such a wonderful world, we'll have to make do as best we can with other thoughts.

01. Delegate. If you have more disposable income, this might mean having a cleaning service, a lawn service, taking your laundry elsewhere, or other services. It may mean talking to your spouse and agreeing on a more equitable division of both labor and responsibility. Don't forget that even though "planning meals" doesn't look laborious, it requires more mental effort and responsibility. Make sure those components are balanced. Delegating should definitely involve having your kids do things. My four year old is often in charge of setting the table. Both he and the nine year old are expected to get their dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher.

02. Get enough sleep. Even if it means that something is left undone, you're going to get so much more accomplished on a full night's rest. I need to take this advice myself. While you're at it, especially if you're pregnant or nursing, stick a water bottle on your nightstand. If you wake up, have a sip. Drink what's left when you get up in the morning.

03. Write it down. Do this before you get overwhelmed. Do it on one of those homeschooling days, the days you want to save and just replicate, when the work is done quickly with smiles, the sun is shining, and everyone is both well-fed and clean. Write down your reasons for homeschooling. Write down what you hope to have accomplished by the time your kids complete high school. Even if you intend to stop homeschooling before that time, you still have to work backwards.

04. Go back and read the two documents as needed.

05. Keep a hidden supply of b, where b is your feel-good vice. Some like wine, others prefer chocolate. I actually want a Custardista Tiffany to prepare me caramel apple ice Mistos at my whim, but since they don't sell those, I've had to settle. Whatever your vice, make sure it is hidden. This is imperative. This is not to be shared. It is for you, in those low moments.

There you have it: delegate, get sleep, write it down, and have a hidden secret vice. Oh, and give your significant other a copy of this chart.
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"A little rebellion every now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson