As we’re all getting back into fall schoolwork and thinking fond thoughts about pumpkin spice lattes, I’ve been haunting other homeschoolers’ day-in-the-life posts. I’ve been meditating on two facts:
Fact #1: School is hard.
It really is work. It’s good work, worthwhile work, enjoyable work even, but any time you have two or more humans in the same place having to do a thing, it’s hard. You get to choose how and when and what to teach, but you still have to teach it. And then there’s all the hard that comes with mothering. Nobody homeschools because it’s easy.
Fact #2: Life is more than schoolwork.
Happy homeschool moms usually schedule daily cleaning times and rest times. They make it just as much part of the rhythm as math and reading. Apparently, I’m not the only one who neeeeeeeeeeeeeds space and order to make it through the day. I think if you’re in a yard-less setting where everyone is constantly on top of one another and you can’t just send the kids out to play, these two elements are even more important.
I’m still trying to figure out how to get my kids to clean, but I can tell you five myths right now that get in the way of my rest time:
Myth #1: Rest time is for the children.
- No. It is for YOU, the parent. It may well produce good results for the kids, such as less bickering and not falling asleep in their spaghetti, but rest time is for Mom. It is very helpful to have a period of the day where you can sit down at your computer and delete 250 emails from Target and Hobby Lobby in peace. Or you can do like me and spend part of the time staring at walls.
Myth #2: My kids are too old for rest time.
- False. Rest time isn’t for your kids, remember? If they aren’t going to sleep, your kids can hang out somewhere quietly and read, or draw, or use their action figures to act out elaborate sieges of the ancient world. It’s really, really good for them to learn to entertain themselves; this is when they process what they learned from the day and convert it into creativity and long-term knowledge. It will serve them well their whole lives.
Myth #3: If I really loved my children, I wouldn’t need time away from them.
- False. You are a human with worth apart from your relationship to your children. You were an interesting person before you homeschooled, and you’re going to be one after they’re gone. You do not have to be in their physical presence 24/7. I don’t understand this perennial mom guilt, but it’s real.
Myth #4: If I have to hide from my kids, I’m a failure as a parent and as a homeschooler.
- False. Have you met your kids?? Have some chocolate cake. I had some today and it was delicious. I did not share it with my offspring.
Myth #5: I have too much school to do, so I don’t have time for a rest time.
- It’s a little counter-intuitive, but no. Rest allows you do your work better.
- If you’re really and truly doing schoolwork all day, from right after breakfast until dinnertime or after, you might consider scaling back your ambition. Little ones don’t need that many hours of structured school and older ones should be doing a lot independently. It’s hard to figure out where “enough” ends and “too much” starts for your family, but it’s worth considering.
- There are going to be days and seasons with an extra lot to do, but even then, scheduling margin time really is worth it, even if it’s only half an hour here or there. For everyone’s sake, please, let yourself rest.
- Working moms, you who juggle an outside job and daycare and also homeschool, you have my respect. I know you never get enough sleep. I’m going to let you chime in: how do you create space for rest in your lives?
Photo Credit: First graphic design by Anna Soltis. Following images courtesy of author.