Day 29: 5 Tips for Being a Healthy (Happy) Home School Mom #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 29 5 tips healthy happy home school mom

I believe the pressure to gather, buy, and prepare for the Back to School season is heavier than Christmas for the home school mom.

It isn’t just a measure of love or thoughtfulness. The child’s growth, development, and entire education rests upon the resources that we can (or can’t) supply for them.

Add to that the weight of the housekeeping, child keeping, and schedule keeping – and by the first week of school, I feel chained to an endless list of places, people, and tasks. I completely lose myself to the rush of being everything for everyone. (I identified my problem with saying yes too much yesterday.)

Somewhere in October, I usually come up for air. Wanting and able to actually see and tend to my own needs as an individual. As I have observed myself for the past number of years, I have found that I always put my needs last. My need for further education, adult conversation, a good book, alone time, healthy food, and a number of other little things get passed over for the sake of being efficient, committed, and involved in the lives of everyone around me.

I believe that the best resource I can offer my children is myself – healthy, happy, and equipped only with what is necessary to accomplish a well-planned week.

I hope these tips help to safe guard my heart for this coming school year – so that I’m not resentful of the schedule (that I designed) by November, and also so that I am just as healthy and engaged now as I will be in February. There’s something about preparing for the mindset, sacrifice, and health of the future that these tips have helped me to stay satisfied in every season.

5 Tips for Being a Healthy (Happy) Home School Mom:

Authority: This goes back to Day 17 when I wrote about the confusion of “I’m in charge, now you’re in charge” seesaw that was my experience with kids a few years ago. Everything changed in my heart and mind when I stopped resenting my children. I realized it was my fault that some of our days were a runaway train of child driven activities and chaos. Each day I woke up not knowing what the point of the day was – sure we had a schedule for the week, or even events on the calendar – but a rhythm to each and every day? Expectations of their contribution to our family’s health and well-being? No way. They weren’t required to do much, and since I lived in reaction to them most of the time – they were the ones with the most authority.

That has all changed, and I didn’t have to become Authoritarian to accomplish it.

I know from experience that taking ownership of the day before it falls into my children’s hands is essential for our health and happiness. This will look differently for every one – it will be as unique as you are, just as your conversation, language and style of relating to your child(ren) is different than mine. But the point remains true – if you don’t own the position of authority in your home, then they will. Remind yourself every morning that you are in charge (in a good way) and the success of each day depends on you.

Anchors: Each day needs an anchor. In our home, I don’t like to have more than one major anchor activity that takes us out of the house per day. I think of these anchors like the spindles on a wheel. The center of the week is home, and each day has one thing that takes us out into the world – this allows for slow movement and balance. I want to be operating smoothly by December. A little consideration, lots of “no’s” to the good (not best) things, and patience will provide so much peace and purpose that makes my job as home school mom a pleasant one.

Self-care: Everyone needs self-care. Even if you define it in the most basic terms of hygiene. I think of the care of my “self” as balancing physical, mental, emotional, and soul care. I need both nourishment and boundaries. It’s important to not neglect either of these for the sake of keeping up appearances.

Self-care for the home school mom is vital for the strength of the home as a whole.

It’s important to consider the needs and demands of good self-care when scheduling our commitments and weekly activities. Stretching my strength to the limits of what I can physically handle – late nights, lots of running around town (toting a toddler), and more than one commitment per day will break me. Once I’m broken I need a couple weeks of calm in order to get my feet back underneath me.

When I realized that each year I take a couple weeks “off school” in October because I was too spent on our out-of-the-house commitments to fulfill my inside-the-house commitments I knew I had created a problem by my own desire to be too many things to too many people.

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My people need a healthy (and happy) woman, able to be fully present, active, and mindful of how to manage our home and school.

My self-care looks like (this is a mixture of daily and weekly items):

  • Getting up before everyone else in the house for time with my Lord alone
  • Writing everyday for personal and public use
  • Reading a balance of non-fiction and fiction
  • Setting goals
  • Dating my husband
  • Casting a vision for my parenting and my personal growth
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Creating meals from whole foods
  • Stretching my body to be increasing in endurance (because running after a toddler isn’t for the weak)
  • Pursuing relationships with friends
  • Laughing (vague, I know. But I just need to laugh regularly.)

Your self-care may look entirely different than mine and still produce the healthiest and happiest version of you to your family – and that’s not only good, that’s great!

Education: It’s important for my health and well-being that I be actively pursuing my own further education. For me that looks like taking online courses, reading classics, and taking every opportunity to listen to lectures by the greatest professors, pastors, and teachers from around the world. I do not want my mind to become dull or disoriented to the world around me. Educating my children isn’t a process of handing over facts, I want to encourage them to learn by leading them by my example to pursue knowledge, understanding, and above all wisdom.

Food: This is a really practical one. I need good, healthy food to feel happy. I know I need to not neglect the priority of meal planning and budgeting in order to provide my family with the best foods that will fuel our bodies and our minds. Junk food and fast food may be the easier routes when the schedule is so packed that I can’t even see straight, but for me – too much junk in equals feeling like I am junk.

You are what you eat.

As a home schooling family, we have the privilege of eating almost every meal together, and while I can’t promise my children that every meal will be from scratch – I can be mindful to prioritize our food year-round for better minds and bodies.

With these 5 things in mind, I have seen slow, imperfect progress in my soul toward becoming the woman I want to be, the wife that compliments and supports my husband, and the mother who cares, nurtures, and educates with contentment and patience.

Here are some practical resources that have helped me on this journey to a healthier self:

  • FREE Healthy Living Mini Audio eCourse: The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families :: From the creators of the Ultimate Bundles – The course contains a collection of quick and easy-to-follow lessons from trusted bloggers:
    • Essential Habit #1: “Nurture Your Best Self (and Bust the Productivity Myth)” with Heather from Mommypotamus.
    • Essential Habit #2: “Keep Your Family Fit (Gym Membership Not Required)” with Crystal from Money Saving Mom.
    • Essential Habit #3: “Eat More Homemade Meals Around the Table (with Less Stress Than You Think)” with Katie from Kitchen Stewardship.
    • Essential Habit #4: “Reach for Natural Remedies with Confidence (and Know When and How to Use Them)” with Katie from Wellness Mama.

    Each lesson comes with a 20-minute audio lesson, PDF transcript, and a practical “Take Action” guide. The lessons are inspirational and practical.

  • Make Over Your Mornings :: I won’t bore you with more encouragement to try this one. Just trust me – I still believe you should do it.

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  • Paddle Upstream :: Live with the end in mind. From Tsh Oxenreider, author of Organized Simplicity (life-changer for me) comes this course which will guide you to living the life that has purpose and meaning. “Living upstream means paddling against the flow of culture—a well-meaning, good-intentioned culture that, frankly, has gotten it wrong about a few things. But paddle we must, using our well-trained arm muscles and a good compass… because it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Grocery University :: Crystal Paine’s first course has been made over. It will help you get a grip on your grocery budget. I know for me healthy food is just as important as a healthy bank account. Ready to learn how to spend less than $50 per week on groceries? I know saving money is a high priority for me!

This has been Day 29 in the #Back2School in #31Days series, to see the list of topics covered click here for the index.

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You (and your kids) are homeschooled. 

The battle lines have been drawn. Once committed to a side, there is no changing for fear of being called a traitor. Even lines within the same side are drawn with questions like Are you a lifer? Or caveats are given like Well, she was so interested in…that we felt it best to enroll her at…

Isn’t there more to a child than where they are (or are not) enrolled? 

Everyone is homeschooled 1

While I was studying the Charlotte Mason theory of education, I was struck by the blurred line between the home education environment and the brick and mortar school. I know a lot of homeschool families who value her work and apply her philosophy in the home, but Home Education was not written primarily to/for home educators. Not in the way that we define home education today.

It became clear that there was something more fundamental than education in the philosophy, and it is the home.

Everyone is homeschooled.

Learning is a mysterious process. Researchers examine and describe it, scholars attempt to understand and explain it, and teachers try to stimulate and influence it, yet no one except God knows exactly how we learn. He has created us with an innate ability to learn, yet we know very little about such an essential quality of our being. – Clay and Sally Clarkson Educating the WholeHearted Child 

Human beings learn. 

It isn’t a matter of whether you stay home full time, or go to a brick and mortar for 37 hours a week. Home is foundational for all of us. It is the environment where we learn the most important things in life.

I had this thought months ago, and the idea was set on my mental back burner. I want to make sure that through my writing I intentionally include those who choose to be involved at whatever level with the educational system. Parents, children, teachers, volunteers – their identity is not that they equal their educational system, neither is my identity that I home educate. It is a fact, but it is not my truest foundation.

Our family. Together we build values, standards, priorities, and activities. And together we practice what we have been taught or have learned on our own. We succeed or fail in everything at home.

Your family does too. I want to cross the battle lines, take down my shields, and respect the humanity in your choices. Because there is something far more important than enrollment and environment – it’s the soul of the learner. The little, unseen person within the body of all people who was given the gift of learning, not by their parents but by their Creator.

I want to promote a view where we see each individual family as a miracle, an un-replaceable, never-to-be-seen-again combination of unique individuals all joined by blood and/or name for such a time as this.

May we all promote this view and shake off the fears that our choices won’t be good enough

The beauty of recognizing that home and family is the foundation underneath education should inspire us to embrace the freedom to each work out our discipleship with respect and honor.

I long to see a development in community where the home educating family and the public educating family can collaborate to encourage the continued work of home discipleship.

Even within the homeschooling community, there exists the need to collectively encourage the fundamentals.  Curricula, routines, sports, and the like all come after discipleship. Each of these things may mark and define our family in specific ways, but they do not add or subtract from the worth of the eternal soul within each person.

What a sacred thing to consider: every family is unique.

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Homeschooling should not be a means of reforming the home and to make all participants look the same, rather the philosophy of home education is in part to honor the God-given miracles of family and learning.

Different children within one family may need different decisions as to what educational system is best for them. And it is important to apply Jesus’ teaching that we must not judge other peoples’ choices. – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay For the Children’s Sake

I aim to extend this view of the home as a sacred place for the family to those who choose not to formally educate their children at home, if they will accept it. If families who don’t home educate and families who do, can join together in mutual understanding that the home is the best environment for the child’s mind, body, and spirit to be shaped then we can all better obey Jesus and love our neighbors as ourselves.

As fall approaches like Walmart’s “Back to School” display boldly announces, let us not fall prey to making decisions based on feeling – fear, envy, and discontent hide in the pockets of new backpacks.

Rather, let us search for ways to support one another in getting back to honoring the fundamental of home and family.

Because everyone is homeschooled. 

Recommended resources:

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Assigning New Friends as “Best” Friends :: Warning Signs of Loneliness in Kids, Part 5

Joe under horse

When my daughter was little, going to the park was never about playing on the swings or sliding down the slide – it was always: who she would play with.

Who will be there? My daughter would beg.

I don’t know, you’ll have to wait and see. You can always make a new friend. I would reassure.

Her little extroverted side would shine in this setting. She was not shy to pick a girl about her size and introduce herself and ask: Do you want to play?

On our way home from the park, she would ask me about her new “best” friend – when will I see her again? Can we have her over to our house? Her excitement from gaining a new friend was bittersweet. I felt so bad when I would have to say, I don’t know her parents. We don’t know their phone number. You may never see her again.

She was always eager to give the “best” of herself to someone new.

Telling her over and over that she may never see that new friend again hurt her, and eventually it taught her to hold back. The hurt didn’t change her from outgoing to shy, but it stole her joy. She started to recognize the loss from giving herself was greater than the gain of a new “best” friend that she would never see again.

As she grew up, I noticed a slight change in her attitude toward making new friends. She was still eager to play, but less excited about finding a new friend. The questions turned to friends she knows are in her life on purpose. After leaving the park, she would ask: when will I see my cousins again? When will we play with friends from church?

One day after watching her play with “new” friends, I saw her tire of it. She came over and sat down next to me and said that she didn’t want to play anymore. This is when I realized that the whole time she had been questioning about these friends, she wasn’t angling for a large quantity of friends – she had been sizing up the quality of her friendships. The time and energy necessary to play well was being given to people she would never see again, and she didn’t like that thought. She wanted to invest herself, she wanted to build something bigger than just a one-time-deal.

She wanted companionship.

Joe and Graham at Butterfly Garden

After seeing this change in her, I knew it was on me to find the solution.

She was lonely, and the solution was going to cost me more than just a quick trip to the park. I would have to find a way to build consistent relationships into our routine. Being a homeschool family means we have the freedom and responsibility to socialize on our own terms. It means we rely on each other to learn and discover how to make lasting friendships.

And not too long ago, I came to the realization that I didn’t know how to do this for myself.

So I’ve put myself on the same path to friendships as my daughter. We talk about it often. How can we be a good friend? Who are the people that we want to know better? How can we balance planning for established friendships and inventing new ones?

Am I modeling this commitment to relationships?

I want our home to be a safe place for my children to let their emotions show. For that to be true all the time, I have to be willing to encourage their excitement at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. This goes back to the root of loneliness: the need for support and companionship. And the first place a child will have this need met is at home. So am I happy to see my kids? Do I smile when receiving them? Showing feeling and even excitement to be with them will build a good foundation for understanding what being a good friend is supposed to be like.

I don’t have to be my daughter’s best friend, but I can show her what one looks like.

Need to catch up on this series? Find links to Parts 1-4 here.

.: life as we know it :.

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If I had to summarize life right now with one sentence, all I would want to say is: I love my family.

The Lord is disciplining me, and before any assumption ensues, this discipline is not a harsh consequence due to a sin(s). I also don’t want to give the impression that I’m being made a victim in my own life. And I’m not talking about bed rest yet. Wow. Listen to me, I’m not making sense at all. So let me start again, from the beginning.

I was quiet in the month of March. Quiet down in my soul. I didn’t have anything to write. I didn’t have much to say. I was observing my choices and my routine, and doing the mental math. My living wasn’t equal to the life I’m called to live. I realized through a course of introspection, prayer, and confrontation that I was the problem in the equation. I was the variable that wasn’t measuring up.

And in a song, I heard the comforting calling from the Lord: you’re restless without me.

From that moment, I turned back to Him realizing that in big and small ways I had gotten into a disorderly mess due to my own attempt to do it on my own. That day began the journey of discipline, and I am delighted to say that it is continuing even now.

I’d love to write more in detail of the many things I’ve learned in a few short weeks: reading this book, going to this conference, and hearing these speakers: Dr. Kathy Koch, John Rosemond, Kirk Martin, and Amy Quakkelaar. Through these the Lord divinely planted in my heart the desire, drive, and direction for His discipline.

What does this new discipline look like? I really can’t answer. I couldn’t diagram the plan – it wasn’t my plan to design. I just know this is the beginning of something long-lasting, and although I was at first tempted to throw in the towel when the direction bed rest was spoken, I have since been surprised and delighted by the revelation of the Lord that this is plan A. This is the process of discipline for me. It isn’t a side step, and I’m tickled to see growth in my heart.

I hope this process includes more writing. I’d love to share in greater detail what I’m learning. Life of paper. But for now, just know that I love my family.

Rob who is the perfect partner for me. He gets me and can think like me. His anticipation of my feelings and needs are a treasure.

JoeAnna who is embracing her style and growing in compassion. She is creating and dancing, and she is being hugged lots more from a mama who wants to see and fill her need.

Graham who is transitioning into an independent little boy and learning faster than he is taught. He is driven and competitive, and yet concerned for others to the core.

And our sweet little Emmett. We haven’t met him yet – thankfully! But he is already deeply loved and protected by us all.

We all fit together. We make up this life as we know it. And it’s a good life.