If you have chosen to put your career on pause or just taken time off work to raise your kids, manage the house, and homeschool, you may be wondering where that leaves you as an individual. It is very overwhelming to imagine your life reduced to preparing meals, taking care of the house, attending to everyone’s needs and on top of that…homeschooling.
Fostering your individuality keeps you sane, which is a must for things to run smoothly. Successful homeschooling moms have the secret, and here it is.
Granted when your kids are babies and toddlers they want our undivided attention but once they reach 4 years old they can handle some breaks from mom.
1. Take weekends off
This doesn’t mean that you go away for the weekend or disappear into your bedroom. It just means that you are stepping down from taking the lead and being there for everyone’s needs. During “your day off” when kids have a question or are hungry, or are board or need help, dad is there to take over those small needs.
Easier said than done you are thinking, but not if you prepare ahead of time. One word: “google calendar”. Or any calendar for that matter. The important thing is that it is easy for your partner and you to use. Be clear about wanting to have weekends to focus on yourself. Sure, you can be flexible when dad has to watch the Super Bowl or the US Open or has a trip or some event he cannot miss. But as a rule, on the weekends you are HANDS OFF.
While dads are typically very willing to spend time with their kids, they would object to being handed the kids for the weekend without a clue as what to do with them.
Put all kinds of activities on the weekend calendar
Make weekends fun and engaging and then take yourself out of the equation. Here are a lot of ideas for many weekends to get you started putting things on the calendar. Once you get the hung of it, you will figure out what they like best to do together. Establishing weekends “your days off” opens a door for kids and dads to look forward to the weekends together. Eventually your husband will step in with ideas and making plans by himself with the kids. If and when it wears off, go back to taking a more active role in scheduling activities for them to do together on the weekend.
Sign your kids up for classes or workshops. You will notice that a lot of the activities that you found when preparing to start to homeschool (lots of examples in How to Start Homeschooling) will be on the weekend, such as certain classes, don’t rule the weekend activities and classes because you need to take weekends off, simply have dad take the kids to them.
Sometimes the classes are a drop off pick up, or a drop off and wait or, parent/child.
Sports practice like soccer, baseball, archery, swimming, golf, etc. Often take place on the weekend. Dads love to see their kids thrive in sports and they enjoy knowing that they can be the parent supporting these kinds of activities.
Free City or Community Events
Unless you are personally interested in going to some events with dad and the kids, find the ones that would be fun for kids and put them on the calendar.
Special Museum Events
If there are museums where you live, they sometimes have special family events on the weekends with hands on projects or crafts for the kids.
Get tickets to see a show
Buy theater tickets for a play or musical. Whether it is a small homeschool theater group, or a bigger production it will be a memorable experience for kids and dad.
Keep it manageable
Don’t bother with big fancy attractions like the Zoo, or the museum that may have the dinosaurs skeleton exhibit, or the new popular butterfly exhibit…These are all best enjoyed during week days. These places are hectic and crowded on the weekends, parking alone can be a frustrating experience. You don’t want to punish dad. You want to set them up to have a good experience so they can keep doing it every weekend.
Suggest simple activities
Suggest going out to breakfast or making breakfast together and going to the park.
Yes, you may say: “But you are all about homeschooling here!” While homeschooling is a wonderful way to educate kids, Preschool is a great place to start. They learn to get along with other kids, and are exposed to some interesting stuff they may not be exposed to at home. Also, they have different toys than at home. Preschool is a great outlet for making great friendships.
In this environment kids find a whole other world of possibilities and discovery. It is a very safe place for kids to try out different ways to be around other kids and the adult in charge, to step out of their comfort zone. Chose a preschool that has half day options. Chose a preschool that has less than 12 kids in class. Unlike most schools, there are lot’s of options for preschool and so many of them are play based, child led learning.
Whether your kids spend two days per week at preschool or three afternoons per week their time at preschool will be cherished not just by your kids but also by you. Need I say more!
3. Mom helper
Maybe there is a teenage neighbor that can come over and play and just watch the kids and make them a snack while you are home or running errands or preparing and organizing ahead of time. A couple of hours two or three times per week before dinner can be of great help. Talk to your neighbors, post on Nextdoor.com or even the bulletin at the neighborhood church.
4. Hire a babysitter
And do something with your husband without the kids. Go on a date, go out for dinner, go to Happy Hour, go for a walk. Anything! Make it an absolute rule to prioritize your partner and cherish your time together. Even if it is only once per week. Get out of the house together and try not to talk about the kids.
5. Take time off dinner a couple of days per week
If you are the mom that cooks one to three meals per day, take a couple of evenings off cooking dinner. Kids and dad can order pizza or dad can cook one night. If dad is cooking, make sure to have the ingredients available and keep it simple, like grilling or making a simple pasta.
6. Go to bed a few hours After or a few hours Before the kids.
If your kids are more inclined to go to bed early, make it a rule to be sleep by 8:30pm and use the evenings to just relax, veg and reconnect with your husband. The kids may not have a chance to spend very much time with dad other than just dinner, but dad can help with the bedtime routine and as explained above they can look forward to the weekend together.
On the other hand a lot of women prefer to let the kids go to bed latter and not establish a bedtime for the kids, but go to bed early themselves and have the mornings to get organized, have their coffee, read, meditate or just have some quiet me.
7. Sign up for an Evening Class
It’s a little inconceivable for kids and dads to have mom out of the picture for any amount of time. But it is important for kids to see that mom has interests and takes time to better herself whether it is physically, spiritually, intellectually…It is important that your son has that reference from his mom and that your daughter has the example.
Look into your local Community Center for adult classes, you may find that there are classes offered in the evenings like ceramics and jewelry making. Or join a meditation or yoga studio. Or go to the gym.
8. Organize Play Dates
It takes a village. Parents that don’t have the option to lean on the kids’ grandparents for help, have to rely more on our community, neighbors, friends, cousins, etc. When kids are playing with other kids even if it is at your house, they are so immersed in play that it gives you enough time to get stuff done. I once organized my entire closet and craft room while my daughter had a Skype play date with her friend in another state that lasted three hours!
9. Outsource House Cleaning, when possible
A clean and tidy house is for some women like a sanctuary. It brings them a little bit of calm and peace. If you can’t afford a once per week or once every two weeks house cleaning service but you do go get your hair done and get pedicures, it may be worth substituting the pedicures and the hairdresser for a house cleaner until the kids are old enough to help out and distribute house chores. It gives a sense of pampering to know that on this day you have no domestic duties. That after running around town taking the kids here and there you are coming home to a clean house, laundry folded, sheets changed! And that time that would otherwise be used for tidying up and cleaning will be used to do something better with your time. Like pet the cat.
10. Join a Book Club
Joining a book club will remind you that you have to carve out some quiet time for yourself to read. If the club meets on the weekends kids will get used to the thought that mom will be having some adult time during that time every week. It is a great place to start establishing your little slice of privacy. Book club may organize outings, parties and special events. Just Say Yes! And again, use the calendar and do some planning ahead of time so there is no scrambling when the day comes.
There are no super-hero homeschool moms. There are no “perfect” homeschool moms. Ultimately the secret is acknowledging that you are not a perfect mom, and that you are not a superhero. So let your family and your support system know that you have needs just like everyone, that you welcome help and cooperation.