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Self-Care

If I ever had one bit of advice for homeschool parents it would be to establish your own self-care routine.

I burnt out after my first year and it wasn’t pretty. Our days can be so hectic with a constant flow of questions, the meeting of everyone’s individual needs, driving around to groups or activities and keeping up with the running of the house. All this alongside the responsibility of educating our children.

The day ends up being so full as you try to make opportunities for learning moments within everyday authentic activities that you can sometimes forget to respond to your own body signals: feeling tired, heavy legs, sore back, headache or even snapping at your partner! Even the very basic self-care of remembering to drink water can get forgotten.

I think the best thing to do is establish a self-care routine. It is easier than you think to get started, just by evaluating your basic needs. If you spend a lot of time at home, a basic need might be to walk around the block once a day or if you are out and about a lot it might be planning a half day of rest between activities. If you don’t get time to spend alone with your partner because you don’t have any additional carers for your children, you could plan a date night at home, even just an hour where you and your partner get to eat some yummy food without interruptions; it might take practice but it is good for children to see that you need time with your partner, just as they do with their friends and as this grows you could look to find a baby sitter or someone within your network that could stay with the children while you go for a walk or take a picnic together. When evaluating needs it is important to recognise whether you need space away from the home or whether you need peace, for some people they just need room to sit in their own space and listen to a podcast while drinking a favourite drink. There may be times when homeschooling feels tough, all families go through seasons of intensity where you can feel like the joy in your life has been forgotten about, so your needs at that time may be to do things that bring you joy and fun, it can be as simple as putting on some of your favourite music and having a right old dance or meeting with a good friend for a drink and catch up. 

I mentioned in another blog about planning the week with your family and asking everyone what their needs are for the week ahead, perhaps going for a walk or carving out time to meet a friend for a drink. It is so good for your children to see that you have needs and that it is important to communicate and plan for these, just as they do. Some families may be able to be spontaneous with this kind of thing but if it doesn’t come naturally to you this is a good way to start.

How often you plan self-care is up to you but I would say you need to establish daily self-care routines and then a weekly fun activity as a minimum, to start with. I have found it helpful to start and end the day focusing on myself and being surrounded by peace and nature.

There are so many things you can add to your daily or weekly plan but to get you started I have listed a few below.

Daily self-care suggestions:

  • Start the day with some quiet time (journal, light a candle, do some stretches or something like yoga or meditation)
  • Spend your shower time listening to music or a podcast
  • Take a morning walk to get some fresh air
  • During the day, practice listening to your body and responding to it, taking a break, and telling the children that you will be able to play in 5 minutes but right now you are just resting your legs and having a drink
  • Walk around the block, focusing on your own breath and nature
  • Sit outside in the sun whenever possible, especially first thing in the morning, try walking bare foot on the ground to connect to nature
  • Plan out the day the night before so things don’t feel hectic from the start, even what meals you will have can save a lot of stress
  • Eat something that makes you feel nourished a chocolate bar or some may make a wholesome bowl of nourishing soup and bread, anything you like as long as there is no guilt attached to it
  • When your partner returns from work, swap for even just half an hour to get some fresh air or switch off
  • Listen to how your thoughts, if they are negative don’t judge yourself but focus on being kind to yourself
  • If it is hard to switch off try to focus on 5 things you can hear, 4 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and something you can taste

Before bed 

  • Reflect on the day and then let it go, you can journal it if you enjoy writing
  • Reflect on the learning moments that have happened throughout the day, file away any work or load up any photos of things the children have done, I use Collage, an online learning portfolio to capture learning moments
  • Practise 5 minutes of breathing, focusing on full deep breaths
  • Lay down and do a relaxing body scan, ideally with earplugs, it helps you block out any noise your children might be making, I recorded one that you can listen to as a family 
  • Watch half an hour of a series or film you love
  • Go outside, look at the moon, reflect on nature and remind yourself that nothing matters at that very moment in time
  • If you felt tired during the day and it is possible, go to bed a bit earlier

Weekly Self-Care ideas:

  • Grab coffee with a friend
  • Weekly phone chat with someone special whom you connect with
  • Take a class you have always wanted to do
  • Join a group
  • Meet someone for an outing (dinner, drinks, cinema, bowling, sea swim)
  • Read a book in the park
  • Date night with your partner
  • Something fun, non-productive and just for you
  • Cook a family dinner with candles or nice music or a picnic
  • Book a shopping trip 
  • Book a massage or better still ask your partner too!
  • Make a face mask or take a hot bath

Every parent, no matter how crazy their day, needs to make sure they are meeting their basic needs. Sometimes homeschooling can feel unproductive and that is ok, that is real life and it is good to have space just doing nothing, it is good for our mental well-being. The truth is we are always being productive, even though it might not feel like it. Having children is hard, being at home 24/7 is hard but it is so valuable as you model to your children what real life is about. You are showing them how to listen and respond to their bodies and emotions, just by looking after yourself. They are likely to grow up with far fewer mental health issues if they can learn this from a young age, through your modelling.

But no matter what your days look like, at a minimum make sure you are getting at least 6 hours of sleep, you are drinking enough water and eating at least one wholesome, nourishing meal a day.

Self-care is not an expensive activity, it can be as free and simple as sitting outside with a cuppa, looking at the flowers, and feeling the breeze on your skin. Whilst it may feel selfish to be carving out this time you will soon learn how good you feel and what a better mum you are because of it.