Whatever method of homeschooling you follow, all homeschoolers have something in common: our kids are home all the time. Or at least a LOT of the time. And it’s so great! For me, this is a huge part of why I homeschool. It’s also really, really hard to have little people, tweens, or teens constantly demanding our attention. It can be hard to find personal time as a homeschooling mom amidst all the cleaning, cooking, reading, coloring, counting, painting, and so on and so on.
BUT personal time for mom is so, so important.
Everyone, men, women, children, babies, we all need time to ourselves. Time to explore our interests, pursue things that excite and energize us, and reflect on where we’re at and where we want to be is critical to avoiding caregiver burnout. Yes, that is a very real condition and yes, it can stem from parenthood. As parents, we’re all busy, as homeschooling parents even more so! Finding personal time can be challenging, but it is worth the payoff in the end.
Read on for tips for finding personal time as a homeschooling mom (no-brainers maybe, but took me a while to figure out!).
1. Build in personal time to daily routine
I’ve done this various ways throughout my parenthood. While I was finishing the last year of my graduate work–and my second child was newborn to 17 months old–I had to be very intentional about scheduling our days so I had time for school work, practicum, and thesis writing. We used a pretty rigid schedule every day that went like this:
I woke up at 5:30 to feed baby and study for an hour or two. Spent the morning with kids. Worked during naptime, which was strictly enforced for both children at the same time. Spent the afternoon and evening with kids. Bedtime was also strictly enforced so I could squeeze in another hour of work before I went to sleep.
This was a hard period of time with not much sleep and more rigidity than I–or my kids, husband or dog–thrive on. But it accomplished our goal of earning a graduate degree.
I share my extreme example to help you see that no matter how busy you are, you can schedule time for yourself if you make it a priority. Whether you wake an hour earlier, enforce nap-time and train your children to observe quiet time for an hour in the afternoon, or stay up late you can find time to pursue your goals and interests. It is important to have personal time built in as this makes it more likely to actually happen.
2. Use their sleeping hours
Either get up early, enforce nap-time until forever after, or stay up late. Whatever works for you. I’ve found it helpful to make weekly plans and stick to the schedule at least for a week at a time. Also, keeping a running log of interests helps me to actually use this time to fill my bucket, rather than squirreling all of it away on social media.
3. Teach children to play independently
This one is a work in progress for me, but the days it works, man it works! Some things that have helped me: an organized and designated play room and using language that encourages play.
You’re so luck! It’s play time, what will you do today?
Your toys are waiting for an adventure!
You can build blocks on top of the table today!
My bed is a boat and the floor is lava, make sure you keep your toys safe.
Playing is hard work for kids and they need encouragement, inspiration, and support as they build their stamina for longer and longer stretches of independent, imaginary play. Allow them to play underfoot and avoid solving their problems for them. Be there to cheer-lead, not to direct. Here are some great ways to keep your preschooler busy as a homeschooling mom.
4. Train yourself to use small pockets of time
It’s hard, if not impossible, to get a whole hour to ourselves every day, but it is feasible to get 5, 10, or 15 minutes to ourselves. Over time we can train ourselves to use these small chunks of time to accomplish our own goals and work. I use these small pockets of time to read and write, both of which are the creative and professional outlets I want to pursue.
The more I practice working in small chunks the better I get at it. I promise it will feel awkward and unproductive at first, but if you can stick with it, the small chunks will add up to hours and hours of time you’ve used to advance yourself. Here are great self are tips that are practical as a homeschooling mom to incorporate into your day.
4. Enlist help
No matter how organized, patient, or energetic you are, homeschooling is tough and we have to have help. Whether that help comes from your spouse, family, paid babysitters, tutors, or your neighbors, you need to have a break from caring for and teaching your kids. If you don’t have money to pay a sitter, swap childcare with a neighbor or friend.
If you don’t live near family, look around your ward and community for elders and retired people who are maybe lonely and in need of friendship. Making friends with these people can be a tremendous blessing to you and them, and a perk down the road is help with child care!
5. Use screens wisely
Finally, use screens but use them wisely! Time for yourself, the mom and heart of the family, is so critically important for all systems to function; an hour or two of TV or iPad time might be just the ticket for gaining this time for yourself.
While I do not recommend prolonged exposure to screens, the occasional and brief screen session is fun and entertaining for your children and can give you some much needed down-time. Don’t feel bad about using screens to get a little time for your own projects, but also don’t make this your only method finding your own time. Check this article out for suggestions on screen time with your little kids. They suggest that kids under 18 months should have zero screen time! Use your mama intuition and do what is best for you and your family!
I promise you that your own personal time to pursue your interests is fundamental to your ability to be a good mom and educator. It’s so important that it should be a priority for you, your spouse, and, over time, your children. Modeling passion, hobbies, education, work, and pleasure in growth is an invaluable example to our children. Whatever it is that excites and energizes you, pursue that passion often and talk with your family about all you’re learning and the joy you experience in the process.
Let’s not just preach to our children about being life-long learners, let’s show them what it really looks like. When you find personal time as a homeschooling mom you become inspired which in turns inspires your kids!!