Do you struggle to find time for yourself as a homeschooling parent? Discover the simple secrets to carving out some kid-free time.
One of the biggest challenges for me throughout our homeschooling years has been making sure I have time for myself.
Homeschooling parents don’t talk about this much, but we are with our kids every single second of every single day. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, the time of day, or the type of appointment we have to get to, our kids are usually with us.
It’s one of the many things nobody tells you about homeschooling: you will get tired of being with your kids 24/7.
That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. It doesn’t mean we don’t love homeschooling. Homeschooling parents find it difficult to admit this frustration because it sounds like we’re complaining about something we chose to do. We signed up for this gig, didn’t we?
Nearly all homeschooling parents will experience burn-out. And if you’re not careful a simple case of homeschool burn-out can turn into an ugly stage of life for you and your family. Believe me. I know somebody who has perfected being a miserable homeschool mom.
So what do you do? How do you carve out a little kid-free time for yourself?
1. Plan with your spouse or friend.
Work together to make sure you each have a chance to breathe. Plan date nights together along with days when you can each enjoy some time alone individually. You might have to break out the calendar and plan ahead, but it is possible to have some time alone and as a couple.
If you’re a single parent, reach out to a friend, relative, or fellow homeschooling parent. Don’t know another homeschooling parent? Well, I don’t want to sound bossy, but it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and find one. Everyone needs support.
I know this is easier said than done.
Before our co-op years, I stalked the co-op we ended up joining for an entire school year before I broke down and joined. The whole concept completely intimidated me. What’s funny? A couple of years later, I ended up being a leader of that same co-op. Talk about stepping outside of your comfort zone!
2. Join a co-op.
There are lots of different kinds of homeschool co-ops. The general idea is a group of homeschoolers who meet together for classes, experiments, social activities or field trips. It’s typically parent-led, and you don’t drop your kids off. Of course, right?
Co-ops usually require that you teach a class or assist in someone else’s class. Are you sweating yet? Hear me out.
Outsource classes. Sign your kids up for the subjects you don’t want to teach. Maybe you’re not artsy or crafty, somebody at co-op IS, and they will teach an art class. Hate history? There will be a mom at co-op who loves everything about it. Getting the idea?
Co-ops usually have a parent break time. For some homeschooling parents, this chunk of time might be the only couple of hours they get to themselves all week. It makes a huge difference.
I guarantee you will meet some interesting moms at homeschool co-op, but no matter how different each family may be from yours, you have one thing in common: homeschooling.
Depending on your needs and the season of your homeschooling journey, co-ops can be a huge positive. Especially for a homeschooling parent who needs to make a friend.
3. Partner with another homeschooling parent.
Maybe there’s a chance you could swap kids, days, or lessons. Or, you can get together for experiments or simply meet up at a park for coffee while your kids play.
You are bound to find at least one mom who gets a struggle you’re going through or understands what it’s like to have a fifth grader crying over division every day. Co-op or your local homeschool support group might be where you find your people, so don’t be afraid to get out there!
4. Talk to your kids.
Let your whole family know the importance of everyone getting the time they need to recharge. Showing your kids that you and/or your marriage are a priority by scheduling time away sets an excellent example for them. Set specific days or times that mom and dad are “off.”
Or try a daily afternoon quiet time in your homeschool.
5. Let go of guilt.
You cannot get a decent break if you’re weighed down with guilt over taking one. Needing time to recharge is nothing to feel guilty about! Taking care of yourself will trickle down to your family, and they will be glad you took time away.
6. Promote independence.
Not only is co-op a great place to cut the cord a little by exposing your kids to other parents and teachers, but online classes are a great way to outsource as well. Online classes, games, or apps provide a long list of benefits, including an extra hour or two for mom or dad each day!
7. Plan ahead.
Nothing is better for morale than knowing something fun is around the corner. When you plan a date night, you have that to look forward to all week. Plan one kid-free outlet each week to recharge and refresh.
Maybe it’s a yoga class, dinner with a friend, or just a walk around the neighborhood. Plan something you can look forward to!
8. Sign your kids up for some stuff.
Honestly, I wish we had forced our kids to step out of their comfort zone a little more when they were younger. Homeschooling with OCD presented its own challenges in this area, but they were never the kind of kids that liked sports, youth group, or any of the places homeschooled kids seem to go.
However, there were a few things I wouldn’t budge on. P.E. was one of them. When my kids were little, we went twice a week for Homeschool P.E. at the local YMCA. They pretty much hated it, but I told them it was the law. Ha!
I, on the other hand, loved P.E. It was two straight hours of laughing with friends and fellow homeschool moms. It was my weekly sanity! I truly cherished that time and looked forward to each week.
Are you a homeschooling parent who struggles to make time for yourself? What are some ways you can change that in the new year?
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Adrienne Bolton is a freelance writer and veteran homeschool mom. She began homeschooling in 2009 to meet the needs of her oldest son who struggled with the public school setting. Her boys have had different experiences with homeschooling, but both have thrived in spite of her. Her oldest son transitioned from public school after fourth grade and her youngest is 100% homegrown, having never stepped foot in a traditional classroom. Now with one son in college and one working his way through high school, she is proof anyone can do this. She writes with humor and heart, peppered with occasional snark and sarcasm. When she is not writing or working you can find her with a good book in hand, snuggling her massive Pitbull fur baby, or making something yummy in the kitchen. She loves to cook, bake, and be outdoors in the sunshine. The beach is her happy place and she's a true flip-flop wearing Florida girl. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.