How many hats do you feel like you wear as a homeschool parent? Adrienne shares six secrets for discovering a good teacher/mom balance in homeschooling.
Finding a comfortable teacher/mom balance in homeschooling has been one of the most significant challenges for me. I’ve spent years trying to juggle the two hats only inevitably to fail because it’s impossible to separate the pair.
Do you struggle with this too?
Try these six secrets I’ve found for slaying the teacher/mom balance in your homeschool.
1. Be a parent, first and foremost.
Homeschooling is not only your job but a large part of who you are as a parent. When I’m struggling with that teacher/mom balance in homeschooling, I try to remember one rule of thumb: I’m my kids’ mom above all else. I just happened to choose a style of parenting that involves teaching them at home.
When the job feels overwhelming on the teacher side, take a step back and focus on things that don’t have anything to do with school. Being a soft place for your kids when they need it is way more important than worrying about what curriculum is the perfect fit.
I’ve never regretted the times I’ve put my teacher hat down and canceled school for the day. Don’t feel guilty taking a day off from school to reconnect as a family.
2. Accept that you homeschool your kids.
Sounds like useless advice for a homeschooling parent, but it’s true. I have to stop and remind myself sometimes that my youngest has never been to public school and doesn’t have any comparison when it comes to the daily grind.
I’m guilty of expecting him to act like he’s at school, even though we’re home. Many of the perks of homeschool life are also the root of many of our distractions.
For example, my son might not be focusing or working well, and I’ll be irritated he isn’t getting his work done, but then I realize he’s lying on the couch in his pajamas. Well, no wonder, right?
Homeschool hazards. We want to have our cake and eat it too!
I want all the freedom and flexibility homeschooling has to offer, but I’m also guilty of expecting my kids always to be self-motivated and studious.
However, I’ve discovered a few truths about homeschooling:
- Some kids aren’t self-motivated.
- Even though homeschooling offers flexibility, many kids need structure.
- Not all kids like school, even if they get to do it in their underwear.
Eliminate frustration by accepting that school probably isn’t going to look like you thought it would when you signed up for this job.
3. It’s a family affair!
This homeschooling thing isn’t just MY job. It’s our family’s lifestyle. Take it from me, everyone needs to pitch in and play a role, or you’ll experience homeschool mom burnout.
Don’t let all the work of homeschooling, housework, and family management fall all on your shoulders. Let your family know you need help. Then, actually let them help you! Delegate, delegate, delegate.
My family is more than willing to help if I get out of the way.
4. Lighten your load.
Need some ideas for finding snippets of time that equal big sanity-saving dividends?
- Outsource a subject or two. My husband loves math and seems to explain the steps in a way my son understands better than I do. My dad recently retired, and he’d like nothing more than to be put in charge of my son’s history lessons. Online classes provide an excellent opportunity for your kids to work with other adults and be held accountable to deadlines and expectations.
- Schedule vacation days for yourself. Any job with decent benefits offers personal, sick, and vacation days. Why should homeschooling be any different? Get out your calendar and pencil in some free days you can look forward to in the next couple of months. These days are for you – no kids – so it might take some work to plan. It will be worth it.
- Encourage teamwork. Make chore charts for younger kids and share clear expectations with older ones. There’s no reason why one person should have to do all the work after a long homeschool day.
- Plan independent study days for older children and teens. Older kids and teens should be able to fend for themselves for a good portion of the day. You don’t need to hover over them or be as involved in the lessons for some subjects. When they’re working well independently, use that time for YOU. Creating little pockets of time for yourself during the day makes the job so much easier.
5. Get away from “the office.”
The house can become a trap when you homeschool because everything happens there — school, meals, family time. We are always at home. Sure, that’s wonderful and lovely for the most part, but sometimes you need to get out!
Imagine: You manage a demanding, fast-paced company and the job requires you to stay at the office 24/7. You never get to leave or take breaks, meals are delivered so you never have to stop working, and there’s a bed in the back office for sleep when you need it. Although you never get a break, everyone expects you to perform at the top of your game. People depend on you!
Sounds about like the life of a homeschool parent, doesn’t it?
Pack up your school work and head to a café or library for the day. A change of scenery is an excellent refresher for everyone, especially you!
6. Remember you’re more than a homeschool mom.
Homeschooling doesn’t define you.
Losing sight of ourselves on this journey is easy. As homeschooling parents, we spend a lot of time defending our decision to educate at home or talking to others about how much we love it. But, it is an all-consuming job and most days leave us exhausted and falling asleep worrying about how we’ll get our kid to finish math without a fight the next day.
Homeschooling tends to create a bubble around your family. Don’t get me wrong; that bubble is my favorite place. I love it so much that it’s sometimes hard to leave and even harder to recognize when I need to.
It’s important to enjoy being your non-homeschooling self too!
When’s the last time you spent one day not thinking about homeschool stuff?
Be sure to make yourself a priority by getting breaks and taking care of yourself. The best part of getting out of your comfort zone is that your kids get to appreciate who you are aside from parent and teacher.
It took me a long time to realize how important it was to make time for me to find my own passions, but once I did, there was no turning back.
Sure, my kids have seen me cry over hard homeschool days, but they’ve also seen me run three half marathons and paddleboard all day with friends until my face sticks in the form of a smile.
Nobody likes a miserable homeschool mom, so make sure you don’t become one!
What are some of the ways you juggle that teacher/mom balance in homeschooling?
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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.