We’re in year two of homeschooling, which means I’m still a baby at this homeschooling gig. When we first started homeschooling last year, I grossly underestimated the toll it would take on my mental state. I knew there would be rough patches, but I did NOT expect the mental drain from what is known at our house as Little People Overload, or LPO. 😉
The thing I struggled with about homeschooling (and still struggle with, honestly) was that MY CHILDREN WERE ALWAYS AT HOME. They are always here. And that, for this introvert homeschooling mom who craves time alone in order to refuel and recharge, can be a huge bummer.
This shouldn’t have been a huge shock to my system, because for the five years previous these kiddoes (and a few others, since I was babysitting for a little extra income) were always around. We’ve always been home together. Somehow having them around as toddlers was different, because those years are supposed to be exhausting. It’s a given.
But now, they’re getting older, and they started developing these little personalities. There’s a lot of talking. And laughing loudly. And screaming and singing and making noise. A LOT of noise.
This little introverted mama started to lose her ever-loving mind. It took a while for me to get clued into why I felt like I was going insane on a daily (or hourly) basis. Here’s why: TOO MUCH PEOPLE TIME. It’s a real thing, mamas.
I found myself feeling resentful towards my kids for filling nearly every moment of my day. Which is kind of awful, because that’s what life as a mom, especially a homeschooling mom, looks like. That’s what I signed up for. But nonetheless, it was how I was feeling. It was not an awesome time in my life.
If you are an introverted mom who has taken on this job known as homeschooling, where you’re surrounded by people all day long, every day, please hear me out: I get it. Completely and wholly. But we have to find a way to still function in a somewhat pleasant mindset or else everything will go to pot. It’s that whole, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” thing.
Now. Perhaps you are an extrovert or a blessed, amazingly lucky introvert to whom this problem of Little People Overload does not apply, and if that’s the case, I heartily raise my hands to high five you, dear mom. Because the struggle is real over here. If I don’t make sure to apply some boundaries in our home, it gets ugly fast. A mom has to do what she can to take care of herself.
How Introvert Homeschooling Moms Can Stay Sane
This is my number one saving grace right now. I get up early and have an hour or two to myself to think, pray, read, write…basically DO WHATEVER I WANT IN BLESSED PEACE AND QUIET. Am I a morning person? No. Do I rely on copious amounts of coffee with cream to wake up and actually begin to function? Yes. But I have come to love this time. It sets me off in a good state of mind for the day. I no longer feel resentful toward my kids that I don’t get much time alone during the day, because I had a relatively large chunk of time to myself in the morning. Or, do this at night if that’s better for you.
Quiet time FOR MOM in the afternoon
My children do struggle with the entire concept of being calm and quiet, which is very unfortunate for my sanity. So while I do try to encourage some quiet time after lunch, it isn’t the lovely scenario some moms are able to create. My kids aren’t voluntarily laying down quietly, resting and reading books.
I hope that may be the case someday, but for now, my goal is to make sure I have a small window of time (I’m talking about maybe 20-30 minutes) in which I don’t have little voices chattering in my head, when I can get my introverted butt back in gear to make it through to rest of the day.
So some days that means kicking them outside for a while. Or turning on a movie for them to watch…basically anything that gives me a few minutes to regroup in solitude. I need this in the afternoon.
Off Duty Time
If I find myself stuck in a perpetual bad mood for days on end and take time to think about the last time I had a break from my kids, it’s usually been a l-o-n-g time. Since my hubby farms, his days are long and unpredictable, which makes it hard to plan for mommy time sans children.
About once a month, I hire a teenage girl to come over for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It usually costs me around $10 and is the best money I spend some months.
Sometimes I’m able to trade babysitting hours with another mom friend. MOPS was also a fabulous break for me when my kids were younger. Getting away for even an hour does wonders. I can’t explain why this improves my mentality; it just does.
Journal It Out
I’m the kind of person who finds release in writing things out, but I’m a firm believer that everyone can benefit from the act of journaling (you can read more of my thoughts on journaling here and here). Find a notebook, any notebook, and use it. I dump out ALL my frustrations and anger and exhaustion on those pages. Often just the act of getting the feelings out of my head is enough to make my outlook on life better.
I cannot do this parenting gig in my own strength. I’ve tried and it’s ugly. Let me tell you, prayer is a game changer. I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid and I’m just now learning how to be fully dependent on Him. He wants to help, He wants us to depend on Him and turn to Him for everything…and guess what? That includes getting through loud crazy days (or whatever else we’re dealing with).
I’ve found if I actually just take the time to stop and breathe a little prayer to Him when I’m feeling worn and overloaded, He meets me there. He gets me through it. So thankful for that.
Are you an introvert homeschooling mom? What gets you through the day?