One of the unique struggles of a homeschool parent is finding time to just be mom or dad as well as teacher. In my mind after I have spent the better part of my day with my kids doing things like reading, math, science, history, art projects, home economics, PE and handwriting I am ready for a break. The thing is my kids are not ready for a break from me, they are in fact ready to spend time with their mom and have simply felt they have been with their teacher for the past few hours.
This took me a little while to figure out and I am still trying to figure out how best to meet their needs without overstretching myself as well. Realizing that they do need to just cuddle on the couch with me, play a board game, bake cookies or simply talk and spend time with me is important. I have to learn to build in times for this in our daily life. In addition it is true that I need some down time and alone time to recharge myself and also get done the work and responsibilities like house cleaning, cooking, laundry, bill paying, volunteer work, writing, appointments and the small details that make our household run.
Lately while acutely aware of my need to balance these roles I find myself at a loss for a successful method to do so with. How do I be homeschool teacher, household COO, wife, mom and keep my sanity? For many years now I have just been juggling all the balls in the air and living according to the tyranny of the urgent, dealing with what needs to be done as it arises. But as my laundry piles into 12 loads, packages go unmailed for several weeks, I can't find time to call loved ones on the phone, I have not taken sanity time for myself, and my kids and husband feel like they never spend time with with just me I am realizing there must be a saner way. There must be a way to better manage and balance all of these roles and still be just one person.
I have significantly cut back on my computer time which has helped. I put an internet timer on each computer I use and it tracks my minutes online. This has been a good reminder and accountability tool for me. I try to avoid using the computer as much as possible during school time. Allowing myself a short time in the morning before school, some at lunchtime and then after all our other responsibilities are done. Yet many of my jobs use the computer too so I am also trying to limit my free or fun time on the computer since my kids see me use it so much already for things I need to do as part of my job of household COO and homeschool mom, not to mention volunteer work I do. While this helps it also leads me to feel like I am limiting myself so much that I am not meeting my needs either.
Some of this is because we are coming out of a long cooped up winter here in Minnesota and everything gets better as the sun comes out and the weather warms up. Still it is reality right now and for my kids sake I need to make time to just be mom. To cuddle and love them, to listen to and encourage them, to play games and be silly with them, to have time that is not about me telling them what to do next whether it be school, chores, sports practice, or enforcing reading times. My kids need to be able to remember that part of me too. I worry that they are going to grow up and just think of me as a drill sergeant or a teacher they either loved or hated. How do veteran moms balance this? How do you still be mom, and how do you enjoy that time without thinking about all the other things that need to get done?
Off to be mom, read some books and play some Wii.