What Self-Care Really Means: How to Beat the Winter Blahs When You’re a Homeschooling Parent
By Chelsea McLeod
You can’t pour from an empty cup!
We have all heard that old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup…” but what does that mean, and how does it relate to your homeschooling journey? Parenting is such a demanding job. To begin with, we have to continually give of ourselves and make sacrifices even at the best of times. Accordingly, as a parent, it is vital to be aware of our own needs and care for ourselves, which fills/refills our cup. It is easy to lose your identity in parenting, especially as a mother; if you are not taking care of your own needs, you are much more susceptible to burnout. So, let’s talk about what self-care means.
Self-Care is non-negotiable for most people, and Moms are no exception; kids take a lot of time, effort and energy; however, this becomes multiplied when you choose to homeschool. No breaks, your kids are with you 24/7, and if you have minimal support, you can get burnt out if you are not careful. This burnout can sneak up on you and come on unexpectedly, as it can happen little by little. You can be depleted in small circumstances, even when you aren’t aware of it.
Some of the things that drain our mental and physical energy or “empty our cups” are:
- Setting Unrealistic Expectations
- Following a Plan that Doesn’t Work for You
- Overlooking Your Own Needs
- No Community
Even more importantly, for many of us who live in colder climates, the weather and snow can also take their toll on our mental health and outlook. This, coupled with the repetition of homeschooling and the seemingly monotonous schedule, can lead to a very blah mindset. Therefore it is even more critical to be aware of and take care of yourself and your mental health to avoid burnout when figuring out what self-care really means.
It is vital to practice Self-Care, but what does that mean?
Self-Care is a vague term that can cover many things and is not a specific description of what we should do. True, many of us know the importance of Self-Care and we are bombarded with messaging around it and how necessary it is to maintain our mental health. The key to Self-Care is to not forget about yourself and your needs, even when focused on everyone else’s.
What self-care really means, It’s not always bubble baths, face masks, wine and pedicures.
Self-Care is not universal; not everyone enjoys or even needs the same things; it is not and doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Believe it or not, it can be much more straightforward; it means taking care of yourself in the ways you need most, feeding your soul and filling your cup. For some people, it can be those above things (bubble baths, face masks, massages, wine or spa time); however, for others, it could be something else, anything else, as long as it works for you.
First, let’s begin by addressing some things that can deplete your cup and look at some simple ways to avoid this in your homeschooling journey.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
- You know yourself and your kids/learners. Considering this before planning and setting your homeschooling goals for the year is essential.
- You do not need to meet specific goals, you are the teacher/facilitator in this instance, and as long as you follow the guidelines or requirements for your province or state, you make the schedule. So do it your way!
- Similar to the first one, you do not need to meet any particular expectations, especially those set by other homeschooling parents for their circumstances.
- It is okay to put your blinders on and do it your way. Comparing yourself and your learners to others serves no good purpose.
- We have all heard “it takes a village,” right? Well, in this case, it is true. Human beings were not meant to exist in isolation. We are built for connection, and connecting with others is essential to proper functioning.
- So join a local homeschooling group or if there isn’t one, consider starting one. Not only will you be able to connect with other homeschooling parents, but your children will also be able to connect with others. Sometimes there is even a curriculum you can go through as a group or work on presentation skills that your student might not get to practice otherwise.
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