Home educating was a joyful and inspirational period in our family life.
Most of the time.
There were times when it was downright gruelling and bloody and I struggled to stand another day of it!
But that wasn’t because I didn’t like it, regretted our decision, couldn’t handle it, or wished the kids were in school. Especially not that.
It was because of a simple but overlooked fact: I wasn’t looking after myself adequately!
I wonder how many of you reading this have been guilty of the same?
It’s hard enough home educating. It’s been made much, much harder by the circumstances the pandemic has thrust upon us. It’s stressful, makes us anxious, inhibits our activities and will make even the joyful things seem like hard work sometimes. So there is even more need for you to be:
Looking after yourself as well as the kids!
This makes sense because not doing so is counter-productive. It doesn’t do anyone any favours. And it’s not best for the child either.
Look at it this way, a parent who is stressed, tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, is less likely to be able to deal with the challenge of parenting and home schooling than one who’s rested, relaxed and happy. So it’s in the child’s interests too, to pay attention to our needs.
It’s also in the child’s interests for another reason. A parent who is sacrificing their own needs is giving the signal to their child that parents don’t matter. Parents matter enormously – that’s what children need to know – everyone needs to know it.
Children also need to learn how to look after themselves. Your demonstration of how a person does this, through the way you do it, is going to teach them this.
Another thing; neglecting yourself constantly just gives them licence to disregards others’ needs to fulfil their own. And although very young children do that, as they grow they need to learn differently. We all need to relate to others.
You will want to be the best parent you can be. The best way to do that is to look to your own wellbeing too. For all your sakes.
You want your kids to have respect. Respect for others and certainly respect for themselves. They learn that from the respect that you have for yourself – so what demonstration of that are they getting through the way you look after yourself?
So, now I’ve given you some reasons to, how can you look after yourself?
- Prioritise time to do so.
- Get out by yourself as well as with them.
- Borrow time or do time swaps with others.
- Remember to work on things that inspire you, at your level, not just the children.
- Keep contact with friends and others for some adult chats.
- Feed and exercise yourself well for your sake, not just for theirs’ (essential lesson for the kids in there).
- Do things you love, just for you, not always tagging it onto something they love!
- Rest and relax at times, letting them know that it’s a way of fulfilling your needs too.
Whatever form your ‘looking after yourself’ takes it’s as invaluable a lesson as anything academic, so don’t neglect it. And I reckon it’s doubly important during these challenging times we’re going through right now.