Episode 63: Self Care for Homeschool Moms

Overview: Are you practicing homeschool mom self care? Listen for ideas and encouragement to take care of YOU so you can better take care of others.

As we begin the new school year, you have been busy planning, scheduling, and creating — for your kids. What about you, homeschool mom? Have you been planning or scheduling or creating for yourself?

Do you have ideas for how to take care of your heart while you take care of those in your homeschool?

In this episode we discuss self-care. Not selfishness, but caring for ourselves so that we may better take care of those around us. Sometimes it's actually wiser to say no to them and say yes to ourselves.

Sound crazy? Listen up for some deep thoughts and some tips and ideas to make caring for your heart part of your day.


Are you practicing homeschool mom self care? Listen for ideas and encouragement to take care of YOU so you can better take care of others.

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This episode is sponsored by Voyage – a life skills course for teens

The transition from high school to adult life is a major one. How can you make sure that your student is well prepared for the leap? By accessing the right resources!

Voyage is an interactive, online program that walks high school students through key skills they need to transition into adulthood well. Whether they are trying to figure out a career, exploring a college path, or simply seeking to learn adult life skills, Voyage has the tools and lessons to help equip them for their journey. 

With five interactive modules covering personal development, career planning, college planning, financial responsibility, and everyday life skills, Voyage is designed for self-paced, independent learning, and it’s an affordable course at only $60 for all 5 modules

Visit VoyageCourse.com to learn more!

Episode 63: Homeschool Mom Self Care

Related Resources:

Episode 47: 10 Ways to Make Time for Yourself

Episode 48: Time Management Tips for Homeschool Moms

Episode 67: How to Decide about Extras for Homeschooling High School

Episode 72: How to Involve the Homeschool Dad in High School

The Power of When (referral link)

Episode 62: Big Picture Perspectives on the New School Year

How Teaching from Rest Applies to Homeschooling High School

10 Doable Tips for Consistent Personal Bible Study

When You Feel Overwhelmed About Today

The Secret to a Sustainable Morning Routine

How one woman I know lost 60 pounds by walking

When You Feel Alone as a Homeschool Mom


Hi, I'm Ann Karako, and you're listening to Episode 63 of the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.

The thing about eating right, and exercising, and even sleep is that those things in themselves can turn into another “should,” another checklist that just puts more stress on us. And I have hated that. I have a real struggle with morning routines and evening routines; because yes, they're supposed to set us up for the day, but at the same time, they just feel like another list of things I'm supposed to do that adds stress. And I get tired of the checklists of all the things I'm supposed to do.

Welcome to another episode of It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people. So you can confidently, competently, and even contentedly provide the high school education that best fits your teen and your family — and live to tell about it. I'm your host, Ann Karako, from Annie and Everything.com.

Hi everybody, and welcome today. I wonder if you have gotten started on your school year yet, or if you're like me? I would procrastinate until after Labor Day every year. I did not want to start in August, so I didn't.

Here's the question, though: as you have been planning, have you been planning for yourself, too — or has it all been about the kids? That's what we're going to talk about today. I'd like to talk about self care for the homeschool mom. Now, I feel like the term “self care” has been overused to the point of turning us all into selfish individuals. That's not what I'm after when I'm talking about it today. Hopefully by the time this podcast is over that will not be the message that comes across, that I am telling you to be selfish.

No, what I am hoping to bring to bear is the idea that we moms do have to make sure that our needs are being met, as we're being so careful to be sure that everybody else's needs are being met. We get caught up in all the planning, and the curriculum choosing, and the schedule making, and the credit counting, and the paper grading, and the refereeing, and the disciplining, and the training, and the meal cooking, and the cleaning — and we forget about the fact that we have needs, too. It's not just all about what the family needs or what this individual kid needs at this time or what the husband needs at any given time; sometimes we have needs too. And as homeschool moms — I've been there — we tend to put our needs behind everybody else's. And there are times when that is definitely appropriate, but guess what? That is not all the time. There are times when it is appropriate that we decide that our needs come first.

How can I say that? Well, let's remember the age-old — actually, it's probably not that old in the grand scheme of things — the illustration about the oxygen mask. You're on the airplane, and the stewardess tells you that in the event the oxygen masks come out of the ceiling, you're supposed to put your oxygen mask on first, then your kid's. And the reason behind that is — I know you know, this already — the reason behind that is when there's no oxygen in that plane, you're going to pass out in seconds. It doesn't take minutes for it to happen; it takes seconds for it to happen. So if you take those seconds to put the oxygen mask on your kid first, then you're going to pass out — and potentially really pass out, like permanently pass out, because you have no oxygen to breathe.

Your kid is not going to be able to put the oxygen mask on you; you are going to die. How is that helpful to your kid, just because you put his oxygen mask on first? That is not wise. Sometimes it is wiser to take care of our needs first. If you put your own oxygen mask on, then you are able to put your kid's on. He may have passed out; it's okay. Once he gets the oxygen going, he's going to revive. And this is the point I'm trying to make here, is that sometimes it is actually wiser to take care of our own needs first, because then everybody else's needs get taken care of, too.

When sometimes we put everybody else's temporal needs in front of our own, then sometimes their long-term needs, the ones that are really more important, go unmet. When we take care of ourselves, we are kinder, gentler people. Which means we are providing the more important needs for our kids. The security, the patience, the love — when we are providing those things for our kids, then all of the little details of every day don't matter as much. When we're so focused on the details, but we're doing it in an angry, snappy, impatient, irritable fashion, guess what — that is not helping anybody.

So this is what I mean by self care. It's not all about shopping and manicures; although yes, I like those things too. What I'm talking about, though, is our heart needs, our long-term needs, the needs of our inner beings that give us the mental energy and motivation to do what we do each and every day. These are the things that make you stronger, that nurture you. They're not just a short-term fix.

We can go out shopping or we can go get our nails done; and yes, pampering is great sometimes — it does fill a need sometimes, but usually it's just a short-term need.

I get home and I look at how shopping affected the budget, and I'm already upset. Or the next day — this literally just happened to me two weeks ago — I went and spent good money on a manicure, they convinced me to get acrylics, and literally the day after I got home from this manicure, one of them popped off! So frustrating. So I felt good for 24 hours, and then guess what — it didn't last.

So we're not talking about the things that don't last. We're talking about the things that nurture your heart in a lasting way — and are you making time for them for yourself? Because if you're not — I speak from experience — then a meltdown is probably in your future.

You know that I homeschooled for 22 years and I just graduated my youngest in May. Well, I had lots of meltdowns over the years. Now, my circumstance was different than many. We lived very rural, so the kids were home most of the time, because it took too long and too much gas and too much time to get out to do things. Secondly, my husband is a pilot; and during the time when all my kids were at home, he was an international pilot, which meant that he was gone for many weeks at a time. Like literally three weeks at a time, he was absolutely gone in other parts of the world. And we couldn't even really contact him that much. It was long enough ago that it was difficult to talk via cell phone internationally; and Skype and Yahoo messenger were basically our options when it came to speaking to him. And yet, because we're rural, the internet was not always good, right? So I was basically a single parent for weeks at a time, for years at a time. So maybe that was a recipe for more meltdowns than the person who is able to get the kids out and about a little bit more so that everybody is not always on top of one another, or the person who has a husband that comes home every night or every evening.

However, I do believe if I had been more intentional about taking care of myself, rather than running myself ragged day after day after day, trying to take care of everybody else, I think that I would have had less meltdowns. And it's something that has really come home to me this summer. And maybe only as a result of being done homeschooling, I have the time now to kind of sit and consider my life, my days. And I'll be honest with you, I feel a little — what's the word I want? — hollow inside.

And part of it is, yea, there is a big purpose that I had that I don't have any more. But part of it also is I was so busy expending myself for others, that now I'm not even quite certain who I am anymore. So I'm speaking from hard-fought experience here. And I'm learning these things even now. I've always been kind of a late bloomer. If you receive my emails, you got an email a little bit about this already, where I explained that this is something I'm kind of late blooming about. But I want to share for my heart whenever I can. And so this is one of those.

So what does it mean to take care of ourselves every day? And I'm literally talking every day. I feel like there should be some moments, at the very least ,every day where we are considering, what do I need for this day? What do I need right now? What do I need for this day in order to do the best job that I can do? And yeah, we're trying to do the best job we can do serving everybody else. That is really the main goal; the goal is not to be selfish. The main goal is not for us necessarily to be happy. It would be a nice by-product, wouldn't it? But we're not always going to be happy. But we still need to nurture ourselves so that we can continue to have the motivation to be the people we want to be, for the people we want to be it for.

So, there are tons and tons of possibilities for how to take care of yourself. We're all individuals and what helps one person might not help another, and vice versa. And you may be saying, “Well, but shopping is what helps me.” Okay, but you can't do that every day. What truly, truly nurtures your heart?

Eating right and exercising

So some of these are obvious; some of these we've heard a gazillion times before, such as eating right and exercising.

Y'all, you may not think that nurtures your heart, but it does. It nurtures your emotional well-being, because it's taking care of your physical well-being, and those are intrinsically tied to one another. There is a symbiotic relationship there. When we eat poorly, or we're not exercising our body, or we're not getting enough sleep — gonna throw that one in there — then our emotions will follow. Our emotions will show that. So at the very least, we should be making it important to eat well, eat regularly, eat good, healthy food.

It doesn't mean we can't binge every now and again, but maybe keep the binge to a minimum, quantity-wise, right? Are we getting the exercise that we need?

And the thing about eating right, and exercising, and even sleep, is that its those things in themselves that can turn into another “should,” another checklist that just puts more stress on us. And I have hated that. I have a real struggle with morning routines and evening routines, because yes, they're supposed to set us up for the day, but at the same time they just feel like another list of things I'm supposed to do that adds stress. And I get tired of the checklists of all the things I'm supposed to do.

So, we could even put a morning routine on the list of possibilities for things that are going to nurture your heart. I don't want these things to become checklists that just add stress. “Oops, didn't take my vitamins today; rats, didn't get that one done. Didn't get to sleep on time last night. Had a candy bar after lunch today”, or whatever; and then we feel guilty. That's not what I'm after. In general, if we can think about eating good foods, exercising our body in some way, getting a good nights sleep (or if not a good nights sleep, then maybe a short nap sometime in the middle of the day), those things can help nourish our heart and keep our emotions much more stable and strong and steady.

When it comes to exercising, pick something you like to do. Just a few weeks ago, I made a short playlist. It starts with a slower, kind of warm-up song, which happens to be Sailing by Christopher Cross. And then it moves into some faster songs; I'll tell you what they are: one of them is Rubber Band Man, by the Spinners; one of them is Help Is On The Way by Toby Mac. What is the third one? Oh, I can't remember it off the top of my head now. Oh, it's a One Republic song — Chasing Stars. Oh, one of the songs I have also had in there from time to time is Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, also a good one for the faster. And then a slower song for cooldown, and the one I have in there right now is, At the Cross Love Ran Red — I want to say it's Chris Tomlin.

So I have them in that order: slower, then three to four fast ones, then slow again. And you know what I just do to them? I just dance in the living room. That's all I do. I just dance in the living room. I obviously pick a time when nobody is around to see me, but it feels good. I enjoy it. It's a 20 to 25 minute exercise time, where my heart is starting to beat, my blood is starting to flow, my muscles are being moved and stretched, and I'm burning calories. And that feels good.

Another thing I've done with that same playlist is gotten on our very rudimentary elliptical that we have in the basement, which I bought for 30 bucks at a garage sale. Or you could use that for a walk, or a quick walk down your road. So that is just a couple of ideas there, but let it be something that you enjoy — and vary it from day to day. It doesn't have to be the same thing every day, but make sure it's something you enjoy, because if we're trying to nurture our souls or our hearts, then why would we push an exercise that we hate to do every day? It seems to me that's not necessarily that nurturing to our hearts. It may be good for our bodies, but it's not nurturing to our hearts.

And stress is a factor. If you are overstressing your body, then you are not nurturing your heart. And if you are overstressing your brain to try to do this thing for your body, then you're not nurturing your heart either. So I give you permission to do gentle exercise, that is fun to do — and not always be pushing yourself.

Sponsorship Announcement:

I'm going to take a quick minute to jump in here and say that this episode is sponsored by Voyage, which is a life skills course for teens. The transition from high school to adult life is a major one. How can you make sure that your student is well-prepared for the leap? By accessing the right resources. Voyage is an interactive online program that walks high school students through key skills that they need to transition into adulthood well. Whether they are trying to figure out a career, explore a college path, or simply seeking to learn adult life skills, Voyage has the tools and the lessons to help equip them for their journey.

With five interactive modules covering personal development, career planning, college planning, financial responsibility, and everyday life skills, Voyage is designed for self paced, independent learning. And it's an affordable course at only sixty dollars for all five modules. Visit voyagecourse.com to learn more.

Bible and prayer

I want to be sure to say that for Christian women, then the Bible and prayer time is going to be almost a non-negotiable when it comes time to nurturing our heart. I understand we don't always have lots of time to do that. So maybe even just five minutes; or pick a verse to memorize and carry it around in your back pocket all day, and pull it out from time to time throughout the day. Be talking with God throughout the day. For years I kind of did this thing where I had a Bible time in the morning, and then I set those books aside, and I forgot for the rest of the day about it. That's why I suggest a memory verse, but also just the talking with God throughout the day is kind of vital as we're nurturing our hearts, as we're doing our tasks all day long. And that's something that for years I didn't really do that well. I highly recommend it.

Chatting with friends

Do you have somebody to talk to, other than your husband, about the things that are frustrating to you? Our husbands don't always get it, or they've got things going on in their own hearts and minds, or they're just incredibly busy. And we can feel like that means they don't care for us, when really it's a topic — whatever that topic is — it's a topic that might be better talked over with a girlfriend, who can maybe sympathize a little better and give you some practical ideas as to how to deal with it.

Or do you have somebody to talk with that you can help? Sometimes when we've got that friend that comes to us for help, that actually nourishes our heart too, because it reminds us that somebody needs us, and that we have things in our heart that we can share with others or things that we've gone through, maybe hard times, that we can use to comfort others. That's always a boost, to be able to comfort somebody else with the comfort that we were comforted with when we went through hard times.


What about just reading, in general? I'm a huge fan of fiction reading, but I'm also a fan of nonfiction reading. If you enjoy history, economics, business or whatever your interest are, you could read about any of those things. I enjoy reading self-help books, whether they're based on nutrition, fitness, or mental health. The one I'm reading right now is called, The Power of When, by Dr. Michael Bruce. The idea being that we all have kind of our own circadian rhythm that is unique to us, and that we can schedule lots of things in our day based on that circadian rhythm (say that five times fast), and we will be more effective and efficient that way. Now, I've only just started the book, so I can't tell you yet if it works or not; but the idea is extremely intriguing to me, and I'm enjoying reading about it. Are you reading about things that are intriguing to you?

Quiet Time

Sometimes it's a good idea just to plan for some quiet in the household every day. This is something that I talk about at the Great Homeschool Conventions, in one of my sessions, when we're talking about how to do high school with younger kids. So, maybe you only have one or two high schoolers, and you still have younger kids around, and it seems like you don't have enough time in the day; or you're just frazzled because you're dealing with high schoolers on one side and youngers on the other, and your brain is having trouble going between the two. In our household — and partly because the hubby was gone a lot — I had to maintain some kind of structure, some kind of control — we had quiet time every single afternoon in our house no matter how old the kid.

If the kids were still young enough to need naps, this coincided with their nap time, so they could have a quiet household while they were trying to nap. But older kids still had to be in their rooms. Or maybe that in-between age where they're not quite napping every day, but they're not necessarily ready to have the run of the room yet, they would have to be on their beds for this time, maybe with some chunky books or some quiet toys. And you know what? The side benefit of that being, if they were sleepy and needed a nap that day, it was super easy for them to conk out. Whereas, if I had let them run around the house all afternoon, they wouldn't have got a nap, and then they would have been cranky in the evening. Whereas this way, if they have to be on their bed for a couple of hours every afternoon, and they need that nap, they can conk out, which makes the evening that much better for everybody, right?

Everybody, no matter what their age had a couple hours where they were by theirself, either in their rooms or in their own little location in the house for that time in the afternoon. Now, what that does for the teen is it gives them time to work on some harder subjects when they know they're going to be able to concentrate on them. What it does for mom is maybe you can squeeze in a nap. At the very least, you have some peace and quiet to think, right? And for the youngers, again, it just provides that time to focus, to kind of learn how to spend some extended period of time being quiet. It also just gives everybody a break from one another.

Don't you feel like you're being a referee a large part of the day as a homeschool mom? So that hour or two in the afternoon gives everybody a break from one another, so that we can come back together later and maybe not be picking on each other quite so much. So I highly recommend that as a way to help your heart and actually help your kids' hearts at the same time.

One of our kids calls it “hamstering,” and she uses it as an adult to this day. She will say, “I need to hamster,” and she will go quiet herself in her room, spend some quiet time in her room, all by herself. She knows when she's reached her limit of being in noisy, crowded situations, with lots of people. And she goes to spend some quiet time in her room. And you know what, if she hadn't had that quiet time in her room every day, that was enforced while we were here, maybe she wouldn't have learned that this is a great coping skill for her. And maybe as a mom it would be a great coping skill for you. It's a verb in our house, “to hamster.”

Or what about the kid who is not behaving well? You can send them to their room until they're ready to behave in a socially acceptable manner. Maybe they need to go hamster. This can be a way of caring for your heart before you do or say something that would be regretful, right?Sometimes we just need to take that space. We need to let things simmer down. And you as the mom can't necessarily go to your room, but you can send the kid to theirs.

So lots of different ways to use quiet time as a way to nurture your heart and to take care of your heart before you have to jump back into the fray.

The task you've been putting off

Here's something that you might not think about when it comes to self care. What about doing a task that's been hanging over your head?Sometimes that is the best way to practice self care.

So maybe you've gotten behind on grading, and it's hanging over your head, and it's causing stress. Maybe you just need to sit down and get ‘er done. Then guess what, you feel less stressed, and that helps your heart. Maybe there's an area of clutter in your house that is driving you crazy. So get it decluttered, fix that problem, remove that stress. Menu planning, budgeting — some of these things are means of self-care because they remove a stress that was in our life, and now they're not, now it's not.

I'm sure you can think of other tasks that need to be done that haven't been done, that are hanging over you. I was listening to a podcast the other day, and she talked about cognitive dissonance, which is when we're thinking about a way we want to be, but we're not behaving that way. And so it sets up this dissonance in our mind, and we don't like it, because we're not being who we want to be. And sometimes clearing off one of these tasks is a way to resolve that dissonance.

Sometimes it's because we've got expectations of ourselves that are too high. That's not what I'm talking about here. I am talking about, hey, there is something that we legit should be doing and we're not doing it, and that is causing dissonance and stress. So find the time to get that thing off of the table, to get that thing taken care of, and then you'll feel better.

One of the things I do is I tend to collect tasks throughout the week and write them down, and then I plan one afternoon each week. Usually it's Monday. In fact, most of the time it's Monday, because I call it Monday Miscellaneous. So that's something that I do every Monday is my Monday Miscellaneous. And my Monday Miscellaneous is just the collection of tasks that I've accumulated over the week that need to be done.

And so I just kind of set aside that time, and they all get done one after the other — sometime on Monday, usually within a block of time, I just move from one task to the next, until I get them done. And so that is definitely an option for taking care of those things that haven't been taken care of.

Other ideas

Are you getting some ideas here for how to take care of yourself to nurture your heart? Listening to podcasts is another one; I brought that up.

A hobby — do you have a hobby you can spend some time on? Why do I like knitting? I don't know, but it helps me feel better. I don't spend enough time at it, but when I do get the time to spend at it, it calms me down. Don't ask me why; I don't understand it, but it does help. Is there a hobby like that, that just nourishes your little soul, helps calm you down, helps de-stress you? Make time for it in your day or at least in your week.

There are all sorts of other ideas. What about making a special dinner once a week with candles? Even if the kids are there; this is just a way of pampering yourself. Getting away to go to a movie, even all by yourself.

Yes, it can be fun to do things by ourselves. We don't always have to go out with the girls. That's fun too, but sometimes in a way that's stressful. What about trying some things by yourself? A movie, a meal out, take your book with you. I did that when I was in Cincinnati for the Great Homeschool Convention. I had breakfast by myself in the fancy restaurant one day. The breakfast actually wasn't that expensive, but it was a beautiful restaurant in this art deco hotel. The ice was tinkling in the water glasses, and I had a pitcher of coffeeand a beautiful omelet, and it was just glorious.

Here's the thing though. Don't feel guilty. I mean, unless you ought to feel guilty. If you're taking 20 hours a week to yourself, then maybe, maybe that's a reason to feel guilty. I don't know; it depends on your situation.

But don't feel guilty for making the time to do things that nurture your heart. You are the only one who knows how much time you really need, but I bet you need more than you're giving yourself. Yes, I bet you need more than you're giving yourself. If you're feeling frazzled on a regular basis, then you need more self-care time. You need more nourish your heart time. Find what nourishes your heart and make it more of a priority than you are right now.

Especially as we're starting a new school year, yea, the first few weeks can be stressful. Right? And then you might sort of ease into a routine, or you might not. Why don't we set the stage now for non-stress, or at least as little stress as possible. Because even though things might go wrong, we've nurtured our heart enough that we can roll with it. And that would be the goal — to be able to roll with things, right, without getting more frazzled.

Okay. So I have talked quite a long time. Sometimes I don't know if I've said anything significant or not. I hope you can hear my heart here, because while I don't necessarily have the suggestion that you need, maybe this has just motivated you to think about it and see what you can put into your day or your week that's going to help you feel better.

Here's another quick thought that I just thought of — what about Sundays? How are you spending your Sunday? Maybe you just need one day off from even thinking about school. No grading on Sunday, no paperwork on Sunday, no lesson planning on Sunday. Try to get that all done by Saturday and see if you can just take Sunday off to do whatever you want to do all day long. Or at least in the time periods where you can, in between making meals, or going to church, or what have you. That's another thought.

All right; share this podcast with your friends. I will be sharing some notes and links on the podcast page. You know how to get there by going to annieandeverything.com and clicking on Podcasts at the top and then look for Episode 63, that's this one, to find the links about lots of things that are related.

I meant to share earlier that a friend of mine, who I spoke with at Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati, just by walking, she lost 60 pounds. I'm going to link to her article about that. So talk about nurturing your heart, when you just do something and the unexpected benefit is that you lose weight or you're more fit or whatever, that's gotta be nourishing to the heart. So just throwing that in there at the end, because I forgot. All right, y'all, have a great day, and we'll see you next time.

It's Not That Hard to Homeschool

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