When the world came to a grinding halt due to coronavirus in March, homeschool parents worked hard to keep their kids’ lives as normal as possible. Since we were already homeschooling, our school routine didn’t change much. But in the process of keeping things humming, we pushed our needs to the back of the line.
Here we are, six months later, and we are starting to wear down. So, what’s a busy homeschooling parent to do? Keep reading for four ways to take care of yourself so you can keep going strong.
1. Scale back
Scaling back a little when times are stressful creates a buffer. Otherwise, you risk shutting down due to overwhelm. Make less complicated meals, pare school back to the basics for a few weeks or a semester (easiest to do with kids under high-school age), and do fewer extracurricular activities (there aren’t many available, anyway!).
When you get your bearings again, you can resume a fuller schedule and have the mental and physical energy to maintain it.
2. Indulge yourself in healthy ways
When times are tough, many of us eat comfort foods, binge watch television shows, or stay up too late. The problem with these choices is that the “comfort” we derive is relatively short-lived. Comfort foods cause us to gain weight—“quarantine 15” anyone? Binge watching television takes up valuable time that we probably don’t have to waste, and staying up late just leaves us tired, grumpy, and unmotivated.
So, what’s a parent who needs some comfort to do? Here’s what I have done to spoil myself in healthy ways:
- I allow myself to have any fruit that I want. If cherries are $5.99 a pound and I want them, I get them. It feels indulgent, but one pound of cherries only has 225 calories, which is about the same as a candy bar and much better for you. What’s a healthy splurge for you?
- I binge watch shows, but usually only when I am doing something productive, such as folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or getting school ready for the next day. What could you do during your next TV binge?
- When I stay up late, I take a relaxing bath with my favorite bath bombs and treat myself to a facial mask. Afterward, I feel rejuvenated and ready to face another day of dealing with life during the pandemic. How can a late night actually benefit you?
3. Get some exercise
We all know that exercise is good for our minds and our bodies. As busy homeschooling parents, we may not be making time for exercise for ourselves.
When the lockdown started our options for getting out of the house rapidly dwindled. We could still go to the park for exercise, so I started taking my son there nightly to ride his bike while I walked the trail. I thought that I was doing this for his benefit, but guess what? Getting outside walking and running was a huge benefit for me, too!
Exercise doesn’t have to be hard-core, P90X boot camp stuff to be effective. Just grab the kids and get outside to move your body.
4. Keep a consistent schedule
When times are uncertain and unnerving, keeping a schedule benefits everyone. Here are the five things I have on my schedule every day and the reasons why I feel that they’re helpful:
- Get up at the same time each day to train your body and mind to be alert when you awaken.
- Get dressed every day to be more productive and ready to tackle the day’s tasks. It signals that it’s time to work. If I stay in my pajamas, I struggle to get going.
- Do school at roughly the same time each day. Without a schedule, school takes all day and the rest of your life is put on hold. When kids know that school has a definite start and end, they bring more energy to their tasks.
- Eat dinner at the same time every evening to avoid those low-blood sugar moments.
- Go to bed at the same time each night, which trains your body to sleep. You will be amazed at how quickly you and your kids fall asleep once you’ve been on a regular sleep schedule.
Taking care of yourself so you can take care of your kids doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or require a lot of special equipment. It just involves a few tweaks here and there to give ourselves a bit more time or care, which will reap a lot more emotional strength to get through this very trying time. Here’s to making it out of 2020 as a healthier, better balanced version of you!