Homeschooling is all encompassing. Everyone needs you, what feels like all the time! I know it’s a lot, and we all have those moments where we feel like we have given so much of ourselves that there is just nothing left to give.
Here are my 6 tips for creating healthy boundaries that are actually doable at least 90% of the time (let’s keep it real shall we?!) Because Mama, you deserve to be happy and fulfilled too. And I believe that it IS possible for everyone to have their needs met and for you to still have something left for yourself at the end of the day.
I am a homeschool Mum, business owner, and my children have additional needs. That means we have hospital appointments and therapies thrown into our weeks and it also means things go pear shaped, often! I know what it feels like to be worn out and on groundhog day, where perhaps the thought of a new year is less than exciting and more of a reminder of what you didn’t accomplish… yet another year passed by in the blur of all the things you tried to be for everyone else.
I SEE YOU, and I think if you consider implementing even just one of these tips below, friend you are off to a good start!
1. Stop comparing
This really is a mindset change. I like to think of it as a filter that we need to apply to situations when we feel like we are starting to move from admiration to comparison with that person that seems to have it all. Situations in which we really need to be saying: “I love that for you.” And celebrating their wins and telling ourselves “that is not my path and that is not my family and that's okay”. The truth is we can’t know what that person did for their success, their win or their appearance of a wonderful life. We just don’t know.
A few ways to break down this habit...
Choose when you are on social media - if you are feeling vulnerable stay off that scroll!
Someone else's success is their success! Break the habit of "when is my turn" thinking. Share the love and the celebration for them! It is equally rewarding to celebrate someone's success as it is to celebrate your own. Get caught up in telling them how happy you are for THEM. That kind of energy is great for us all! And when it is your turn, they’ll be there celebrating with you!
2. Create systems around your goals
Atomic Habits is hands down one of the most life changing books I have ever read. It highlights the reasons why we may try to change something but it just never sticks. Things only change if you are willing to make changes to your life.
When you read this book you will understand that systems are needed to make permanent habits which then turn into real habit change. We can all decide to quit sugar for a day, but unless we have created a system and plan for that, it isn't going to be sustainable, it just won’t stick! Our old habits are knee jerk and they come back to bite us!
So if you are making goals for the new year, I hope you can stop for a minute and take some time to think through if you have a system to support that goal to be accomplished. If you haven’t, it's really just a wishlist. #truthbomb
Dedicate time each day to check in with that goal and work on it. For example, our veggie garden is something that we really wanted to thrive in 2021. We dedicated 15 minutes every day to go hang outside and check it, tidy it, water it and just be aware of what was happening in that area of the yard. It made ALL the difference, we learned so much about how much sun it’s getting, how certain things just don’t thrive in full sun and that something was in fact eating our produce!
3. Stop buying things
Stop buying things to fill the void of your unhappiness or overwhelm or the new big thing that promises to solve all your problems. Just. Stop. Buying.
Adding more things, more curriculum, more printables, more memberships is just not going to make things easier for you until you address the root cause of your overwhelm or stress.
Instead, and this may trigger a few people, get rid of what doesn't serve you. Scary thought I know, because we have a funny way of attaching worth to our things (even when they don’t do what they promised). But if you get rid of those things that are collecting dust, you are saying yes to living more freely. And that, my friend, will allow you to see clearly what it is that IS worthy and important.
Things I started to look at closely and declutter...
Bookshelves (I’m looking at you cookbooks)
Curriculum that just did not work
Craft projects that were abandoned
Bulky furniture that is too big for the room
4. Do something for yourself
Take that money you saved from all those purchases and items you sold and invest in yourself. Start a hobby, a business, a bookclub, a girls night, something that you can look forward to each week, fortnight, month... something to have for yourself… something that allows you to shine.
Because your kids are watching. They are learning from your actions, more than your words… how they look after themselves… how they deal with stress… how they handle conflict. Their future approaches to self care and believing they are worthy are hugely connected to how you do those things, how you treat yourself, how you let others treat you, how you talk about yourself, whether you are worthy of time spent on yourself. We can talk all about healthy living and boundaries but we all know actions speak louder than words.
I've made it a goal of mine this year, to break the cycle of wearing sacrifice and "busy" as a badge of honour. I used to believe that with motherhood comes complete sacrifice of myself. Through years of witnessing this as a child from not only my Mother but my friends Mothers too.
We all have things we need to unlearn. Don’t make looking after themselves something that your kids compromise on in their future.
5. Connect with your kids
Life is short. Be a kid with them. Have fun Mama! Okay so I might just be triggering here too but it is possible to be friends with your kids. It is possible to have mutual respect for one another. It is possible to share your own interests and hobbies with your kids and they share theirs.
Start a family movie night
Create traditions like taco Tuesday
Discuss openly interests and goals
Reflections meetings at your local cafe over milkshakes
Try to spend time seeing yourself through their eyes. Try to connect with them on their level but also try to share more of yourself, your personality, your passions with them. You may be surprised that they are actually interested in what you thought might be boring to them.
6. Embrace the season
I am not talking about this season of motherhood here, I’m actually talking about the weather. Embracing our weather can be so good for our mood, our health and our mindset. How many times have you used the weather as an excuse to not do something, if you are like me, probably a lot! But when I started to try and work WITH the seasons and embrace all of the aspects of the good points and try to address the pain points, it really did change our mindset as a homeschool. Working with the seasons almost sets our body clocks in a way, and it really does improve the overall attitude in our homeschool.
I know this can be hard, especially when finding motivation just to do the everyday things can already feel like a lot. But look at it this way... if we take inspiration from nature we know that everything slows down in winter - we should too! Everything is bustling in the warmer seasons and we should be too!
My family loves a challenge and I find this the best approach to making change to our routine. That's why I created the seasonal bucket list poster and gosh it is so loved!
All our homeschool friends that have visited have asked for a copy, so I decided to share it with you too! I created it in poster size (you could adjust the sizing with your printer settings and choose fit to page mode for A4 or Letter sizing). I framed ours and put it on display in the main area of our home.
Everyone sees it all the time and its encouraging ticking things off and being reminded of all the wonderful things we have done and will try to do this season. Ultimately the bucket list is designed to get us doing all the wonderful things that the season has to offer, so it feels we really are embracing the seasons!
Ways I embrace the seasons...
Seasonal bucket list (free printable for you for Summer & Winter!)
Invest in appropriate seasonal clothing
Figure out where you like to visit during each season. We love the beach and pools in Summer but gravitate to the mountains and rock pools in winter. This means we have something different to look forward to during that time.
Match comfort foods to the seasons (my kids love this) icy poles, snow cones, fruit salads in Summer and hot chocolates and cinnamon rolls and soups in winter. Yum!
I hope that you can see yourself trying out some of these tips. I have really found that they make a difference to our homeschool days and my overall motivation and happiness. Don’t ever forget that, you make such a big part of the homeschool experience your kids are having. If you feel fulfilled and go into your day feeling like your cup is full, everyone wins!