Day in the Life: Homeschool Mom Recovering from Illness
By Stacy, Contributing Writer
Earlier this year I hit bottom.
By bottom, I mean, complete burn out and exhaustion.
The breaking point was finding myself in bed for ten days with shingles.
Since then I have been making a concerted effort to have more margin in my life. A lot more.
It is important for my physical, spiritual and mental well being.
There are still many busy days, but fewer of them. I’ve stepped away from a number of commitments and given myself permission say ‘no’ to extra projects for the rest of the year.
I’m a homeschooling mom to three kids (ages 12, 8 and 3) and a preacher’s wife, so our lives are full and busy, but I’m learning to streamline.
The day I have chosen to share with you is a Thursday. It’s the same day of the week I shared last year, but it looks quite different. Each day in our home is different, but the common theme is staying home more and resting often.
This particular Thursday followed a few days of busyness:
Sunday was church morning and evening.
Monday held jury duty and grocery shopping.
Tuesday included Kettlebell classes, unloading the food co-op truck, and attending a ladies devotional in the evening.
Wednesday was piano lessons and Bible class. . .
By Thursday, I needed a quiet day.
I’ve found myself having one of these almost every week. I feel guilty some of the time, but I know it keeps me from going over the edge. So, I’m doing my best to go with it.
So, now that you have a little background, here is how my day went:
About 7:15 a.m., my eyes open. The house is still quiet, and I am grateful. We all stay up quite late on Wednesday evenings after Bible class and Thursdays has become something of a sleep-in day.
I slip out of bed and do a few stretches. I decide not to do a full blown workout routine because I don’t know how long I have before little children wake up. I plan to let them sleep as long as possible.
I pull out my Bible and read 2 Peter. It’s a short book and one I’m reading to help prepare for attending Ladies Bible study on Friday morning (we are studying some of the concepts presented in this book).
Since it’s still quiet, I decide to hop in the shower. I usually wait until the kids are up and my husband is teaching their math lessons before I make a break for the shower, but today I take a chance.
The house is still quiet once I’m finished, so I creep to the kitchen and see what I can do without waking anyone.
We live in a rather small home, so it’s pretty difficult to be in the main living area without rousing sleeping people.
I notice the kitchen is still messy because I ran out of steam last night, but I decide to leave the cleaning until the children are awake.
I pull out my laptop and check email and Facebook, and I then realize that I read the wrong book for our Bible study! It was supposed to be 1 Peter. Since things are going so well (for a change) I decide to read 1 Peter, and I manage to do so before the kids emerge.
As I finish reading, the sounds of waking children reach my ears and I hop up to start breakfast. We are having scrambled eggs and sausage today.
My three year old thinks that is a bad idea.
The wild rumpus begins.
Morning hugs, conversations, arguments, dishwasher unloading (by the 12 year old), and even a little gymnastics ensue as the breakfast is prepared. We all sit down to eat, and I realize it’s actually 9 a.m.! Talk about a late start. But we are in no hurry, so it’s good.
Breakfast is served on paper plates.
I read Psalm 1 to the the kids as I try to feed bites of sausage and egg to my three year old. Thankfully, she ends up eating most of her breakfast.
My husband enters the room and declares it is now time for math.
The kids have come to expect this, as it’s been the norm for about a year now. I am fully aware of the blessing it is to have my husband teach this subject! Math was the toughest subject for the kids and I to tackle, and I am grateful to him for relieving me of that duty. (Just in case you are wondering, I asked if he would take it over, explaining the difficulties I was facing, and he agreed.)
While my husband teaches math, I start a load of laundry and then work in the kitchen.
I smile as I overhear my daughter ask her dad why he has to make sound effects while explaining math concepts (I also wince when the kids complain about math being too hard. I do feel bad that my husband has to do this!).
After I clean up the dishes, I move to other kitchen work. Today that includes packing up roasted tomatoes for the freezer, starting a batch of Kale chips and soaking nuts for a grain-free granola.
My three year old helps.
I laugh about the fact that I use paper plates for breakfast, yet make roasted tomatoes, kale chips, and granola from scratch!
Since slowing down, I have reconnected with my love of cooking, and am finding much enjoyment in preparing food. I don’t enjoy it every day, but in general, I am finding a great sense of accomplishment and joy in making good food for my family.
Once math is over (which takes about an hour), I sit next to the piano and listen to my son practice. The three year old climbs onto my lap and I hold her and just breathe.
This is my view:
Next I do piano flashcards with my son and then get ready for my oldest daughter to practice.
I hop up to get some coffee first and then sit back in the rocking chair to listen.
This might sound peaceful, but in reality, there is a lot of reminding them to count out loud and discussion of why they need to practice a certain way. We have recently started lessons with new piano teachers, and it has been an adjustment.
After piano we have a little play time mixed in with some school reading and independent work. I check on school work and keep the laundry going.
Before long it’s time for lunch and my husband comes home to eat with us. It’s about 1 p.m.
We use paper plates again.
After lunch, I run out to the post office alone to mail something that’s been waiting for weeks. It feels good to get that done.
I come home and my husband goes back to work.
Believe it or not, I am feeling tired.
Yes, I am.
I head to bed to rest for about 30 minutes while the kids have quiet time.
After that we go outside for some sunshine. I push my three year old on the swing for at least 20 minutes and talk to the other two. We live in an extremely foggy area, so the sunshine feels wonderful (and the sand is warm on our feet). We stay outside a good, long while.
Next it’s time for some cleaning. No one is very excited about this idea.
I help my 12 year old do some de-cluttering. My son cleans his bedroom, and I run in there for a few minutes to help a little, too.
Once we weary of cleaning, I drive us to a safer part of town and we take a short walk then drive back home again.
I start a simple supper before hearing the doorbell. The kids jump up and down as the realize it’s their grandma! She has come to help tune my daughter’s violin before attending the small group study my husband (her son) is teaching tonight.
I sit down on the couch and throw a small beach ball back and forth with the younger kids while the oldest works with her grandma.
Once grandma leaves, the kids eat a quick dinner and start a movie (Toy Story 3).
I go and rest on my bed, with my laptop, while the three old sits beside me watching a show on the Kindle (she thought Toy Story 3 was too scary).
I research local naturopaths and text my sister to ask what she thinks. We chat back a forth for a while and I promise to call the naturopath the following day. I’ve done a lot of improving on my own, but I would like some extra help and to have my hormones and adrenals tested.
I get the kids to bed and my husband comes home from teaching. We watch a show together before heading to bed ourselves.
Even after all this rest, I feel exhausted and vow not to get up in the morning for my Kettlebells class.
But you know what? I woke up early for no reason, felt energized, and went to class.
I think my day of rest worked.
And truly, I’m finding myself blessed by illness. It’s been a very painful blessing. But one that helped me get back on track.
Great, interesting post Stacy! I pray that you recover fully and remember to take these breaks as often as possible—withOUT guilt.
I too have had to recently slow down a lot. My husband is preparing to lead the New Beginnings Ministry at our church and we have, even in these early stages, gotten a taste of what it is going to be like. Such blessing to be used of God in this way and to see promises manifested in our lives that were given so long ago. I have several health issues that have compounded and if I do not get adequate rest, they rear their ugly heads. Which can be frustrating for a get up and go gal like myself. I am not by nature someone who takes it easy..haha I am by nature a “cram as much as I can into one day” kind of gal. A planner and a mover. We have five children, four of whom I am homeschooling this year. Like you, I have been finding myself blessed by my physical limitations. When they first started presenting themselves I would break into tears of frustration daily as I tried to keep up with my “normal” routine. I begged God to take it away and to restore my former strength, but He reminded me of who I was before this even though I believed and am saved. (operating in my own strength and not His, relying on myself to live my life, not Him, ect.) I am always humbled by that comparison, and dare I say it… grateful that I have been forced to slow down. All that to say this…I can totally relate. My heart feels your right now and I am thankful that you chose to share this. I am edified, uplifted in Spirit, and ready to start my own day. Thank you. xo
Thank you for sharing your story; it was an encouragement to me. I had a very difficult fourth pregnancy which compromised my endocrine system, giving me gestational diabetes and thyroid problems. Now, two months post-partum, I feel MUCH better but your story was a reminder to me to rest and heal, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Gods blessings on you and your family 🙂
This article really surprised me by causing me to burst into tears when you brought up using paper plates for breakfast! I am a partially homeschooling mom of a three and a five-year old. I have also struggled with hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue. As someone who has many goals and ideals concerning parenting, household management, healthy eating, and spiritual growth but who also struggles with disorganization, it can often just feel like I’m failing at everything!! But when I read about your day I think, wow, what a success. Thank you for this reminder to take it slow and really focus on the truly important things. Thank you for giving yourself the grace that God has offered you. I really needed that perspective and inspiration today, and think many of us do!
Thank you for your sweet words, Julie. I know what you mean about having goals and ideals, yet feel like a failure much of the time. It’s hard to accept our limitations sometimes!
I love that me using paper plates was so meaningful to you 🙂 It’s a tool I use to help me get through. And it really does help me 🙂
GOOD for you to sit with your kiddos while they practice the piano! I taught piano before my son was born (and would love to do it again when it works out!), and it’s amazing how many kids are left to practice on their own. That rarely works. You don’t learn to play the piano in your lessons–you learn during the practice sessions. And most kids don’t naturally know how to practice effectively–practicing well is actually a learned skill 🙂 So keep that up, along with all the other great things you’re doing! 🙂 I loved reading this, that slower days–and seasons–are to be treasured and enjoyed. Thanks!
This post was such an inspiration to me!! Thank you for sharing. I homeschool my 11 year old daughter who has autism, my 8 year old son and my 4 year old daughter; this is our second year. I’ve always taken a laid back approach to pretty much everything so it was natural to apply that to homeschooling my kiddos. A lot of people don’t agree with the way I do things during the day but it works for us :o) I am usually up by 7 and I let the kids sleep until they are ready to wake up, most days around 8 am. Our first order of business every morning is spending time together. I love that time of day when they are fresh from sleep and ready to cuddle. I don’t watch the clock or have things timed, we just do what we have to do and the time takes care of itself lol. We get outside when the weather permits and unless there’s a doctor’s appointment or a special activity somewhere, we are home and I absolutely love it! I’m not sure why so many people think you have to be “out” doing things to be productive and have a full life. We have a full life here at home and anything outside is just an ‘addition’, I don’t allow those activities to dominate or rule our lives :o) I couldn’t do any of this without God and I give Him thanks for making it possible for me to be home with my children.
Wow I am amazed how much our lives sound similar. I am a homeschool mom of five, wife of a pastor. I hit bottom about 1 1/2 years ago. My lowest point was when I was unable to carry my (then) 9 month old son because of muscle fatigue. I have since learned that I was vitamin d deficient and been working on my own (with some success) to try to solve my physical issues since lab work and MRI results have not shown anything “abnormal”. I am thankful for a very helpful and understanding primary care physician but have considered checking in with a naturalpath as well. I have also learned that taking some down time is important (either I take one or it will take me) even though I feel lazy when I do. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, it has been an encouragement to me today.
Well, maybe I’m wrong, but it sounded like a perfectly busy day to me! There are no rest days with kiddos! We do more than we think! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your REAL day, Stacy. 🙂
I know, Jessica! That’s about as restful as I can get 🙂 It’s dramatically different to my non-resting days 🙂
Stacy, I swear that I was reading my life’s story I even sent this to a friend of mine who thought it WAS my story and I was having her proof it….that is my life or was one very similar to mine until recently. I have home schooled eight children, three older children, some who have children of their own and my 5 younger children……BUT, just recently after this year…..within the two weeks of Christmas, my husband suffered several heart attacks, my father died after battling cancer for a year, my mother suffered sudden death after being given ZPAC, but lived because of a defibrulator, and me anxiety and eventually pleurisy all with my dogs first litter of puppies…..this was a year of reckoning for us all and certainly ME, the caregiver of our family……thank God, for he himself bearing witness to my needs….and for making me pay attention to myself….because I don’t know how i would have made it.
I just made the commitment to put my kids, ages, 17,15,14 and 12 into public school, actually they want to go….maybe they sense I am in need…lol more than I did, again lol….it has been a fiasco….nonetheless…..paperwork galore…we don’t immunize, I home birth, the obvious home school stigma…..and the fact that we are as close to homesteaders as one can be in the city perimeters….well, I know you understand. However,,,this was essential for so…many reasons…however difficult it was for me to let go of what is best for my kids…I think God was trying to show me how to in fact, let go and let him take over…truthfully I don’t think I would have otherwise…and this I’m sure would have cost me my health and mental well-being as well as my families….I think he has other work for me now that I have done my first job well…time for the little seeds to take roots of their own…..I am very happy to hear you are in a better place….for everyone’s sake…..the whole worlds’ in fact, because without you….being healthy, the whole world at some point suffers, as within, so without…..thank you so…much for sharing….right there with you..sending much light, love and healing energy. <3
Thank you , Michelle. I appreciate your encouragement.
Your have sure been though a lot in a short amount of time. Life can be so hard sometimes!
I pray God’s blessings for you as you strive to do what is best for you and your family.
I loved your post. This is exactly what I would call a day of rest (with kids). There is no major striving. What a delight to see your whole day! I especially liked that you read to your kids while feeding one.
I’ve been reading several “mom” blogs for the past 14 months or so and burnout is a common theme throughout every single one of them. I have to say that I think too many moms are trying to do everything on their own. Our mothers and grandmothers didn’t. Even if extended family lived far away, which was unusual, there was community support b/c most moms still stayed at home. Kids could play outside all day with the neighborhood kids and no one worried about kidnappers or abuse from a neighbor. We don’t have those freedoms anymore. I just believe our view of how women of the past actually accomplished what they did is actually very skewed and completely unrealistic. Today us moms have to accompany our children everywhere. It’s a lot of stress and pressure that is new to our society. Remember this and also remember that we don’t have to do it all. Hooray for the paper plates! I am learning that as I transition to a new season of life, I have to let go of some of my ideals for the sake of my own health and for the protection of my family so I don’t hurt them with my stress.
Thank you so much for sharing your day. I have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, though ill with it for over a year. I can relate very well to what you are experiencing with adapting to a life that is far less demanding. It’s not an easy adaptation and I still struggle with all of the changes. Despite my own pain, exhaustion and insomnia, I do feel very strongly that it is a blessing.
Again, thank you for sharing.