12 Nov 2014

When I began homeschooling in 1985, I was naively oblivious of the time commitment I was taking on—twenty years! But I immediately discovered that being a homeschool mom tends to be a full-time career. Our kids are always there, always needing something to be fixed, explained, picked up or cooked. Now, don’t get me wrong—there are amazing benefits to this job that money can’t begin to buy. But there are a few things that can make a real difference in whether you are able to finish what you have started. One of them is giving yourself permission to go off-duty at times.

For me, one of the lifesavers of homeschooling was the hour-long quiet time we had after lunch. Once the dirty dishes hit the sink, we would each go to our rooms to sit on our beds! (You’re dubious, right? But your wrigglers are no wigglier than mine, and you are already training them to sit for meals and church and car rides. We just took one more step.) As long as the activity was quiet, each of us could do what we liked. For some, it was the perfect time to build with Legos, for others, it was a treasured free reading time. For me, I could rest, read, chat on the phone or contemplate new thoughts over a cup of coffee—all by myself. If you can picture an oasis in the desert or see yourself in a Thomas Kinkade painting, you will know how much I valued this daily break.

Once a week I also had a time-out—an inexpensive date—with my husband, while a friend baby-sat. Sometimes we just walked and talked, other times we dined and discussed. It was refreshing, renewing and often exactly what was needed to give me much-needed perspective for the job.

And, for a time, I was scheduling a once-a-month visit at a lovely tea shop with a homeschooling friend. What insight and encouragement came from those times, when we would discover that, as moms, the problems we thought were unique weren’t all that unusual.

I know that nowadays, interaction with other homeschoolers is as close as your Internet connection. But the luxury of tea served in a china cup, with a precious friend to share it, and the mini-vacation aspect of a few hours away still makes it richer and more deeply refreshing than our daily face time with a computer screen.

We all remember the old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Because this is true—daily, weekly, monthly—taking time for restoration and renewal is time well spent. It will pay huge dividends for you and your family.

Diana Waring is the author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and History Revealed world history curriculum. Diana discovered years ago that the key to education is relationship. Diana started homeschooling in the early ’80s and homeschooled her children through high school. This experience provided her the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him, the creator of all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn. Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.