5 Tips to Finding Rest in Your Homeschool Day

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Homeschool.  You wanna talk about a word that invokes strong emotion and opinion?  When I told those around me that I was walking away from my successful career in banking (that I adored) to homeschool my kiddos, most fell into one of two camps:  those who believed whole heartedly in the institution, and those who thought we were ruining our children by ordaining them to be social pariahs!

In a life twist that surprised no one more than myself, I found that I was in a post-COVID world considering the one place I never thought I’d go: HOME!! 

As you would expect, the transition from the corporate world and public school was an interesting one.  I had in my mind what I thought homeschool should look like and we killed ourselves to make it happen.  By Christmas break, we were all a pack of stressed-out zombies.

So then, how are you supposed to find rest for both you and your kiddos in the midst of a long homeschool day?

1. Give God the priority He deserves in your day.

This is something that I feel gets bumped more often than not.  For some reason we tend to take God for granted, and we disregard the things He is waiting to teach us. 

Maybe for you that’s because you schedule everything else first and try to squeeze Him in last, or maybe sitting still to study or pray is a hard thing for you to do, or maybe you don’t know Him and don’t see the importance.  Whatever your reason, I ask you to reconsider.

Re-Prioritize

I had a hard time with this at first.  When I quit my job, I had a pre-existing routine to exercise each morning (this, in itself, was an amazing feat and a whole other story that we’ll get to at another time), but when I tried to also fit in a quiet time with the Lord, I found that I was either too hot, sweaty, and distracted to focus my attention, or I was cutting it short to make time for my bike.  For me, I chose to give up my exercise routine.  I know, I know, exercise and taking care of my body are important, but for now I feel that taking care of my relationship with Jesus exceeds even that.

Find Rest and Peace while Teaching

Do Something

Beginning your day grounded in His word will set a tone for rest that cannot be recreated.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like, everyone is different.  What matters, is that you’re telling Him that He is number one.  For some, a quick and easy devotional on a Bible app such as You Version, She Reads Truth, or the Daily Grace Co will work perfect.  For others, a slower paced study is what is preferred.  My Prayer and Study Journals contain a few different options for self-directed study if you feel that’s more your jam.

Regardless of what you choose to do, doing something is better than doing nothing.  By allowing Him to speak truth into your life on a daily basis, you will find that you’ll begin to learn how to have more patience with your family, how to love others well, and how to practice peace throughout your day.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

2. Create a learning environment that speaks peace to you.

When I first transitioned from the office to homeschool life, I felt that I had something to prove. My alarm had previously been set at 4:45 in the morning and, for whatever reason, I thought it would be beneficial to maintain that routine. 

We set our daily start time for 8 a.m. at the kitchen table, where we would stay until we finished our day.  It didn’t take long before we were grouchy, whiny, and exhausted.  We all hated homeschool and I didn’t see the joy that so many others had talked about.

Dig Deep

In her book, Teaching From Rest(Affiliate Link), Sarah Mackenzie says, “There are a lot of things we can’t control in parenting and homeschooling, but one thing we can do is shape the environment.”  She goes on to encourage readers to pick a few words or key phrases that they would want their children to use 20 years in the future to describe their homeschool experience.  Her recommendation was to then create an environment to invoke those words or feelings.

As I pondered this, some of the words that came to mind were:

Warm, Loving, Relational, Honest, Beautiful

But how would I put those words into action?  I realized right away that our current description would contain words like cold, sterile, regimented, and scheduled.  Ouch!

Find Rest, Homeschool

Out with the old, in with the new!

Right away, I realized that we didn’t need to fit into some sort of weird homeschool box that I had created in my head.  I had nothing to prove by maintaining the corporate schedule and environment that I had insisted upon.  I threw out my alarm clock and let my body dictate what it needed, and I pushed back our morning to give each of us time to relax a bit before jumping into the day.

Our biggest change was to start each day in the living room, on the couch, cuddled up with blankets and hot chocolate!  This is where we now spend our mornings as we read through the day’s curriculum.  The softer, more comfortable setting encourages so many great conversations and puts everyone immediately at ease.  We also take a longer break in between our reading time and our workbook time in the afternoon.  This gives me a chance to get things done and the kids a chance to expend some energy!!

Don’t be afraid to change it up!  The truth is, you are homeschooling because the traditional school environment doesn’t work for your family for one reason or another.  These are the things that worked for me, but find what works for you!  You may have to experiment here and there until you figure out what is best in your home.  And you may have to figure it out again in a few years!  But that’s okay.  The point is to incorporate what brings you peace.  If you feel rested, your children will benefit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.

John 14:26-27a

3. Consider your own strengths when choosing a curriculum.

Man, when I started out I did so much research to find the perfect curriculum for my kids.  I wanted to meet each one where they were at, and teach them in a way that spoke to their learning style.  But boy did I choose wrong!!!  A third of the way through the homeschool year, I had to scrap it all and invest in a whole new curriculum.

What did I do wrong?  I focused all of my curriculum-choosing attention on who I thought they were, completely ignoring who I was!  I was forgetting that I am not a multi-tasker (*gasp* I know, it’s taboo for a woman to admit this in our fast-paced culture), I don’t do arts and crafts, or honestly any activity where real effort is required (again, I know I’m not supposed to admit this, but there it is).  So then, what am I good at?  I am a reader, I am efficient and strategic, and I am relational. 

Where do you shine?

So then, I chose a curriculum that played to my strengths.  We read.  A lot.  We read engaging, attention grabbing, conversation starting books for history, geography, Bible, science, and the fine arts.  I introduce the classics wherever I can, as well as biographies and the occasional fun book (our favorites this year have been The Green Ember and Wingfeather).  And we talk about what we’ve read, often going off in tangents that I could never have scheduled intentionally.

All I need to do, is to create a strong foundation of learning at home, and then lean on those in the community to plan and schedule the extra activities that I am not good at.

I am no longer drained, trying to mold myself into who I thought I needed to be for them.  I am who I need to be already.  God created me already knowing that I would be teaching Austyn and Banning.  He created me with the perfect teaching strengths to meet their learning needs.  I only need to show up.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10
How to find rest in your homeschool day

4. Identify your personal needs and don’t ignore them!

It’s easy for any mom, working or not, to forget to prioritize herself.  I found quickly after leaving my job, that there were many needs that I had that were being met through my career.

An Escape

One big one (this one was actually really, really big for me) was that in my office at work, I had a quiet, safe space.  A refuge away from all the stresses of the outside world.  At any moment when feeling overwhelmed or distracted, I could get up, walk over, and shut my office door.  And I would be immediately enveloped in peace.

Losing this was not something I considered when I gave my notice.  It only took a few short months of trying to find peace while sitting in my living room with my kids shooting nerf guns over my head, screaming at the top of their lungs before I realized that something needed to change.

Find Rest and Peace while teaching at home

I immediately set myself to the task of determining which piece of my bedroom furniture I could sell in order to buy what I now call “my nest”. It is the most comfortable chair that allows me to curl up and find solitude deep within my bedroom (with the door firmly closed of course).

Creativity

My second need that I had no idea I was fulfilling within the boundaries of my job description, was my need for a creative outlet.  I have made so many banking forms and processes over my almost two-decade career, that it feels weird now to not have some of those coveted programs at home.

But this year, I’ve discovered Canva…….and Etsy!!  I’ve been able to combine my passion for reaching women with my skills on the computer.  I had never considered myself to be a creative person, but oh how I was wrong!! 

Whatever your own personal needs are, they are important.  Identify them, and find a way to give back to yourself and to your own mental health.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.

Psalm 127:2

5. Invest in a support system.

This one is so important.  I was lucky enough to already exist in a community of homeschooling moms.  In fact, I was the only public schooling mom in the group!  When I broke the news that we were planning on joining the club, I was enriched with a bouquet of advice and lessons already learned. 

Finding rest in my homeschool day has been a work in progress.  As my children grow and change, so do I.  I’m finding that my needs are different than when we started, and so rest looks different.  But as I keep my gaze fixed on the Lord, He will continue to teach and guide me in this area. 

And He will do the same for you!!

As I’ve found my way, my friends have been there to pray with me and encourage me.  Their kids are the iron that sharpens my kids’ iron.  Because of the shared lifestyle choice, relationships have had the freedom to go deeper than those who have chosen different paths.

Find your pack

If you do not already have a homeschooling community that you are apart of, please do not waste time in this area.  I understand that making new friends is hard (worse than dating in some instances).  I am an extreme introvert, small talk and vulnerability is hard for me in group settings.  But the reward is worth the risk.

Look up homeschooling groups in your area.  We have more than a few groups in our town, and our population is only at 14,000.  Churches often have a young mom’s group that might work as well.  The kids in our group are not so young anymore, and yet we keep on meeting.  Homeschool co-ops are also an option in some towns.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Find Rest, Homeschool

Finding rest in my homeschool day has been a work in progress.  As my children grow and change, so do I.  I’m finding that my needs are different than when we started, and so rest looks different.  But as I keep my gaze fixed on the Lord, He will continue to teach and guide me in this area.  

And He will do the same for you!!

For more information on who God is, and what He could mean for your life, please see the blog post, Why is Jesus Important?  Please know that I’ll be praying for you as you embark on this crucial journey!

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