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When I first had kids, I did not understand the importance of self-care. Quite the opposite. I sort of fell into a school of parenting thought that told me I wasn’t allowed to take care of myself, that my kids should come first always, that taking care of myself was selfish and that I should just suck up the ways that I was drowning.
I lived with these really toxic ideas for a long time. I lived with feeling like I needed to be a martyr for my children. That motherhood was just a thing I had to let all consume me. But this was damaging to me – and also damaging to my children. It led me to rely on them too much for my self-worth and that led me to put a lot of pressure on their behavior and their success. If your children define your self-worth in that way, then it’s easy to feel the need to make them perfect because you’re worried if they’re not perfect, you’ve failed at your job.
But friends, that is not the case. Things do not have to be this way. There is a better way. You can learn to take care of yourself. You can learn that you are a valuable person because you are a human being, made in the image of God. That’s it. Full stop. Your children do not define you – their failures, their successes, their lives – they are not meant to be where you find your self-worth.
And if you are a valuable person just for being a person, then you can take care of yourself like it too. I believe strongly in caring for those around me – not just my family, but the people who are a part of my community too. However, this doesn’t mean that I should treat myself like I’m worthless, that I only deserve scraps and leftovers. And the same goes for you. You are a beautiful and wonderful human being.
Recently, I spoke at the Digital Homeschool Convention and part of the talk I gave was about Mother Culture. I realized afterwards that I accidentally attributed this to Charlotte Mason because it is a big part of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, but the term Mother Culture, I have since learned, was coined by Karen Andreola, who was involved in popularizing Charlotte Mason for homeschooling. It does though fit with what Charlotte Mason talked about.
The idea of Mother Culture is this – that you, as a mom, are valuable. And that you should find time to grow yourself. That you should read and have hobbies and interests that are more than just your children. And I support this whole heartedly. I think children benefit from seeing that their mother is more than just their mom. That she is a whole person with her own unique interests, ideas, and abilities. And most of all, I think moms benefit from seeing themselves as whole people.
So I wanted to write this post to talk about what self care looks like for homeschool moms – and I made some pretty visuals to go along with this. So starting at the beginning, make a commitment to take care of yourself. Make it a priority! It’s easy to think, I’ll take care of myself later. Especially in a time like now when taking care of yourself seems so challenging and overwhelming. But make it a real priority and you will see the benefits.
Making sure you are eating and drinking enough might sound silly – you might be thinking of course everyone does that! But I’ve met a number of homeschooling moms whose lunch is just whatever is leftover from their kids’ lunch. I’m not here to give you diet advice, because that is neither my realm nor my style (and a few days ago, my kids ate cheesecake with their breakfast haha) . However, I do want to say that it is so important to make sure you are eating enough quality food and drinking enough water that you are getting what your body needs. When you are not eating and drinking enough, it’s easy to feel sluggish and easily irritated with your kids and the other people around you. In contrast, when you are eating and drinking enough, you will not only feel better, but you will be able to be a better mom because hunger and thirst won’t be effecting your moods and responses.
When you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or like you just can’t take it anymore, take a moment to step away. If your kids are really little, make sure they are in a safe place, and then just find a place in your house where you can be alone for a moment. If you need to put on a tv show for your kids so you can do this, that is okay. If every day feels overwhelming, plan in advance to have a breather. Make a quiet time a part of your daily routine. Just make some white space for your life. And if you are a Christian like I am, plan some Bible study time as well. Learn to really be still in the Lord. Being still is not always easy and it’s certainly a skill I’m still working on every day myself.
Part of the Mother Culture that I talked about above is planning time for you to grow as a person. Read books, bake fancy things, draw, fix motorcycles, garden – whatever your hobby is, whatever it is that brings you joy and a sense of accomplishment, make time for that. Plan it into your schedule. Even if you look at your schedule and think, well, I can plan to do it for 10 minutes this week, that 10 minutes is more than nothing. 10 minutes of working on those things you care about repeatedly will add up. But do make the time to cultivate your personal skills and abilities beyond just motherhood.
Lastly, know that you will have bad days. We all have bad days. We all have those days where we are not the kind of person and mother we want to be. In fact, I had one just earlier this week. But we are more than our bad days. Bad days are just a result of the world we live in. But that is not you. You are more.
Everything I’ve had to say can be summed up, in this one last image:
Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. It’s such a cliche, but if you wouldn’t treat a friend that way or if you would be concerned if a friend was treating herself the way you are treating yourself, don’t treat yourself that way. It’s not a complicated way of looking at things, but it can take some time to wrap your head around, especially when we have so many messages around us telling us how inadequate we are.
What was your favorite picture saying? Which one was the most helpful for you?
P.S. All of these images will be posted to my Facebook as well for easy sharing! Give me a like while you’re over there to stay updated on posts and helpful learning ideas!