The holiday creep has started. Santa is in the mall ringing his bell, and radio stations are playing Christmas carols. The pressure is on, and through all of this you still have a house full of kids who are expecting to eat, wear clean clothes, be somewhat educated, and for mom to hand-make everything, pipe Duchess Potatoes …and you are supposed to do this with with style and ease. Perhaps in kitten heels. At least that’s what society tells you. And it’s not even Thanksgiving as I write this.
The pressure is hard enough as it is, but for some reason, to a homeschooler, it can be utterly excruciating, even to the point of ruining your holiday and leaving you in a hot pile of burnout. I started planning out my next few weeks and almost had an anxiety attack at all of the concerts, recitals, pot-lucks, and cocktail parties I have to go to. Yes, have to. These are my kids, they are important to me, they have been working hard and I will go and clap. I will meet my neighbors, who are throwing a party for the noobs in the neighborhood, because I want to invest that time into knowing the people I live next to. On top of all of that, I have two kid birthdays before Christmas.
I’m an INFJ. Now, those of you who know what that is will see precisely where I am going with this.
See that “I” as in the first part of INFJ? That stands for introvert. I am extremely introverted. I have to psyche myself up into walking out my door on a good day, let alone a day where I have to make lots of small talk with strangers and actually wear kitten heels. I have one obligation outside of my house this year, and even though it is only one hour a week, it still greatly weighs on me and takes some preparation on my part.
What that also means is that in these next few months, if I don’t want to land in January (where I have four more kids’ birthdays) cursing the day I was born, I am going to have to seriously look at my obligations, and prioritize. See, being an introvert also means that my own people, this fruit basket of my own loins, are extremely draining to me. I am with them all day, almost every day, and with very little time to myself. They all talk, which I love, but even talking with people you love is draining. They make noises I’m not fond of. There are instruments that are loudly practiced, dogs running around, a parrot who is sassy, and I cannot go lock myself in a room because this, all of this, is my responsibility. As it is, most of my free time is spent in prepping for the next day’s lessons, cooking, and cleaning or taking care of the animals. (Yes, my kids do chores, a lot of them. We are a horde.) So I mean draining not in a bad way, or a regretful way, but in a way that I need to prepare and take account for if I’m not going to be all cranky and sullen teaching them each and every day. They don’t deserve to have a sullen and cranky teacher and mother. I signed up for them; they didn’t sign up for me. With some self-discipline I can prevent any foul moods that can occur because of too much pressure that I’m putting on myself, or letting others put on me. Meaning, I need to know myself. I need to make sure I’m always on full so I can pour out.
I’m also a Highly Sensitive Person. Go ahead and take the test. I got 23/27. Now, I don’t tell you this stuff so we can all wear spechul snowflayke crowns. I wish I knew this stuff about myself before. I would have saved myself a lot of anger, resentment and tears if someone would have told me that I (
should not have gotten a cockatoo when I had three toddlers, an infant, and two dogs) need to adapt my surroundings and my priorities so that I can give the very best of myself to those who are most important to me. And let’s be honest, it seems that everything is pulling on you out in the world.
It’s not selfish to work your life so that you can be the best at what you have to do. I mean, if I had a career outside the home, wouldn’t it be expected that I be the best I could be and fix my environment in a way that made me the most productive for that job? Why is it that when we are homeschool moms, curating our environment sounds like some sort of luxury for the spoiled? We all need systems that work for us, and homeschooling moms need that just as much as anyone else. I need it if they all want me to be sane.
It’s not selfish to find out who you are, and to make your environment and expectations reflect that. It’s a kindness to the people you are raising and those who love you and live with you. It’s a first step in being the best version of yourself so that you have the best of you to give, not the dried out leftovers.
So make it work for you. Write down what is most important to you in these next few months. Even if it is making stockings, or concerts, or baking cookies, block it in. The important stuff doesn’t happen on its own. If you’re like me, the day after you have something outside of the house, you’ll need three days inside the house to work yourself back to normal. Block that in. Save your Yes for the most important things.
Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.