"Wow that's full on!" would be the most common response I would get when I explained our situation. Although it mostly felt like water on a ducks back, there were certainly times I questioned what my husband and I were doing.
This time last year I was detailing an itinerary, printing maps, packing snacks and getting ready for a road trip from Matakana to The Bluff, with three boys under 5. "Crazy!" some would say, but "Brave" was the most common response. For me, it was an escape... As a Pisces, a typical characteristic is to fantasize during times of stress. So when my husband said he had to fly to Stewart Island for two weeks for work, the thought of juggling preschool drop offs, a baby with severe eczema, broken sleep, and the never-ending domestic chores.. was stressful enough just thinking about it. Activate fantasy mode and I found myself planning a road trip around New Zealand just to get a way from it all. Bush walks, coastal roads, a new bed every couple of days, and no 8:30am drop offs! Life on the road was exciting, and it was a glimpse into what life as a homeschooling mum would look like... could I do it?
The drop offs got harder when Mr. 4.5yrs stopped enjoying his Montessori preschool as the "work was too hard" and that he just wants to play... So why not?! I was at home on maternity leave with Oscar, their Dad works nights and spends the morning at home - so why rush off in the morning to somewhere he didn't want to go? We decided to take both boys out of preschool at the start of 2023, and although dauting at the time, I was put at ease after connecting with the incredible homeschooling families in the area and listening to many (so many!) homeschooling podcasts, and reading as many books as I can find. We became very relaxed, the mornings were peaceful. There were no alarms or lunchboxes. We really got to understand our boys, their cues, needs and challenges.
However, as the year went on, I found myself having these expectations of what our homeschooling life would look like: practicing letters in the sand, building a shop and earning money, plenty baking and reading recipes etc etc... all completely perfect ways to learn reading and math, and I've got no doubt that whatever it was we did end up doing, there would certainly be learning involved. But that's just it. There was always something else we ended up doing. Our days were filled with 'doing' instead of 'being'. Mostly physical and social activities, that by the end of the day I was coming home exhausted and feeling like I was unable to keep up.
I actively searched for ways to stay balanced and equanimous throughout the challenging times. I switched the 5pm wine for a shot of calming herbal tonic, I jumped at any opportunity for a mini retreat at the tranquil Bali Garden, I worked on myself however I could... yoga (5mins with kids), the rare moment of meditation, sleep (broken), morning runs (mostly with kids). But it wasn't until the boy's grandparents recently came and stayed with us from Australia for nearly two months, that I realised, all we need as parents is time to ourself every now and then! (And I'm absolutely certain that ALL parents can agree, we all need that indeed.
So here I am (by my self), having time to write this undisturbed, while in between seeing clients, sitting amongst the peaceful Bali Garden. So what did I realised after one year of homeschooling three boys... that it's absolutely hard work, ha! But, how can we as a family continue our homeschooling journey, and our sanity at the same time - take some pressure off. Let go of expectations. Outsource (Thank you Wildly Curious!). Take that time to do the things you love doing... So instead of feeling exhausted at the end of the day and always on edge, counting down the hours until bedtime. Fill your cup during that time alone. Do what you LOVE doing, what fulfils you. Even if it's simply just 'being'.
Time is so valuable, and as a parent of young kids, (who they themselves are still working out how to manage their own emotions, and deal with challenges) it's crucial we as adults can be there for them. Be present with them. I am in no way perfect, and absolutely still practicing the art of parenting, but one thing is for sure... you can not pour from an empty cup.
So, whatever your situation - homeschool/school or road tripping the country, make the time in your busy schedule to take time for YOURSELF. Need help in ways to do this? This is exactly why I've opened up quick, acute consultations - 30mins for the busy parents (with or without kids in tow), who might just need a little herbal help to get some solid sleep, or a 5pm calm tonic to get through the rest of the evening rush. Lets chat about ways to get you back to doing the things you LOVE doing yourself. Click here and find your time, let ME fill YOUR cup.