Whether or not you homeschool, or if you have 1 or 5 kids, the end of August/beginning of September typically gets busy. The lazy days of summer are ending and the crisp air brings with it a fresh motivation to get back into routine and cross things off our lists. School starts. Sports start. For many of us, this marks the true new year.
As I look at my own lists, I can’t help but feel a little nervous. The busyness looks, well, busy. We’re starting a new homeschool year with five children. We will have soccer, piano, gymnastics, and co-op this year. New curriculum, new extracurriculars. We are house hunting and it’s already beginning to take a toll on my emotional and mental space. (Hey HGTV House Hunters, can you guys just come and do the work for me please? That’d be great, thanks.) We have a major plumbing project (not a repair, just a project, thank goodness) set to start at our own house on…. (drum roll, please) the day I planned to start our homeschool year. (Talk about throwing a literal monkey wrench into my plans! hehe. Sorry. Had to.) I’ve also got an almost 2-year-old who is absolutely insistent on “using” the toilet. So I guess potty training is happening. New friends, new get togethers, new social calendars. It’s all wonderful stuff, really, but it can be overwhelming when it’s all at the same time. So here are some things I’m making a priority right now so I can combat the stress of it all and not feel overwhelmed.
- Staying in the Word. You’ve heard the adage that you can’t fill other people’s cups until yours is full first? While I appreciate the concept, the saying has always left me feeling a little… empty. I’m supposed to FILL my cup??? I have 5 kids to take care of! And then something in this morning’s devotion stuck with me. The author rejected this phrase and said that rather than worrying about making sure we’re full, we just need to make sure we’re constantly connected to the One who can pour His love and grace and mercy through us; like a vessel. I used to stress about getting enough Bible reading and prayer time to make myself “full”, as if that was actually possible. But really, as long as I’m grabbing hold of the True Source of love and grace without letting go, I can still dispel those things to the people around me. I stay connected by reading the Bible and my devotion on YouVersion while nursing, listening to Bible study podcasts, and through constant prayer.
- Staying connected to our “peeps.” Family, church family, close friends. Right now Randy and I have pulled back from almost all of our regular church responsibilities we used to have while we adjust to our growing family, homeschool co-op, and house hunting. We have a lot going on right now! But we know the value of staying plugged in, even when we don’t have to be there. And while we need to be protective of our family time and our calendar right now, we also have to be intentional about scheduling time with friends and family. We need our circle to lean on, keep each other accountable, relax with, pray with, and do life with! We’d be lost without them.
- Exercise. Seriously. For the past eight weeks I’ve been following a training program and consistently gone for a workout/run four days a week. And on my “off” days, I’m practicing pilates or intense stretching to keep my body limber. And in return, I feel so good. My mood is better in general (not that I don’t have my, ahem, moments), I feel stronger when I play with the kids, and I have satisfaction in knowing I’m taking time for me and it’s actually doing my body GOOD. Along with eating better, this is true self-care.
- Plan time for rest. Randy and I have scheduled date nights every Friday and there is very little that will get in the way of those. We need the time to romantically connect after the week and really relax. We eat what we’re in the mood for–either something delicious we cook together or order out–after the kids have gone to bed, and talk about anything and everything. But in addition, it’s important for me to know when my next “real break” is coming. We have a weekend away with friends coming up in a couple weeks. Hello, mini vacation! After that, I’ll be scheduling our first break from school and our next family getaways. Randy and I also try to get away for a night or two at least once every year. It’s such a great opportunity to recharge our marriage batteries, especially if we’re in the midst of an extra busy season!
- Limit social media. I find that during highly busy seasons, this can be pretty tricky. That’s because when we’re stressed or anxious or over-worked, it feels good to mindlessly scroll through Instagram or Facebook. But if I’m constantly doing that, it does nothing to improve my mood or lessen my stress. In fact, it actually limits the time I have to do the things I should be doing to wind-down (see previous four things listed).
So with that, while I work on limiting my time on IG and FB, I’ll also be signing off this blog for about a month. I need to focus on getting our homeschool underway and in rhythm and figuring out how to make our fall schedule work for us while we also do everything else! I’ll occasionally share some old posts about homeschooling on my other profiles as we kick off this season.
I can’t wait to share about what we’re doing in school this year. I’ve worked hard this summer weaving together multiple curricula and lining things up the way I want them and I’m seriously stoked about the upcoming school year. I’m approaching this year in a whole new way (for me) with a fresh mindset. I’ll likely be writing about that and how it’s going next.