20 Things to Keep Yourself, Your Household, and Your Homeschool Fresh and Inspired
We are a homeschooling family, so the kids are always with me. Always. I find I need to remember to take care of myself in this equation. With Mother’s Day just a couple days away this seemed like the perfect time to think about how we Moms can celebrate and take care of ourselves. This is a list of things we can do to pamper ourselves and keep things running smoothly. Some of these you can do in just 5 minutes, others take an afternoon. Some involve the kids, some don’t. Some thing involve actual pampering, some thing are listed just to make the household more harmonious. Hopefully you can find a few that you find appealing and that you can slip into your day and week. And if you have any great ideas please add to the discussion here or on my Facebook Page!
1. Find 15 minutes to exercise every day— Even a regular stretching routine will do wonders to keep your mind fresh, let alone all the benefits for your body. My exercise of choice is running. My hubby works long hours, so I can’t go outside for a run (not unless I go before 6am (NOT!) or after 8pm (uck)). We invested in a treadmill and while it’s not ideal, it takes care of my need to be active.
2. Go outside for 5 minutes — We all need sunshine. We all need to breathe in the fresh air. Bring your kids outside or just weed the garden for a few minutes of peace. Pick a bouquet of flowers to set on your dining room table.
3. Keep a Notebook — We all get great ideas. Jot them down in one notebook. I have a running list of the activities/experiments we’ll be doing in the next week, month and semester. I have long term lists of units the kids have expressed interest in. I have a list of summer-time outdoor activities. I have a list of blog-posts I’d like to write. I even have a list of our favorite family meals. My notebook really helps me keep track of these ideas and keep on top of things.
4. Mom’s Day/Night Out — Get together with friends once a month and go have a coffee, go bowling or go to the movie. Plan a trip to the spa with a good friend. Nurture your friendships.
5. Set the timer for five minutes and tackle a “hot spot” — Sort that mail pile; put away the big pile of stuff you dropped by the front door. It makes me feel so great to tackle small things during my day. You can get a lot done in just five minutes. The Flylady has lots more fantastic tips for those of us who need to keep on top of the run-away house!
6. Stop and Read — If homeschooling or life in general is feeling overwhelming stop everything, cuddle together on the couch and read a book to the kids. While it doesn’t sound like Mom pampering, I sure love those moments when I just stop and snuggle with the kids. When the kids are arguing or are at wits ends with one another, I often start to read to one. Most of the time all four of us wind up piled together on the couch.
7. Listen to a podcast and put away the laundry — I recently found a podcast I enjoy on i-Tunes called The Simple Mom Podcast. A couple of Tsh’s episodes in April include “Doing it All” and “Reasons to Homeschool.” A listen to the two Manic Mommies makes me feel like two buddies are over while I’m doing chores. I also love the Nutrition Diva‘s quick and dirty tips for feeling well and looking fabulous. Just five minutes of nutrition tips with quick explanations like what is homogenized milk or chocolate vs. carob. And I always love browsing through the selection of homeschool podcasts over at iTunes as well. Turn on your favorite show or music and get a quick task checked off your to-do list.
8. What’s for dinner? Planning your meals ahead saves time and money not to mention the stress you avoid. There are a whole lot of menu planners at Donna Young to choose from. (Not to mention all kinds of other calendars, homeschool planners, etc.) Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler does a monthly menu that she shares with her readers. And if you’re not quite that organized then just make sure you think about dinner first thing in the morning. Plan out what you’re going to have and when you are going to make it! Again, it doesn’t sound like pampering, but it really keeps your stress levels down in the busy evenings if you have things planned out. Make sure you have three or four fast food menus planned. I have two nights when I drop one child at one end of town, race off to drop off the other child, etc. I have a couple easy meals in my fast food arsenal — and serve my kids these meals in the car on the go. Our current fast food favorite is salmon, fresh bread with cream cheese, veggies and fruit because it takes a TOTAL of 20 minutes to make and pack up. With the salmon on the cream cheese/bread it doesn’t make a mess — and it’s better than a burger on the run. Shrimp is just as easy — it cooks in five minutes and is a relatively mess-free food for the car. Figuring out those fast food meals ahead of time is better for your health and better on your wallet!
9. Talk to a friend — Give a friend a quick call; write an instant message. Call your spouse. Step away from the kids and have an adult moment!
10. Creative Outlets — Try to find something you can do that doesn’t involve the kids. Join a choir. Make a quilt. Do a cross stitch. Scapbook. Upload a few pictures to something like Shutterfly and make a quick photo book of your kids. While I was recovering from my recent surgery I realized that ED didn’t have a babybook. I uploaded pictures and made her a short photo book including pictures of her at her birth, her 1st, 2nd, 3rd birthday; 1st, 2nd, 3rd Christmases, etc. She has been reading it every day! My favorite outlet? Wielding a chain saw and adding to our wood pile. (We use our wood stove throughout the fall, winter and spring. Adding to the wood pile makes me feel good! Whatever it is, try to find something that you can do for yourself.
11. Volunteer — I have heard people rave about how great it feels to volunteer. We haven’t yet made the time, but the kids and I plan to help sort food at a local food pantry. (One of my best friends has been doing it with her kids all year.) It’ll just be a couple hours every fortnight, but I’d like the kids to feel a sense of commitment to their community. Other places you could volunteer: a teen shelter, a women’s shelter, the local animal shelter. If your kids are not old enough to help out perhaps your spouse can watch the kids while you volunteer every now and then. Anyway, I add that to a list about pampering yourself because it’s so important to feel connection to others outside the home especially if your world is dominated by kids.
12. Join a yahoo group — Find inspiration and support from others. There are lots of yahoo groups where you can find like-minded people. Just enter the topic you’re interested in — Montessori preschool, the Well Trained Mind, Charlotte Mason, workboxes or even homeschooling in your local area to find a pool of people who share great advice, ideas, and events among themselves.
13. Trade child care or play dates — Arrange for a friend’s children to come over, then have them take yours for a couple of hours another day. The kids are happy because they are playing with their friends; you get a couple of hours to yourself!
14. Trade meals with a friend — You know how when someone’s sick, has a baby or has surgery people step in a bring a casserole. Well, it does wonders to trade a meal with a friend once every couple weeks (even once a month). My friend, Melissa, and I traded meals for nearly a year when our boys were little. I would make an entire meal for her family and bring it over to them. She would do the same for us. We did this every other week or so. I can’t tell you how exciting it was not to have to cook and to add in a few new meals to my repertoire. It was easy, cheap and a better alternative to fast food. If you have a good friend nearby you might want to give it a try!
15. Quiet Time — Have the kids all go into their rooms for quiet reading or play time. Make a cup of tea or coffee and spend fifteen minutes to yourself.
16. Find regular events to attend — Lots of museums have homeschool days and events you can attend. We have loved the children’s plays put on by Theaterworks USA. They have shows in 44 states around the country and put on plays such as Charlotte’s Web, Seussical, Click Clack Moo and more (for grades K-5 or so, but I brought ED when she was 3). Again, I find that having regular things to attend really helps keep our homeschool fresh. I’ve also heard great things about attending homeschool conferences. I haven’t ever attended one, but I’ve heard it’s a great way to make you feel inspired about your homeschooling.
17. Plan a spontaneous field trip — If someone’s especially cranky (even just you) you might want to head out for a couple of hours. Go to the library, the playground, the local nature center, find a new park and go hiking. Go to a local historical spot you’ve never been to. It sure can boost everyone’s mood to get out of the house.
18. Have your spouse take the kids out for an afternoon while you spend time (doing something other than cleaning!).
19. Have a meal by candle light — Make your dinner extra special by turning off the lights and lighting candles. Hide a smiley face under someone’s plate and have everyone take turns saying something nice about that member of your family.
20. Plan an ‘In-House’ Date with your spouse — Turn off the T.V. and laptop and just spend quality time doing something with your spouse you don’t normally do. Bring out a board game. Open a bottle of wine. Get an indulgent piece of cake to have dessert after the kids are in bed. Light candles and just talk (but not about the kids!).
What do you do to pamper yourself? How do you keep your household or homeschooling fresh and inspired? I’d love to hear your ideas!