Jan 28, 2012

Homeschooling: Trying to Balance it All - Part 1

by Holly Garza

Asalaamu alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatahu

Tired parents please sit down! Plop down....might be a little bit more like it though!

You are amazing. It’s very important to remember that. We all go through ups and downs occasionally. One of the advantages of the homeschooling lifestyle is that, more or less, we get to manage our days the way we choose. But sometimes through our choices we neglect ourselves. You have to make sure you aren’t trying to be super woman, super perfect and not compare yourself to an ideal of perfection that is unattainable.

MashaAllah life can get exhausting sometimes as a parent, as a muslimah parent even more so! I’m trying to be a parenting, homeschooling, wife, being Muslim and a part time outside the home employee and an on and off again student! This is not a complaint, just a reason, Al-Hamdulilah; a reason why I have some tips for running things a bit more smoother from time to time for myself and you if you’re interested in them.

A while back I posted a very short blog post on how to stick to or return to the basics here. This article can work hand-in-hand with that one or on it’s own. The thing with exhaustion, time flying past, burnout and all around bad days will happen, it is inevitable. The best way to deal with it is to try to prepare for it and avoid some of it. Just like you would take a raincoat and/or an umbrella when it might rain you prepare for busy, hectic, burnout days. I wish I could tell you it’s not because of homeschooling but I’d be lying. Some days, homeschooling does add a extra heap of stress. Quitting, giving up, and giving in though; will not ensure a stress free life. Days will get hard. This is this life we live here. The Qu’ran says “ 2. Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?” Make dua and make moves, plan for it, work for it and you will get through it.

Here are some helpful tips and some advice feel free to take what fits you and your family and chuck what doesn’t.

One of the ways that I’ve recently been taking advantage of my freezer and my Crockpot are to actually use them to help me. Both only put to semi use in the past are now being useful. The freezer helps me in that when I buy the meat and veggies I buy the bigger size or in bulk. I cook the meat and save half in the freezer. When I buy bell peppers I cut them up and use what I need saving the rest in a zip lock baggie in the freezer. Now, just like that, I have either chicken or hamburger meat and bell peppers saved for when I want to make a chicken dish half my work is done. If I’d like to make spaghetti, empanadas, tacos or any other dish necessitating ground beef I just pull it out and brown. Kitchen time cut in half!!

Another thing I have been doing is trying to use my crockpot for more than just the occasional beef pot-roast and beef or lamb ribs once a year. I’ve been making the occasional casserole a soup in there. It’s also a great tool for when you have big assignments, playgroups, home school meets and/or fieldtrips. Just prepare everything and put it in there and when you return it’s ready just take out and serve!

Accept help in the kitchen. Let your child cut (or tear if they are too young) lettuce. Let them wash the noodles, fruit and veggies. Let them hand you the eggs, bread, tortillas. Let them set the table as you talk to them about meal preparation or their assignments. Let them wash the table and their dish (or all the dishes) If you have a husband or in-laws around ask one of them to get the groceries for you, saving you an extra errand to run. Simplify life for yourself if you have frozen dough or a frozen pizza its okay to eat that sometimes too if it means sanity, peace of mind and time with your family!

Clean as you go, no really. This took me half of my life to start doing. Half of my life! That means I’d always have caked on food, tons of dishes and a HUGE mess to clean later or the next day...Not a good feeling to look at when you are the one who has to live there and/or clean it! I started washing off the dishes I used as I cooked. Throwing away wrappers. Saving the clean dishes as they dried it’s amazing how 2 or 3 little things make such a huge difference overall!

Things will get hectic. That cold virus will hit the house. That migraine will not go away, the deadline will lurk overhead. The amazing curriculum you checked out the library, downloaded or bought is not working for your family, doesn’t fit your values, or got boring. The kids have to leave and a shoe is missing......I’m telling you, MashaAllah I admire parents of multiple children! If you have 2 children or more mashaAllah, homeschooling or not, I respect you!

Some days you have to clean, do laundry, make the meals, referee the kids and homeschooling...well those books were somewhere around here, weren’t they? Here are some tips from Sister Umm Suhailah about homeschooling with morning sickness. I think these tips are helpful for burnout as well mashaAllah.

Remember to just stop if you need too. Put on that Islamic video on youtube or on that DVD. Go to that trusted internet website you trust and let them use it! Ask for help! Let a sister come over and help you with the babysitting or the dishes. If this is not an option for you. Ask your husband for help. Delegate responsibilities to older children and to your husband. For example, my husband helps with tajweed, Arabic and every now and then I ask him to help with whatever else might be needed.

Finally, if all else fails remember to just drop everything and try again later or tomorrow. It’s okay to slow down and pause. It’s okay to feel stressed and overworked- the real question is how are you going to let it affect you? Is it going to break you? Is it going to make you mean and snappy? InshaAllah patience and reliance on Allah and hard work is what we need to remember, screaming at our family or forcing all of us through a bad day just for kicks helps no one.

I'd love to hear from other homeschooling mothers out there. Please share your views in the comments section below!


Maasha'Allah very helpful info and I agree with it all. I most recently made myself feel guilty for feeling burnt out and taking nearly a whole week off to recuperate. Then I took a step back and realized that that was what we all needed and a refreshed set of learning minds is better than feeling like every day is drudgery. The kids told me as much in a round-about way and I'm so glad I listened.

I also recently learned the "clean as you go" technique. It's a beautiful thing and there's nothing better or more motivating to look upon a clean house that got that way by you just doing those little things that add up in the end. 10 min here, 15 min there...I always call it my gift to myself since sometimes I've forgotten I've done certain things out of habit and to happen upon it already done is bliss.

Jazaki Allaahu Khairan for this reminder. As a homeschooling mum, I have been through this before. Even before homeschooling my kids, I always felt stressed out. Stress is an attitude that many mums go through whether homeschooling or not.

I also try to wind down whenever things fall apart. It's not the end of the world if things don't go as planned. I ask for help and take care of myself with books, articles, and listening to lectures. If mum is grumpy, it will affect the entire family and the kids will somehow think that homeschooling makes one grumpy.

That said, kudos to all Muslim mums out there. Tarbiyah is not an easy job let alone tarbiyah plus homeschooling all the kids all day long. However, the time you spend with them will leave a lasting memory for every member of the family. Believe me. It's better, safer, and more nurturing to guide those innocent minds when their souls are still free from the fitan of this world.

May Allaah ease our affairs for us all, aameen.

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