I am a strong believer in the idea that life happens in seasons. And I freely admit that this past season has been a hectic, stressful, and busy one for me. I needed serious help, and I couldn’t seem to get it from my own family. Not because they refused to give it, but because we were all working at our limit of what we could do.
Let me explain: We opened up our second donut shop earlier this year, and now my husband and our eldest daughters work in both shops full time. They simply do not have the time or energy to help around the house that they have had in other seasons of our family’s life.
So I had to take a step back and re-evaluate our situation. Although my daughters could no longer be counted on to babysit at any time of the day or do extra household chores, they do help when they can and are both responsible for their own laundry and living quarters. They also help with the cooking quite a bit. My husband Jason can still be counted on to take our 8-year-old son Joel to activities, and our 3-year-old son Leif is starting to get to the age that he can often go along with “the guys” so that I have a break. However, I realized that this wasn’t going to be enough.
When our business expanded to two shops, we hired more employees — because that is what you do when you grow a business. At the same time, we had moved from a three-bedroom small home to a two-bedroom apartment, and then to a large four-bedroom house, all in the span of a couple of years. Then I lost the two helpers that I had at home (my eldest daughters) and gained an extra baby. With all of this growth and change, it was simply time to hire outside help.
If you are a harried homeschool mom realizing that you need more hands than are available, here are three questions you should ask yourself:
1. What can you pay to delegate?
I made some changes to save my sanity and keep the household running smoothly that involved hiring some extra hands to delegate a few essentials. I have a young lady that comes in once a week and cleans the bathrooms, floors, and kitchen. I have another young homeschooled teen girl that comes to our house once a week and plays with our youngest Leif so that I can get our business books caught up.
I also enrolled Leif in a Mother’s Day Out program. This was a tough one for me, but he has seriously been a 24/7 kind of toddler, and I found myself exhausted and not doing a very good job at keeping up with all of the other things I am responsible for when he was home full time. So I did the best thing I could for the whole family.
2. What can you “co-op” or share?
I know many homeschoolers live on one income and can’t always afford to hire outside help, however there are other ways to get the help you need. In the past, I have traded help with my sister. In fact, about a month ago we traded time at each other’s houses to help one another get organized and ready for school. Perhaps you can find a couple of families and work out an arrangement to help each other, whether it’s watching each other’s children to get work done or combining efforts to accomplish a project.
3. What can you let go of during this season?
Another aspect of changing seasons in our lives is that we might not be able to do everything we’ve always done in every season. For example, before I had Leif, we only had one donut shop and the girls were usually home, so I had a backyard garden — not a great one, but something. At that time, I also enjoyed crocheting afghans, scrapbooking, making jellies and salsas, and cooking from scratch. I even did once-a-month freezer cooking sometimes. The girls and I did a lot of crafts and hands-on projects in our homeschool. We also did many outside activities, such as piano lessons and gymnastics class. I was involved in more church activities as well. But that was then, and this is now.
Now, I have learned that new seasons mean that some things may have to be put aside for a time. My house isn’t always well decorated, the beds don’t get made regularly, dinner is sometimes frozen pizza or Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I have no social life to speak of. However, that is just the season that I am in — and I’m OK with that because I know from past experience that too soon, this season will be over as well. Someday I will have more time for those hobbies again and even new interests, but I will also look back nostalgically on this season that I thought was so tough in the moment and be thankful that I “gave up” some things to have quality time with my family.
So to all of the harried homeschool mamas out there: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s OK to go outside the box to find the help you need. Whether you can hire a few tasks out, delegate within your family, or “co-op” some childcare time or tasks with another family or friend, it’s OK to get help and save your sanity — and your family’s peace.
Also, don’t believe that you have to do it all, all the time. Some things can be put aside for the good of your family now, in this season. Ask the Lord to show you what’s most important for your family now. Down the road, you’ll be glad you did!
How is your family’s life “season” affecting your homeschooling? Do you find yourself wishing you had an extra set of hands all the time? Do these suggestions give you hope? What do you do to keep things running smoothly? Let us know in the comments below!