This is a post by Mary Donellan, Pre-Grammar tutor in the Birmingham, AL Chapter. You can learn more about her at our Blog Contributors Page.
While it seems that nothing leaves you feeling warmer or fuzzier than the Christmas holidays, it also seems that nothing can leave you sicker or in more disarray than the dreary, wet and cold first few months of the new year.
My family rang in 2019 by being sick for well over a month straight, no matter how we tried to prevent the germs from re-circulating. Flu, colds, infections – the works. Plans got canceled, school was delayed, the TV took over . . . you know how it goes.
Even as we embrace the ups and downs of daily life at home, we all want some degree of order in our homes and daily routines. But when there are mountains of crumpled tissues, piles of towels to be washed or folded, not to mention a load of schoolwork to be caught up on . . . the entire home can feel wrapped in an atmosphere of struggle and even stress.
How can you avoid feeling overwhelmed and instead take easy, helpful steps to getting things back on track?
I was homeschooled from childhood through high school, and now that I’m getting married this summer, I’ve taken plenty of notes on how my mother and other mothers have put their homeschools into recovery mode after sickness strikes, in the hopes of applying them in my future family.
Here are five easy recovery strategies that may be of help to you!
- Tidy your surroundings
Usually, there’s nothing that prods us into a better frame of mind than a freshened space. Is there a room in your house that’s had an explosion in it since the plague struck? A carpet that could really use vacuuming? Is the cluttered kitchen table escalating your blood pressure every time you walk past it?
What area of your home affects you the most if it’s in disarray? What kind of mess makes you feel the most stressed or behind?
Any easy first step in the recovery process is to set aside half an hour to yourself so that you can put that place in order. Don’t worry if you feel behind in school or any other aspect of your daily routine. If there is a particular mess that’s bothering you, tackle it first so you can view the state of your homeschool with a refreshed mind.
- Get back into your daily routine one step at a time
It can be immensely tempting to try and fix everything at once. If the TV has taken over our daily routine (it happens to everyone!) while the sick kids are on the couch, and if sleeping hours have been extended far into the morning, we may want to snap our fingers and say, “That’s it! Our old routine starts in full force today, people!”
But remember that you and your kids are still recovering your energy. You may find it more helpful to make it simple and take it slow, by choosing just one or two daily events to bring back at a time.
Have family morning prayers fallen by the wayside? Try re-instating them first. A day or two later, add another event, such as chore time, or a firmer wake-up time, or whatever is important to you and the way you run your household.
By making a step-by-step plan for getting your family back to the normal daily routine, and stretching that plan across multiple days, you can make the process less of a splash of cold water and more of an achievable transition for you and your children.
- Choose one school subject to initially catch up on
Again, the strategy of “one thing at a time” may be helpful here.
As a mother, you intuitively know which subjects are low-maintenance and will be easy for your children to double up on or skip through to compensate for the “sick time.” You’ll also know which subjects are more vital and will require more effort to catch up in.
While there may be multiple subjects in which you’ll have to make up for lost time, try choosing the subject that will take the most legwork, and incorporate that first into your recovering school routine.
If you allow gradually catching up in that one subject to be the main goal for the first couple of days, you can then incorporate more of the easier subjects as everyone settles back into the household routine.
This way, your children’s rebuilding energy will be primarily focused on the largest “piled up” subject (to your peace of mind). Then, as their energy grows, you can accordingly expand what they are required to do in a day.
- Ensure elements of self-care are present in your day
One of the facts of life is that when children are sick, mothers dive into nursing mode. What a beautiful act of sacrificial love – regardless of how much or little the mom interiorly enjoys it!
However, once your children are on the mend, make sure that you’re getting back into the swing of caring for yourself. Whether it’s taking five minutes to put on makeup again in the mornings, eating at regular times, or getting up early enough to have “alone time” in prayer or with a book, ensure that you’re making a little self-care a priority again in your day. Your husband and children will thank you for it!
- Make sure your expectations are where they should be
In the end, you are schooling your children at home because you and your husband believe it’s the best thing for them. You love them and you desire a happy, healthy life for them on earth, and sainthood for them in heaven.
No matter how badly you feel things may have gone off the rails in your household . . . in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a catastrophe. You’ve just gotten your children through sickness. They have loving parents, a roof over their head, food, water, clothing – and education. You’re doing pretty good, all things considered!
Yes, by all means, pick up your schooling and strive towards a well-formed schedule again; but keep your expectations realistic and realize that the best thing you can ever do is take things one day at a time, live in the present moment, and love your family. Our Lord will help everything else fall into place!