Our guest today, Bethany from BethanyIshee.com, talks honestly about what it’s like to homeschool with anxiety and how she finds balance.
People often have a misunderstanding of anxiety. We envision a hysterical woman overtaken by emotion that needs to breathe into a paper bag. Or perhaps it’s a man paralyzed by fear who can’t board the airplane.
Anxiety often translates to “fear” in our mind, sometimes we might envision “worry,” but usually we think that it has an identifiable source. People have anxiety for a reason, right?
Well, I’ve come to realize that isn’t always true. Yes, some people can have social anxiety or distress caused by some obvious reason, but anxiety can also present itself for no apparent reason at all.
Because you had to get up.
Or because you have to be somewhere.
Because everyone is being loud.
If you’ve never battled inexplicable anxiety or depression, this probably makes no sense to you. However, I know there are many of you shaking your head in agreement and understand what I’m saying.
Homeschooling with anxiety can be difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Just don’t be lured into believing that your anxiety exists because of homeschooling.
Is It Anxiety or Is It Depression?
Being a homeschool mom is a big responsibility. Even the most even-keeled, serene moms will have moments of doubt and be anxious over their decision to homeschool.
Surprisingly, I don’t find myself anxious about my decision to homeschool, but I still have anxiety.
For most of my life, I’ve considered myself as having many periods of mild depression. I’m also an introvert, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether I’m depressed or just need a break. The two can seem very similar.
However, I had a rough patch after the birth of my fifth child. My oldest was only 7, so there were a lot of little girls to care for. My doctor wanted to prescribe me medication, but I resisted.
Over time, it lessened, and within a few years I was getting back to my “normal.” I bet you can guess what happened next.
Yep, pregnant with number six. And to make it an even bigger surprise, it was a boy, and he was due three weeks after my 40th birthday.
After my precious little guy was born, what I labeled as depression came back with a vengeance. Since I had experienced a reprieve before getting pregnant, I knew I couldn’t continue to have a short fuse, nor the daily dread that I was experiencing.
So once I finished nursing, I agreed to medication. Of course, this decision isn’t for everyone, and many people will say you should find another way. And maybe you can, but I felt I had wasted too much time with my children fighting a losing battle with myself. Medication was worth a shot to have happier days with my family.
Fortunately, it helped. A low dose had a tremendous impact and allowed me to have great clarity about what I had been suffering.
Yes, I still have mild depression at times, but the real culprit is anxiety. How do I know this? I’m better able to recognize when I’m on the path of anxiety overtaking me, and just being aware helps me manage my emotions.
For me, anxiety feels very different than depression. Depression is feeling low and sluggish, anxiety is entirely different. For me anxiety is being:
- Overly excitable
- Short tempered
I know these traits sound like the typical mom. Aren’t we all angry, stressed, and overwhelmed? But they appear instantly and without reason.
So how do I cope with anxiety while also compounding it by homeschooling my children?
How to Homeschool With Anxiety
So how do you cope and find balance when you are homeschooling with anxiety?
It can be tough. Sometimes, the most appealing thought is for everyone to get on the bus and leave you with a day of peace. However, if you stop and think, you realize this isn’t the answer you’re looking for. Dealing with getting your children to school would bring an entirely different set of stressors.
Luckily, my anxiety has never originated from my decision to homeschool. Homeschooling is one area of my life where I feel confident and secure that I have made the correct decision. However, this doesn’t make the day-to-day any easier.
How do I deal with homeschooling on those difficult days?
Take a Break From the Routine
When I’m having a rough start to a day, the best thing to do is press the restart button and take a break from the routine. That can be as simple as watching a documentary rather than tackling math or heading to a museum rather than doing another load of laundry.
Reminding myself that I have this freedom allows me to see my life in a positive manner instead of focusing on all the things I feel I’m forced to do.
Accepting That It Won’t All Get Done
I don’t have a body double to take my place on the challenging days; there’s just me. So how do I handle days when I feel there is just too much to get done and I will never accomplish all I had hoped? Mostly, it’s accepting that life will go on, even if everything on my list isn’t complete.
One day’s accomplishments are just that, one day’s. If something is left incomplete, I can finish it another day. Yes, I work to accomplish my goals, but I also work hard not to berate myself for falling short some days.
Self-care has become an internet buzz word, which in some ways has made it harder to identify. We have visions of candles and massages, which sound nice but often lack a lasting impact. For me to feel as if I’m genuinely helping myself through self-care, it needs to last beyond crossing the threshold to come home.
For me, self-care must originate from knowing myself and what I need to thrive. It must help me to sustain the pace of the homeschool mom life.
Sometimes, my most significant act of self-care is saying no. There is a point when I need a break, so I take it without guilt. Just recently, we had two hectic weeks filled with appointments, classes, and getting together with friends.
As I looked at the calendar, I saw that the next week is relatively light and my act of self-care is to keep it that way. No additional get-togethers or functions will be added so I can take the time to relax at home and take care of neglected chores. It may include a bath and some tea, but the most important thing is that I’m taking control of my time.
Self-care has a different meaning for everyone, so find what energizes and restores you.
Anxiety Is Not a Disqualifier
Anxiety does not disqualify you from being a homeschooling mom. We all bring different strengths and challenges to this life, and our homeschools will reflect those differences.
The critical point is to discover what you need in order to gain control over your anxiety. Maybe it’s a schedule, or perhaps it’s relaxing in your homeschool demands. Perhaps it’s filling your time with commitments that make you feel successful, or maybe it’s taking the time you need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Whatever you need, it is possible to create a homeschooling life that will bring you enjoyment and keep anxiety at bay.
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Series
This is day 5 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here! Check out the rest of the series by clicking the banner below.
Bethany is the mom of six, always homeschooled children, who one day realized she’d lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between. While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.