Trying to balance it all!!

Asalaamu alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatahu

Tired parents please sit down!

Plop down….might be a 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.

MEALS

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 ziplock baggies 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 potroast 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, homeschool 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 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 it’s 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!

JUST BREATHE

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 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.

Organization and planning

When you plan out your day or schedule or week for that matter it really helps things run along a lot more smoothly. Planning and organizing time is VERY important as a Homeschooling, married, part time outside the  home working, class now and then taking, muslimah wife I have learned FIRST HAND, many times (sadly I’m hardheaded and take long to learn) the importance of cleaning up a little at a time and avoiding laziness and debt.

Many a times, due to neglect, forgetfulness or wastefulness I’ve forgotten to pay something only to have it cost me more later. Many a times due to laziness I’ve neglected to clean, or clean properly only to have extra work later. My grandmother used to tell me “El flojo trabaja doble”. Spanish for “The lazy one works double”…oh how true it is!! It’s far easier to pay a bill with no late fee, to do one load of laundry versus 3, to wipe up the stove then to scrub it off.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to supplicate: “O Allah! I seek refuge in You from sorrow and distress, and I seek refuge in You from disability and laziness.”  I’ve adopted this as one of my supplications in addition to better planning of my time InshaAllah.

Fulfillment of time commitments working and being at work on time, homeschooling at a good time my online islamic class in the morning. It’s VERY important to do these and not slack and these, and they go hand in hand with the aforementioned. Make sure you don’t overplan!

Write down EVERYTHING! You can either buy a schedule or use the computer to make one or use a notebook/day planner and write a simple schedule. It’s as easy as writing

  • salat at 5:50
  • prepare materials for the day
  • quiet time
  • food prep- wake up younger children
  • eat at 8
  • read at 8: 30
  • Quran at 9
  • Math at 10
  • break at 10:30, and so on and so forth…

Remember to keep the salah times and your families in mind when planning. This is just an example for you.
The trick is not to overwhelm yourself or the child.

Here are some tips from another homeschooling mom Ameerah R of habeebee homeschooling.

All that said there will be days, maybe even weeks for some of us-where things just don’t go as planned. Parenting, life or homeschooling no matter what gets this way sometimes. You can plan, you can try but some times it just doesn’t always work out. When this happens stop, take a break, make dua and re evaluate. Make sure you follow your instincts and your heart. You know yourself, your life and your children far better than any book, web site, plan or curriculum. You know how you feel, they feel, your lifestyle and values.

Talk to other homeschoolers, ask other sisters for tips and advice, do an internet search, read their blogs, read  parenting, Islamic, and homeschooling books, and ask questions to those who do or have done it. Do your research but try not to let others influence you negatively or too positively. I mean, positive is good, but don’t let someone make you feel like you are not doing enough, because they are over the top awesome. Evaluate why you want to do this. As I said take what you need and chuck the rest. Everything someone else does may not be the perfect fit for your lifestyle and family take what does work. Write down what you love, enjoy and how you all manage the day better. Take advantage of the Library and other homeschooling parents blogs!! Free resources and tips are THE BEST!! I look up what other people love and look for it as a free download online or at the library. Don’t let yourself get too down about others either. I’ve met many awesome parents, mashaa ‘Allaah, many awesome homeschoolers. They just seem so great, they’re all around awesome at it all!! They’re clean, their religion, their teaching, their children, their house, everything alhamdulillaah, seems perfect on the outside. But, not everyone is perfect, and Allaah knows best.

Last but not least enjoy the ride! These are the best years of your childs life. Have fun together. Learn together, grow together. Put your trust in Allah and yourself to work. Make plans, set goals, smile, pray, and do your best. Live like you want your child to remember you by and live. Be grateful, grateful for having a child or children some people never get the chance or are trying hard to right now. Make a prayer for them. Teach your child kindness to think, to be giving, to help those less fortunate and to be polite even when disagreeing. I end with this: What new thing did YOU learn today? We must remember to Teach our children everyday. Answer their questions, read a book, Learn Islam together! When you teach a topic you end up learning more about it than you thought you knew in the beginning! When you start using life, books, examples, websites, the Qu’ran, language, and flashcards to teach your child(ren) you’ll be surprised at how much more you will learn again as well.♥~Holly Garza

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