A Hug for the Special Needs Homeschooler
Hello You! I see you. I see your tired and worried eyes. I see you struggling to meet their needs.
I know that you have days where you are consumed with research and ideas: how to do it better; or faster; be more accommodating; or create a better environment. I know that you have spent money you didn’t have and time that was meant for sleep to try to help these precious ones you were given. I know there are days when you feel beat down.
I want you to know that you are not alone. I know you because I am a special needs homeschooler, too.
EVERY parent I know feels overwhelmed by parenthood at times. There is validation in knowing that even the “best moms” have days where they raise their voices or have a good cry. Don’t feel bad, this path you are on is so hard.
You may have been given a little extra (or a lot) and I know that you love your little ones. I also know that you would take their pain away if you could, whatever that struggle may be. You are pouring into their little hearts, but sometimes that can leave you a little empty.
I want to give you a plan for those days. I want you to think of this as a hug. Doesn’t that feel better? Now let’s take a deep breath, and I want to tell you my action steps when I am feeling like I. JUST. CAN’T.
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Action Steps for the Special Needs Homeschooler
Be your own best friend.
Stop the negative self-talk. You are doing a great job. You are doing your best. We all have bad days. I want you to create a dialogue with yourself like you would with a friend. Lots of times, we would never talk to a friend the way we talk to ourselves.
Recognize that your child’s struggles are individual. Don’t compare them to other kids. Every person has special gifts. When we begin to worry about some made up benchmark like grade level, it can make us go crazy. My kid is incredibly gifted in empathy, but not so much in reading. Both of those are very valuable gifts. We left a broken system that doesn’t honor the whole person-don’t let that old standard control you (or your child)!
Put your oxygen mask on first.
You are only one person. You cannot be a wife, mother, multitude of therapists and teacher all the time. It will empty you quickly. The easiest way to remember to take care of yourself is to realize that if you go down the entire ship is sinking. If you have ever flown you understand this reference-put your oxygen mask on first. Figure out what refills your cup and do it on a regular basis. Meditation, Bible time, yoga, running, chocolate, watching movies-do whatever works for you.
Take a time out with your kids.
Stop the action. Don’t do anything hard when you are feeling overwhelmed. Recognize that feeling and do something non-academic with the kids – watch a movie or play a game or eat some ice cream or go for a walk or paint a picture. Play to their strengths (and yours). We all need time to celebrate our gifts, and this can be even more true when your gifts are not the ones celebrated in traditional classrooms.
Make time for friendships. Nothing shows you who your true friends are quite like parenthood. Make time for those people. Schedule it like a doctor’s appointment. Create an ongoing friend date night with a couple of back up dates if things come up. Once a month is a great schedule. A girlfriend and I instituted First Fridays where we meet the first Friday evening of each month. This kind of schedule is also easy to accommodate changes because you can just move it to the next Friday.
Join a support group either online or in person that has parents that are going through the same type of situation. You are not alone. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
There are lots of parents every year that decide to homeschool because their kiddo has special needs. It can be overwhelming at first, but don’t get discouraged because there is lots of support. Find a co-op or tutorial where your kiddo will be accepted and celebrated, as they are. Don’t feel like you have to do it all alone. Parenthood can be hard and every mom (or dad) needs some bucket fillers in their lives.
When I have the bad days (and they still come), I think of the tears and heartache from our few failed years of public school and know that, however poor a job I might think I am doing in that moment, it is way better than that environment was for their little souls.
When you have those bad days, I want you to know that I see you
and I think you are doing a great job.***HUGS***
I usually blog at The Learning Hypothesis so please feel free to join me there as well.