I’ve written before that the greatest challenge I face as a homeschooler is my own introversion. So when people say “I can’t homeschool because I’m an introvert,” I understand. When people say they would go nuts if they had to be around their children all day, I know that they probably aren’t exaggerating. They really feel that way. It has nothing to do with not loving your children enough.
It’s about your own personal sanity.
I totally get it.
But introverts can successfully homeschool with some strategizing.
The Need for Time Alone
Introverts face their own set of challenges when homeschooling. The advantage is knowing ahead of time what the main issue is: You need time alone to recharge.
Note that time alone is a need, not a want. Time alone for an introvert is not a luxury. It’s really not an option. It is something you have to have in order to be healthy. In order to stay sane. If you have any lingering doubts about the legitimate, hardwired needs of introverts, please get Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Over the years I’ve
brainstormed schemed ways to get a break. (Granted I only have one child so my take on this might vary compared to the mom of many children.) In addition, your needed break level might vary from mine. For example, some introverted moms talk about the afternoon quiet time in their home. I’m glad that works for them. I have never found that to work. I need time ALONE, not quiet time. Every time I’m interrupted, it disrupts my recharging. (Yes, I am super high on the introversion end of the spectrum.) So when I’m strategizing for time alone to recharge, I’m looking for true time alone.
Here are a number of ways to carve out introvert time during your week.
Enroll Your Child in a Drop-off Homeschool Co-op
There are different kinds of homeschool coops. If you are fortunate to have one where you can enroll your child for a couple of classes and drop her off, do it. You will have a couple hours every week when you know you will get a break. Use that time to be alone in a way that meets your needs. If you need to read a book and get coffee, do it. If you like to be alone with your thoughts while cleaning the house undisturbed, do it. If you want to enjoy a hobby and music, do it. Don’t use the time on activities that drain you. Look at it as a time of personal and professional development each week. If you are healthy, you will be a better mom and homeschooler.
Trade Off Childcare
If you have a friend nearby who will trade off child care with you once a week, this can be a great solution. You take her children for a few hours one day and she takes your another day. You’ll have a noisy house to deal with one day a week, but you’ll also get time to yourself to look forward to.
Hire a Babysitter
My husband and I both work from home and we hire a babysitter to come over for two and a half hours once a week or so. We use the time to work, but it could also be used as a break for mom. Use the time to get out of the house or train your children that when the babysitter is at the house, you are not available.
Get Up Early or Stay Up Late
Whichever you choose, use it for introverted time. Don’t waste it on Facebook or mindlessly watching a sitcom that does nothing to recharge you. Do something with the time to take care of your introverted self.
Staying home is very important to an introvert. When we introverts go out and about, every interaction we have with people takes a little bit from us. Even if we have a good conversation with someone and our outside activities go well, we’re still drained by the time we get home. The solution is to simply stay home some days. While staying home isn’t necessarily getting time alone, it does mean that you aren’t further depleting your emotional and mental reserves.
Give Dad the Library Job
If you want an easy way to involve dad with homeschooling, then make him the family librarian. His job every week is to take the children to the library for an hour or so. If he can take them to the library AND get a treat afterwards, all the better!
Use Electronic Babysitters
Yes, use electronics to get time alone. Not all electronics are bad and there are many useful products to use. You can use DVDs, a Kindle Fire loaded with good apps, or educational videos via Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube.
While some people might be aghast at suggesting using electronic babysitters, I look at it this way. I’m already spending a lot of time with my child as both her work-at-home mother and homeschool teacher. We’re together all the time. She’s getting a focused education that works well for her learning style. Using electronics for an hour or two a day is not going to undermine any of that. And if letting her watch Sleeping Beauty again or play Minecraft or use Reading Rainbow on the Kindle means that I can function better as her mother, then as far as I’m concerned it is win-win.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Well-being
Homeschooling can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the parent and the child, but it can only work well if everyone gets what they need. For the introverted parent, it is imperative that you plan ways to take care of yourself so you can be there for your child.
Literally thousand and thousands of highly introverted parents homeschool every day. It can be done. And it can be done successfully with an acknowledgement of the needs of the introverted parent and a plan to make it work!