Homeschooling Through Seasons of Sleeplessness
Sleeplessness is something I am very familiar with. It’s something I’ve lived with consistently for the last nine years and I can count on two hands (barely) the number of full nights sleep I’ve had inside of those years.
And we homeschool all four of our children.
I was exhausted after the birth of our fourth son in six years. Add to that his extreme colic and three young boys to chase, take care of, feed, clothe and educate….and it was a recipe for extreme momma weariness. I remember one very desperate day, there was a women’s bible study group I had been really wanting to continue attending. There was child care and I needed to be among other moms who might encourage and lift me up. I did my best to get us ready so we could be there on time, for once. It didn’t happen. We arrived late. But, determined to make this work and do something I just knew had to be good for me kept me going. We walked in, my boys screaming and chasing each other around my legs and me with an infant, diaper bag and multiple water cups in my hands. Two other moms rushed over to help. Love in action. I was so grateful.
Then my sweet friend saw me, came over, put her arm around me and said in the kindest, most reassuring voice…“you made it…you’re here…how are you?” That’s all it took and the floodgates opened. I burst into tears as the other two women ushered my oldest three to their classroom for kids bible study time. And from the depths of my soul, I replied through sobs, “I’m not okay…this isn’t fair. I’ve already done my time dealing with babies that never sleep. I’ve stayed up night after night after night and I just can’t do it anymore.”
Does that sound familiar? Have you had sleepless nights that lasted a season because of babies that won’t sleep or maybe like us, your season is longer than some. Maybe you have a sweet child who has health issues that make sleep the exception rather than the rule.
And still, God has called us to homeschool. He promises to equip us with ALL we need wherever He calls us to go. So, is it possible to homeschool through seasons of sleeplessness? Absolutely, because God tells us we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us…not some things, ALL things. (Philippians 4:13) God simply won’t call us to do something He isn’t also going to give us strength to do. In my moments of desperation, sheer exhaustion and a strong desire to give up…I am reminded of His faithfulness and I cling to Scripture like this…
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4
These are such familiar words, but when you can barely tell the difference between night and day because your body is so sleep starved, God’s Word is the answer. He helped me realize that there ARE some practical things we as homeschooling moms can do when (sleep) walking through seasons of life and waiting for more manageable portions of time to come our way. Today I am sharing 5 of them.
1. Without a doubt, one of the most opportune times for the enemy to attack us is when we’re exhausted. He will lie to us, try to steal our confidence in Christ, throw suggestions our way that make us doubt what we’re doing and offer quick fix options that might feel good in the moment but only serve to lead us astray. We can’t fall for his traps, even when we’re tired. So the very best way to resist the enemy and even fight back when you need to is by making some time EVERY-SINGLE-DAY to soak up His Word and pray in and about and through EVERYTHING. I try to start my mornings with Him, even if five minutes is all I have. But, I check in with Him throughout my day too. I need to. Otherwise, I’m a wreck.
Spending time with God will look different for each one of us, but it’s really something we can not afford to skimp on or put on the back burner. It needs to not only be a first priority, but it needs to become a way of life if it’s not already.
2. Accept help from friends and family members who offer to help. This has always been a really tough one for me. I love to give, but am not so great at being a receiver. I struggle with it. But a good and godly friend of mine told me once that we need to learn how to be good and gracious receivers because when we aren’t, we’re blocking the blessings of Jesus…for us and them. Lesson here: Don’t be a blessing blocker and allow others to help run errands, help teach lessons, watch the kids while you take a nap or bring you and your family a meal. God is blessing them as well when they serve Him by serving you.
3. When facing many days with blurry, sleep deprived eyes…I have adopted a few homeschooling philosophies that have been lifesaving for me and our family. Ultimately, when I start our day, exhausted for the eight hundredth day in a row, I’m looking for the most effective way to teach my children their lessons with the least amount of effort…quality laced with Grace and flexibility. Notebooking has always worked really well for us because I can teach multiple kids at the same time while focusing on their passions, delights and interests. This style and approach serves as the educational backbone to all we do.
4. Have your lesson plan, but remain flexible and willing to lay it aside if tiredness is taking it’s toll. It’s okay to JUST read great books together, listen to books on CD or allow the kids to watch some educational shows while you rest your weary head. It also helps to keep a list of all the educational activities my kids can do together and independently that won’t require a lot of my help. We have had whole seasons where the lesson “plan” was put aside because a more realistic “plan B or C” became the literal godsend for this tired momma. And still, at the end of the day, they’ve learned something valuable and often, I realize, it’s the character training that was the most important lesson of all.
5. And book-ending the list here, we need to continue abiding in Christ by ending our days well…casting our cares upon Him as we lay our weary heads down to sleep (whenever that may be). And as we spend more and more time in the Word, He will remind us of Scripture that we can speak into our prayer life…becoming a Word pray-er. This has been one of the best parts of making my time with God a way of life…TRULY learning and believing that He is for us, never against us. He is our strength and through Him, we can do all things…even homeschool our precious children through seasons of sleeplessness.
Homeschooling Through Difficult Times Series