Last week, I spoke about one of my three main must-haves for thriving: sleep. This week, I’m going to spend some time taking you through another must-have, which is support.
The overarching support that I have comes in the form of systems which I have personally put in place, over time, to suit our family’s needs. Of course, our family’s needs are constantly changing, so these systems change too and that’s fine. What’s important is that there is a framework within which to create change.
For example, I have a job roster for the kids (also known as the Team Roster, because I want the kids to know they are an important part of our family team) -this changes usually every school term. Often the kids will actually be really loving a particular job or really good at it, and we have the option to keep them in that job, but at the same time need to consider that the other kids have to learn all of the skills. Switching out the job roster periodically means that everyone gets a turn at all the jobs (fun and not-so-fun) and means that all of the kids have an understanding of what is involved in running a home.
The framework of the job roster remains the same. The jobs and the people doing the jobs is what changes.
As another example, we have a curriculum that we need to meet standards for in order to legally homeschool in NSW. The way we meet those standards, though, can change from month to month, year to year or child to child, depending on how the children are responding, the other things we have going on in life and the season. For example, in winter, we do all of our indoor schoolwork in the morning when it’s too cold to be outside, whereas in summer, we might spend more of our mornings outside and come indoors for afternoon bookwork. If we can anticipate a major family/life change (for example, a new baby due), we’ll continue to work through some of the”school holidays” in order to take a few weeks off when the baby is due.
The framework of the curriculum remains; the way it is delivered changes. This is one of the things that endears me to homeschooling -it affords our children the flexibility they need to learn within life, rather than aside from it.
So this week, as I talk about the second of my three must-haves for thriving in motherhood, I wanted to actually break down some of my support systems for you so that you can see how they might be able to work for you.
I’d also love to hear from you in the comments. If you have a support system that helps you remain at peace during the rough patches of parenthood, please do share with us. Your ideas can really help another mother.
Support at Home
My support in the home can be broken up into 2 categories -practical/physical and emotional.
One seriously awesome practical help I have is a weekly cleaner. I’ve spoken about her awesomeness before, but it bears repeating that this is something I put off for a really long time. For years I struggled along cleaning my home, looking after babies, homeschooling and running a business, and at the time it didn’t feel like such a big deal. But once I relinquished this task, I suddenly realised just how much stress it had placed on me. Yes, it’s a cost and yes, it’s somewhat of a luxury. But it helps me thrive where I would otherwise just survive. And that’s important to our family.
In terms of emotional support, I have an incredibly supportive husband who is a really hands-on father. This means that I’m not going this parenthood thing alone.
It also means that when he’s away for work, I really notice his absence! And that’s where a complimentary support network-family and friends -comes into it’s own.
I know there are many parents out there going it alone most of the time, and I would encourage you, if you can, to find a support buddy. Someone you can call each day for encouragement, or text every night for three cheers. Someone you can check in with regularly and who can support your parenting journey. This might be a family member, close friend or another parent in a situation similar to your own.
Apart from the importance of this support for our own health and wellbeing, it’s also crucial for the kids. Steve Biddulph talks about the importance of girls having an”auntie army” – a group of women, other than the girl’s mother, to help support her through to a healthy, confident adulthood. I believe the same is crucial for boys. Surrounding ourselves with support has positive repercussions for our children.
Support in Education
Whether you are home educating, unschooling or sending your kids to school, support is a vital part of raising well-rounded kids. None of us live on an island and we need to immerse ourselves in a village- even if none exists and it means creating that village from scratch.
At the moment, what’s making the difference for me is:
- access to fantastic resources (Reading Eggs and Typequick are current favourites)
- a network of other parents to talk to and swap ideas
- community understanding and acceptance (our small town is really awesome!)
- access to tutors
- opportunity to be part of coop lessons (as both leader and learner)
- availability of services inside school hours (library truck and music lessons, for example)
These things probably don’t sound like much as standalones, but when you add them all up, they mean that I am supported to love and enjoy our homeschooling journey, rather than feeling burdened by it.
Support in Business
If you’ve been around here much, you’ll know I’m a BIG fan of outsourcing. I outsource everything in my business that I’m not good at or don’t have time for. It’s that simple. There are no ifs, buts or maybes;it’s just can do/love to do, or simply can’t do/don’t enjoy. Anything that falls into the latter category is outsourced.
Money doesn’t even come in to it, because if I don’t like something/aren’t good at AND can’t afford it, then it simply doesn’t get done! Ok, except for accounting; that’s kind of a given. But almost everything else is a choice.
I don’t consider there to be “rules” by which we have to run our businesses, or absolutes that we have to commit to. The thing about running my own business is that it’s mine. And I get to choose what I commit time to, what I consider important.
At the moment, I outsource graphic design, web maintenance, blog scheduling, bookkeeping, warehouse management and some copywriting. Plus, I have a babysitter come for 4-8 hours each week so that I am enabled to have a couple of solid work sessions.
Yes, this all costs money. But outsourcing what I consider to be important tasks that I can’t just “let slide” means I have more time to work on my business, rather than in it.
There’s a great saying that if you don’t have a well, you can’t draw water. This is so true when it comes to a healthy, happy motherhood. At times when I’m feeling depleted, I really can’t give my best. So it is in my (and my family’s!) best interest that I take time for what makes me feel personally supported.
For me, with a love language of quality time, it means solid time with those that I love (particularly family and close friends). It also means time alone with my spouse and time simply on my own, either in quiet recollection or working on a hobby.
Some days can feel far too busy for all of this, but the truth is that we always find time for the important stuff. Always. And if something is really important to us, we should make a particular effort to schedule time for it in our diary.
Some might say this really takes the fun out of life, to be scheduling in spouse time or scheduling in self care or scheduling in a hobby; but I say, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re making it a priority, it doesn’t matter if it’s in your schedule or not! That’s just a formality for some of us who need to see how everything can and will work beautifully together. Some may not need the diary reminder to turn off phones and have an in-home date night every Friday. Others might need to put the reminder in their phone to actually do it. Whatever works!
Now over to you… what are your main supports? I’d love to know what helps you thrive.