With Labor Day weekend behind us, all of the kids have slowly made it back to school. In my family’s case it is “to school for us.” After having my kids home with me as homeschoolers all their lives, they are giving high school a try this year. Their first day was August 14th. My son is going part-time taking two electives and still considered a homeschooler while my daughter will be a full-time public school student who is also running cross country.
As they were preparing for their first days of school, I started thinking about how life might have been different for me living without my kids at home with me. “It’s a good thing we homeschool momma and can be here during the day to help you when you need it.” This was something my children used to often say as they helped me dress or undress. Honestly, as a homeschooling momma, I did feel lucky to have my kids home with me where they could help me when I needed a hand getting my shirt off or my buttons buttoned. As early as six and eight years old my children were learning that as much as they needed me, I also needed them. I needed their physical help around the house moving light objects, picking things up from the floor, and more. I also needed the constant hugs they gave me throughout the day reminding me that no matter what rheumatoid arthritis had in store for me, I was still a momma that was loved.
Over the years, many moms have said to me, “I could never homeschool. It takes too much work.” I always replied back, “I think you are the one with the difficult job of hurrying to get kids ready in the morning, staying on top of lunches, homework, field trips, parent meetings, etc.” After completing our first two and half weeks of school life, I can say that I was right. Homeschooling is definitely easier as life can run on a slower pace.
As a parent living with the ups and downs of flares, energy drains, medication reactions, and more that comes with living with rheumatoid arthritis I know the responsibilities that come with getting your kids off to school can add to the discomfort. I asked myself the question “how can a person with children and rheumatoid arthritis make life simpler for themselves?” Below are a few ideas we have used in the past as my work load has increased and I think will work out great for us this year as we begin a new journey in public schools:
Always let your kids know that their needs are important and you will meet them the best you can, but also let your kids know that you too have very unique needs. I have found that my husband and children can always sense when things are out of whack with me and it is better to be upfront with them and myself about what I am capable of doing for the day.
Take time for yourself and don’t feel guilty. I am a big supporter of taking down time when flaring or when energy levels are low. If at all possible, once you get the kiddos on the bus, take some time for yourself. Enjoy a cup of coffee without worrying about the dishes or laundry. Last week my energy levels were low. I had one hour to get myself ready before I had to take off for work. I chose to watch a rerun of Sex and the City while I ate my breakfast. I had to skip my shower, but a sniff test assured me I was fine and the down time all alone in the house felt absolutely luxurious.