Homeschooling with Mental Illness

Coming into this homeschooling journey, I knew that my anxiety and/or depression would pop up.  That’s just reality for me.  I knew that once the honeymoon phase started wearing off, I would probably start having anxiety again.  That’s just my brain.  It is what it is.

The difference this time: I am unwilling to put the boys back in school… ESPECIALLY Ethan. He has been struggling for so long and I am not going to put him back in that toxic environment.  So?  I make it work.  I work through the anxiety.  I use my coping skills.  I process.  I scale back.  I remember what’s important.  I go back to minimalist homeschooling.  I focus on what they need to know and shed the rest as I go through life.

I am also willing to see my doc as much as I need to in order to adjust meds to this new season in life and see my counselor when needed.

I have come into this with new experience and new priorities.  I know that God has called me to this, and He wouldn’t leave me nor forsake me.  I know that He will give me what I need each moment of the day.  I trust Him.

At this point, even though I would love to have Karis at home, I know God has her in school for her AND for me.  I’m not sure that I could handle homeschooling a junior high kiddo at this point.  I might be able to once the boys are there, but for now I’m not ready.  Karis wants to stay in school for good so I have time to adjust to homeschooling in general before that happens with the boys.

So… things that I’m doing to adjust or continue…

  • I decided to put the marine biology unit off till summer.  Karis wants to do it also and the kids all want to go to the beach and an aquarium this summer, so it’s kind of perfect timing for that.  Also because it is pretty intense, it will be nice to only be doing that (plus reading 25 minutes a day).
  • I’m going to focus on simple nature studies for now.  For example, tell the boys to look for a rock or fossil and observe 5 things about it.  Then come back and research it with our books.  They can draw pictures, save it, and write about it in the nature journal.  Or they can go look for birds and take pictures and come back and draw and research.  Simple simple.  And this will teach them observation skills which is important for science in general.  This is the Charlotte Mason way and I love it.
  • I shelved a lot of the books that I had out.  Minimalism is where it’s at!  It’s so important for me and for the boys.
  • So we are basically focusing on: Morning time (I read aloud a novel and Bible story with discussion); The Good and the Beautiful ELA which is very short, simple lessons each day (it’s pretty gentle); reading for 25 minutes and reader’s response (answering a question in 2-3 sentences); history (I read to them, they orally narrate, and they answer a few questions in their binder and do some map work); and nature studies.  Simple!
  • School just takes a few hours a day, and I’m keeping it short and sweet for now.  It works really well for them, and I feel that they get what they need.
  • I was going to try to follow the “BraveWriter Lifestyle” but it is NOT minimalist.  The expectations are high and it’s too much for us right now.  We do a few pieces but I shelved the Brave Learner book.  It’s intense.
  • I’m not going to go to AA on Mondays anymore… Wednesday nights instead. This way I have the evening to myself once a week.  I can get some dinner then be with my peeps.  It was so so great last week.  I want that every week.  Also, not interrupting our whole school day will help me a bunch.
  • That means no church on Wednesday which is fine.  It’s just so hard to do it all with living where we do.  My sobriety and AA is most important.  We might start going to Sunday school to make up for it.  We’ll see.
  • Focusing on self care it is important for me: yoga, hiking/nature, deep breathing exercises and meditation, essential oils, prayer, Bible study, alone time, blogging, enough sleep, nutritious food, routines, reading, a clean house most of the time (but letting it go some also), being organized, etc.

I’m gonna be okay.  I have so much support and prayer from others, and I’m so thankful for this new season.  It’s so good for our family.

“I’m confident your faithfulness will see me through.  My soul can rest, my righteousness is found in You.  With every moment left and every borrowed breath, let this be true.  And all my heart for all my life belongs to you.”

I’m feeling pretty peaceful and will just continue to trust God!

2 thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I’m homeschooling through mental illness as well. My anxiety/depression is hormonally driven so I have two good weeks where life is easy breezy and I feel like I can take on the world followed by two weeks where I’m exhausted, weepy and feel like I’m failing my kids. We’ve leaned on many of the strategies you mention – scaling back expectations, creating a solid & minimal routine, prioritizing Mom’s self care time even if it means sacrificing some academic content and giving lots of grace. Imperfect as it may be, I feel like it is definitely a safer and healthier environment for my son than any thing else we could offer him. I’m grateful to you for your transparency. I think it’s so important for people to realize that you CAN homeschool even with mental health challenges. It just takes some creativity and discernment.

    1. Love this!!! Thank you for sharing. In the past I have put my kids back in school and it wasn’t for the best. I’m learning!

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