Choosing What Matters Most

Moms need care, too.
©istock.com/SPmemory

You may have heard this analogy before: When you board an airplane, you put your carry-on bag in the stowaway compartment above your head. Your purse goes under the seat in front of you. You buckle your seatbelt and make sure your tray table is latched in the upright position. While you are waiting, you might read the safety instructions in the seat pocket in front of you. And if you are really compliant (or afraid to fly), you attentively listen to the flight attendant’s speech about what to do in case of emergency.

That monologue (or pantomime if you can’t understand the PA system) tells you that if the cabin pressure decreases, the oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Somehow you should calmly pull down on the tubes, place the mask over your mouth and nose, and put the elastic strap behind your head. (Mimic the flight attendant’s demonstration so you don’t ruin your hair.) Finally, you should help any children accompanying you with their masks.

Wait! You are the mom. Surely you should help your children get oxygen pronto, then take care of your own needs.

Caring for Myself in Small Ways

As a homeschool mom, my work is based at home. I’ve learned that I must care for myself early in the morning while my bedroom door is still shut. I pray to my Father about the day ahead, exercise, shower, and get dressed before I ever leave our master bedroom in the morning. Once I leave the bedroom, the pets need me, the kids want me, meals and laundry await, and school work happens. If I don’t take care of myself first, it probably won’t happen that day, no matter my best intentions.

Just like I have set up the personal boundary of not leaving my bedroom until I have finished my morning routine, I limit my cell phone notifications to weather and first responder alerts so I don’t confuse other interruptions with true emergencies.

I practice self-care by eating well (whole foods and limited sweets), addressing any health needs I have, and spending some time outside most days, even if it’s as simple as a 10-minute walk with the dog. It’s my way of putting on my oxygen mask first.

Another way I care for myself is regular time alone with my husband. When our kids were little, that usually meant sitting together on the couch when he first got home from work. We’d briefly talk, each sharing a little about our days before he’d play with the kids while I’d finish making dinner. Now that our kids are older, we reconnect over coffee dates, phone calls when he travels, or even running errands together. Our commitment to communication keeps us unified. That’s foundational for our marriage and oh-so emotionally healthy for me.

Caring for Myself Based on Priorities

Caring for myself first means living based on my priorities, not living crisis to crisis. I must separate what is urgent from what is truly important. Homeschooling several children, all needing my attention, could make me come unglued every day. But short of a medical emergency or a safety issue, very little in life is truly urgent. Postponing my shower to feed the baby is necessary, but I still need to give myself permission (and time) to shower.

How do I determine what’s most important? My husband and I use the acronym, LEMILOE, as our standard. It stands for Live Every Moment In Light Of Eternity. We try to filter our time, conversations, homeschool choices, parenting decisions, and financial spending through the sifter of eternity.

Do I need to join such-and-such a co-op? Should we buy a new living room set? Should I spend the afternoon reading my friends’ Facebook posts? Is it time for my husband to change jobs? All these decisions can be evaluated based on our priorities. Living in light of pre-determined priorities helps me stay out of the rat race. I am living with intention, not reacting to life.

What are your priorities? Do you and your husband have a written plan for your marriage and your homeschool? If so, well done! If not, I’d encourage you to retreat together long enough to write down your goals. Just as a compass points out true north, a list of priorities for your marriage and your children can set you in the right direction to make choices every day.

How do I determine what’s most important? My husband and I use the acronym, LEMILOE, as our standard. It stands for Live Every Moment In Light Of Eternity. We try to filter our time, conversations, homeschool choices, parenting decisions, and financial spending through the sifter of eternity.

Let’s say my sons (hypothetically, of course) get into a disagreement during our school time. Based on our priority of raising followers of Christ, I can confidently interrupt our school day to counsel them on their argument and help them reach reconciliation. Getting a chapter done in history or finishing a page in math isn’t nearly as important as discipling my boys. I don’t have to fret about the decision—I’m doing what I consider most important. That brings me peace each school day, which is vital self-care, almost as important as fresh oxygen.


Melanie Hexter

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5)." Melanie Hexter writes on homeschooling and travel from the beautiful mountains in Colorado, but that's not where her family has always lived. She and her husband have homeschooled their six children, three now graduates and three still in process, in three time zones as they have pursued God's leading. In addition to helping her husband with his business and her children live out their gifts, Melanie has written the U.S. National Parks Unit Study and several literature-based studies which she makes available to others at LemiloePublishing.com.


Do your friends a favor and share; why keep a good thing to yourself? :-)

Thriving Life Homeschool Magazine is a publication of Home School Enrichment, Inc.
Copyright 2017 - 2019 by Home School Enrichment, Inc. All rights reserved.