So many times when I am certain that I am losing my mind (or my child is), I later learn that hormones are playing a role. Biochemical changes are a reality that require a response for homeschoolers.
I want to begin by reminding you that I am not the medical doctor. I was trained as a clinical psychologist, So I can speak to the issues that come along with hormonal changes from a psychological perspective. But most of what I’m going to share with you today comes from personal experience, unfortunately. You should seek your physician’s advice first and foremost. But what I have learned is that when it comes to hormones, information is powerful medicine. Knowing that what you’re feeling isn’t abnormal helps immensely. There are four P’s that I want to share with you today concerning hormones and our homeschooling.
Homeschooling and Pregnancy
The first P is pregnancy. It wasn’t long into my pregnancy when I realized that hormones were changing my personality. The cheesiest commercials would have me bawling my head off. I was certain that I was hideously unattractive and that the physical changes I experienced were permanent. When we are pregnant while homeschooling we would do well to explain our hormonal variability to our children.
One of the most important ways we can handle our hormones and pregnancy is by getting extra rest. Our bodies are pulling out all the stops in order to create a whole new person. No wonder we feel so tired. I have been pregnant many times while homeschooling other children. I have worried that my lack of energy has been a detriment to them, but I have no evidence of that. Take a nap when you need it, Mom. Your kids want you to be well rested. Nap when they do. Save videos or games for these times. Or ask your husband to be in charge.
Along with getting extra rest when you’re pregnant is the importance of exercise. Taking a walk is a great way of helping to control the extra hormones that are flooding your system. Exercise is a known mood lifter and, of course, is good for you and the baby. It can also help with another consequence of hormonal changes during pregnancy, which is increased appetite. During my first three pregnancies, I was alarmed by how much weight I gained. I wish I would not have been worried. The weight quickly came off when my appetite returned to normal after delivery.
In addition to getting extra rest and exercise and not fretting about your increased appetite, be sure to ask for help. Tell your husband, family, or friends what you need—whether it’s a nap, a walk alone, or time off from cooking. I often went to my husband with that overwhelmed look on my face, which was his prompt to say, “Do you want to go out to eat tonight?” I’m pretty sure he was afraid not to ask that. Ask for help in your homeschooling, too. My friends were happy to help me in our home school co-op when I was pregnant, whether that meant teaching, carrying loads, or taking care of a toddler. We just have to put our pride away and ask.
In your homeschooling, feel no guilt about doing the activities that don’t exhaust you. If science experiments and field trips overwhelm you, put them aside until the baby comes. Do the activities that rejuvenate you. Your children will survive.
Homeschooling and Puberty
The next P is for the second hormonal milestone in your homeschooling journey: puberty. This is the time in your homeschooling when you will likely ask,”What happened to my child?” I didn’t realize that puberty was at the heart of the changes I saw in my son. Where there was once a happy and agreeable boy, there was a weepy, angry, rebellious son. I jumped to the conclusion that I had failed as a mother. He jumped to the conclusion that he was failing as a son. Once the hormonal haze had cleared, we both realized that hormonal changes were to blame. In fact, he acted a lot like I had when I was pregnant with him! I will say that not every child will experience these hormonal changes in the same way, just as not every mom does.
If you have a child who is experiencing the hormonal changes of puberty, one of the most important things you can do is to be sure your child gets enough sleep. This is challenging as teens often begin staying up late at the same time that hormonal surges begin. Have a serious conversation with your child about the dramatic changes that are happening in his or her body. Major growth is taking place that requires an increase in sleep. This would be a time to consider beginning your school at a later time. We start school later now as a result of having more than one student in puberty.
Weight training seems to have been a significant help to my teen boys in puberty. They were able to put their extra testosterone to good use. Weight training for girls can also be very beneficial. It seemed that consuming protein shakes was helpful for my kids. Interestingly, my kids have all become interested in healthy eating during these hormonal changes. Ask your teens what kinds of food to keep on hand. They may be able to tell you what they need during this growth period.
In addition, an important lesson I’ve learned about hormonal teens is not to talk to them when they are emotional. Wait until they have had rest, even if they require discipline. Have all important conversations face-to-face. Don’t talk about emotional subjects on the phone or via text. Guess how I learned that?
Homeschooling and Perimenopause
The third P is for the next hormonal stage in our homeschooling journey: perimenopause. I really didn’t believe it was a thing. Suddenly I was experiencing night sweats daily. I was so drenched I had to get up in the middle of the night to change. Whereas I had never had significant PMS symptoms, I found myself suddenly having them all. I could go from being happy to depressed and angry in a moment. I began to experience hair loss, palpitations, anxiety, and the same increase in appetite I had experienced in pregnancy. The combination of symptoms was very alarming. It helped to talk to other women who have experienced the same thing. Some of them felt they needed to take hormones to treat their symptoms. I tried this as well and immediately experienced side effects that weren’t acceptable to me. I didn’t know what to do.
I found the book The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. What I love about the book is her stage approach to dealing with perimenopause. The author, a gynecologist, does not immediately suggest hormone therapy. Instead, she first discusses the vital role of stress and lifestyle. Because of the book, I realized that I had experienced significant relationship stress that was exacerbating my symptoms. After reading the book, I was careful to make sure I got adequate sleep, exercise, and good nutrition. I also found a combination of supplements that has helped me. I am not symptom-free, but I am much, much better. I can manage my symptoms, especially knowing that they are hormonally mediated and short-lived. If you are experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause or suspect that you may be, consider buying The Hormone Cure and seeking the advice of your physician.
The fourth P I would like to share with you today is prayer. Whether you are experiencing the hormonal symptoms of pregnancy, puberty, or perimenopause, you can find health and hope through prayer. Our heavenly Father knows what we are experiencing. He can be trusted to help and advise us. He will also use godly women to counsel us. I have felt such relief in sharing my experience with other Christian women who understand and will pray for me. I advise you to reach out to women you know to talk about the hormonal issues you’re dealing with. I am praying for you right now to know His peace and health as you persevere in your calling as a homeschool mom.
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