Monday, November 12, 2012

The Benefit Package {Blog Cruise}

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Let's face it - salaries for homeschool moms generally don't carry a very high dollar value.  Oh sure, there are lots of personal rewards, and compensations that money just can't buy.  We get to spend that time with our kids and build family unity, and know that they are being educated and brought up in the way we believe is best.  But if we are going to be completely honest, there are times when homeschool moms wish there was a little bit of ka-ching in the salary package too, especially since for most of us, the choice to be at home educating our own means some financial sacrifices.

This week's Blog Cruise topic is Taking Care of the Homeschool Teacher, so the question that raised for me was: how am I rewarded for the job I do, when there's no paycheck?

There are a few things that I look on as my benefit package as a homeschool mom.  First, each month throughout the school year, our homeschool fellowship group has a meeting we call Encouragement Group.  It's a moms' evening out, usually at a restaurant or coffee shop, when a bunch of homeschool moms can get together and perhaps help each other out with advice or information about homeschool-related topics, but often it is just the evening out with friends that is encouraging all by itself.  As much as my family jokes about that night out, it does get a priority spot on our calendar so that I can attend if there's any way possible.  (And this year, I'm chairing that committee, so I can schedule the meetings to suit me! Ha!)

I look on the annual trips to the homeschool curriculum fairs and convention as part of my benefit package too.  Just as in many careers, it's important to attend industry fairs and conventions to network and keep up-to-date on the technology and trends in the business; homeschool conventions do that for homeschool moms!  The past few years that I've attended the curriculum fairs, I already know what I'm looking for and what I need to buy, so it's not a matter of hunting for things to fill the holes in our coursework.  It's a matter of seeing what's out there because I find it fascinating.  And I love the opportunities to attend some seminars and hear interesting speakers at the big convention in Harrisburg.  I usually attend these events with a friend or group of friends, and look forward to meeting up with others there as well.  Carpooling for the drive to the convention, going out for a meal with my friends, and sometimes even staying overnight, makes the fairs and convention something I really look forward to each year.

Several years ago, a homeschooling friend reminded us that Teacher Appreciation Week is at the end of May every year.  As the mom, she buys her kids' teacher (herself!) a gift for Teacher Appreciation! She gets one gift for each student, and she's guaranteed to really like whatever she gets! I thought this was a great idea, and even though my budget for Teacher Appreciation gifts may be very small, I give myself permission to treat myself near the end of the school year.

During the summer months for the past couple of years, I have participated in a homeschool mom's Bible study and prayer group.  We get together at a park and study the Scripture and pray together while our kids play.  (And the kids do their own Bible study too!)  Sometimes I've been unsure whether I need to make that drive into town each week for "just" a Bible study, but it really is worth it and I'm always glad I do it!

On a daily basis, I make sure I have my little bit of alone time. Some days I get more downtime than others. Just a few minutes in one of my "teachers lounge" breaks to enjoy a cup of coffee, read my Bible, have a virtual chat with a friend through a message board or blog... these are surprisingly valuable rewards and encouragement in my day.

What might not be obvious is that those treats and outings and get-togethers do have something in common - they nourish my spirit.  Spending time with my friends that are also homeschool moms means empathetic listeners with whom to share the joys and concerns of homeschooling.  We can know that others are praying for us when we have less-than-stellar days, and we can learn from each other and encourage each other.  Hearing speakers at conventions can be inspiring or challenging or comforting - sometimes all of the above!  And even when I treat myself to a little Teacher Appreciation gift - I may choose little things, but they tend to be things that are really special to me and lift my spirit.      

How do you look after yourself as a homeschool teacher?  Leave a comment and let me know! Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog (this link will be live on Tuesday, November 12th) to see what other Crew members have to say.  You can also visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog homepage to see the reviews we are working on, past reviews, and past blog cruise topics.  
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