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The Limits of Self-Care

The Limits of Self-Care

There was one particular week this Fall that was an attitudinal crap fest in our house. School went okay, but interpersonal relationships were, shall we say, “not flourishing.” Kids were taking their sibling squabbles to new and higher levels. Kids who still nap didn’t, and the people who don’t nap needed to.

It doesn’t help that every verbal member of our family has an incurable case of genetically inflicted sarcasm. When we’re in good moods, a houseful of sarcastic clowns is hilarious, but it can edge into cruelty when people are cranky.

I was hanging by a thread with a temper that flared at the slightest deviation.

This is one pitfall of being an Enneagram 1. Whether I want to or not, I default to a position of perfectionism. If you’re also afflicted by perfectionism, I have no great answers, but solidarity sister. Yours may be different, but my particular perfectionism manifests itself as a hare-trigger temper often pulled by household clutter. And in a house filled with seven people, clutter is constant.

I got a reset Friday night when I left to attend the Charlotte Mason Memphis Tertulia retreat held at The Grove, a lovely little Memphis retreat center. It was a short day and a half of Mother Culture. We painted with a local artist, went on a nature walk together, listened to encouraging talks from fellow homeschool moms, shared meals, and talked books. It was lovely.

On Saturday afternoon, I was sleep-deprived but coming home with a cup filled by homeschool mama community. I was ready to add a dash of new ideas, hope, and confidence to our home and homeschool.

With no evidence to support such a presumption, I had expected the rest of my family to have the same feeling of rejuvenation I was walking in the door with. Magically, I had expected my husband to have gotten our family mostly packed for the road trip we were getting ready to take. I don’t know, maybe I was hoping for kids all lined up with their bags ready and their smiles beaming like some Hallmark commercial.

So much for expectations.

Using a crib as a laundry basket works!

After a week filled with crummy attitudes, I’d expected them to melt away with no new ingredients added to the mix.

Shock of all shocks! The unsavory flavors of crankiness, short tempers, and bitterness were still there. The kids and husband had not added rest, joy, contemplation, or fresh air to our household atmosphere.

This is obvious in hindsight, of course. Jake had spent that time dealing with the same chaos I’d left behind. It’s been so long since I’d been able to attend a retreat (darn those nursing babies), that I’d forgotten that the rest of the world doesn’t rejuvenate because I do.

We can zoom this lesson in to the smaller moments within a homeschool day.

One thing that’s amazing about homeschooling—or even stay-at-home motherhood—is all the time we get to spend with our kids, but when that time is full of strife, quantity isn’t an asset. We simply have no choice but to add a fresh dose of rest, fun, love, comfort, silliness, or adventure to the mix. We have to change something if we want attitudes to change; as Jim Rohn was famous for saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Those stolen self-care moments of prayer in the closet or a walk around the block that prepare us to face again the chaos in our homes are just rejuvenation for our own souls. They don’t fix the problems we face, they only strengthen our resolve and soften our hearts to face those same challenges with gusto.

But we have to remember that our rest is ours. Self-care is limited to ourselves. Others need their own self-care, too.

Photo: Cedric Lim

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts


  • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
#community #Navywifelife #momlife #sisterhood
  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
  • #homeschool #family #weekend projects. Oldest got through a CPR course, curtains are hung, first batch ever of hard apple cider is bottled (a big learning experience!), and Morning Time for the next term is planned. 👊🏻 Time to call Dominos so these people can get fed 😂
  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.

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