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Wondering if you could homeschool while dealing with chronic illness? It is definitely possible! Here are some practical tips to help you get started.

I had to sit down and catch my breath for a minute. It was one of those moments in life when you’re blindsided by something you just can’t control, leaving you feeling helpless and uncertain.

That particular day, I received yet another diagnosis from yet another specialist about my chronic illnesses. It knocked the wind out of me. Quite literally, as shortness of breath was one of the symptoms. I just wasn’t prepared for yet more bad news about the complications of my chronic autoimmune disorders. It hurt — physically and emotionally.

I sat in the car for a while after leaving the doctor’s office, taking time to pray, cried too and I wrestled with despair. I tried to focus my thoughts on God’s promises.

And I remembered 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, when Paul speaks about the thorn in his flesh:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Feeling Defeated

I didn’t feel like a noble warrior for the Lord at that moment. I felt defeated.

It’s true I had gone into homeschooling knowing about some of my chronic illnesses. I already had thyroid disease, diagnosed at age 21 after my first miscarriage. I had radioactive iodine then and had been living without a thyroid for decades. Then there was another miscarriage and another autoimmune diagnosis.

Then, thankfully, the birth of my three daughters. I had another miscarriage and another autoimmune diagnosis. Then another. Then another. I felt like I was falling apart a piece at a time.

My biggest fears came rushing to the surface, including:

How can I muster the energy to be a good mom and homeschool my daughters on the days when my symptoms flared?

How can I do everything I need to maintain the household and homeschool when I was so tired all the time?

What would happen to my daughters if something happened to me?

Fear was starting to own me and I hated it. I hated feeling incapacitated by chronic illness. I hated feeling less than because I couldn’t meet my own (often unrealistic) expectations.

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Trusting God with the Process

Through a lot of prayer and soul searching, I realized that I wouldn’t be as hard on anyone else as I was being on myself. I would extend grace to anyone else going through similar trials and would offer compassion and empathy. Then I would find a way to work with the circumstances, rather than fight against them. I would only expect someone to take each day one day at a time, just as the Lord gives them to us. So why didn’t I apply that to myself?

That’s when I began seeing things in a different light. My daughters weren’t disappointed in me, they were glad to spend quality time together reading books on the couch when that was all I could do. They loved making creative projects together at home when I couldn’t manage a nature walk due to pain. I realized the fact that we didn’t participate in as many busy-outside-of-the-home activities and sports actually became a blessing of quality time at home together. Even in this, God had a plan for us.

It was through this time that I became passionate about delight-directed homeschooling. Getting to know my girls very well, cherishing our relationships, building character through challenges — all of these things became the basis for our homeschooling rather than an obstacle to it.

Advice for those Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness

Be honest with your children about your limitations, as age-appropriate.

You don’t have to pretend. Illness is a part of life that everyone must deal with at some point. Chronic illness can’t be wished away. Let your kids know that it’s okay to have hard days. They’ll learn about perseverance that way.

Be thoroughly present in the things you can do.

Read-aloud time and creative projects are some of our favorite things to do and have created great memories for us. We have great discussions and grow our family bonds this way.

Consider a relaxed, year-round homeschooling schedule.

I don’t draw any artificial boundary lines around learning and life. We are learning all the time. We don’t have to worry about getting behind so we can take time off when we need to. There’s really no on/off switch for learning, right? Take advantage of the freedom of homeschooling to enjoy the moments together at a relaxed pace.

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Don’t forget to count character lessons and life skills as homeschooling.

We’ve learned so much together as a family about faith, hope, love, perseverance, patience, compassion, and so much more through the difficult times.

Sharing through the journey

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I’ve now been living with chronic illness for 22 years, exactly half of my life. My entire adult life really. I can’t say that each day is easy because that would be a shameful lie and would discredit every person out there struggling to make it day by day with chronic illness. I can say that the Lord has used it to make me a better person, to mold my character, and to allow me to comfort others with the comfort I’ve been given {2 Corinthians 1:3-4}. Sometimes that’s the best thing we can hope for in a difficult situation — and it’s definitely a lesson I want my children to carry with them through life.

Wondering if you could homeschool while dealing with chronic illness? It is definitely possible! Here are some practical tips to help you get started.

This is day 27 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here!

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Are you in the midst of a major interruption? Or struggling with the need to meet your own expectations? Momma, you're not alone.

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3 Comments on How to Homeschool with Chronic Illness

  1. Its really tough to live with autoimmune disorders, the worst part is that, to others you would look perfectly normal from outside but they can not realize how much pain and discomfort you could be in. I really marvel at your inner strength and your faith that has helped you sail so far. I wish that your pain gets reduced and you become more comfortable with every passing year.
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  2. Hi Sara,

    You are really a strong and brave person blessed with oodles of will power. Homeschooling your children along with the immense pain and discomfort that autoimmune disease brings, it takes tons of courage to sail through. As it is in every case, family support is vital and your daughters are completely with you in this, with all their empathy, love and understanding. God bless you and your wonderful family!

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