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Nina Radcliffe, Homeschool Mom of 12 and National Marketing Director for the Juice Plus Company

(This is the 2nd homeschool mom feature in a series #hsmomstories)

When did you begin homeschooling, and what are the age ranges of your children?

I started homeschooling in 1989 when our oldest was three years old and was eager to grab a pencil and paper! My husband and I decided we would homeschool after learning about it through our church. I have 12 natural children ranging in age from 13-33 years old, so we've been homeschooling now for 32 years!

What are some of the best benefits you've found from homeschooling?

The excitement I had about watching my children learn. Also I got to learn some of the basics I never learned in public school, like phonics.

We benefited from being a part of a christian homeschool group where I learned a lot about character traits. I'm very grateful I was able to develop that in my children with homeschooling

With a large family at home, I needed to challenge them to work and manage the home. I had the older ones teaching the younger ones, helping with cooking and chores, and I managed and mentored.

Looking back, what would you tell yourself when you first started homeschooling?

Your children will constantly challenge you - they'll want to rebel and be lazy. It's not going to be easy. Remember it's a calling and you need to stick by it and not be persuaded by their ideas to get them out of work. They'll complain about eating healthy or doing chores but stick with it. It's hard to establish family unity. I recommend re-visiting the whys with your children. Explain "this is why we do what we do" and share the benefits of homeschooling with them (like, this is why we can be on vacation now while others are in school). Show that homeschooling is really a good thing, and keep persevering. Know it's going to be hard. I'm kind of an optimist, and thought that because this is what my husband and I wanted, that it would come easily, but I really wasn't prepared for how difficult it was and at times feeling persecuted, being on my own with my children (my family wasn't against it, but I imagine some people's families don't support it - so stay focused and know God is with you and will give you all the grace you need).

How do you make time for self-care?

Honestly when my kids were younger, I didn't do this well. Back then it wasn't a thing as it is now. But the one thing I did do was on Sunday nights my husband watched the kids and I would have alone time. Sometimes I would sleep or take a bath or making babybooks.

When I got a sitter (which wasn't very often as we could't afford it) was when I really needed it.

I have always exercised either by walking through the neighborhood or going to the gym.

Now that I'm more aware of self-care I've taken more time for my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I recommend taking time for yourself once a day - whether it's getting up earlier to have alone time or teaching your children to not wake you up super early, teach them to respect your time. When they're taken care of, utilize that time for napping or rest. Quiet time in the mornings with Scripture and prayer are vital, even if it's short.