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Taking a Sanity Break: A Homeschool Mother’s Lifeline

Taking a Sanity Break: A Homeschool Mother’s Lifeline


Homeschooling mom Lorraine Espenhain has had bad days, with too much to do, long headaches… Sometimes the only answer is to put life on hold. ‘Me time.’

I woke up this morning with a headache, which just grew worse as the day went on.

No matter where I cast my eyes, I saw something that was waiting to be done: a pile of sheets waiting to be washed, utility bills waiting to be paid, a quilt that needed to be packed and mailed to my mother, dust gathering on my furniture, and plant life threatening to grow in my bathtub if I didn’t take serious action soon.

When I tried to close my eyes to all of it and escape into my kitchen for a cup of coffee, I saw the big saucepan on my kitchen island reminding me that I needed to make a pot of my spaghetti sauce (recipe included below!) and get it on the stove so that it would have time to simmer.

My initial plans were to tackle each of these tasks as soon as I was finished with homeschooling for the day. But when that time came, I rebelled.

I made a fresh pot of coffee. I opened up my kitchen cabinet and searched for my favorite coffee mug – the one with books painted all over it – the one that makes me feel happy whenever I drink out of it. I poured coffee into my mug, went into my study, and listened to my Vivaldi The Four Seasons CD on my CD player headset.

While I listened to the music, I flipped through a Chinaberry catalog that had come in the mail that afternoon.

At times, I just stared at a wall. There was a ton of work waiting to be done, but I just didn’t care.

I needed this time.

I needed this moment.

The piles of work could wait.

One of the things that I am learning to do in order to keep my sanity is to give myself permission to relax and take some time out for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s just 15 minutes staring at a rosebush swaying in the breeze, flipping through a favorite catalog, listening to a song with my headset, or writing with my favorite pink pen. I need the sanity break. I need it mentally and physically.

When I don’t give myself permission to take these needed breaks, the entire household suffers and I usually end up in the Reconciliation chapel.

Years ago, before I married, I was working at a law firm in downtown Philadelphia. I used to be so busy that I would eat lunch at my desk. I just felt guilty about all of the work that had to be done, and I would say to myself, “How can I enjoy a lunch break when I know that there will be mountains of paperwork waiting for me when I return?

As Thomas à Kempis would say, “Glad journey out, sad journey home.” So I didn’t leave the office.

This was the worst thing that I could have done to myself mentally and physically. When I finally did give myself permission to leave the office and step out into the sunshine, I was amazed at what this little break did for me psychologically.

A friend of mine is a busy chiropractor. He is a very huge man who loves to go hunting in his spare time. We’re talking… John Wayne. When he told me what he did at the end of a day in order to momentarily escape the stress of life, I laughed because anyone looking at him would never know that this was his mode of escape. Each night, he likes to soak in a bathtub with a bunch of lit candles all around the bathroom while listening to the soundtrack to Disney’s Pocahontas.

Sanity breaks come in all shapes and sizes, don’t they?

If we wait until all of the household tasks are done before we give ourselves permission to take a sanity break and do something that brings us pleasure then that pleasure will never be ours to enjoy. The house isn’t going to go up in smoke if we pour ourselves a cup of tea, listen to a song, and take a moment to simply enjoy ourselves.

After my sanity break, I gulped down the last of my coffee, turned my headset off, closed my Chinaberry catalog, and then made my way into the kitchen. My headache had gone away. I was now mentally ready to tackle the pot of spaghetti sauce.

I felt mentally refreshed and inwardly invigorated. I felt like I was in control instead of my never-ending household tasks.

I felt blissfully free.

Classic Spaghetti Sauce


1 lb. ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green sweet pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) tomato sauce
1 can (6-oz.) tomato paste
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon marjoram
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper


In a large saucepan or pot cook ground beef, onion, sweet pepper, and garlic till meat is brown. Drain fat.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

About Lorraine Espenhain

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Lorraine now lives in New Mexico. She is a wife, homeschooling mother, religious instructor, and freelance writer with 200+ articles on She also has her own children’s column at Agua Viva, her diocesan newspaper. Meet Lorraine
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