By Jennifer Cullimore


All of us have different situations: Some of us have two parent homes, some (like myself) are single, some work outside of the home, and some work inside the home.  However, one constant that I’ve seen in most parents who homeschool their children with special needs is that most do not have a lot of time to themselves.  Because of this, our “cups can be empty” before we even realize it.


I’ve had people tell me, “Well you just need to get a babysitter and go out.”  But, it’s not always that simple.  A babysitter costs money (of which I have little) and few people are equipped to handle my kids.  Extra money to eat out randomly or schedule a mani or pedi is in short supply.  Despite these challenges,  I still need ways to “fill my cup.”  


Here are a few of my cup-filling solutions; maybe they will help you too!


Bedtime routines  

Even though we get off track during certain times, bedtime routines are essential to my survival.  My girls know that they go to bed and mommy gets some much needed time to herself.  Yes, sometimes I stay up far too late, but those few hours can energize me to tackle life!



Sometimes I do stay up too late, but I also allow myself to get the sleep my body needs.  The beauty of homeschooling is that we don’t have to start our days on someone else’s timetable.  We have the freedom to begin at a time that works for us and our children. One of my children has gone through countless ear issues and is often up in the night with ear pain.  Because we don’t have to be out the door at 6:30 in the morning like some of our public school friends, we can start when she has had an adequate amount of sleep.  This makes our days run more smoothly.


Podcasts, YouTube and Sermons

Due to some of my kiddos’ issues, we are not currently active in a church.  However, I need to fill my spiritual cup as well.  I have found podcasts and YouTube to be a wonderful way to listen to Godly content and support from around the world.  I listen to Francis Chan, the Bible Project, other homeschooling mamas and uplifting people.  I can do this at night when the girls go to bed, or even when I am working on household tasks throughout the day.  My kids also enjoy their favorites: Psalty , kids worship songs, hymns, and so much more.  We are so blessed to be able to hear content from so many inspirational resources.


You may also want to consider listening or watching SPED Homeschool Conversations, our weekly live broadcast that you can watch live from 8pm to 9pm Central every Tuesday night or watch on-demand on our YouTube channel or download to your device from our podcast channel.


Time with the Lord

Personal devotions are also paramount to filling my cup.  Even when I get out of the habit, I can always jump back in.  At times I’ve found that groups on Facebook such as “Write His Word” are helpful for keeping me on track.  They encourage me to journal the Word of God.  By writing His word, I remember it!


You may also want to check out Peggy Ployhar’s personal YouTube channel, Daily Revelations, for her weekly bible study videos and companion planner you can use to study along book by book through the bible.


Art and Handicrafts

Unlike some other people in my family, I was not blessed with art genes.  But I love to create things.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the rise of “adult color books”.  Coloring is relaxing and somehow it triggers creativity in me.  So at night, you will often find me coloring while listening to podcasts.  I also enjoy crocheting and I’ve even begun to dabble in painting and drawing.  While none of my creations will be in an art museum anytime in the near future, they make me happy and bring peace.




Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today



This second article in a series about Childhood Depression, focuses on the “I” factors of childhood depression.  In total there will be 6 articles,highlighting the warning and guiding lights for each of the letters in the word “LIGHTS”.   

Warning “I” – Inhibitors

Inhibitor 1 – Stress
The relationship between stress and depression is that increased stress leads to an increase in the development of depression or exacerbates it.  The way to remove this inhibitor is by helping your child figure out their main stressors.  Working through questions that pinpoint specific things in your child’s schedule, relationships, and recurring difficult situations facilitates understanding of stressors.

Identifying your child’s stressors gives you  the ability to start talking through these things with them so you can work together. Thoughtful planning and preparation make these situations easier to navigate for your child.

Inhibitor 2 – Loneliness & Rejection
God made people for community, but sometimes community fails our special children.  I know I am not alone when I share that some of the toughest places for my children to be loved and accepted have been in a church setting.  Unfortunately, well-meaning people have made a place we desired to be our sanctuary a place where we met condemnation.

Finding friends who understand your child will be a difficult path, but if a parent is diligent to keep trying, the result will end in wonderful deep and meaningful relationships for your child.  Keep praying, seeking, forgiving those who don’t understand, and seeking out those whom God has prepared to be a good friend for your child and who will accept them for who they are.

Inhibitor 3 – Fear
Teaching an adult that fear is only a mental conceptualization of the future, not a certain outcome is difficult.  When working with a fearful child, it is best to help them recognize what they are thinking.  Once the fear is identified, work with the child to rationalize their fears and determine how best to cope with them.

For many children who deal with depression, fears build in their minds to great exaggerations of what is real or even possible.  By dissecting fears, allowing comfort items to be brought into places where your child needs physical reinforcement, and ensuring they know you are going to be there for them will help your child  cope with their fears rather than allowing them to fester and grow.

Inhibitor 4 – Disappointment
It is hard to be let down by life, and even harder to work through failure.  Most children view disappointment as a difficulty, but also an ordinary part of life.  But for children with depression, disappointment is often internalized as personal failure which decreases their self-worth.

In my article Failing to Learn, I discuss how failure is one of the greatest ways we have been given to learn.  Kids dealing with depression require additional support to see how failure can actually lead to greater success, not a downward spiral to defeat.

I remember helping my oldest son work on this concept when his Lego creations would never hold together as he imagined they would.  Each time they broke, I would ask him:  What was the weak spot that caused the break?  How can you rebuild it to make that part stronger?  What did you learn from the break?  How is your creation better now that you have rebuilt it? 

Guiding “I” – Increase in Character/Sanctification

Cyclical Perfection Wheel
One of the greatest illustrations you can give your child who is struggling with depression is this perfection wheel.  

On this wheel, perfection is achieved by being at the top of the wheel.  Once a person sins, they start moving down the wheel to the right.  What determines how big or small this wheel becomes, is a person’s realization of their sin, and need for repentance of their sin.  Once a person repents, and realizes their need for the blood of Jesus to cover their sins, then they are restored…made perfect.  At this point, God does the work in completing the circle and bringing that person back up to the top again.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV

This process is how God increases our character.  We realize each time we sin that we are inadequate and need God.  In turn, God shows us His adequacy and ability to work within our lives as long as we are submissive to His work.

Learning on the Wheel
Throughout this process, it is not God’s desire to shame us, but rather to teach us.  God alone stays at the top of the wheel.  Our human condition will always have us cycling from top to bottom and back to the top again.  The goal  is not to hang onto perfection, but to continually walk with God, learning and growing in our relationship with Him so He can restore us and teach us .

For children who struggle with depression, it is essential to help them see how life is a process which is molding them into the person God wants them to be through failure.  Each struggle, fear, disappointment, and difficulty is an opportunity to learn and grow.  And, it is God’s desire to make that process easy and light if they choose to walk with Him and trust His ability to work all things out for good.

The “I” Silver Lining
Throughout my childhood and into young adulthood, I pursued success only to be continually disappointed.  Each time I felt success was achievable, I soon realized it was even further out of reach.  Over the years the pursuit of success took me further away from who I had been created to be.  

I put on masks to fool others that my life was going well.  I heaped burdens upon myself that God never intended for me to carry.  I had lost touch with who I was and what I had been created to be.  

Not until I saw the beauty of God’s grace and forgiveness, and His ability to restore my broken life from the bottom of my pit, did I realize how wrong I had been in pursuing success over God.   There is so much truth in what Charles Spurgeon says about how some things can only be discovered from the bottom of a deep well and how affliction is what leads to greater blossoms and fruit.

God does His greatest work when life gets its hardest.  The factors which pull our children down, can also bring them closer to God and prepare for them an extremely fruitful future.  Helping children to see this hope in the midst of the darkness is one of the best ways a parent can help their child see beyond their current circumstances and struggles and move forward to the hope that God is drawing them towards.

Did you enjoy this article?

React, share, and comment with the tools below