Written by contributor Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.
I can feel my body tense up as I say the words with forced enthusiasm:
“Ok, time for school!”
They say what I know they’ll say: Do we have to? And if I’m honest, that’s exactly what I’m saying in my own mind. Do we have to?
It’s December and I’m tired and my feet are cold and there is absolutely nothing inspiring about Saxon math right now. I want to sip cocoa and snuggle under a quilt and read stories to them.
The unschooler in me says, “Go ahead! Embrace the season! All of life is school!”
The classical voice in me says, “Press through! Persevere in discipline and they’ll be better off in the end!”
The delayed-educator in me says, “Do you really even need to be doing school at all right now? They’re so young!”
Then, as if my multiple personalities weren’t confusing enough, I add comparison into the conversation:
“So-and-so’s daughter is already doing such-and-such. Dutch is falling behind.”
“Well, Dutch’s reading is several grade-levels ahead. Forget the math and let him read all day. Focus on his strengths.”
And all this internal monologue makes me want to crawl back in bed.
We all have days like this, right? If you haven’t, you’re not allowed to comment on this post. (Smile) I think we all have days where enthusiasm dips or uncertainty sets in or we’re tired or sick or it’s that time of month, or for whatever reason we just don’t want to do school today.
What do you do when you’d really rather allow Christmas break to last until, say, June?
Here are a few ideas for the winter-weary mom in the midst of the mid-year slump:
- Clean your school space. I know, I know. You’re thinking, Cleaning is going to make me feel better?!” Hear me out. Not that cleaning is that much fun, but I always find that when I tackle a trouble-area, dump some bins, organize some books, corral the craft supplies and unearth some long lost learning toys, the kids and I discover a renewed enthusiasm for learning.During one particularly cold week recently I rearranged our learning loft so we could all sit closer to the heater, and the new arrangement had them excited and enthusiastic for days. It was just the shift we needed to push through the slump.
Photo by Lacey Meyers
- Do the same stuff in a new place. Recently I asked my son if he’d prefer to do his math in a different area of the house. To my surprise, he was thrilled to change locations. Who knew?Even though we ended up doing the same work, the new space helped him gain new energy and feel as though he had a fresh start. For whatever reason, it really helped.Perhaps you take your workbooks to a coffee shop? Or throw a blanket down in front of the fireplace and do picnic-style school, on the floor. A change of environment can work wonders for the weary soul.
Photo by Lacey Meyers
- RELAX. I recently asked my mom, homeschooling pioneer of the 80s, if she remembered having hard days. She laughed, of course. Yes! Her advice? RELAX.Chances are, if you’re stressed out, anxious, and frustrated, forcing yourself to “get through” the prescribed schoolwork isn’t going to do a lot of good. Slow down. Talk to your children. Listen to them. Talk with them about how you all are feeling. Pray about it.Allow them to see you work through the struggle, while remaining confident, knowing that you are teaching and modeling for them how to handle difficult days. From that perspective, the hard days may very well be the most valuable days!
While this is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be a difficult time. When it’s cold, dark, and often dreary, do allow yourself the grace and space to rest, talk, listen, and regroup. And remember, tomorrow’s a new day. What a gift!
Your turn! How do you persevere through difficult days? We welcome your words of wisdom!