What I learned from 2 weeks of couchschooling

Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

I didn’t even feel when it happened.

The step down from the rolling door of our barn is a steep and awkward one, and when exiting two weeks ago I came down hard on my right foot. Not paying attention, I hurried inside to check something in the oven.

Later in the day, I felt a painful twinge in my ankle. By that night, the twinge had grown excruciating. And that’s how I ended up homeschooling from the couch for the past two weeks, or as I’ve since termed it: couchschooling.

I’ve been either in the bed upstairs or on the couch downstairs for most of every day, trying to give this sprain time to heal. Not exactly how I planned to end my February (as if the month isn’t already challenging enough, right?!)

Yet as Caroline Ingalls once noted, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.” Though this minor injury wasn’t on my agenda, I’ve had a few positive realizations from it that I hope to carry with me.

1. Lowered expectations are fine when needed.

My first of two new GG mugs for my birthday!

It’s amazing how much you have to let go when you’re unable to do even basic tasks. My biggest accomplishment each day became getting dressed and successfully making my way to the bathroom and back on crutches. (And yes, sometimes I even asked the kids to applaud for me afterwards.)

I also realized just how much time I typically spend tidying up each day. But guess what? There’s not much tidying up you can do from the couch. And since the kids’ standards of “tidy” vary just a tad from my own, I’ve had to allow imperfection and messiness.

You know what? It’s been fine. Also? Kind of freeing.

2. My kids are capable of so much, and they are developing servant hearts.

My children (ages 13, 12, & 11) have blown me away with all their help. Along with my hard-working husband Steve, they have done much of the cleaning and cooking, have brought me meals, put away my laundry, given me foot massages, and just been above-and-beyond awesome.

Even my child who struggles with anger and self-control has risen to the challenge. Moved by seeing real needs and with a deeply compassionate heart, this child has had a string of good days since I sprained my ankle.

Perhaps being a little needy ourselves allows our kids’ servant hearts to rise to the surface! 

3. I have to guard my joy.

Maybe it’s just the end of winter, I don’t know. But we had been having a week or more of what felt like days slodging through mud. Bad attitudes, yucky arguments, moodiness, and many tears shed (& that was all just from me, LOL!).

After a bit of despair I realized yet again that I have to guard my joy each day, or it vanishes in the heat of normal family drama. So from my spot on the couch, I began a daily joy list, writing down everything that went right in our days–all the good I saw my kids doing and learning.

This always has a powerful effect on me, and it meant a lot when Steve commented that he’d been impressed with how I’ve handled this whole mini-crisis with joy throughout most of it.

A few frustrating days into my recovery I decided I might as well view this time as a God-imposed rest–a “couch vacation” so to speak. After all, as crises go, this one was very minor.

Taking on that perspective changed so much: When I wasn’t couchschooling with the kids or doing the basics to keep this blog going, I napped, read books, searched for a new TV series to get into, and tried to be thankful for God’s provision of what I’m always craving: TIME. What a gift!

We tend to think of these instances in our lives as interruptions, but examined in hindsight we just might find that these seasons are what our family needed most.

When life is your school, the unexpected might just be the greatest teacher of all.

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Have you ever had a minor or major crisis disrupt your homeschool flow? What did you learn from it?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Wishing you a healed ankle and many more days of joy. It IS amazing what our kids can do and how well they can serve when a true crisis hits!
    Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (In Which We Go to the ER and then a Homeschool Conference)

  2. I had no idea!! I’m so glad everyone’s loving on you and that you’ve found joy in this imposed time of rest. Heal up! xo
    Caroline Rose’s latest post: Learn to Write This Book

  3. This is so good! And I love the Gilmore girls mug – where did you get it? Sending healing prayers your way.
    June’s latest post: 4 Steps to Winning with Laundry (because the savings starts here)

  4. We just had all three kids down with the flu for two full weeks. First, it was like the universe was forcing us to slow down which we needed. Second, it gave me time to come back to reality with school. I think I started getting overwhelmed with all of the things that we “are supposed to do,” instead of staying focused on what is important to us in our home.
    I hope your ankle heals. I am very impressed that you are taking the time to let it heal! That is not easy for a mom to do. We tend to keep working through it, and I love that your family has risen to the occasion. 🙂

    • Oh goodness, Sharon. Flu is so much harder, because every part of you feels bad then! I’ve tried to remind myself of that when discouragement kicks in. Glad you are starting to feel better!

  5. Oh, I do hope you heal thoroughly and quickly! Thank you for sharing the bright sides of your challenge!
    Nicola’s latest post: 52: 10

  6. I’m sorry about your ankle Jamie! So funny, I almost wrote about exactly the same thing for my post this week, we had 12 days of sickness, unexpected sorrow, frustrations, power outages, rain everyday, it was like everyday there was some new challenge & I just kept feeling lower & lower. After working so hard to stay on track we missed a week of school & I felt SO behind in everything. But I’m grateful too, it brought some things into perspective & I believe made us all stronger in the end. Thanks for sharing this.
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: ::Save the Date:: July 25th

  7. Ebene Benhart says:

    So thoughtful. Thank you for posting this and teaching us all that you can learn things from even bad circumstances.

    I hope your ankle heals fast.

  8. What was supposed to be minor outpatient surgery last summer has turned into months and months of physical restrictions, physical therapy, doctor visits, and driving 7+ hours every 6-8 weeks to see specialists. It has made keeping any kind of routine tough, not to mention how it limits the adventures we can have. It has been good to learn to let go of things. And the unstructured time (without me nagging to clean up as much) has left my house a mess, but allowed their imaginations to run wild. We don’t look like a magazine, but I am learning to let go of mommy guilt and to realize that no matter the circumstance, we can thrive.

  9. Hope your ankle heals quickly! Taking care of yourself is important to heal it properly! It’s great thst your kids are older and can help so much already!

  10. This is so funny! It ties right in with our life right now and I even used the term “couchschooling” in my day in the life post in last week’s link-up! 😄 It’s a new baby in our case so at least we were expecting it! Hope you are able to heal up as quickly as possible ❤.

  11. melanie lawn says:

    Even when incapacitated you seem to find just what I needed to hear ! How do you do that ? 🙂 Wishing you a speedy recovery before it goes from reflection to boredom !

    • I’m so blessed to hear that, Melanie! And trust me, there has been both reflection AND boredom–I even made up a song about it today that drove the kids crazy… 😉

  12. This is so well said and so encouraging, Jamie!
    I hope you are feeling better now, and am grateful for your heart to share.

  13. Michelle says:

    Here’s to a quick recovery! Also, have several recommendations for shows (a slight bias to Masterpiece and BBC)- Victoria, Poldark, and Home Fires.

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