Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
In the day-to-day of life, every homeschool parent hopes for good homeschool days.
Sure, we know they aren’t all going to look like that photo on the front of the homeschooling magazine. We also know that bad days are inevitable. However, there are steps we can take to ensure that that good days outweigh the bad.
Our family works on a six weeks on/one week off schedule. Last week was our break week. You’d expect that it would have been a great week, but, surprisingly enough, the week before went more smoothly and was far less stressful than break week.
In considering what might be the cause behind break week being more stressful than a school week, I identified a few key factors that seem to contribute to a good day, homeschool or otherwise.
1. Get a good night’s rest
A huge deciding factor in the good day/bad day equation is a good night’s rest – for everyone. Without enough rest the kids are grumpy and so am I.
That means that I have to get in bed at a decent time each night – even those nights when I feel like I still have a million things to do. Even those nights when dishes are still piled in the sink, clothes are still in the washer, and email messages are still unread.
That can be hard.
I’ll be honest. Sometimes the dishes in the sink thing really bothers me. If there is something that I can do in 15 minutes or less that is going to make my morning better – such as putting those dishes in the dishwasher or straightening up the main living areas of the house – I will take the time to do that.
However, there have been times when I’ve had to say, “They’ll be there in the morning.”
And I have the Instagram photo to prove it.
Incredibly frightening photo by Kris Bales
You know what, though? In that particular instance, it was much better for me to just go to bed and get a good night’s rest. Those dishes were still there in the morning. I was able to get them taken care of when I got up and that made me feel so accomplished that I had a great attitude for the rest of the day.
(And, for those who wonder, yes, my kids help around the house. By my personal choice, though, unless I ask them to help, the kitchen is my territory.)
2. An early start for Mom
I am a night owl. I do like mornings, but they are rough for me. That being said, I have discovered that I am much more productive and have a much better attitude if I get up in time to get some things accomplished before the kids get up (which isn’t especially hard at my house since I have raised three more night owls).
I like to make sure I’m up in time to work out, have my quiet time, maybe read and respond to email, take care of some online work, start supper in the slow cooker, and do a couple of those things that I left undone the night before – you know, like unloading the clean dishes that I put in the dishwasher before I went to bed.
If I can get a few things knocked off my to-do list and have some self-care time before the kids are up, it’s a lot easier for me to have a better attitude, even when things aren’t going as planned. And you know as well as I do that there is a lot of truth to the idea that we moms set the barometer for the attitudes in our homes.
3. Enjoy the beautiful weather
Photo by Tanya Waldburger
Okay, so clearly we can’t control the weather, but I have discovered that a beautiful day lifts everyone’s mood and makes the day better. With that in mind, I try to take advantage of those really incredible days when I can.
My kids are older and don’t enjoy playing outside, but we love when we can open our windows and sliding glass doors. Feeling the breeze blow through the open window while we’re reading or taking work out to our screened-in porch makes us all a little happier and more agreeable.
For those of you with younger kids or kids who enjoy being outside, take advantage of fair weather days by getting outside to play a bit more, taking a blanket outside to read, or skipping the science book in favor of nature study.
4. Have a routine
Our family does not enjoy a strict schedule, but we thrive on routine. We get up about the same time each day and have a target time for starting school. We do our schoolwork in the same general order and have meals at fairly predictable times.
If your family functions better on a stricter schedule, that’s fine. The key is finding the schedule or routine that gives your family’s day a sense of flow that keeps everyone feeling peaceful.
Most kids – and adults – thrive on routine. It helps us anticipate what’s coming next, which makes a smoother transition between activities. Maybe it’s my OCD tendencies, but I really love predictability.
Have you pinpointed some of the key factors that make your homeschool days go more smoothly?