Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool
Your baby threw up all night.
Your toddler just can’t seem to stay in his new “big boy” bed.
You tossed and turned, trying to sleep but mentally revisiting yesterday’s math lesson gone wrong, that child who just can’t seem to make reading progress, that impatient sentence you shouted out of frustration, that teen’s bad attitude.
Then morning arrives and boom: the new homeschool day with all its duties and responsibilities hits you front and center, the issues that concerned you still surround you at the breakfast table, and you have no idea how the hours from now until bedtime will ever pass.
Welcome to a bad homeschool day.
Take comfort in the fact that they come to us all–newbie or veteran, beginner or seasoned pro. No matter how much experience we gain as homeschool mothers or fathers, we will never completely eliminate them.
Over the years I have handled bad homeschool days in an assortment of ways, trying to figure out what works best.
And while there’s no magic formula that will make everything better in the blink of an eye, here’s the one simple rule I’ve found that will enable you to still be a good homeschool mom on a bad homeschool day:
Don’t tackle ANYTHING that will make anyone cry, especially yourself.
That’s it! On other days when you have a fully-charged battery to operate with, you can handle more.
But not on a bad homeschool day. It just isn’t worth the emotional and relational damage.
I stumbled upon this rule recently–while trying to push through certain parts of our morning school. I found myself literally getting choked up when I attempted to read from our usually fun grammar book.
A thought entered my brain: “Maybe there’s a better way to do this today.”
I pulled out the MadLibs instead. We laughed. It helped.
Because here’s the other thing you need to remember on a bad homeschool day:
Tossing your homeschool routine completely out the window can make a bad day worse.
I’ve learned this the hard way too. If it’s supposed to be a regular homeschool morning and instead we watch back-to-back episodes of Fixer Upper, the subsequent Mommy guilt won’t benefit our already tense home atmosphere.
Instead, the key is to keep a gentle structure, seeking to accomplish the same subjects, but in a different way if necessary–one that won’t make anyone cry.
This means your day (and what you change about it) will be unique to you and yours:
* Maybe instead of formal grammar, you grab a Madlib like I did. (Order some now and set them aside strictly for this purpose!)
* Using educational apps and websites wisely can be perfect for a bad homeschool day–particularly if it’s a special treat and not something you do all the time! But I’d recommend researching and making a list now, when you’re having a good day, of apps or sites so you don’t have to do so in the heat of a challenging moment.
* If you can’t face reading aloud, you grab an audio book and have everyone get cozy with blankets in the living room.
* Instead of that worksheet, you head for a walk in the woods.
* Reduce chores to the absolute minimum. Maybe the bathtub won’t be scrubbed, but the kids help you with laundry and dishes–or whatever that thing is that makes you feel calm to see it clean.
* Maybe you have an older child make scrambled eggs for dinner, or order takeout, or cook something simple that you enjoy making.
See what I mean? The parts of your day that you can face as usual, you do.
But the tears are your signal to approach a subject differently or to discard it completely if it isn’t essential for this one day.
A wise veteran homeschooler once told me that it’s the climate of our homeschool that matters long-term, NOT the day-to-day weather.
These bad homeschool days will come and go, but if we keep a long-term perspective, we’ll find that the occasional storm doesn’t blow us far off course.
Remember, we’re not trying to “do school” here. Our goal is not to just get all the things done.
Our goal is to create an environment so much deeper than what an institution can offer–one that enables kids and parents to thrive, where lifelong relationships turn into lifelong friendships, where a love of learning blossoms into a love of study that blossoms into a love of LIFE.
And teaching our children how to navigate the ups and downs of that life is one lesson that will go on to serve them forever.
What have you found works best to help you be a good homeschool mom (or dad!) on a bad homeschool day?
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Originally posted on Sept 25, 2017