Thursday, February 7, 2013

Having a Bad Homeschool Day: 14 Ways to Turn Your Day Around

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Having one of those days?
How about a bad week?  Month?
Listen, it happens. We are all human and humans have bad days. We have times when we can't live up to our own ideas about what our day should look like. We let little things add up. We simply can't get ourselves or anybody else motivated. We get into a slump.  Remember, teachers get day-long Teacher Days to help them improve their approaches and attitudes every so often! In a homeschooling family, somehow, it just seems worse.

Laundry is everywhere. Dishes are a few days behind. Nothing in the frig for dinner. Crabby kids. Crabby Mom. Tears? Shouting?
It's normal and it happens to every single family.

How you act under these circumstances may very well become a lesson for your children. Should I freak out and take a nap? Drive away in a huff (as I did recently)? Or should I sit down a moment, get myself together, and gather the troops? 

How do we Reclaim our Zest?

When a slump happens (or a battle, or boredom) it's usually because people are feeling bored or resistant. What is needed is a change of venue!  A change of plan!  A change of attitude!

So let's look at some idea for how to change the way the day is going.
  1. Get everyone together, grab a water bottle, and take a walk. Yes, it CAN be as simple as this. Walking stimulates the body to action. Walks can happen in the neighborhood, at the park, in the zoo, at the mall, down stairs in a pinch. Hold hands if you possibly can!
    Taking a walk in a familiar area can make a person feel a sense of belonging. (Look how orange those leaves have gotten!  What happened to this little garden?  There is that man walking the dog we always see!) Walking someplace new can be a wonderful activity of discovery. (What is this seed pod? What a surprise to find a creek here! Where does this little path lead?)
    Any age, little ones or big ones like mine, can find their attitude changed on a walk. We have done this many times.  I usually bring a camera when we do this: Crazy Photo Shoot Day. Crazy Home Video Day.
  2. Put some music on and dance. Don't laugh! It's true! Music and dance get the body moving and lifts the spirits of even the downest teenager. Open the blinds, crank up the tunes, and dance together and apart. Make sure to add in some unfamiliar music for fun. Square dancing, Romanian folk music, 40s Swing music, the Foxtrot, Medieval music. Music tames and terrible twos (and twelves) and soothes all other ages. We have done this one so often that the kids will do it themselves with no prompting from me. Sometimes it only takes one song to change everything!
  3. Grab a favorite book and start reading aloud. The kids can be doing other things, including sulking, while your voice brings everyone together and gives focus. We have often done this one with poetry where each person reads aloud from the poetry books. But Rick Riordan works well too! We have often done this silly reading game:  each person has their own book of choice. Each person reads, one at a time in a circle, one sentence from their book. Sometimes the funniest things happen!
    Take an entire week and read. Read at the park. Read in the backyard. Read at the coffee house. Read in bed. Read under in a fort. Read comics. Read joke books. Read the newspaper. Read National Geographic. Read favorite children's books to your teens.
  4. Put the books away and sing, draw, or play board games.  Anytime I am in a rut, finding a place for creativity and play always brings delight and comfort. The same for my kids.  My son John recently asked for a sketch book so that he could entertain himself while being on a long road trip. But let's not forget the creation of new things! Make up your own songs. Create a new board game. Write a skit. These activities can keep you busy and can keep the creative juices flowing all day...all week!
  5. Get in the car and go.  Where? Keep it simple. Try the library. Go to the next town's park. Visiting water is always right. Creeks, ponds, streams, rivers, oceans! There is so much life in the water the discovery never ends. Short of water destinations, animals, are limited only by your imagination.  Drive around the block twenty times...or just until the giggles start. Above all else, CHANGE what you are doing.
  6. Pinterest and other online file sharing source.  Look for a cool craft or science experiment and do it. Watch a documentary. TEDtalks. Google Earth. News sources. Online cams. Online magazines. The options are almost endless. Internet surf together and discuss all you see! If you have a PC, you have the world at your doorstep. Read the same news story on different news sources...very interesting.
  7. Take a blanket outside and do lessons there.  Yes, just this simple movement will make all of the difference in the world.  There is something about clouds overhead, freedom to run, tickling grass, and sunshine that changes everything for the better! I have pulled this little trick out of my hat numerous times. The kids know, when I grab the blanket, their eyes light up and they start smiling...and so do I.
  8. Teen and Tween girls and baths are always nice. (Moms love them too...and so do boys.) A little TLC, some soothing music, a colored and yummy-smelling additive, and even the crankiest tween/teen will feel comforted, loved, and energized.  This little trick has "reset" my daughter quite a few times...always with lovely results. Want to improve it even more? Give her a hair wash or a back wash...and a kiss on the head. A book to read.
  9. A pot of tea, a plate of cookies, and thou. Call a break in the procedures and sit down together. Talk about plans, vacations, fun things. Just let the frustration slide off of you by slowing things down and taking a break. A cuppa is always a nice habit to get into anyway. Taking a few minutes to shrug the stress off, enjoy sparkly cookies, sparkling conversation, jokes and riddles, and a laugh or two.  
  10. Boys appreciate activity.   Of course, girls too too. If possible, get them moving in any way possible. Slide down the stairs on their bottoms. Wash windows. Build a fort with cushions and sheets. Make a bowling alley with cups. Play "Mother May I."  Make an obstacle course. Create a highway for the Matchbox cars. Exercise. Add movement anytime in any way you can.  Can you say "tickle fight?" How about "Pillow fight!" Wash the car. Chalk lessons on the sidewalk. Jump rope with songs. Fitness trail Trivia Quiz. Garden. Look for insects. Help an elderly neighbor with chores. Your imagination is the limit.
  11. Teens need contact with friends. Alot of contact with friends. Arrange visits with friends frequently. Allow your kids to IM, FB, and other social media sites. It is essential for them. Hand them your calendar and have them fill up a day or two with plans with their friends. Spend some time planning an event...maybe just a celebration dinner! Send out an SOS and an invite to other friends and family--and warm up the calendar with plans.
  12. Invite someone over.  Even a visit from the neighbor can break up the rut of a day. In fact, as a kid, I remember going over to "help" neighbors with chores. But, even better, get on the phone and plan several play dates and fun events. Get the kids around the phone and get excited! Some other mother might be overjoyed to do a "kid swap" every so often. Because, remember, everyone has days like this...
  13. Veg.  Take the day off. No one is watching. No one is grading you.  No one is judging you. No one is comparing you to anyone else. (If they are, Ignore them!) Pop some popcorn, grab the coziest blanket, and watch a movie, TV, documentary, cartoons, or, in our case, "Merlin." Every single person on earth has days...several days sometimes...when they need to just VEG. If either Mom or child needs to take a break, remember, loving is far more important than lessons. Don't worry about comparisons, judgments, or mess. Somehow, you will find the vegging becomes quite productive when it leads to a happier day!  And...
  14. Control/ALT/Delete  Everyone jump back into bed and start over!

If none of these things work, maybe things are more serious and Mom needs more. If it's a bad day for Momma, getting away, getting rest, getting support is essential. Even if it's just getting a breather in your room with the door closed. The kids will learn that moms need time on their own to reflect, to rest, to regain composure, to read a book, and yes, just to breathe. When I need it, the kids know they can find me in my room reading...

Taking care of MOM is essential. This is for homeschooling families or any family. If Mom is feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or ill she needs some additional help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and families. Nearly every homeschooling parent I know would be more than happy to lend me a hand if I needed to take a break. I hope you have that resource as well.

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  1. Glad I found this blog, I shall return again and read some more. I am a mother of an 8 year old and I am considering home schooling her......

    1. AH! I see how you found me!
      Hope to see you again soon!

  2. I AM SO RELIEVED TO FIND YOU! I stumbled upon the site and was slowly, all day, overwhelmed with way too much Christ-following banter. I'm searching for blogs I can relate to and finding, from the website above, many that I can't. My children are younger- oldest is 7- but anything helps! I'll poke around on your list of blogs but I'd also love to hear if you have others that might be less bent on God/no God and more on young children, homesteading/farming, unit studies are especially appealing to me currently...we're pretty crunchy midwesterners. Thank you for speaking out so clearly, you really were a light in a dark day! Uff dah.

    1. MOLLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I'm so happy to hear this. This is exactly why I am so open! If you look along the right side you will find other secular or low-religion blogs that I enjoy. And, from there, you will find others!
      From one crunch Midwesterner to another...WELCOME!
      (I'm from St. Louis)

  3. Had this off-kilter week: friend in labor all day Monday (cancelled the client who was coming over); friend STILL in labor on Tuesday (cancelled the house I was scheduled to clean). Wed - Fri were full enough, but fitting in the regulars just barely. Then my boy got this idea about wanting to draw ANIME. He doesn't like to draw. So picked up books from the library and spent about half an hour working with him on how to hold a pencil lightly, how to repeatedly draw simple shapes until you get the shape you want. It was a day I announced, "Do not worry about math or writing or anything like that. The best thing you can do today is dishes, laundry, change your sheets, and brush your teeth!" He rushed up and hugged me.

    1. No need to turn that day around!
      Sweet story!


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