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Homeschooling on the Hard Days

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If you’ve homeschooled for more than, oh, probably a week or so, you’ve probably experienced them – the hard days of homeschooling. The kids are bickering. The baby’s fussy. The toddler’s into everything. The teenager’s moody. The kids are crying. Mom is crying. And, nothing – nothing – is going according to plan.

You just want to throw in the towel.

Homeschooling on the Hard Days

So, how do you keep going? How do you keep homeschooling on the hard days?

Assess the situation.

Take a moment to step back and assess what’s going on. Are you getting back into a routine after some time off? Are the kids (or Mom) tired from a late night, a busy weekend, or a crowded schedule? Is there a family situation that is causing stress? Is the child struggling with a difficult skill or concept?

Often, if you can figure out the source of the stress or discontent, you can come up with a solution for it.

If you’re just getting back into a routine, perhaps you can focus only on core subjects for the first week. If everyone is tired, maybe a nap or a light school day is in order. If there is a stressful family situation going on, maybe you need to sit down and talk or pray together. If your child is struggling with a difficult concept, maybe it’s time to try to approach it in a different way or just take a little time off.

Stop and regroup.

Some days it just seems like everyone has gotten off on the wrong foot. Maybe there’s no apparent reason for it. Some days I suspect the weather…or that infamous full moon. On those days, sometimes you just need to stop for a minute and regroup. Talk to your kids about what’s going on and what each of you could do to improve the mood of the day.

A healthy dose of humor often helps.

I remember one day, when my kids were younger, I decided that we all just needed a good hug. I had us all form a circle and we passed a hug around, first one way, then the other. It was silly and soon we were all laughing, but there was some truth to it. Everybody did feel better after a few hugs, and we were all able to be nicer to each other afterward.

Take a break.

Whatever the source of the stress and general discontent, some days we just need to recognize when it’s time to cut our losses and just take a break. An occasional life skills day or a mental health break can be just the ticket to restoring Mom’s sanity and curbing the bickering.

Other ideas for a break include:

  • Go on a walk.
  • Take a field trip.
  • Watch a movie related to your current topic of study.
  • Play video games together.
  • Do a service or volunteer project.
  • Play board games together.

Or, just take a day off. Let the kids veg out in front of the TV or a video game while you read or spend some time with your online friends because, let’s face it, some days are like that. Even in Australia. {grin}

Push through.

As yucky as some days are, for one reason or another, sometimes we just need to push through. Maybe you don’t want to feel you’re rewarding a child who’s purposely trying to disrupt or push your buttons. Maybe you’ve had circumstances that have put you in a place where you’re behind where you need or want to be. Maybe you’re at a place where you need to demonstrate perseverance to yourself or your child.

Whatever the reason may be, some days we just can’t take a break, but there may be some things we can do to get a better attitude, such as:

  • Play peaceful, calming music while you work.
  • Take a brisk walk around the block.
  • Brainstorm some ideas for a treat when all work is completed. (Some ideas are: a special snack, some extra screen time, time to play a game, or take-out for dinner.)
  • Pray together.
  • Take a short break to play some fun music, dance, and act silly.

Apologize.

Let’s face it. Some days we, the parent, are the cause of the frustration. It could be that we’re having a bad day, we lost our cool over something unimportant {ahem}, or we’re taking the stresses of life out on our kids. As guilty as those moments may make us feel, they are those teachable moments we homeschooling moms and dads are always talking about.

When we humble ourselves and apologize to our kids, we’re modeling the act of repentance. We’re providing them the opportunity to forgive and show grace to us. We’re letting them see that we’re human, too, and just as in need of forgiveness as they are when they mess up. As a friend recently said,

“God gives our children the grace they need to have us as mamas just as He gives us the grace to be their mom!” – Kendra

Step away.

Some days, I just need a break by the end of the day. This may come in the form of dinner out with friends or alone with my husband (courtesy of the grandparents or an older teen who can keep an eye on younger siblings for awhile). Maybe it’s just a drive down to a certain fast food place {*cough* Chick-Fil-A *cough*} for a sweet tea or a walk alone.

Sometimes, regrouping is as simple as having my husband pick up some take-out on his way home so that I don’t have to worry about dinner after a hard day.

Pray.

Even though it’s last on this list, we should never think of prayer as a last resort on the bad homeschooling days. It should be the first thing we do. I’ll be honest and admit that prayer is not always my first reaction on the hard days…but if it were more often, there would probably be a lot fewer hard days and maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t be quite as hard as I tend to make them.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

How do you handle homeschooling on the hard days?

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Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, Homeschool Road Trips, Love These Recipes, and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 31 years ago, and they live in the South. They have three adult children. Hannah, age 27, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 25, was the second homeschool graduate and the first to leave the nest. Mary Grace, age 19, was the last homeschool graduate. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow a garden every summer with limited success. (But she's learning!)

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17 Comments

  1. So many times we just need to stop and get to the root of the problem, and usually it’s not even school-related. Other times we just need a break for some fun – a family party. Great suggestions.

    1. Thank you so much…your post is super helpful. I think my plan is pray•talk•pray•make a list•pray•talk•etc•etc! It is nice to know I’m not alone. : )

  2. Love the Alexander reference!!!

    When I want to wring a bunch of necks, I leash up the dogs, force the children to put on actual clothing, and go for a good long walk. It’s impossible to stay cranky outside, and also they are usually running ahead where I can’t hear them bickering.

  3. One day as we were struggling, I tried something Ellen Degeneres does everyday on her show ~ we danced. I just got up and started boogying away and encouraged them to join me. It worked wonders! It was silly and fun, and before we knew it we were all laughing.
    Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  4. Great advice. 🙂 I just had one of these days yesterday. My husband ordered a pizza, we all vegged, and life was good again today. Sometimes we do all need a break.

  5. This was us on Tuesday. 🙂 l My daughter did kinder at public and when I have days like that I just think about that year. It puts whatever difficulties we are having that day into perspective.

  6. Great post! These are the days we save our Pizza Hut Book-It coupons for. Sometimes a change of scenery and a treat for lunch are just what is needed!

  7. I think this is the time of year when everyone is starting to climb the walls. We were just talking about this at homeschool co-op. We are wanting spring to come, we need to open the windows, we need to get out…but just had another 10 inches of snow dumped on us! We’ve really struggled with homeschooling the last couple weeks…and when I look back in my blog, I can see this happens the SAME TIME every year!

    Great post, I like what you pointed out, and that you admitted that sometimes WE moms are the problem. (I know I’ve been just as much of an issue as the kids…probably MORE so) There has been a lot of apologizing here…and we even took a day and just went for ice cream. Sometimes we need to get out of our rut. good luck to you and yours…and thanks for this awesome post!

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