I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: homeschooling can be hard. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not a matter of if you will have a bad day (or week or month or year), but when.
I don’t say that to discourage you, but to prepare you. I’m the mom who always told my kids, “Okay, the nurse is getting ready to give you a shot. It’s going to hurt, but just for a second.”
I like knowing what’s coming because it’s usually not as bad when you’re prepared. So, y’all, if you haven’t discovered this fact already, you’re going to have days when homeschooling is hard.
Now that you know they’re coming (I bet you already did), let’s talk about how to make them a little more bearable.
1. Capture the excitement that you’re feeling right now.
Unless you’re just insanely burned out from last year, you’re excited right now. It’s the start of a new year. It’s a fresh, clean slate.
What are you excited about?
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Why are you feeling proud of your kids?
Why are you homeschooling?
Don’t just think about those questions. Write your answers down. You may need to refer to them later.
Write them down and put the paper where you can find it later. Or hide slips of papers with your thoughts here and there in your planner, teacher’s guide, or a book you plan to read so they’ll be there to surprise you.
(Or, if you’re like me, put them where you can find them later, forget where that was, and still enjoy the effect of being surprised.)
Oh, and that “why are you homeschooling” thing? If you haven’t worked that out in your mind yet, now is an excellent time to do so. Use your answers to develop your homeschool mission statement. Knowing your purpose not only buoys you up on the hard days, but it helps guide your decisions throughout your homeschooling journey.
2. Remember that homeschooling is not all academics.
For some homeschooling parents, academic excellence is the sole reason for homeschooling. For most of us, though, academics are only one part of why we do what we do.
Remember that this year during those inevitable moments when you have to put the academics aside and deal with a character issue. Or when a fantastic opportunity arises and threatens your well-laid lesson plans.
Remember that when life circumstances derail your home and your school. Or when you’re just not sure you’re going to be able to face one more day of whatever is going on in your life or your school.
Those moments, when met head-on, can strengthen your faith, your family, and your resolve.
3. Homeschooling can’t all be what’s wrong with public school.
We all have our reasons for homeschooling. (And a complete dissatisfaction with public school is actually not one of mine.)
However, you can’t be homeschooling only because of what you see as the failings of public school. You must also be homeschooling because of what is right with homeschooling. Otherwise, your choices and decisions are just reactionary, and on the terrible days that stretch into weeks that stretch into months, you’re going to lose sight of why you chose to homeschool.
4. Take time with friends – mom and kids.
Make sure that you and your kids are taking time to spend with friends. Kids need to hang out with their peers. You know, so they don’t wind up all weird and unsocialized. And you need to hang out with other moms or dads who can relate to your experiences.
I can’t tell you how many times a simple reminder that I’m not alone has improved a lousy day. Just knowing that someone else has experienced what I’m going through with everything from a struggling reader to a sometimes-hard-to-live-with teen makes those struggles a little easier to bear.
Make sure you’re not isolating – intentionally or unintentionally – yourself or your kids. It’s okay to set the books aside from time to time for a day spent with friends. It will revitalize all of you.
5. Pray about it.
This last reminder should really be the first step for Christian homeschooling parents. When you’re having a bad day, take it to the One who loves your kids even more than you do and who loves you more than you love your own kids. Sometimes just handing it all over to God is such a release for me. I know He’s got this, so I don’t have to keep stressing over it.
Difficult homeschool days are going to happen. Having a plan in place for dealing with them and having a heads-up knowing that they’re coming can make them much easier to deal with.
How do you handle a lousy homeschool day?