Do you often find yourself exhausted by the end of the school day? What happened? Nothing went as planned. No one wanted to do their schoolwork. The little ones just wanted to be held. Then you feel completely behind for the week, and it’s only Monday.
Every homeschool parent has experienced that Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday—you get the picture. It happens.
I am a seasoned homeschool mom. I have taught in a traditional school, but we knew we wanted to homeschool when we were blessed with children. Homeschooling is not without its challenges, and I understand more than anyone the stress that comes with it, but here are a few ways I coped when I was a homeschool mom.
First, start your day with prayer. Take a few moments to ask the Lord for strength and wisdom. You have many responsibilities every day, and you have now added schooling your children. As you are juggling the many “balls of life,” make sure you don’t drop your relationship with God. He will be right there with you. Whether you whisper His name or silently cry after struggling through that math lesson, He is there to offer encouragement through His Word and promises. I often had difficulty sleeping and would wake up exhausted. That’s not a good way to start any school day, so my prayer was for grace and peace. Pray for wisdom as you teach your little ones. Pray for their minds to be sharp and grasp today’s material with ease. It is OK to pray that they stay motivated or engaged if doing video school. Guess what? If you are uncertain what to ask for, the Lord already knows your thoughts and your heart before your day begins. Trust Him to give you precisely what you need for the day!
Second, be prepared. My most stressful days came when I just tried to wing it! Yep, I admit it! I didn’t put in the extra 30 minutes to have something prepared, and I blew it! I stressed myself out and the children. So be prepared for the day’s activities. You must have a plan and be organized. When I say be organized, I do not mean go to Pinterest and compare yourself to the thousands of women who have it all together. Here’s a little secret: They don’t have it all together. There are dishes in their sinks, too! 😊 Why do we sabotage ourselves before we even get started? If your plan and organization consist of a spiral-bound notebook with bullet points, perfect! However, if your plan is a wall painted with chalkboard paint and everything is beautifully handwritten and color-coded, that’s awesome, too! Just be sure to keep the eraser away from the kids. Do whatever works for you. Just be prepared and have a plan in place.
Third, build some flexibility into your routine! Everyone performs better when we have a schedule in place; however, it must be adjustable. Learning at home is not a military boot camp. Your little one may wake up sick, so postpone school for the day. If they are feeling under the weather and can manage a subject or two, do the bare minimum. You can double up on a lesson later in the week or take one hour on Saturday to finish what you missed. It’s your school, your schedule, at your pace. Remember what we prayed for? Grace. This is where you show grace and adapt.
What if your child is struggling with writing or math? Sometimes we just hit a brick wall. Can you relate? Take a break and eat a protein-packed snack! That burst of energy will feed that little mind, and they may surprise you with a quickly completed worksheet. It is all about tuning in to your children and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. If you know math is a pain point, take it slow and find some fun activities that will help make math fun and memorable. Or they may just be struggling with that concept today. Put it away, bring it back out tomorrow, and start fresh. He doesn’t need to get it the first time. Repetition is key; he will get it.
Routines can be changed up! Some of our most memorable days were when we turned our schedule upside down, literally. We would start the day with dessert, work our school schedule from the last subject first, and finish with breakfast when daddy got home. We would laugh and have fun throughout the day because it was unexpected and different. It is OK to switch it up sometimes. Take a field trip, bake cookies for a neighbor (they are still learning math and how to serve others), or have lunch outside with friends. The options are endless. This is not an every-week occurrence. Once a month will not set you back, but it will build memories and character.
Next, take time for yourself. OK, stop laughing! I know, you think that’s funny. I have three in elementary school, one in junior high, a toddler, and I just found out we are expecting baby number six. Bless you for even attempting to homeschool. When our day became a little hectic, I would stop everything and have the girls grab a book and give them 30 minutes of free reading. Not a schoolbook; something that was a true treat for them to read. If you have a reader who is not entirely independent, break out a hidden basket with puzzles, activity books, or a coloring book with crayons. Then it’s your turn. Get a favorite mug and pour yourself a cup of coffee or make a soothing tea. Better yet, go to the cabinet and pull out that bag of chocolate that you have hidden in a box of Raisin Bran cereal and have a few pieces. You are not just the schoolteacher. You are wife/husband, mom/dad, doctor, chauffeur, friend, cook, and maid. We have so many titles, don’t we? I decided to give myself a new title years ago: Domestic Engineer. 😊 We all need a break from time to time. By being refreshed, you are helping those that you love and are training every day. Remember, your children will feed off your energy, whether positive or negative. They are watching and learning by example.
Last but not least, give yourself grace! You are not called to do this by yourself. You are not on this journey alone! There are many moms and dads across this nation who are traveling this road with you. Talk to your spouse, a family member, a friend. Find a co-op within your community. Share your gifts and talents with other homeschool families. You may even be surprised that many are looking for encouragement too. Don’t try to be a homeschool superhero! If you need assistance, there are hundreds of options out there.
I hope the time you spent reading this allowed you to take a deep breath and realize that you are traveling a mighty road. Please know that I am praying for you and the thousands of learning-at-home families that you build memories while you are on this amazing journey! Remember, with God, all things are possible.