Surviving the Hard DaysMar 14, 2015
Surviving the Hard Days: 5 Practical Tips to Survive Another Homeschool Day
This post first appeared in the California Parent Educator Digital Magazine -- March 2015
Exhaustion & hard days happen frequently in our homeschool, -- and I know I’m not alone in this. All homeschool parents face those days when they ask themselves, “Why did I decide to homeschool? What in the world did I get myself into?”
I’ve seen moms throw in the towel and re-enroll their kids in schools. I’ve known moms who struggle with the nagging thoughts that they are just not cut out for homeschooling their kids. I’ve witnessed moms curled up in the corner of their room crying out to the Lord to make the day go faster so they can put their kids to bed and get a break -- oh wait, that was me.
We all have bad days! They are a part of life whether you are homeschooling or not.
If you have a child, you will get overwhelmed at some point. Heck, if you breathe air and have a pulse, you will get overwhelmed at some point.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is the backdrop to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Mark 6:31-34 tells us that when Jesus and His disciples were tired and needed some rest they tried to get away by boat, but the crowd followed them. What I love about this story is that it says in verse 34 that “when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them...”
Jesus Got Tired!
Jesus got tired. He was the Word made flesh, and in His flesh He got tired. I’m not alone! I’m inspired by this story because although Jesus had been meeting the needs of thousands of people all day long (and I thought having five kids was demanding), He “had compassion” and kept working to bless people.
Know that it’s normal to get tired and want to throw in the towel with homeschooling --well, parenting in general sometimes. [Tweet "Know that it’s normal to get tired and want to throw in the towel with homeschooling --well, parenting in general sometimes. "]But we serve a God who understands those feelings. What I find even more encouraging is that He doesn’t tell us we have to try to go through life using our own strength. Sometimes I think He purposely gives me more than I can handle just so that I have to turn to Him faster for strength and endurance.
So when those hard days hit, and you feel tired and burned out with your homeschool year, here are a few practical tips to help you survive to homeschool another day.
1) Pray! & make sure you are getting time in the Word.
This may sound so basic and obvious. But when I honestly look back at my most stressful days, I often find that I was “too busy” to take time to pray and be in the Word. Now I try to keep in mind that I’m always going to be “too busy,” and I have to make time to get in the Word (even if it means putting a video on for the kids to do it).
2) Get outside!
Just do something to change things up a bit! Whether you plan an impromptu field trip, nature walk, or just do school under a tree at the park, break up your “daily grind” and get outside. I’m a homebody by nature, so this is sometimes hard for me. But the days I do it, everyone comes home happy (& my little ones are ready for a nap).
3) Take time to write out all the reasons that you started homeschooling!
If you didn’t do this when you first started, you really need to do it now! There is nothing more empowering than seeing this list on a long, hard day. It will inspire you to stay the course and hang in there when the going gets tough. Reminding yourself of your big-picture goals for homeschooling helps to break through the tunnel vision we get when we’re having a particularly exhausting day. There are so many amazing reasons to homeschool our kids -- and I’m sure you’ve already seen many blessings and much fruit from it. But it’s easy to forget when you’re tired.
4) Phone a Friend!
It’s important to know who the “safe people” are to call and get encouragement from on the not-so-fun days of homeschooling. Calling a family member or friend who doesn’t support your decision to homeschool is not the right person to call. Calling a fellow homeschool parent is sometimes just the right pick-me-up you need to make it another day. It also always helps to know you are not alone. I will admit to being a bit of a homeschool conference junkie. I usually buy several CDs of talks while I’m there. So, often I find encouragement from listening to my “conference friends” while taking a little walk. I get back to the house feeling motivated to stay the course.
5) Plan some extra fun! Take a day off!
It’s okay to take a day off for fun! Life is education! We often forget that when we are trying to check every box on our curriculum checklist. [Tweet "It’s okay to take a day off for fun! Life is education! We often forget that when we are trying to check every box on our curriculum checklist. "]Plan something fun to do -- or you can just mix things up a bit in your normal homeschool day. When I’m having too many days that are causing me to go a bit crazy, I plan a “Crazy Day.” My kids love it!
When they come downstairs and see me with my clown wig on, they know it’s a Crazy Day! We usually go out for breakfast (with the clown wig on), then do something fun like go bowling or play miniature golf (this counts as PE and math if you have the kids keeping score). Sometimes we’ll just have fun in the backyard with some shaving cream. We have a glass door, so I smear shaving cream all over it and let the kids take turns creating a drawing (see, we are doing art). Sometimes I’ll plan a fun little scavenger hunt for our lunch or outing (so they have to “read” the clues).
We might finish off our Crazy Day with a homemade pizza and popcorn party and watch a fun movie. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll have them write a quick, easy sentence or two about what we’ve done. But most of the time, we just let the pictures tell the story.
All in all, just hang in there and know you are not alone. Not only has Jesus had tiring days filled with lots of needy people, but there is a whole community of homeschool families out there who can encourage and inspire you. So, when the going gets tough, try some of these ideas to get yourself through to another day.
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