Having one of those days?
How about a bad week? Month?
Listen, it happens. We are all human. 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. 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?
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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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. Bonobo 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...and the next!
- 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, friends...you 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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" The Doctor 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 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.
- 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!"
- Teens need 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.
- 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...
- 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...
- 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...
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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