How to Hold on and Keep Homeschooling When the Bad Days Come

I’ve purposely broken the taboo and admitted to you that all homeschoolers have bad days. It’s just true. The kids are sick. The milk is spilled. The cat left a dead bunny on the porch. And, oh yeah, the baby just rubbed Vasoline in his head. We all have those days. So what do you do when those real life bad days come?

There have been days I felt like calling the closest school and enrolling my kids. (“And, by the way, is it too late to send the bus around for them today?!”) There have been days that I have called my husband near tears, feeling pretty much like a failure. But over the years- and by the grace of God- I’ve learned a few coping strategies. I can’t guarantee that it’s easy to use these strategies in the heat of the moment, but I can tell you that all of these can be helpful as you struggle to overcome the bad day (week, month) you’re in the middle of.

Homeschooling when it's hard

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That’s not just a Sunday School answer, friends. I’m very serious. There are days when the bickering is intense and I’ve yelled at people and kids have cried that I call the kids together and say “We just need to pray and start over.” It isn’t a magic charm, but it does help to refocus us on what’s important. And sometimes we all need to get our hearts right before God and with each other before we can “do school.”

Change it up. 

If we’ve had several hard days or weeks, that can sometimes signal the need for a change. Maybe there’s something we need to drop in our schedule because we’re doing too much. Maybe there’s a curriculum that isn’t working that we need to rethink. I’ve noticed that if we’re having hard days regularly, there is probably something that needs to be done differently.

Go outside. 

If the weather outside is beautiful, sometimes we just need a change of scenery. If there’s work we can take outside, just being outdoors can sometimes settle wired or grumpy children (and mamas).

Take a field trip. 

I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I do thrive on routines, and so do most of my kids. But when we just can’t seem to get off on the right foot, it has sometimes helped to chuck the routine and head out the door. We have a yearly membership to our local nature museum (always a nice Christmas gift!), and it is usually empty during the week. If we decide to go somewhere on the spur of the moment, that’s a good choice- and free!

Drop everything and read. 

When I was young and read the book Ramona Quimby, Age 8, I loved this idea that the main character’s teacher introduced to their class. It was called DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). Because I love reading, I adopted this little acronym. I used it as a classroom teacher, and I’ve used it for homeschooling. When we’re having a rocky day, and I can’t seem to get anything else right, we can always stop and read. I’ll read out loud to all the kids or some of the kids. It’s definitely learning. And it’s bonding. Reading together has a special pull to bring us together. Here are some great resources for celebrating a D.E.A.R. Day anytime.

Homeschooling when it's hard

So there you go. When a real life bad homeschooling day hits, you don’t have to start packing school lunches and looking for the closest bus stop. Take a breath, remember all the great reasons you’re homeschooling in the first place, and try one of these strategies.

Do you have a go to strategy when you run into those hard days? Let me know about it.

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