The kids are yelling at each other, the house is a mess, and during school, nothing is going well. We started with our Bible time, and the wheels came completely off. I hate to admit that this has happened more than once in my life as a homeschool mom. I have even locked myself in my bathroom after locking myself in my room because I could still hear the kids.
These days are inevitable because I am a sinner. Moreover, as much as I try to say how great my kids are, they are sinners too. In a house full of sin, we are going to have selfishness, frustration, and anger, among other problems. That is just a part of life. In addition, while I can talk about what the scriptures tell us to do, I also lose it at times. On days when everything goes wrong, I have some tips for what has helped our family.
Step One: I always call my husband and say, “That’s it! I’m done homeschooling, I REALLY mean it this time, and the kids HAVE to go to school!” I have the best husband on the planet. He is so patient and loving when I call him. He lets me vent and is a voice of reason. He agrees that we can talk about putting the kids in school, but I think he learned that trick in our first birthing class. In our class, they said that all women ask for drugs and that as a husband, you agree that drugs would be great, but you have an agreement to delay the epidural. The husband is to say that we can talk again about the epidural once the contractions pass. Maybe that is just kicking the can down the road, but it allows me to vent, take a breath, and move to the next step.
Step Two: Stop school and cry if you need to. There is no sense in trying to do school when everyone is upset. Over the years, I have even learned that there is a point where my kids cannot learn something. It is hard to describe. It is not just an attitude, but also almost a blockage that needs to be cleared and does not only appear on the bad days. I see this blockage sometimes in my kids, and when we get to this place, learning just cannot happen. I used to try to force through these times, which would take a learning block and turn it into a bad day. If it is just a subject problem or a learning block, move to the next subject. When the wheels fall off and everyone is upset and crying, stop, go to the park or the zoo, do something fun, not because anyone deserves a treat, but out of mercy and grace to focus on the relationship. If possible, play some games together. However, there are times that everyone needs to find something to do alone for a little while to calm down and then try again.
It is easy to say that this is what must be done today. I myself am a box checker. If the curriculum asks us to do something, then that is what is on our schedule for the day. I hate getting off schedule. I also feel like we need to finish everything. When we get to the end of May and there is still 8 weeks of curriculum to complete, I feel like we need to school through the entire summer. Sometimes the lessons that we need to learn the most are about relationships and forgiveness. There are not any boxes for those lessons, but they can be the most powerful things we learn as homeschool families. I learn that my kids copy my sins, and they are a mirror to who I am. That is very humbling to see my sin through my children. It brings me to my knees. I must ask my children for forgiveness and I must ask God for forgiveness. We all need to learn to put our selfishness and pride aside. We need to learn that our relationships are more important then being right. That love is the most important gift we have.
Step Three: Then give yourself freedom to ignore the house chores and the cooking. You should have some meals in the freezer that you can pull out and defrost on these days. I used to call them emergency meals. I was never prepared enough to cook ahead of time and freeze them, but we would purchase some stir fry meals from Trader Joe’s and have dinner ready in 10 minutes, or even just order a pizza and have Daddy pick it up on the way home. Granted, it is not a healthy option, but it helps on these days when you are drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Step Four: Once the kids are in bed, take a bath, listen to some worship music, and praise God because He is in control. He allows us to go through the valleys so the mountaintops are brighter and sunnier. Realize that we are forgiven, and that we can forgive our children. Tomorrow is a brand-new day and joy comes in the morning!
I would love to say that I always have a peaceful house, that we do family worship daily, that my children never disobey and are always cheerful. Unfortunately, those would be lies. We do all of it at times, in brief snippets, but inever consistently, day after day, and week after week. The reality is that we are all sinners and sometimes giving ourselves permission to put the books down and learn to love each other is the best lesson of all.
Hugs to each of you on this journey with me,