Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Homeschool Moms

The other day I asked some of my friends for some ideas of blog topics to talk about here at Crazy Messy Loud.  One of them answered with this:

I want to read about keeping your cool when your well planned day goes into complete chaos.

We all have those days, right?  (Right?  It isn't just me, is it?)  I, myself, am one of those moms who likes to plan things.  I'm great at planning.  In fact, I'm far better at planning things than at actually doing (I'm also a bit of a procrastinator)!  I like to say, here's our schedule and our lesson plan and we're going to do everything in order, on time, without any interruptions or problems...or meltdowns.

But...then this crazy little thing called life sets in.  Some days go as planned, sure.  Some days...not so much.  I truly used to be one of those super uptight moms who would just get so stressed when things didn't go as planned.  So I've been there.  I've just mellowed over the years (sometimes uptight mom tries to come back, and I have to bind and gag her and throw her back in the dungeon).

We've all been there: the day is planned out so nicely in our book.  We get up early and make sure the house is ready.  We make a good breakfast.  Then one by one our darling little angels wake up.  This one is cranky, that one is grumpy.  This one wants to argue, the other one wants to whine.  

"I hate math!" 

"This is boring!" 

"Why do we have to do this?"  

"You're so mean!"

Our perfect day quickly crumbles, doesn't it?

If you're like me (and I think most of you are), your reaction is a combination of feelings: disappointment, hopelessness, helplessness, frustration, despair, maybe a little anger, bitterness, resentment.  Add some envy of those moms who (seem to) have it all together and mix well.

Well, I'm here to tell you: it is not, I repeat: NOT the end of the world.

Nor is it the end of your career as a homeschool mom.

Nor does it mean you are not a good mom.

Or that your children are destined to become hooligans.

(But that's kind of a fun word, isn't it?  HOOLIGANS!)

So, here's my plan for dealing with the days when things don't go as...well...planned.  

That's right.  Time out for Mommy!  Now, you may not really need to "sit there and think about what you've done wrong," but you could definitely benefit from five minutes of slow breathing.  Ignore the mess.  Let the kids eat some candy.  Put the baby in the swing (or the Boppy, or whatever).  Find the quietest place in the house.

OK.  Now...breathe.  That's right.  Just breathe.  In and out, slow and steady.  You might even need to cry a little.  That's OK.  Close your eyes.  Block out the chaos.  Now, start talking.  To God, that is.  Yes, God, remember Him?  The one who gave you these children and won't give you more than you can handle with His help?  So this is when you pray.  It is not when you say, "Oh, God, please make my children be good and stop driving me crazy."  Nope, sorry.  This is when you say, "Oh, God, please help me teach my children to be obedient while still letting them be children.  Please help me have fun with them and not be uptight.  Help me see what it is they need right now from me instead of trying to make them fit into what I want to do.  Help!"

Now, breathe some more.

Once you've finished your deep breathing (and hopefully not hyperventilated in the process), it's time to face the chaos.  Now is not the time to crack down.  Oh, no, it is not.  Now is the time to....

Do something FUN!!!!

That's right.  Get over it and do something your kids will enjoy.  Go outside and spin til you fall down.  Pull out all the towels and play dress up with them.  Pile every pillow and cushion in the house in the living room floor and take turns diving into it.  Make a dozen paper airplanes to send sailing through the house.  Play some crazy loud music and dance like a fool.

What?  you say...  Are you insane?  The chaos is what's stressing me and you want me make more chaos?  Why, yes, yes I do.  Because right now what your kids need is someone to show them it's OK to let loose.  They need to see that all that pent up energy can be channeled into fun things that are nice instead of angry, grouchy things.  

And because you need to remember what it's like to be a kid.

So get on with it.  Do something fun.  

Once your kids (and you!) are good and worn out, plop them all down on that giant pile of pillows.  Read a book.  Tell a story.  Share some jokes.  Sing a silly song.  Keep having fun, just do it in a slightly calmer way.

The secret here is this: you're winding the kids down slowly.  Before long, they'll be ready for some quiet time themselves.  More than that, they'll be happy.

Once everything has calmed down for a while, enlist some help to clean the mess.  Make it fun.  Clean while making silly sounds or singing silly songs.  Talk about the fun stuff you did while you clean.  

Have something to eat.  Pick a couple of things you had planned to get done that day and go ahead and try to do them.  Let your kids know you're on their side when the work gets hard.  

Now, that all sounds great, right?  But what about all that work you're now behind on, huh?  (I know that's what you're thinking!)

Well, I'm going to let you all in on a secret.  

You are not Atlas.  The weight of the world does not rest on your shoulders.

Yeah, I know how this line of thinking goes: if my kids don't get every page in their math book done, people will think all homeschoolers everywhere are inept and parents aren't possibly qualified to teach.

Wait, WHAT?!?

It sounds ridiculous when you say it that way, right?  And yet most (all?) of us think that way sometimes.  As homeschoolers, we constantly feel the scrutiny of society.  But I am telling you now (and you'd be wise to listen) that every single tiny thing you do does not affect society's opinion of homeschoolers.  If your child never masters algebra, it is not the end of homeschooling in the United States.  

So, loosen those reins a little.  Realize that if learning is boring or too hard, your kids will not go along with your plans, however well made.  If days of not getting everything done happen more often than not, it's likely that it's your plans that need to change, not your kids.  (That's a whole other blog post!)

Sometimes your plans will be interrupted by things completely beyond your control - emergencies, injuries, sickness, natural disaster, projectile vomiting, a pet snake gotten loose in the house (yikes!)....on those days, just go with it.  Keep your cool and your kids will keep theirs.  Whatever you planned to do today can be done tomorrow, or next week, or whenever. Prioritize.

And for those days when out of nowhere you get slammed with things that just don't go your way, cranky kids and temperamental toddlers (or teens?  LOL)...breathe deep, say a prayer, have some fun, burn some energy, regroup when it's all over, and know that tomorrow is a new day, no bad thing lasts forever, and if you only get 148 of those 160 math pages done by the end of the year, it really is OK.  

1 comment:

  1. BIG....SIGH...............

    Thank you for writing! I think your blog is the first one that I can really relate to. This was wonderful.



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