The amazingly creative learning activity you planned was a total bust and ended in toddler tears. You lost your keys somewhere between changing the baby’s diaper and packing the snacks for after soccer practice. The kids’ bad attitudes are quickly growing contagious, and you have absolutely zero plan for dinner.
I’ve been here. So many days.
(This week, it’s been chilly mornings and spring fever combined with a lost flash drive and a teething eleven-month-old!)
It’s no fun feeling like you want to give in to the chaos and wave good-bye to homeschooling out of obligation to your sanity!
No mama should feel like there aren’t solutions, so I’m wanting to share some encouragement with you. First of all, you’re not alone! Everyone has those chaotic days. Second, I’ve had enough of these days to figure out that there are solutions!
These are fifteen honest-to-goodness, tried-and-tested ways that really do help our family turn around a chaotic, no good, very bad homeschooling day. Hopefully some of them can help you on those crazy days, too.
- Turn up the tunes.
Music is SUCH a great mood booster. Tired of the Wee Kids Sing CD? Pop in something clean and happy that puts a smile on your face. Your kids will catch onto the music’s affect on you sooner than you realize!
- Go for a drive.
Especially when that baby is teething and will. not. nap. For older kids, have them play a quiet game of I-spy or the ABC game. Who knows, you may find yourselves at an amazing park or nature trail you’ve never been to before!
- Get outside.
Seriously. Even if it’s freezing cold. Even if it’s for ten minutes. Do it! That vitamin D does everyone good. 🙂 (I sometimes ask my five year old to just run from the front of our fence to the back of our fence while I bounce her younger brother for a few minutes on our porch. At least it gets our blood flowing!)
- Have a house-cleaning party.
Give each person a task, or for older kids, a whole room to work on. Work alongside littles, or set out on your own cleaning tasks. This leaves your kids with a set purpose other than academics for a short time, and leaves you with a clean house at the end!
- Take an impromptu field trip.
Make sure this field trip is somewhere close-by and that it really does simplify your day rather than complicate it. Our favorites are the library and the nature center.
- Build an indoor obstacle course.
Help littles build one with pillows, balls, big cardboard boxes, couch cushions or stuffed animals. Have older kids build one themselves! Obstacle courses help our bodies and our minds work, and they’re perfect for a brain break on a crazy day.
- Take a 20 minute timeout — for everyone
Sometimes you just need a timeout. Send each person – including you! – to a separate area. Make sure everyone has a quiet activity available (books, quiet toys in a pack and play, etc.) and take some time out for yourself to just breathe and regroup. This one helps me after a stressful lesson or activity.
- Make an afternoon/evening prep time.
Set aside ten to twenty minutes for kids to gather their own things for soccer or dance or whatever they have going on in the evening. Have little ones help with simple chores like sorting and putting away shoes, and setting the table for dinner later.
- Open the windows.
I know you can’t always do this in the dead of winter, but fresh air always gives me a fresh perspective. It can also invigorate the senses if your learning environment has been a bit tense.
- Work on a family project for an hour.
Plan a vegetable garden. Build a birdhouse. Create a new recipe. Do something out of the ordinary that allows everybody to take a break from the stress of the daily grind.
- Focus on only one subject for the day.
Forget trying to fit everything in on the chaotic, activity-filled days. Extra curriculars can really suck up energy, as well as time, so just focus on one subject – like science or language arts – for the school day. Dive as deep into whatever lesson you’re on as you can! Read books, go to the library and check out more books, do research online, watch a show about it on Netflix, write a journal entry about it, you name it. Now, at least for the day, learning can be rich without being stressful or hurried.
- Get cooking.
Use lunch and dinner as your learning time for the day! Measuring is math. Reading a recipe is language arts. Chemical reactions in the oven or on the stove is science. Cooking can be a great learning opportunity!
- Rotate the toys.
Sometimes kids – especially little ones – just need a change of scenery. Rotate your toys and shelve some of their regular ones. Your child may find a new favorite and spend an hour building something with those long-lost blocks, freeing up an hour for you to spend with an older child on a lesson.
- Do something kind as a family for another family in need.
Have everyone pitch in to make muffins, them take them to a friend, neighbor, or another family. Take drink orders from offices around your town and make a Sonic run for them. You could even go shopping for your local food bank and make a delivery. Character building is just as important as academia!
- Lean on friends!
Still having a rough day? Ask for help! See if your kids can have a play date with others while you do the grocery shopping, or invite a friend over for coffee to just shoot the breeze at the end of the day. I always appreciate the reminder that I’m not alone in the chaos (and joy) of mommy hood at the end of a rough day.
Have you found yourself in the midst of a chaotic homeschooling day? What are you favorite solutions?