Some days, nothing works out. The toddler screams and throws his toys. The four-year-old refuses to nap and the seven-year-old crosses her arms and pouts over her math. All. At. The. Same. Time. You cleaned your house yesterday, but today, dirty dishes cover the counters, an unattended spill dries on the carpet, and toys threaten to trip you everywhere you walk. On days like these, do you ever daydream about going to the office? Do you envy your friends who leave the house every day to work with adults instead of uncooperative, crying kids?
In my worst moments, I wondered if being home with my children was worth it. In my best moments, I knew it was.
The truth about a bad day homeschooling
We know that everyone experiences a bad day homeschooling (sometimes it’s a bad week!) and usually, good days far outnumber the bad. But, when we are in the midst of it, we can only think about that moment. Some of these thoughts may enter our minds:
- I bet Sarah never has these problems with her kids. Her kids always do whatever she tells them.
- This is the third day (or longer) in a row that they have been acting like this. Tomorrow will be the same thing. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. I give up.
- I wish I could go (back) to work where people appreciate me and I don’t have to deal with these ungrateful, uncooperative, whiny people anymore.
Every single one of these thoughts is a LIE. Scripture tells us that:
There is no one righteous.
- “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). That means that your friends’ children sin. They misbehave, throw tantrums, lie, slander their siblings, and all the rest. And if they appear godly in public, perhaps 2 Timothy 3:5 applies. Many children behave one way in public when they are with their parents and another way when out of the public eye.
Perhaps your child is going through a challenging season.
- The season will pass (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). The circumstances may not change, but our attitude can. We can learn to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13), and lean on God’s peace and strength. We can pray for that child, we can ask God for guidance, and we can exercise patience. Ultimately, all sinful behavior is against God, not just us.
“Do not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
- Jesus never said that following him would be easy. Being home with children and furthermore, molding their education, as well as their character, is an act of spiritual warfare. Check out what Paul went through as he spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. He endured flogging, stoning, persecution and danger, hunger, shipwreck after shipwreck, sleeplessness, and imprisonment (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Our Lord Jesus endured beating, flogging, and crucifixion for us. Suddenly, a few sinful kids don’t seem so bad. Are we after the world’s approval, the world’s praise, or God’s? Remember that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:25). The world says that staying home with our kids is a waste of our talent. The world thinks that homeschooling is an educational choice only, and our graduates look the same as other young people. God says otherwise.
Things you can do when you have a bad day homeschooling
First of all, admit that it is just one of those days. Recognize that everyone has them, whether at work or at school. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and try one of these suggestions:
When I feel discouraged, depressed, or otherwise really negative and down, one of the best ways to chase away the grouchiness is worship music. Get out your favorite CD or MP3 and play some worship music. Sing with your children. God doesn’t care about your voice. He cares about your heart. Close your eyes and let the Lord breathe new life into you and your children. Don’t really enjoy singing? Maybe you like drawing. One variation of worship is Bible journaling, which is basically an illustrated Bible.
Have a read aloud day.
Maybe this is already how you homeschool, but instead of the narrative history books or biographies, read something fun. Maybe Wind in the Willows or Jungle Book or another good story. Make some tea and cookies. Read more about fun aloud ideas you can even use with wiggly kids, if that’s your challenge . Another place for information about reading aloud with your kids is Read Aloud Revival.
Leave the house and do something.
Go for a walk. Play at the park. Visit a museum. Maybe you are hesitant because that seems like a reward for bad behavior. However, a change of environment can move a child from a “stuck” place to a better place. It can improve your mood, too. It is the antidote for a number of things, depression and health-related issues included.
Consider changing your homeschool method.
If your battles center around lessons, maybe your method is not a good fit for your child. Our personal preferences may not suit the unique personality and learning needs of each of our children. Some children thrive with books and worksheets; some thrive with crafts and experiments. I know moms who hated crafts and messy experiments and only offered their children books. Their kids are grown now, but often voiced that they hated homeschooling and they never loved learning. Sometimes we have to conquer our own discomfort to better meet the needs of our children.
Maybe you’re having a bad day because your kids are stressed out, you’re stressed out, and you just need some homeschool stress relief. Go ahead. Take a few breaths and have a group primal scream session!
A bad day homeschooling can bring blessings, as it forces us to grow in our faith. The next time a bad day hits you, thank the Lord Jesus and remember to believe truth, not lies. And, change it up to get out of the funk.