Recently I participated in Simple Homeschool’s Homeschool Day in the Life series. You can read that post here. The post was shared on social media and, as a result, I made some connections with fellow homeschoolers. I received lots of positive feedback…
… and one negative comment.
Now, I’m a big girl.
Not only that, but I’m a big girl who shares her journey online for all to see. I get negative comments and I rarely let them ruffle my feathers. But this person, after seeing my post, felt that I wasn’t “engaging very much” in my children’s education.
And that stung.
Because, the way I see it, I engage all day long.
Before I was a homeschooler, I was an educator. I’ve always been serious about education. But now we’re talking about the education of my children. Homeschooling means that their education rests on my shoulders. Initially, that scared the holy heck out of me. But now, two years into this gig, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve realized that there is no one out there who could possibly take my children’s education more seriously.
Homeschooling gives you a new lens with which to view the world. Suddenly, everything becomes educational in a way that it wasn’t before.
Every dinner created together.
Every book read.
Every walk in the woods.
Every load of laundry.
Every movie night.
Every game played.
Everything becomes part of your homeschooling journey. I’m constantly looking for ways to make even the most mundane of tasks educational, valuable.
We are learning all the time.
And every night, once the kids are in bed, I think about the day in my head and I think about its good parts and ugly parts and fun parts and hard parts… and I wonder how I can do it better the next day.
Homeschooling has become my passion, it is a huge part of our lives.
So to imply that I wasn’t engaging very much with my children’s education because I paid some bills, took a shower, and let my children play alone together, well, it bugged me.
And so I shared my thoughts with the reader. Typically I don’t reply to hurtful comments, but I did this time:
All homeschooling parents must take showers and pay bills. Would I prefer to do this before my children are up for the day? Sure. I even said that in the post. But does this always happen? No. And I know I am not alone. Life is filled with bills and spills and service calls. This was one of those days. I share our homeschool journey online and I try very hard to keep it real.
I’m actively involved in my children’s education, but I am also working hard to raise children who are independent and self-sufficient. My children do most of their work at our kitchen island. I am sitting there with them, talking to them, answering questions, and helping them when they need help. When I was paying bills, they were beside me.
I do not think that taking a quick shower while my children are playing and listening to an audiobook is in any way detrimental to their education. In fact, I think it is important that they play together, without me.
I think the interpretation of this post depends upon one’s homeschool philosophy. I lean more toward the unschoolish/child-led side of things and, as such, I believe my children are learning all the time. I think it’s important for children to see parents managing the household and to participate in that, as part of a team.
And speaking of teams, I love when homeschoolers support one another. We are all working hard to do what is best for the most important people in our lives. That might look different for different families, and I think that is okay…. wonderful even! To each his own.
And the reader replied positively and was emphatic that she wasn’t judging and we joked about homeschooling multiple kids and everything was all fine and dandy.
Which just goes to show you that people are, by nature, kind. And sometimes folks just quickly write stuff on the internet without thinking about the impact their word may have. I’m sure we’ve all been on both ends of this type of scenario.
In other words, it all worked out great and I’m over it.
But… (and this is why I’m posting about this whole thing)…
…it got me thinking about how I feel the need to be so ON all the time as a homeschool mom. And, most days, I truly feel that we are doing okay over here. My children are happy, they are learning, and I am enjoying this unplanned path.
Maybe I woke up with a headache.
Maybe I slept terribly.
Maybe everyone else seems off, despite my efforts.
Maybe someone in the family is sick.
Some days, for whatever reason, this homeschooling mom wakes up and doesn’t feel like homeschooling.
I know I’m not alone. This happens to everyone, not just homeschoolers.
No one is immune.
You can’t be ON all the time.
And so, while most days I feel that I am engaged in my children’s learning, there are also some days when I am just… not.
What I’m trying to say is that there are some days when that reader’s words would have been true.
Some days, I just want to phone it in.
10 Things To Do On Days When You Feel Like Phoning It In
I am a firm believer in allowing enough space between all of the things in our lives. Children should have ample space to just be, to sit with themselves, to get lost in play, to create an imaginary world. This is how we discover our life’s true passions. We find it in the space between. Sometimes, I feel guilty. In the go-go-go culture that we live in, sometimes I wonder if I’m doing enough. But then I get frazzled, and so do my children, and we cut back or flee altogether. We crave a less hurried, simpler day-to-day.
It can be hard to ignore what everyone else is doing and simplify, but every time I allow myself to simplify, we all feel better. This is why I re-read Simplicity Parenting at least once a year. It’s a healthy reminder that, sometimes, it’s okay to wake up and declare it a do nothing day!
I find that even on our worst days, art calms us down. I know it can be messy, but I do think it’s worth it. On the days I wake up and don’t want to do anything, I sometimes suggest that the kids have an art-palooza. I tell them that they can take out whatever materials they’d like so long as they use a tray and remember that they are responsible for helping with clean-up. Of course, this activity is even better when the weather is cooperating so that they can do all that art outside, which brings me to my next suggestion:
Nature is good for the soul. If you don’t believe me, read anything by Richard Louv. We are a family of outdoor lovin’ people. We’d rather be outdoors than in. Everyone is happier outside. On our crabbiest days, I always try to get the kids outdoors for a bit. The fresh air, exercise, and beauty leave us all feeling refreshed. One of our favorite activities is grabbing our nature packs and going for a hike.
It is often said that play is the science of childhood, and I whole-heartedly agree. Nowadays, children are not allowed enough space to play. On the days when you wake up feeling under the weather, or crabby, or worn out, just let the kids play. Take out something they haven’t played with for a while and let them have at it. Let them get lost in their imaginary worlds and trust that they are doing important work.
Music always makes me feel better. I’m one of those people who is almost always listening to music. When we renovated our kitchen last year, my husband bought me a Bose SoundLink and that thing is on all the time. We listen to classical music while the kids are working on academics and then we switch over to our favorite artists once the work is done. We also use it to listen to Sparkle Stories, our new obsession this year.
Board games are fun and educational. The same is true for puzzles. If you wake up and you feel like you want to phone it in, why not dust off some of your favorites and see how many games you can play in one day?
Even on our worst days, I read to my kids. I have always been a bookworm, and I know the research. I believe reading aloud is the best thing you can do for your children’s future success, for so many different reasons. If you are having a phone it in day, read one book to your children. You can rest assured knowing that you did do something.
We aren’t a huge screen family over here and so when I am having a rough day, I don’t mind letting my kids binge on screens for a while. Whether it is Khan Academy, SKYBRARY, PBS Kids, or whatever, they always end up learning something interesting! One day of screen bingeing will not ruin their education.
I’ve posted before about how we use movie night as part of our homeschool. We approach movies the same way we approach books: as a conversation and opportunity for learning. When we watch a movie, we talk about it all: genre, characters, setting, plot, use of music, prediction/foreshadowing, how the movie makes us feel, and resolution. At the end of the movie, we rate it and say why, and then my littlest two poppies draw a sketch from the movie while my oldest writes down a few thoughts about the movie. We save all of these “movie reviews” as part of our homeschool portfolio!
And, if you are feeling guilty about having a movie marathon, why not pop in a fantastic documentary series and call it science? There are some amazing documentaries available nowadays at the click of a button!
This does not have to be anything overwhelming. I find that if I can get myself out the door on one of our phone it in days, I feel better. Sometimes we’ll go for a hike in nearby conservation land, sometimes we’ll go to one of our favorite farms, and sometimes it’s just a trip to the library and playground. Whatever it is, a change of scenery even a simple one- can work wonders.
It’s okay to have one of those days
Homeschooling, while unexpected, has been an amazing journey for our family. Most days, I feel like I am doing a pretty good job. Some days, I don’t. Some days I want to phone it in. And I know I’m not alone.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. You cannot be ON all the time- no one can! So yes, there are some days when I’m not as engaged with my children’s learning… but – guess what?- they are still learning on those days.
Learning happens all the time when you relax and let it… even on those phone-it-in days.
Now, it’s your turn: When was the last time you wanted to phone it in? What did you end up doing? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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