I think the most common response I get from folks when they hear that I homeschool is something like
“I’m not patient enough to homeschool.”
I usually respond something along the lines of “Me neither!”
While instagram may paint of lovely picture of the homeschool life, the reality of being with your kids 24/7 while also having to teach them phonics and long division is a recipe for testing your patience.
Anger and frustration have long been a struggle of mine, but I have grown in this area. Here are a couple ideas that have helped me be more like the mom I want my kids to have.
Have a LOOSE Plan
People tend to fall into two categories when it comes to planning out the day. Some like to assign a task to every minute and become slaves to the clock. Others prefer spontaneity and fly by the seat of their pants, often failing to accomplish much and feeling chaotic.
When I lean too heavily one way or the other, I’m bound to lose my patience when things go sideways.
I have found that having a rhythm works better than a schedule. I know what subjects were going to cover that day and in what order. I also have a couple benchmark times I shoot for like when we should be wrapping up breakfast, when “elevenses” or morning time should start, etc.
I also have found that if I were to plan out details of what I want to accomplish that week, I end up frustrated and behind. So instead of writing down what math lessons we will get done the next week, I keep a “doner” not a planner. I write down what we did accomplish that day. It ends the day with victory instead of defeat, which helps me get back in the saddle the next morning.
I do plan three times a year, but it’s big picture stuff like what books we’ll read in conjunction with our history spine, what composers will deep dive into, which Shakespeare plays we’ll enjoy together and so on. That way I know where we’re headed when we finish a book or an artist and I can just keep going without being derailed.
Get Your Sensory Needs Met
If you’re a long time reader, you know that I am big on reminding people that everyone has sensory needs.
That includes you homeschool mama!
When our sensory system is out of whack, it can be so easy to lose our cool.
Let me give you an example from my own life:
I have found that if I am barefoot in my house, and my floors are dirty (which is pretty regularly), the grit on the bottom of my feet is subconsciously annoying and distracting. My body gets more tense, my brain can’t focus, and I get short with my family. I know this about myself now and usually remember to wear something on my feet to avoid this. But when I don’t, it’s funny how long it takes me to realize that the reason I’m being impatient really has nothing to do with these rambunctious kiddos!
Consider these common ways that sensory input influences your patience level.
- The cacophony of kids noises is overwhelming.
- Fluorescent lights make you anxious or on edge.
- You’re cold or hot.
- You’re all touched out.
- You chew on a pen, tap your foot, twirl your hair.
- The list could be endless.
You don’t necessarily have a sensory processing disorder (though you might), because EVERYONE has sensory needs.
It’s time to start paying attention to your body and getting those needs met, so you can be fully present and able to exert self control.
Sometimes homeschoolers start to think of themselves as an island. If we view ourselves as the only person who can educate our kids in anyway, we’ll be quick to burn out and take it out on our family.
It is not admitting defeat to outsource a subject. Math is a major triggering subject for one of my kids (and myself) so my husband has offered to teach him that subject when he gets home from work. My dyslexic son has gotten tutoring from folks via the internet.
Make sure you are surrounded by a community of homeschoolers. Having other parents who understand what you’re going through will help immensely!
We go to a co-op once a week where the kids do the things I’m not so keen on like history projects, science experiments, and writing. (It should be noted that I LOVE writing and teach it to the older kids at the co-op. But it’s wonderful to have someone else besides “mom” give input in these more subjective skills like writing.)
Take Some Time Off
One of the major perks of homeschooling is the flexibility. If you find your schooling is in a rut, use your freedom to break free. Depending on circumstances, you can shake things up in a number of ways.
Here are a couple options:
- Do school in a new location (outside, the park, the library, etc)
- Call it a half day and do something fun together like a game, movie, or just take a nap!
- Go on a field trip for the heck of it.
- Take a day off to get other pressing matters done so that you’re not overwhelmed with housework or errands.
- Take a week off to get perspective and energy.
We do school through the summer (mostly because it’s too hot to do much else) and this gives us LOTS of wiggle room to take time off when we need it.
When You Blow It
While these ideas can help you reduce your impatience, we need to also have a plan for those times when we lose our patience.
When we get angry and yell or let our frustration out in some other way that hurt our kids, we must be quick to repent and ask our kids for forgiveness.
Our humility and desire to repair relationships will speak volumes to them. And it may very well be the most important lesson of the day.