One of the very best things you can do for yourself as a parent with children at home is to be prepared for those days when all seems lost in homeschooling.
Make a list today of simple ideas you can use to connect with your children, hold the space for peace in your home, and maintain your basic daily rhythm on even the most challenging days.
I like to call it a “What To Do When All Seems Lost” list. For those days when you want to hide in the closet and cry, when you’re counting the hours until bedtime, or when you’re fantasizing about sending your children away on the school bus.
A minimum viable homeschooling day can be as simple as following my 20-20-20 rule of thumb. Twenty minutes of reading aloud (with snacks & tea, for sure!); twenty minutes of short, simple games or activities, drawing, or math practice; and twenty minutes of walking or playing outside.
Do these activities in any order.
Then make yourself another cup of tea, gather your own handwork, journal, a book of poetry, anything that nourishes you, get quiet and let your children settle into the space you have created.
Here are some ideas that have worked well in our family. Keep a list like this in your homeschooling binder with your planning materials, on your refrigerator, inside your kitchen cabinet, or somewhere you’ll see it when you’re feeling particularly frayed or frustrated.
What To Do When All Seems Lost in Homeschooling
- Put quiet music on in the kitchen, even if no one is sitting or working there. You’ll still hear and feel it drifting through the house.
- Put in a load of wash. Do a few minutes of meal prep. Any simple chore that takes less than 10 minutes and can ground you in your rhythm.
- Read aloud, snuggled on the coach or in mama and daddy’s bed! Read a few extra chapters of your current read aloud, read from a volume of poetry, or pull out some old favorites.
- Print out some mandala coloring pages of varying difficulty so that everyone can color together.
- Create a sheet of math review or practice with an online tool such as www.worksheetworks.com/. You can copy the problems onto notebook paper or a small chalkboard and work side by side with your child.
- Write letters or postcards to friends or family.
- Make cooked playdough and play with it while it is still warm. Use gems, beads, rocks, shells, or noodles to create mandala mosaics.
- Play hide and seek with any flashcards you might be working on. Hide the cards around the house or yard and your children can hunt and solve them. Or hide the dolls, farm animals, gnomes, or any favorite toys.
- Decorate your sidewalk with inspiring messages.
- Snuggle with pets. Brush them or give them a bath.
- Put on a puppet show or act out a story. Rehearse it and then perform it for the family at dinner.
- Look through old photographs. Notice how much you’ve all grown and changed or how things were different or the same in the photos.
- Get outside – go for a walk, sit on the porch or out in the yard. Notice the birds or rain or plants.
- Go to the woods or a pond with a walking path around it.
- Let go of plans and know that you can always come back to them tomorrow.
- Recite a prayer over your children.
- Remember what’s important: a connection with our child(ren) is more important than accomplishing a particular task.
- Don’t try to figure it out right now. Things might look different later or tomorrow.
- Move your body! That’s right, even just 10 minutes of movement or stretching can improve your mood. (I have a post-it note up on my wall that reads, “Move, Move, Move for your best self.”)
- Ask for help from the spiritual world before bed (help is available, we need only ask).
- Call a friend.
- Plan a “one week off” block suitable for all ages on a topic of interest to all, such as snow or cooking around the world or trees.
- Work on establishing a good rhythm to anchor you through ups and downs. (Be sure to get a copy of the Save Your Homeschooling Day Rhythm Guide)
Want more support? Check out the Waldorf Homeschooling Simplified toolkit or the Homeschool with Waldorf mentorship community. Details here.