We all have bad days homeschooling, and if we don't learn to handle them well, they can have us threatening to take the government up on their offer to transport, feed, and educate our children on the taxpayer's dime. Planning for bad days is the best way to not let them throw us off course, either emotionally or from our homeschooling vision.
Let me start out by saying what this post is NOT- this post is not a, "If you have a bad day homeschooling, scrap it all and go outside" kind of post. Personally, we have too many "bad" days to do that. We would never get any homeschooling done! What I hope to do is offer some steps for approaching the "bad day" so that you can continue on with grit.
First, I thought it might be necessary to define what I consider a bad day. Sometimes when the kids don't want to do what I ask and then their tempers start to rage, then my temper starts to rage, too. It's hard to recover from the emotional turmoil of it all, and that's what I'm hoping to help with here.
I've used affiliate links in this post to share some things that we use in our home. You can learn more about affiliate links in my policies.
1. Don't label it a bad day
In my experience, as soon as you label it a bad day, it all goes downhill from there. It's more tempting to want to quit or emotionally retreat when we have given it the "bad day" designation. Learn to talk yourself through it. Instead of thinking, "This is such a bad day, there's no use in trying," reframe your thoughts into something more constructive: "We're really struggling with __________ right now. I need to cool down a little before I try to solve this problem." It's amazing what changing our thoughts can do for us, although admittedly, I never think of this in the melted-down moment. It takes practice when we aren't on the brink of emotional crisis.
2. Stop and pray
It's important that our children see us handle difficult situations through prayer. When we're feeling upset for a wide array of reasons, praying usually helps us. First of all, it quiets everyone from whatever chaos we're enduring. It also let's us all focus on God instead of ourselves, and that gives us a quick attitude adjustment. I'm not saying that prayer amongst a hard day will suddenly solve all of your problems, but I am saying it helps point your children, and you, to the only one who can solve them.
3. Take a walk
Now, I know I promised that this wasn't a "scrap it and go outside" kind of post, but there is value in getting outside when everyone is out-of-sorts. The difference here is that your walk can be a part of your day that helps you get back on track, not a large portion of your day in which you were trying to escape the hard realities of homeschooling. Getting outside can help improve your emotional well-being, and can help you feel more relaxed and focused. (Source: Healthline). Studies even suggest that just looking at pictures of nature can affect your well-being. (Source; NCBI). And that is without even including the benefits of walking, which also helps reduce stress.
4. Make a smoothie
I tend to think that when there are behavior issues in our home, it's linked to a lack of nutrition. Did my child eat too much sugar? Was there some food dye in that beverage? So, when we're having a rough day, I tend to make a smoothie loaded with Omega-3 fats. These fats have been linked to better mental health and lower depression. I'm not sure if this is an instantaneous difference, but I figure that if it's our habit for every tough day we have, then it will surely make a difference eventually. I like to throw in any combination of flax seed, hemp seed, almond milk, or avocado into our smoothie. I also give one of my children this Omega-3 supplement regularly. (Note: I'm not a health expert so this shouldn't be considered health advice. But here is some information on Omega-3's and mental health).
When everyone feels emotionally disconnected after a hard morning of homeschooling, I've found that bonding is really helpful. I love to read a book and let any of my children curl up on my lap. It helps them to feel secure in my love, that even though they were defiant or explosive, I will love them no matter what.
What do you do when you have a "bad day" homeschooling?