Yes, folks ... it's almost February. And as anyone whose been homeschooling for any length of time already knows, February is The Month When It All Falls Apart.
At least, that's what it feels like. Consider what your average homeschooling mom deals with on any given day in February:
- Kids who would rather bicker with each other than listen to a read-aloud.
- A telephone that is far more tempting than the scheduled science project (which is probably missing key ingredients, anyhow).
- A laundry pile that has somehow begun to double overnight and is now threatening to take over the kitchen.
- An AWANA calendar that cheerfully reminds you that you have only 8 weeks left to help your T&Ter through the last oh, five Discoveries.
- A son who hates his co-op classes.
- A toddler who suddenly thinks that napping is boring.
- A daughter that runs screaming when she hears the words "math worksheet."
- Cabin fever, thanks to crummy weather and snotty noses.
- And that legendary homeschooling mother creativity? Well ... it took a spur of the moment trip to the Bahamas, and invited its buddy motivation along for the ride.
This is Yellow Bus Blues season, guys. You know exactly what I mean--the time of year when you watch the big yellow bus drive happily down your street each morning, stopping at each knot of huddled children, whisking them off to be educated far away from their own kitchen tables. You see the beautifully coiffed mothers of these children, walking away from the bus stop in their jogging pants with contented smiles, good friends and plans for meeting up at Starbucks later after some intense Facebook time. And you? Well, you've got a week's backlog of math lessons and phonics reader waiting in the wings. And did I mention that the breakfast dishes are still in the sink?
Yellow Bus Blues, I'm telling you. It's enough to make even a dedicated homeschooling momma throw her hands up in the air and admit defeat.
I've already fielded three phone calls from desperate moms in my support group who are feeling the sheer desperation of knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this isn't what they signed up for after all. They are failures. Their well-intentioned plans didn't stick. Their children aren't interested in learning. Their houses are a wreck. And, at the end of the day, there are woefully few shiny, happy moments to revel in.
Take courage, homeschooling moms. You are not alone.
Over the years, I've come up with a handful of tools to combat my own bouts of Yellow Bus Blues. I'll share a few of them here in the hopes that they might inspire someone to hang in there. After all ... spring is just right around the corner.
- Mix it up. Ditch the usual routine for a week and try a unit study. There are hundreds available online, and it won't cost you a dime. For maximum effect (ie, cooperation from your children) ask them to come up with an idea of what to study.
- Try a new schedule. Sometimes all it takes is some discipline. Buckle down and charge ahead. Before you know it, the season has passed.
- Tour your local public school. No, I'm not joking. There is nothing that will remind you quite as clearly why you chose a different path than peeking in an institutionalized classroom.
- Take a field trip. For that matter, take two. Don't let the weather stop you.
- Waste an afternoon with a webquest. All the better if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Your kids will enjoy learning along with you.
- Add a new element to your homeschooling. If you've never done a lapbook before, give it a try. Listen to an audiobook together instead of reading aloud (hey, you can do something with your hands now, too!)
- Get some support. Talk to someone who has BTDT and get a little empathy.
- Schedule a Valentine's party with another homeschooling family. If your house is trashed and you don't want to host, take the pressure off of both of you and meet at a McDonald's Playplace. Bring your craft supplies and set up shop. Seriously ... as long as you're buying something and cleaning up the glitter, what do they care what you're doing at the table?
So what about you? What's your favorite way to beat Yellow Bus Blues? Leave your ideas in a comment and inspire someone in the trenches!