Updated: Feb 15, 2021
February is a month full of love and opportunities to reach out to those around you and express appreciation. It's a month of honoring the presidents of our country and the contributions of great men and women throughout history. It’s also a month that can start to feel as though you’re on a very long car trip with kids asking every two minutes “Are we there yet?” and you, too, start to wonder if you’ll ever arrive at your destination.
If you can relate to this feeling, you’re not alone! This month may find you checking boxes just to say it’s done, suffering through days that seem to drag on forever with children who seem to take infinitely longer than is necessary to perform a simple task, and a feeling of drudgery towards seemingly mundane tasks that pile up (probably during the time that you’re trying to get children to do all those things they don’t want to do!) At some point you may come to the realization that your home is living proof of the old adage “If mama (or papa) ain’t happy, Ain’t nobody happy!” Something’s got to change!
Well, before you throw in the towel (or maybe just end up with every towel in your home dirty all at the same time,) let’s looks at a simple change that may increase the level of joy in your home:
Instead of focusing on the destination: “Are we there yet?”
Try focusing on the journey: “Are we having fun yet?”
Even the every day ordinary can be considered fun if we change our perspective. Here are three ideas to consider that’ll hopefully spark a few ideas for you to implement in your home that will bring a little joy.
1) School at Home vs. Home School
Is school at home seen as a chore to be accomplished by everyone sitting down to do reading, writing, and arithmetic? Is your day centered around getting the school box checked as soon as possible so that everyone can move on to what they really want to do, and yet you find most days school drags on for so long that you never get to anything else?
Is your home a school where ordinary moments are seen as learning opportunities in addition to formal instruction? Is your home school always open for learning and exploring, focused on establishing a ‘culture of learning’ for its students? Is home school a place where you experience joy often and make time to pursue individual and family interests that are exactly what you want to do?
2) Curriculum is a Tool, Not a Checklist
Do you feel that curriculum dictates what you need to learn every day? Do you find yourself handing off workbooks to a child with the hope there won’t be a battle to get through everything today, or working through the pages of a curriculum together with very little excitement and a whole lot of drudgery? Do you question your own ability to teach your children (having the idea in the back of your mind that if you don’t teach them everything just right that your children are sure to never get into college and their lives will be ruined and it’ll be all your fault?)
Do you use curriculum as a tool to guide learning, but also give yourself permission to adjust things to better meet your family’s needs? Do you know what your children are learning and share in their excitement? Do you look for simple but engaging ways to teach or enrich what is found in the curriculum? Do you trust your own ability to learn, and accept that it’s okay to not have all the answers because part of the journey is learning right alongside your children?
3) Quality vs. Quantity
Are you doing “school” for several hours each day and yet feel unsatisfied with the results? Are you exhausted both physically and mentally most days as though you’re running a marathon that has no end? Are you questioning how everyone else seems to be able to do so much with school, but despite your best efforts you feel that you accomplish so little and always feel behind?
Are you intentional about what you’re trying to accomplish with your children? Are you able to recognize that a few minutes of focused learning with each child can be better than a whole day of seat time? Are your priorities reflected in how you choose to spend your time? Are there ways to simplify what you are doing and yet yield greater results?
It’s so natural to get hung up on if we’re doing it right, but there’s no right or wrong way to educate your children. You’re doing wonderfully well - keep trying new things and uncovering what works best for your family. Continue stepping back once in a while and implementing those small changes that you know will increase joy in your home and family.
Now . . . take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and go have some fun!