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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

Written by Jessica.

As this past summer came to a close, I was looking forward to getting back into a routine and doing school again. A new school year always feels like a good, fresh start. So, it came as quite a surprise to me when my middle child said incredulously, “What do you mean you’re looking forward to doing school again? You’re always tired and grumpy when we do school.” And then my other children chimed in with agreement and added their own two-cents. Ouch.


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When I thought about our past school year, I thought of the awesome living literature based history program we had used, all the amazing people and events we’d learned about, and the fun things we had done. I thought about the huge strides my kids had each made in math and how my then fourth-grader mastered long multiplication and division. I thought about the wonderful books they’d all read, and how my then kindergartener and then second-grader had gone from reading emergent and leveled readers to reading real chapter books. I thought about the fun seasonal art projects we’d made. I thought about the read-alouds we just couldn’t put down. And I thought about all the special, ordinary, everyday times we had shared.

As I talked with my children and delved deeper, I was relieved to know that the past school year hadn’t been the big fat disappointment that their feedback had initially made it out to be. They too remembered and had enjoyed most of the same things that I had, plus others (Thank goodness!). But, that didn’t take away the other thing they had observed. That not-so-nice thing: mama often seemed tired or grumpy.

And, rightly, they didn’t like that.

I wanted to push back. I wanted to deny it or excuse it away. But when I finally took an honest assessment of the me-from-last-year, I knew that I was often tired and probably did let my grumpiness show more often than I ought.

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

My kids’ words made me think of an evening long ago when I was a classroom teacher. It was a concert night. Consequently, teachers had to work late so they could be with their students when they waited to go on stage, walk them to the auditorium, and wait with them until their parents picked them up.

Because my husband and I shared a vehicle and we lived a long way from work, he couldn’t go home. He finished work, got dinner out, and came to school to pick me up when the concert was finishing. He got to meet many of my students and their parents. He also got to see me in full-fledged work mode: loud, take-charge, outgoing, confident. In other words, He got to see the opposite of real-life me: quiet, reserved, shy, soft-spoken. As we walked out the door to go home, he asked, "Who are you? And what have you done with my wife?" And we had both had a good chuckle.

Who he saw that night was me being the teacher that I needed to be to effectively engage my students… even though I didn’t really feel like that person inside. I’m an introvert and strongly prefer to be my quiet and reserved self. But, to command the attention of a class of students all day, I had to act differently than I felt.

Similarly, as a homeschool mama, I do often feel tired and do occasionally feel grumpy. What mom doesn’t? But, I can choose to set aside those feelings of tiredness and grumpiness. I can choose to act differently than I feel in order to be the more energetic and positive teacher that my kids need.

If I’m giving them “Tired Mama” and “Grumpy Mama” too often (and let’s be honest, they are going to see her sometimes), I’m not giving them my best. And to be honest, most of my issues can be solved with just a few simple tweaks to my daily routine. Tiredness can be addressed by being intentional about going to bed earlier. Grumpiness can be solved by getting more sleep, eating right, and practicing better self-discipline and self-care. But beyond those obvious and important things, what else can a mama do?

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

Teaching style


One way is to make sure that I convey excitement and enthusiasm about what we’re learning. It’s so easy to get complacent and just open up the books and do the next lessons. It’s especially easy to do this when teaching multiple ages, dealing with behavioral or learning issues, or trying to cram more than is realistic into one day. Sometimes, I just want to do the minimum to keep things moving along in order to get the school day done.

Instead, I can be more intentional about how I present the day's lesson. I can purposely use humor, be goofy, use silly songs and rhymes, tell stories, and include more hands-on activities and board games in the day. Maybe I can slow down a bit, worry less about checking all the boxes, and try to remember that we really will get it all done.

This doesn’t mean that I need to play ringmaster all day long or that every lesson needs to be Pinterest-worthy. But injecting more energy into our lessons and making the effort to teach my kids in ways that keep things interesting for them will keep them better engaged - and hopefully, send the message that mama is enjoying school, too. I love teaching and I love learning. Sometimes, though, I have to be intentional to let that love show.

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

Preparedness and professionalism


When I was a classroom teacher, I had moments of scrambling around in my closet searching for something for a science experiment only to realize that I didn’t actually have what I needed. Other times, I found myself racing to my classroom with a stack of worksheets copied at the last minute. But those were certainly the exceptions to the rule. Most days, I was a well-oiled machine. But with homeschooling, I’ve found that it’s far easier to get disorganized and to let things slide. Homeschooling doesn't always have the same level of accountability.

After all, my kids are more than happy to play longer while I photocopy something I very well could have prepared the night before. They don't mind skipping music to play outside instead because “We’ll do music tomorrow…” No one cares if we cram two weeks of history into one because I didn’t have the necessary supplies ready last week. But the truth is, being disorganized and unprepared doesn’t make me feel good about my teaching or about our homeschooling in general, and those bad feelings can spill over in other ways and affect my attitude and mood.

This school year I’m making a concentrated effort to stay more personally prepared and organized for each homeschool day. Obviously, my homeschool is different than yours, but if you too would like to have a more intentionally-focused school day, here are a few suggestions that have helped me.

  • Invest in a homeschool planner for your family or in some new storage/organizational supplies.
  • Designate a day of the week for copying and gathering supplies.
  • Make a no e-mail/smartphone/social media rule for yourself to limit your distractions during the school day.
  • Do your hair/makeup or wear dressier clothes to set a more business-like tone. 

Being and feeling prepared and professional can go a long way toward making it a good school day - and we know that when a mama’s happy, everybody’s happy!

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

Tone and words


This is a big one. When I was a classroom teacher, there were dozens of opportunities every hour for me to correct and redirect my students: in behavior, interpersonal relationships, effort, neatness, academic work, and so on. I almost always did so kindly, respectfully, and encouragingly. It was usually pretty easy to be positive and patient with my students and to pick the right words and tone of voice. Part of the reason for that, I’m sure, was because I was just their teacher and didn’t take their struggles or shortcomings personally or view them as a reflection on me.

In homeschooling, parenting and teaching overlap creating a tricky balance. Where does being a parent and being a teacher start and stop? Not to mention, it can be far too easy to say the wrong words in the wrong way to those I love the most. (Please tell me I'm not the only one guilty of this.)

This school year, I’m holding myself accountable for what I say and how I speak to my kids. The questions I’ll be asking myself are: Would I say these words or use this tone with students in a classroom, and am I speaking kindly, respectfully, and encouragingly? If you've not experienced a classroom, your question could be slightly different. Perhaps you could ask yourself: Would I say this or use this tone with my co-op class/Sunday School class/the neighbor kids/my nieces and nephews/my best friend’s kids?

I can’t control what my kids say or do throughout the day, but I can control my words and my tone of voice. I can send the message that I’m tired and grumpy, or I can convey the opposite. By doing so, I set the example and the broader tone for our day.

Help for the Grumpy Homeschool Mom #homeschool #homeschooling

Final thoughts


Homeschooling and parenting aren’t easy things, and it’s unrealistic to expect perfection from our children, from homeschooling, or from ourselves. Tiredness and grumpiness are normal feelings in anyone, but how we choose to act when we feel tired and grumpy can make all the difference in shaping our kids’ hearts.

Let's dump the grump by demonstrating a positive attitude through challenges, choosing kindness, using words that build up rather than tear down, practicing self-control, looking for the best in our kids and ourselves, persevering rather than quitting, and having a servant’s heart. In doing so, we'll show our kids the love that we have for teaching, and most importantly, the love that we have for them. 



10 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I ordered a planner 30 seconds after I read your post.

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    1. Hope you like it and that it brings some joy to your days!

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  2. Great reminders and advice! I needed to read this today. Tone makes such a difference!

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  3. Perfect timing! I really needed to be reminded of this 🙏

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    1. We all need to hear it every now and again. I find myself wondering what my face looks like sometimes. Do I carry a constant frown? I hope not.

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  4. This is a great post and so helpful. Sometimes I find myself noticing how I can be super nice to other people's children and quite short with my own. This should not be so.

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    1. I am guilty of the same at times. I want my kids to get my best, not my leftovers.

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  5. This is a great reminder that it's up to us as moms to set the tone for not only our homeschool but the home in general. I'm trying to remember that and bring more "fun" into our days instead of worrying as much about getting everything done!

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  6. So true! I’m a former public school teacher and I was always so patient and complimented my students! Good reminder for me to treat my own precious children the same!❤️

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