The first week back to homeschool is both exciting and stressful. You barely finish helping one student when another one is calling for your help. The toddlers and preschoolers are missing the attention of their older siblings and following you around. The phone rings; the dog needs to be walked. You know if you don’t get supper in the crockpot in the morning, it’s likely to be a frozen corndog dinner. By lunch, you feel as if you’ve run a half-marathon and that a nap is in order for everyone. Maybe that’s just the way the first days of school look at my house, but I doubt I’m alone.
There is no perfect first week of school. There will be difficulties. There will be mistakes. There will be interruptions and changes in your plans. Expecting those problems can help prevent frustration and discouragement. So what can you do to help get through that first week with your sanity still intact?
It doesn’t have to be a detailed schedule, but you definitely need a plan. Even if the plan simply says “do the next lesson in each subject,” it’s still a plan. My plan for the week shows which days I’ll be doing spelling with the children, and which days we’ll use writing prompts. If I don’t make a plan, I’ll forget half the subjects and let the children con me into a movie after just a few subjects.
You’re going to need a lot of grace:
- Grace for yourself when you feel frazzled.
- Grace for yourself when you forget to switch the laundry to the dryer and it has to be re-washed.
- Grace when you have to pull out the corn dogs because you didn’t start supper soon enough.
- Grace for the children who can’t remember what you taught them yesterday, let alone last school year.
Take a deep breath, and give the whole family some grace.
Plans are great, but they are prone to change. In my house, I always have a couple of students who want to race through a week’s worth of review math on the very first day. I have one junior high son who will want to change his school year plans on the first day of school. And let’s not mention the the toddler who suddenly spikes a fever or the dentist who calls with an opening for the one child who needs a filling.
I know the drive to finish your chores after the children are in bed is strong, but you need rest. If you go into the school day exhausted, you’re going to be more easily frustrated and grouchy. In the rush of demands, you’ll find yourself snapping angrily at your family. Yes, I am speaking from experience. Allow yourself to rest.
Start your day with prayer. Ask your husband or a good friend to pray for you, as well. Don’t forget to pray with your children before you start your school time. Then, when the school day gets chaotic, and you are feeling stressed, take a moment in the bathroom or your bedroom to pray for peace and gentleness before you return to your school room.
This is actually a bonus, but you’re going to need some chocolate. Many years, the first week of school has found me hiding in my closet with a bag of dark chocolate. If that makes you feel guilty, add some dried cranberries or granola to make it healthier. You’re going to need your energy this week, so don’t forget to treat yourself.