When Your Day Doesn’t Go as Planned: Homeschool Scheduling Woes

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Inside: Practical advice for how to deal with homeschool bad days that don’t go as planned and with the frustrated feelings that go along with those days!

Some days, I feel like we can’t get anything done. We have appointments, or I have a meeting somewhere. Or one of my children finds it impossible to grasp a concept, so we get stuck on something. Maybe an experiment takes longer than expected, somebody spills a gallon of sweet tea on the kitchen floor (and everywhere else!), or we get lost on the way home from our field trip (I have to admit that I’m “directionally challenged”!). Some days just don’t go as planned!

I get frustrated feeling like my “to do” list will never get done. I get grumpy with the kids and lose my patience. Sometimes I get really annoyed at myself for not doing “better.” When I get really overwhelmed, I remember the advice given to me by other homeschooling moms over the years for how to deal with scheduling woes and the frustrated feelings that come with them.

Ways to Deal with It When Your Homeschool Bad Days

Take a break!

Take a “time out” with a cup of coffee or tea and go to your room for a minute.  Sometimes we need that peace to regroup our emotions and thoughts. Sometimes I call a trusted friend and vent. After that, I can let go of my frustrations and move on to the next thing that needs to be done. It’s not easy to let go, but if I don’t , then I’m stressed for the rest of the day and everyone is miserable because of it.

Take note of what you DID get done. 

I started recording what we got done each day instead of what I wanted to get done each day. I had started to feel like we weren’t getting as much done as we should, but when I started recording what we got done each day, I realized we were actually accomplishing quite a bit! I also realized how much fluff I’d added over time and realized I needed to cut out some of the less important things from our plans. I also learned a valuable lesson. Be sure to give yourself credit for what you accomplish every day!

Set priorities.

Try to be flexible if you don’t get things done.  Maybe make a plan that as long as the kids finish the most important subjects, you can call it good enough. What are the most important subjects? That depends on you and the ages/grade levels of your children. For younger children, it may be enough to do reading and math. Or perhaps your children are a little older and you want to make sure you get reading, math, handwriting, spelling, and composition done each day. For high schoolers, it may be important to you to complete literature, science, math, composition, and history. It’s up to you and your children and your priorities.

Remember nothing is perfect. 

I get incredibly frustrated for a few minutes, but then I figure nothing is ever perfect, so, whatever. We work as hard as we can and get as much done as we can, and that’s good enough! Give yourself the grace you deserve and allow yourself to have some imperfect days!

Know when to throw in the towel for the day!

When things don’t go as planned, sometimes we just walk away and do something else. If I’m being fought every step of the way, I try a different subject. Or sometimes I just say, “Forget it! Let’s go get ice cream!” I always remind myself that even if I spend 5 minutes on something, it’s still more one-on-one time than my kids would be getting at school.  Small progress is still progress!

Catch up when you can, and stay flexible.

I know we all have a schedule, and we try to get all of it done. If it doesn’t, though, let’s all agree to try not to stress too much. There are things that happen that mess up our plans and our schedules. Maybe you’ve recently moved. Maybe you’re a new homeschooling family and you haven’t gotten in the groove yet. Maybe you’ve just had a new baby. Maybe you or someone else in your house is sick. Sometimes you can catch up and make up missed work the same week. Sometimes you may not be able to. Sometimes you just have to choose not to worry about what didn’t get done and move on.

Roll with the punches.

Life still happens while we’re trying to do school. Things come up, errands have to be run, there are family obligations to take care of, and so on. Just do the best you can. There are days when I feel overwhelmed, but mostly I just look at it as something everyone deals with. No one’s life is perfect. No homeschooled child gets everything done with a smile on his or her face all the time, and no mom always has a pristine house unless she has a maid. (Don’t I wish!!) Life happens. You can choose to be overwhelmed and fight it, or you can choose to accept it and roll along.

Remember why you’re homeschooling.

Your kids are getting a CULTURAL education, which is just as important. You’re not ruining them for life. There are times when I freak out when I see what public schooled kids have covered and we haven’t, but then I think about all the things we cover that they never will. They know a little about a lot of things but never get to study things in depth. We have the time to explore.

No matter how you look at it, there are things that are fantastic about homeschooling! There are also some challenges. But if you keep in mind that your children will only be with you for a few short years (that admittedly sometimes seem to take forever but will pass by before you know it) and you want to enjoy those years together, you’ll see that it really doesn’t matter so much if you don’t get everything done every day. Spend time loving your kids. Spend time enjoying each other’s company. Get as much work done as you can. Enjoy learning together. And choose not to stress about it too much when things don’t go as planned. You’ll never regret choosing to love these years together! I promise!

Read the Whole Homeschool Scheduling 101 Series on Scheduling:

Scheduling Your Year
Scheduling Your Week
Keeping Kids on Track
How to Stay Sane While Homeschooling

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  1. Thank you for this. This was a tough week with some kids sick, younger ones needing extra love, and a patient messy home that faithfully awaits my attention! God Bless!

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