We don't usually think of something as common as having a baby a crisis, but it definitely becomes one when you're homeschooling.
So do a lot of other things like prolonged illnesses, unexpected out-of-town guests, or someone else's crisis that requires your help.
While you want to adhere to your homeschooling schedule, there are times when trying to stick to it is worse than embracing the unpredictable.
It's worse because it causes you to feel overwhelmed, worried and tense and this affects every single person in your household.
And because you're in this overwrought state, you'll become less productive than you would be otherwise, and your children will be less productive too.
They will feel your stress.
You'll work four-times as hard and accomplish a quarter of the homeschooling you would typically do.
And that's when you want to take a deep breath, breathe in and out a few times, and realize that you have to submit to Life's uncanny knack of getting in the way of your plans.
It's odd to think of it this way, but that's how we see it. The reality is that we were never in control in the first place, so when we're homeschooling, we should always be prepared to deal with the day the roof caves in.
Because it will cave in, and it will cave in more than once!
You're homeschooling, though, which means you have some options. In times of crisis, you want to employ certain strategies to get you through a rough time.
• Reach out to friends for help with your older children. Even taking them to the park for a couple of hours a day will make a huge difference.
They'll get outdoors, burn off some energy, and they'll come home in better spirits. There's nothing worse than children cooped up indoors for lengthy periods. Children need to get outdoors and run, scream and play. It keeps everyone happy when they do.
• Take a deep breath and remember that all things pass. You'll look back on this period years later and barely remember it. What you will remember is anything awful you did or said in moments of sheer desperation. Better to avoid these kinds of memories if you can.
• Think small. In times like this, you don't want to look at the big picture. Don't find your mind wondering how you are going to handle two or three months of chaos. Instead, take it one day at a time. Just get through one day. Resolve each day to wake up and remind yourself that this could be your last day and make it count.
• Ignore the little things. Just focus on getting through it in the best way you can. And if you feel miserable, that's okay too. Just keep reminding yourself that it will pass.
And when you do get through it, expect to have a nagging question that will begin to plague you: Will you ever catch up with your homeschooling schedule again? Will your children be dreadfully behind?
Homeschooling is one of those endeavors that has perfection built into it for several reasons:
1. When your children are young, under the age of ten, most of what they will learn they can learn in a short period.
You could teach a child grammar for the first time at the age of ten, and by the time he is twelve, he could be caught up to his peers. How? Because children learn material intended for younger children much faster when they're older.
2. And if they're older when your crisis hits, they can manage their lessons while you focus on your crisis. A little management on your part is all they should need to stay on your homeschool schedule.
3. I'm not a big fan of long vacation breaks, but don't forget that, by law, each year you are allowed a lot of vacation time. The legal requirement for attending school is 180 days a year, and with 365 days in a year that leaves you with 185 days for vacation days, including weekends.
As homeschoolers, we want to teach our children more than this, but if you're in a jam, there's no need to fret. You can consider your crisis a vacation and take time off from homeschooling.
4. When it comes time for your annual vacation, explain to your children that because of the crisis you aren't able to take a vacation this year. They'll be disappointed, but that's okay.
After they all moan and groan, explain that instead of a vacation, you've decided to take them on an extended field trip.
You'll take them on a trip to visit a historical site like the pyramids in Egypt or the ruins in Greece (or even local places in your area if you can't travel) and you'll turn it into a homeschool trip.
They'll homeschool in the morning with lessons built around their outings, and in the afternoon you'll take them on field trips. You could also do one day homeschool, one day outings but the point is that they know they'll be doing homeschool work on the trip.
The idea behind this is that you take a vacation from your homeschooling routine and turn it into a homeschool vacation, so you do get some break.
Everyone needs a break from routine now and then to replenish themselves.
The general rule with homeschooling is that as long as you are doing your best, don't worry about getting behind.
Your children will be where they are.
They can learn so much, in so little time that there is nothing to worry about. As long as you are homeschooling with a sound plan and a stellar curriculum, your children should exceed even your expectations.
The next time crisis hits, remembering a couple of things will help ease the panic:
Take a deep breath and remember that we plan, but whether or not we're able to execute our plans as we had envisioned them is not always up to us.
And when that happens, there's always the homeschool vacation back-up plan!
The Smart Homeschooler Academy is now open for enrollment with its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home. Enrollment is now open through May 8th!
Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.