Planning our days is important, but sometimes things happen that mess up our plans. Someone gets sick. You have a long weekend and you are all exhausted. You are burned out and need a break. The house is out of control and you just need to clean up before you can focus. These are all real reasons for our days getting off track.
Days that don’t go as planned are not wasted days. I want to talk about some ways to resurrect those days and also about some good things that may be happening in those times that you may not recognize. My hope is that you would not be totally discouraged on these days, and that you would find joy and progress even without your pre-planned lessons.
Ideas to resurrect your day:
- Write and post a list on a chalkboard or paper with several activity options. Have each child choose activities and then report at the end of the day. Sometimes I just watch, but most of the time I have them record what they do for me. I like to list things like board games, building or art projects, music practice, sewing, gardening, reading books, make-believe games, puzzles, documentaries, nature studies, and exercise. I do not allow video games and television unless they can justify to me what educational benefit there is to that activity (And they have gotten very good at finding value in activities that they enjoy). But I do allow slow and enjoyably paced activities as these are typically days needed to refresh.
- Take a field trip. Sometimes we just need to get out of the house for matters that are not business. We like to go to the pet store to look at all of the animals, McDonald’s to eat and visit with each other without all of the distractions of home, the library for fun books and movies (not the ones I pick for school).
- Read quality books and watch movies together. I always have a book or two that we are working through, and on a tired day, we very much enjoy listening to read alouds. We also keep a list of good movies in our Netflix queue to watch together. These are good for days when I need to clean or get some other work done or when we are all completely toast.
- Go outside for some fresh air and a break from the constant bombardment of technology.
There is definitely value in these days. In fact, these are often my favorite days. It is in these days that I see my kids’ delights come out the clearest. I make mental notes and encourage them to keep pursuing those things. It is also in these days that sweet conversations between two siblings or between parent and child take place. The relaxed pace allows time to listen to each other and for me to learn more about their heart needs. Better relationships make for better teaching opportunities, and I’m learning that especially in the teen years, relationships take much work!
Occasionally these days are completely child led, and when that happens, I am free to work on a project of my own. As a life learner myself, I need this time to pursue things that I delight in. In addition to delight driven projects, I will take time to evaluate what we are doing in our formal school time and decide what is and is not working. This, too, is a valuable use of my time.
Sometimes you start lessons and quickly realize that they are going nowhere fast, and other days you decide the night before that you just need a day. I did that today. I knew last night that I might call today a rest day. Once I got up and assessed the situation, I decided it was a wise decision. We cleaned all morning and played games afterward. We are refreshed and ready for tomorrow, and it was not at all a wasted day.