March Doldrums and April Showers

Springtime is lovely and cheerful and always full of surprises.

Except for the part where nobody wants to “do” school anymore. That’s pretty much just routine over here.

(Some of us are taking this desire to do nothing to a whole new level, though. “I. DON’T. WANT. TO. DO. ANYTHING!!” is unfortunately a common saying in our house. Don’t worry. We’re working on it.)

But honestly, some days I just don’t really want to do anything either! So I get it. It’s hard. And the laziness just keeps growing. I don’t want to say I’ve stopped putting as much effort into making dinner and cleaning the house. Or that my joy for doing laundry has diminished as of late.

But it’s true. I’d just rather do something else.

Except school.

Last year we tackled this situation by going on A LOT of field trips. It was something like a field trip every two weeks. We did some school outside. We figured out how many lessons we had left in each subject and slowly dragged them out so we could report that we had done “math” every week of the school year, even though we’d finished our math curriculum over a month before the end of school. We cut a few corners with grammar – as in, why do we need to take 5 days worth of lessons to learn how to write a letter and address an envelope. One day, get ‘er done. Check.  And of course, we skipped a few science labs.

It’s always science that gets the ax over here. In September we were so gung-ho with the microscope and labs, and now we’re all like, “Oh yeah. I think I remember where that really expensive piece of school equipment is.” Should I be embarrassed? I probably should be. But it’s just the reality of my life and I can’t deny it.

When laziness starts to creep in and take over, everything becomes a complicated mess, figuratively and literally. But laziness is like depression in that it is a downward spiral. If you can’t find a way to stop it as soon as you notice it, you are in danger of just being swallowed up. So you know how I’m curing my March doldrums this year?

I’m doing all the things I don’t want to do JUST because I don’t want to do them. I took a whole stack of papers, receipts, and documents and processed them all. I submitted all my reimbursement forms. I filed everything away. I changed all (ok, some) of the outdated photos in the house. When the dishes start staring me in the face, I do them! (Novel idea, I know! 🙂 )Instead of grumbling, I just take the five minutes to move the laundry from basket to washer to dryer to other baskets. And then, and I know, this is the amazing part, I put the clean laundry away! When I walk from room to room, I pick things up and put them in the right spot. I hang up the coats. I put the shoes on the shoe racks. I even started walking with my neighbor in the dark and early mornings. It’s so rewarding when my little fitbit tells me I’ve hit 10,000 steps and it’s not even 9 am!

But here come the kicker… I’ve mopped the kitchen floor 3 times this week!

(I don’t want to go into why the floor needed so many moppings, but I’ll take pride in knowing I did it and I’m still alive to talk about it.)

And… I’m not saying I was putting off a list of about 5 different blog posts… but I got around to writing one of them, and that is a good start.

That’s all fine and dandy, but this is a homeschooling blog. What about the kids? Are they doing their math? Are they diagramming those sentences? Are they putting the same effort in to their academics as they were back in September?

Well, maybe not the same effort, but they have new motivation for getting done with school.

I can see that my example – and a few motivational speeches and well used teaching moments – has had a positive effect on their attitudes.

My 5th grader has been so motivated so he can go outside to ride his bike around the neighborhood, that lately he has been getting done with all his schoolwork around 10:00 am. (He’s an example to me!)

My 3rd grader is obviously feeling the lows. It’s taking her over 2 hours to get done what used to take only one. But she pushes through. She does it anyway. And I am enjoying having a chance to help her. If she gets done too fast, I am still busy with the 1st grader and I don’t get to see all her awesome work. Instead of being frustrated and angry about her reduced pace, we are taking the time to enjoy being with each other and practicing sticking with a task, even though it is hard.

My 1st grader? Well, he’s the one filling our home with the loud exclamations we all personally feel in our hearts. He just doesn’t want to do anything. Ever. So we are adapting. We’re looking at where he really needs to work, and where he just needs to review or revisit to keep his skills up and his brain thinking. PLUS, he’s developed his own strategy for staying on task – little checklists on 3 x 5 notecards. This child has to find his own motivation. It can’t come from mom. And although, as his mom, this is so frustrating. It is even more exciting to witness when he does finds it!

He hasn’t found it for piano yet, though.

That is kind of a nightmare.

But we’ll save it for another day.  Or just quit. One or the other.

But as for March doldrums and April showers, they don’t last forever. I’ve found the key is to reevaluate, adapt, and press on.

(Which means, if I take my own advice, I should be pumping out a good handful of blog posts here pretty soon.)

Happy springtime! May it be filled with sunshine, flowers, butterflies, and minimal math tests!