Why Are Consistent Homeschool Routines So Hard?
Every single book and expert tells us that a steady routine is essential for our children’s well-being. So why are consistent homeschool routines so hard?
Mom confession time.
I totally let my son watch four episodes of SpongeBob yesterday.
In a row.
I dozed on the couch with the aggravating sounds of Squidward and Patrick in the background.
It was my son who stopped the incessant music playing at the end of the episode.
“I’m bored,” he said, looking at me expectantly.
“I’m tired,” I wanted to say, but instead pulled myself up and tried to get us both focused on something more productive.
The rest of the day was a mad scramble to get back to normal.
We were off routine.
I know better.
And yet…some days, being consistent with our routine feels impossible.
Every single book I have ever read about my son’s diagnoses say it.
Most homeschool mom blogs will tell you it’s true, special needs or not.
A steady routine is essential for our children’s well-being.
It’s essential for mom’s well-being too.
I know it to be true.
So why is it so hard to actually do?
Why Are Consistent Routines So Hard?
There are four main reasons why our routines fail around here.
1. I’m Tired.
This one, hands down, wins the Sure To Derail Our Routine award.
When I am not getting enough sleep, I start to lose my will to do the right thing. I start to crave naps and carbs. I start to care less about things like math and cleaning the house.
The truth is, sleep deprivation is a constant in my life.
Rather than fighting it, I need to account for it in our routine.
This week, I am including an hour where the boys can play video games together, every day. I am purposing to use this hour for a nap. Not folding laundry or catching up around the house. A nap.
It is a part of our routine, just like reading practice and caring for the pets.
I refuse to see this time as ‘less than’ the other elements of our days. It is essential.
2. I’m a Little too Confident.
I am so guilty here. As soon as we have a really good rhythm established, I tend to get cocky.
“Everything is going so well. I don’t need to manage it all so much.”
I have thought this way too many times. And every single time, it becomes a slippery slope to SpongeBob.
My life requires a certain level of planning and management – period.
The more I see it as a constant, the easier our life flows.
3. Too Much Scheduling, Not Enough Routine
This is the evil twin of being overconfident but is just as detrimental to our days. When our life becomes hectic, I tend to swing the pendulum way over into maybe I can just schedule and control every single minute of our waking hours.
I do know some moms that have a complete, timed schedule in 30-minute increments throughout the day. It works for them.
It doesn’t around here.
Both of my sons struggle with rigid thinking. So if I post a schedule that says we will be done with reading at 10:30 AM, we must be done with reading at 10:30 AM. Period. No matter what. Even if the washer floods and the electricity goes out (ask me how I know…).
A rigid schedule is counterproductive for us.
My boys need help learning that flexibility does not have to be chaotic. A rhythmic structured routine, rather than a strict schedule, allows us all to thrive.
4. My Child Is Struggling
Sometimes, the routine just has to be second to the very real needs of my family.
Meltdowns, last minute doctors appointments, and panic attacks are sure to derail our day – and rightly so.
Although it can be frustrating, it’s just life.
Sometimes, the routine implodes for all the right reasons.
Yes, it will require me to get us back on track when the difficulties are behind us.
Yes, it can be incredibly overwhelming to get us to our normal.
But it’s real life.
Being a mom requires more of me that I ever thought possible and in so many ways.
Honestly, being consistent in how we live our days is one of the most difficult parts of being home with my boys.
For far too long, I have felt guilty and ashamed of my own inability to keep us on track.
I have looked at other moms that seem to have it all together and allowed the comparison to make me even less consistent in my home. (Read: I can’t do it right so I might as well just not do it at all.)
I want to encourage you that if you struggle with consistency in your days, you are not alone.
We do the best we can and more importantly, we accept that trial and error is an unfortunate, but necessary part of being a mom.
As our children grow, we grow.
As our children struggle, we struggle.
As our children learn, we learn.
“Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother” – Author Unknown
For more support, ideas and encouragement:
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.