Why I Homeschool Four Days a Week: No More Stressed Out "Friday Mom"

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Why I Homeschool Four Days a Week: No More Stressed Out "Friday Mom" • homeschool schedules

Not all Fridays are great. Sometimes they bring out Friday Mom. You know the kind of Fridays I mean. They should be fun. But they turn into stress.

For example, on a recent Friday morning, we had one hour before we had to leave home for a field trip. Of course, you know what happened—chaos.

After the three-ring-circus of getting dressed, we still had schoolwork to do for the day, and I intended to use every second of the 9.5 minutes we had left before heading out. So we quickly gathered in the living room for the speediest round of read alouds known to man. At one point, I even considered letting my oldest child read a book solo while I was reading a different book to save time. Yes, Friday Mom had returned for another episode again this week.

Crazy right?

This breakneck pace is how it has gone for far too many Fridays in my house. The Friday list in my homeschool planner had become just another box to check. I knew that there was no learning happening because I was furiously trying to cram in field trips, play dates, co-op, and a full day of school.

Shifting to a Four-Day Homeschool Schedule

An easy solution to prevent Friday Mom syndrome is to shift to a 4-day schedule instead of insisting on doing school five days each week. Here are three huge benefits I've found as a result of this new, compact schedule.

Family Flexibility

It’s essential to your family's well being to schedule time for relaxation. After busy weeks full of church, sports practice, and dance recitals, families simply need rest. If you feel pulled in too many directions with a busy schedule, a four-day homeschool schedule can provide you with margin to relax and restore your spirit so that you are ready to press forward the next day.

Educational Enrichment

Homeschool parents everywhere lament that there’s not enough time to fit in the fun extracurriculars, hands-on projects, and outside activities. And what a shame! Doing the fun extras is probably one of the reasons we chose to homeschool in the first place. But exactly like public schools, homeschoolers can get bogged down in the academics and neglect to make time for the extras that are so important to us.

This year, I’m looking forward to using some of my extra Fridays for art and music lessons. My bonus day each week opens opportunities to explore the arts or to pursue my child’s own unique interests. And we don't have to worry about doing our regular homeschool subjects on those days! We can devote all our attention to our beloved extras.

Homeschool Co-Ops

What did we do before homeschool co-ops? We were much more isolated, that's what!

Through my local co-op, I've experienced invaluable community and fellowship, not to mention the classes and social experiences my children have benefited from.  A four-day schooling routine fits perfectly with co-ops. You school at home for four days, and you school at the co-op on the fifth.

If you’re like me, you’re probably concerned that a four-day week won't provide a full and rigorous education. Although I originally worried about that, I came to the conclusion that my fears were unfounded. Because homeschooling is so much more efficient than public education, we can fit in lots more learning in a fraction of the time. And your children really are learning while you are on field trips and at co-op. Those hours count as school!

Besides, if you choose a specially designed four-day curriculum like Sonlight's newly released programs, you can be assured that all the bases are covered, and you won't have to rearrange a typical five-day schedule yourself. Best of all, Friday Mom won't be making any end-of-the-week appearances. And I'm sure your kids won't miss her one bit.

If you have questions about how a 4-day homeschool schedule could work for your family, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to connect with your homeschool consultant.

Why I Homeschool Four Days a Week: No More Stressed Out
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Choose the Most Enjoyable Way to Homeschool: Reading Great Books

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Choose the Most Enjoyable Way to Homeschool: Reading Great Books

Although books are far more memorable than textbooks, no one would claim that the whole point of reading is to improve your memory for facts. That would be ridiculous.

We read because reading is enjoyable!

  • I would rather read something to my boys that makes them guffaw and cheer, than something they listen to more passively.
  • I would rather read something that makes my eyes prickle and my voice break because of the beauty of the language and the scene, rather than some factual report.

You Have a Choice. Choose the Most Enjoyable.

This, to me, is such an obvious benefit, I initially overlooked it, even as you probably don’t think of the deliciousness of water until you are thirsty. If you could choose between an enjoyable way to study, or a boring one, why not choose the enjoyable?

In a world of worksheets and textbooks, in a world of digital techno wizardry, we can remain connected to stories by choosing an enjoyable, literature-rich homeschool curriculum.

Even if textbooks were equally good as real books in order to learn (which they’re not), wouldn’t it make sense to choose the more enjoyable?

Great books are enjoyable. Homeschooling with great books is the most enjoyable way to homeschool.

Learning doesn’t have to be unpleasant. At times it might be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

These days, there are so many options for schooling and entertainment. Reading is not quite dead, but with the rise of television and video games, organized sports and social media, books seem a bit retro.

Learn to Enjoy Reading by Reading Great Books

And let me add: if this message isn’t resonating with you, it is possible that you have never read a good book. It happens. That doesn’t mean a literature-rich program won’t work for you.

Some children come to Sonlight in mid-elementary school. They hate books and they hate reading. But by mid-year, most of these reluctant readers have had that transformational moment where they must know what happens next! And then they’re hooked.

If you’re not hooked on reading, you might just need to read the right books. And then see what a joy learning can be.

Unlike, say, math workbooks that are designed for a specific grade, real books delight and teach a range of ages. I like how C.S. Lewis puts it:

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.

And because the books inform and instruct a range of ages, you can combine a couple of children into one program, if you want. (Add on age-appropriate subject materials, like spelling, math, and reading instruction, for each child to use independently.)

The Most Enjoyable for Parents, Too

But possibly the best benefit, at least from the teacher’s perspective? Literature-rich education is the most enjoyable way to homeschool for us parents, too. As a parent, I eagerly look forward to reading my favorite childhood books to my children:

  • Books that don’t hit us over the head with moralizing, but offer real people who deal with real, and challenging, scenarios.
  • Books that make us laugh, and love this beautiful world.
  • Books that make us cry, and grieve for this broken world.
  • Books that don’t overwhelm with darkness, but also don’t pretend darkness doesn’t exist.
  • Books that maybe don’t have the best cover but hold hidden gems, like Red Sails to Capri and Shadow Spinner.
  • Books that maybe aren’t cheerful to read, but lead to rich conversations.

If you have ever thought that your own education was a little lacking, know that Sonlight parents regularly say, “I am learning so much!” We love that you find Sonlight the most enjoyable way to homeschool!

Ready to enjoy learning? Visit SmoothCourse, our ordering process, to start today.

Choose the Most Enjoyable Way to Homeschool: Reading Great Books
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Homeschooling the Struggling Reader

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Homeschooling the Struggling Reader • Homeschooling allows us to keep moving forward with learning rather than holding kids back because they are struggling readers.

My little sister loves reading. If she has some free time, she'll open a book. Reading is one of her favorite ways to pass the day. Me? Not so much.

In fact, I read very few books every year. It's hard work for me. I get exhausted easily. And it takes me forever; so even if I spent the day reading, I wouldn't have the satisfaction of reaching the end of the book. Movies are a much quicker way to get through a fun story.

Wait... aren't I one of the biggest proponents of a literature-rich approach to homeschooling? Isn't Sonlight built around lots and lots of reading? Shouldn't I just adore books?

Yes. Yes. And, I do.

A Child Can Love Books Yet Struggle With Reading

I love great books. It's the mechanics of reading that bog me down. Part of it has to do with my eyes not tracking together. This conflict in my vision wears me out when I read. Part of the problem is how I read: one word at a time. I've long joked that I can write faster than I can read. And, who knows, there may be some other issue buried deep within my psyche or physiology that further hinders my reading.

In short: I struggled with reading. A lot.

Homeschooling, however, provided my parents the flexibility to let me go at my own pace. It also allowed me to customize my studies so I could succeed, even if I wasn't doing it the traditional way. This meant my mom read many of my school books out loud to me. In high school, I took to listening to my books on tape. I love books, but reading is hard.

Requiring Proficiency Can Be a Detriment

Starting in high school, and definitely by college, most schools realize that students learn at different paces and have slightly different interests. Thus, students can select what courses they wish to take, and skip some that "aren't for them."

With homeschooling, we can begin to apply this powerful idea much, much earlier. In my case, my mom read most of my readers to me years after I "should" have been reading on my own. Why? Because I wasn't good at reading. I struggled with it.

My dad is convinced that had I been in a classroom, I would have been placed in a remedial reading program at best. But because I wasn't required to be proficient in reading by a certain standardized age/grade/year, I was able to keep learning. Sure, I didn't read By the Great Horn Spoon myself, but I have fond memories of the book because my mom read it to me. She read aloud books that I couldn't have handled solo.

Put simply: My mom helped me continue learning because she didn't let me get hung up by tasks I wasn't ready for yet. I can't count the number of books I would have missed out on had she required me to read my readers.

This is not to say that there isn't a place for remedial reading instruction. We even have a Remedial Reading Program that can help kids who encounter serious difficulty with reading into upper elementary and middle grades.

Because of the way my mom handled my education, my struggles with reading didn't hold me back from learning. You can do the same with your children.

Homeschooling the Struggling Reader • Because of the way my mom handled my education, my struggles with reading didn't hold me back from learning. You can do the same with your children.
Focus on Learning Even Before Proficiency Arrives

Homeschooling gives us flexibility so our children can continue learning, even if they get overwhelmed by some of the mechanics connected to a subject. Homeschooling allows us to focus on learning instead of a reading level. We can race ahead in our areas of strength and take the time we need to master the things we aren't proficient in yet.

With homeschooling, we can let our children keep moving forward.

Reading Can Improve in Adulthood

Thankfully, as a film major, I didn't have to read as much in college. In fact, it wasn't until a few years after getting married, purchasing some glasses with prism lenses, and reading the Bible out loud to Brittany every morning that my reading actually significantly improved.

But Sonlight was the perfect fit for me. I'm thankful my parents were able to share all that fantastic literature with me despite my struggle with reading.

If you aren't sure how to teach your struggling reader contact one of our advisors and ask if Sonlight's Remedial Reading Program is the solution.

Homeschooling the Struggling Reader • Homeschooling allows us to keep moving forward with learning rather than holding kids back because they are struggling readers.
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Six Types of Children's Books for a Beautiful Home Library

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Six Types of Children's Books for a Beautiful Home Library •Every homeschool family needs a home library of children's books that go beyond merely reference material. Choose books that beg to be read and re-read.

I once found a quote I liked by Jim Rhoan (I don’t know who he is—just found this quote somewhere). He said, “Poor people have big TVs; rich people have big libraries.”

I don’t know if that is completely true, but I like the memory of the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, or some of the stately libraries on gorgeous estates, filled with leather-bound volumes.

At Sonlight, we want your children to have a personal library they love. So when they read about biremes (ships with two levels of oars) in Sonlight B, they run to the shelf to pull out a book about triremes (ships with three levels of oars) in Sonlight A, to compare the pictures.

Or when they read about making oil paints in Science B, they remember what they learned in their ARTistic Pursuits art book about how paints were made hundreds of years ago, before paints came in tubes.

The education interweaves, and as children find new friends in their books, they refer back to their older book friends.

But the library we want you to have is not only for reference! Here are six different types of books that we hope you have in your home library. The longer you use Sonlight, the richer your home library will become because our curriculum is filled with these six types of books.

Quality Books That You Want to Read Over and Over

Author Gail Carson Levine said, “There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only once can't.”

I love that. The best books welcome rereading. The pleasure of the current reading is an overlay on the memory of the pleasure of the previous reading. I relive the beauty with the memory of the beauty I experienced before.

Quote about reading •"There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only once can't.” Gail Carson Levine

Sonlight books welcome this kind of rereading. I have read The Horse and His Boy (in Sonlight F) more than a dozen times, and the way the pieces weave together still delights me. For me, The Horse and His Boy is like the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, where the events that were foretold come to pass but not the way you might expect, and only after much struggle.

This book reminds me that just because I might be in the midst of struggle right now, the end might be very different from the middle, and this stage of struggle won’t last forever. Sometimes I need that reminder.

In my house, teens reread books they loved in early elementary; tweens get excited for their younger siblings to hear a favorite book for the first time. (And sometimes the older boys listen in as I read to the younger brothers.)

We want your children to have continual access to books that they love, books that they reference, books that they remember.

Praiseworthy Books That Uplift and Instruct

As Christians, we take seriously Paul’s instructions to the church at Philippi to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy. Of course, the Bible itself contains many stories of hard things: from the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, to the temper tantrum of Jonah, to the death of Jesus on the cross. Yet the Bible satisfies Paul’s list, and encourages the reader to walk in righteousness . . . even as it acknowledges the existence of evil.

Fill your home library with titles that don’t skirt hard things, but create a starting point to understand truth, nobility, loveliness, and excellence. Thus, even though the end of Charlotte’s Web might make us cry, we know that we have read about lovely and praiseworthy friendships.

Books from a Variety of Genres

You probably have a few types of books that you particularly enjoy. My favorite genres are either adventure or coming-of-age novels, and self-help books. My sons prefer science fiction and history. My husband prefers economics.

Whether you like mysteries or nonfiction, history or Christian romance, each of us tends to choose books from our favorite genres. But if you always gravitate to the same genres, imagine all the great books you are missing!

Sonlight’s founder, Sarita, enjoys introducing customers to books they would not likely discover on their own. That's why the programs include a wide variety of genres. And because the books are integrated in complete packages, even if you wouldn’t normally pick up a particular book, the Instructor’s Guide prompts you to read a biography, romance, historical fiction, mystery, or other work. You’ll sample books from genres you might not normally consider. And you will probably discover that both you and your children love the selections even when you initially judged the book a bust by its cover.

Accessible Books With Different Levels

Children should read books with different difficulty levels, rather than always focus on books at the edge of their ability. Just because a first grader can read at a third grade level doesn’t mean that that child always should read at that level—any more than you, as an adult who can read college texts, should consistently read at that level.

In the same way a sprinter will spend time in practice on strength training, starts, and stamina, and not run at race pace all the time, a home library should have different levels of reading material so that students

  • sometimes challenge their limits (race pace);
  • often read books that build stamina while filling their minds with great content;
  • occasionally, just have fun.

Each book in your home library contributes to a balanced education, providing a variety of experiences.

Diverse Books From Different Cultures and Authors

Sonlight pursues three forms of diversity in the books it includes because we think your home libraries should reflect an abundance of perspectives.

  1. Books from a variety of authors.
  2. Books whose authors and characters come from backgrounds other than Western Europe.
  3. Books by both male and female authors, and approximately equal numbers of male and female main characters.

“Keep reading!” Books That Hook You

Lorelei K said, “Our biggest problem is that we can't get enough of the books! I cannot tell you how many weeks we read ahead ‘just one more chapter’ because we become absolutely enthralled by the characters and plots.”

We deal with this on a regular basis at my house, too. This common Sonlight problem is a problem I’m thrilled to have. We hope that your library is filled with books that grab your children's imagination to the extent that they can't bear to stop reading each day.

Ready to start building your home library? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

Six Types of Children's Books for a Beautiful Home Library •Every homeschool family needs a home library of children's books that go beyond merely reference material. Choose books that beg to be read and re-read.
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The Top 9 Reasons Kids Like Being Homeschooled

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The Top 9 Reasons Kids Like Being Homeschooled | advantages of homeschoolinParents deciding whether to homeschool will likely ask a vital question: Do kids actually like being homeschooled?

We know that many moms and dads love homeschooling. We know it lines up with many parents' goals for their families. But what about the many little people who actually stay at home to learn instead of going to school? Do they like learning at home? Or do they pine for a classroom with dozens of peers?

Of course, their answers will vary. Every child and family is different. Some days at home are great, and some are hard. (Homeschooling is like the rest of life in that regard.)

We turned to our Facebook page to ask moms what their children like most about being homeschooled.  These were the top answers reported by 92 moms, starting with the most common. Are they the same benefits that your children love about homeschooling?

1. "I get to spend the day with my mom"

When their parents asked, 39 children (out of 163) said they liked that homeschooling let them be with their family. Some said they loved not having to miss their siblings all day. But most said something specifically about spending time with mom. One little girl even told her mom, "I used to cry at school because I missed you, Mommy." It's enough to melt a mother's heart. And it's true: great homeschooling is primarily about relationships.

2. More free time for other pursuits

In second place, 29 kids said they liked being free to do other things in life besides just school. They talked about art, music, sports, and lots of good old-fashioned free play (a vital factor in childhood development). They loved not being cooped up in a schoolroom all day, every day.

3. We get to go at our own pace and create our own schedule

The next most common response was from 25 kids who said they liked the freedom of the homeschool schedule. They liked not being locked into an arbitrary daily and yearly school schedule. Homeschoolers can move quickly or take more time in certain subjects. They can take breaks during the day when they need them. Rather than moving in lockstep with their peers, homeschoolers can get an education tailored to their strengths, struggles and interests.

4. No homework

This one connects to #2. Not only are homeschoolers spared from having to sit in a classroom all day, they're also freed from having to spend all night on homework. Since homeschooling can use children's time more efficiently, kids can get a better education in a much shorter time each day. Fourteen children mentioned this perk, which allows them to follow their passions and spend time on more meaningful pursuits.

A Sonlight mom reads with her children
Sonlight students David, Katelyn and Erowynn B get to hang out together with Mom and read fascinating books during school time every day.

5. Reading!

Next in line were the responses about reading; 10 children responded with this. Sonlight kids love the time cuddled up with mom reading on the couch. They love the great stories. They just love to read. (Though I'd guess that not all of these children started out this way. Sonlight has a history of turning reluctant readers into book lovers!)

6. Sleep

Eight children replied that they liked being able to sleep in. While this may seem a lazy answer at first glance, adequate sleep is a crucial benefit of homeschooling.

7. Learning in pajamas

One of the fun perks of homeschooling is that kids don't have to worry about coordinating the perfect outfit every day for school. Eight children replied that they loved doing homeschool in their PJs. Hey, it's the little things, right?

8. No bullies

Five children, who likely used to be in regular school, said that they loved not having to worry about bullies. They feel safe at home. I would imagine that this sense of security greatly enhances their ability to learn.

9. It's fun!

Five other children said that homeschooling was just plain fun. I would agree.

And just to be fair, five of the 163 kids said they actually don't like being homeschooled. Several of these children had already gone back to public school. It's a good reminder that even though homeschooling is a fantastic option for many, many families, it is not the only way to teach a child. (But don't worry–if you ask your children and they happen to respond on that given day that they don't like being homeschooled, it doesn't necessarily mean you've made the wrong decision.)

Many more answers came in with fewer than five responses. One homeschooled child from North Dakota loved not having to walk to school in the freezing cold. Others enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere at home. Several loved that they got to read the Bible and learn about God during school. Some said that they know their teacher understands and loves them.

Finally, one honest little girl enthusiastically replied, "Snacks!" As her mom noted, at least she has her priorities in line.

Now I'd love to hear from you. What do your kids say they like about being homeschooled?

The Top 9 Reasons Kids Like Being Homeschooled | reasons to homeschool | benefits of homeschooling

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3 Steps to a Calmer Homeschool Morning

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3 Steps to a Calmer Homeschool Morning • homeschool schedules • time management
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of trying to juggle homeschooling multiple grades, keep up your home, invest in your marriage, and have a little time to breathe? Do you feel like your schedule is too packed and your to-do list is too long?

If so, you might be in need of a makeover to your routine that leads to a calmer homeschool morning.

You see, the morning sets the tone for your whole day. When the morning goes well, the rest of the day usually goes well. And conversely, when you wake up rushed and harried, those feelings often filter down into your entire day.

I’ve spent the last few years working on changing my approach to morning, and while I’m far from perfect (you should have seen me running around like a crazy woman to get out the door for an appointment the other morning!), here are three keys I’ve found that are imperative to having a better morning.

1. Begin the Night Before

You're tired at night. I totally get that. I am, too. In fact, most nights, I can't wait to get some comfy pants on, put my feet up, and enjoy a good book or movie.

But I've found that if I take 15 minutes to prep for the next day, I do myself a huge favor. I use these 15 minutes to do three main things:

  1. Quickly clean up the main living areas of our home.
  2. Look over our plans for the next day and make a short to-do list or loose schedule for the next day.
  3. If I have anywhere I need to go (appointments, field trip, errands, lessons, etc.), I get together everything I need to get out the door the next day (diaper bag, library books to return, etc.).

When I do these three tasks, I enjoy crawling into bed and curling up with a book much more because I know I have things in great order for the next morning. Plus, those 15 minutes of effort often completely change my morning.

Not only do I wake up to a cleaner house, but I wake up feeling in control of my day because I already have a plan of action in place. Now all I have to do is just follow the plan!

Tip: When making your to-do list, challenge yourself to immediately cross three things off, without even doing them. This will force you to carefully evaluate everything on the list and help you weed out what isn't that important.

2. Get Up a Little Earlier

I know, I know. Getting up early is not fun, glamorous, or exciting. And if you're currently in a stage of life where you're getting up multiple times in the night due to illness, pregnancy, or caring for a fussy infant or child, you can skip this point entirely.

But the rest of you, hear me out. Getting up just 15 minutes earlier can make a tremendous impact on the overall success of your day—and quite possibly your entire life! I dare you to try it for just three weeks to see if you prove me wrong.

Instead of pulling yourself out of bed at the last minute and then rushing around like a mad woman so you can get everything done you need to do before your homeschool day starts, try waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal in order to spend quiet time praying, reading the Bible or an encouraging book, or writing in a journal. This will give you a calm start to your day and will allow you time to be still, count your blessings, and begin your day with a great attitude.

Tip: Find a friend to join you in your early rising challenge. It's so much easier, and more fun, when you're not going it alone. You might text each other in the morning when you get up to help you stay accountable.

3. Attack the Hardest Thing First

I can be a master procrastinator. I can come up with all sorts of seemingly good things to do instead of doing what I really should be doing. But when I spend most of the day procrastinating, I feel behind and unfulfilled.

Thanks to Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog, I’ve been challenging myself to begin my day tackling those dreaded tasks first. You know what I’ve found? Those tasks I thought I loathed really aren’t usually that hard when I just set my mind to do them and then get them done—as soon as possible. They usually take less time than I think they will, and I always feel so good to check the hard things off my list early in the day.

You know what else I’ve discovered? I have more time than I thought I did! When I stopped burning daylight and stalling in order to avoid the unpleasant tasks, it has freed up a lot of extra time in my day. This, in turn, made me feel much less busy and able to go through my days more calmly and cheerfully because I don’t constantly feel behind.

Tip: Have a dreaded task to tackle? Set a timer and challenge yourself to race against the clock. This will motivate you to work harder and faster, and will make it more like a game than a difficult task! You'll probably find you get the project done in no time at all!

If you need more help with planning a doable homeschool schedule, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to connect with your homeschool consultant.

3 Steps to a Calmer Homeschool Morning • homeschool time management • homeschool schedules
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Getting Angry as a Homeschool Mom: Strategies to Help

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Getting Angry as a Homeschool Mom: Strategies to Help

  • "I wish I didn't yell at my kids."
  • "I try so hard to be patient, but I lose my cool at least once a day. Then I feel terrible."
  • "I make my son cry during Math!"
  • "I'm setting a bad example for my kids!"

Ever had thoughts like these? If so, you're definitely not alone.

An informal survey a few years back revealed that many homeschool moms' biggest worry was about their own attitudes. These loving, hardworking moms wrote in things like what you see above.

I hear you, moms (and dads). My pastor has said that you can have a fuse a mile long, and your kids will still find a way to set it off.

So I wanted to share some thoughts to offer perspective and encouragement about getting angry as a homeschool mom.

Most moms get angry sometimes

This is not an excuse, but just a reality check. I recently heard a mom say that she had thought she was the only one who would sometimes yell, stomp around, slam a cupboard, or otherwise have a mommy "temper tantrum." She was so relieved to find out that she's not a monster, she's just human. Other moms struggle with this as well.

You may be surprised – if you finally talk with your mom friends about your struggle with anger, they'll probably say they struggle too. Put it in perspective – of course it's frustrating when your kids disrespect you, when they don't listen, or when your best laid plans go awry.

Yes, we should strive to grow in maturity. We want to model positive ways to handle our anger in front of our children. But first, it's okay to admit you're not perfect.

Consider why you get angry

I've heard that anger is a secondary emotion. It usually signals that something else is going on.

That "something else" is often fear.

  • Are you scared that your children will make you look bad by making you late to the co-op again?
  • Are you scared that you will never get anything done again?
  • Are you scared that your husband will think you're lazy when he comes home to a messy home and a boring dinner?

Take an honest look at why those things frighten you. If you can, remind yourself of truth and the big picture.

Or perhaps you're angry because your hormones are off today. If so, have extra grace for yourself and everyone else, and know that tomorrow will, actually, be better.

If you're angry because your children never listen to you, then your children are in need of correction. This may or may not be righteous anger, but there is a legitimate reason for you to be angry. When you are at home with the kids, you are the captain of that ship. If there's a mutiny underfoot, of course you'll be angry.

Another common factor in anger is when we neglect our own physical needs. We can get so caught up in caring for others that we don't pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. Are you eating a substantive, healthy breakfast? Do you drink enough water? Are you getting enough sleep (if that's at all feasible in your stage of life right now)?

If you're angry because you want more "me" time, you can deal with that. Perhaps you could look at your full week (all 168 hours) and find a few additional pockets of time for you to do your own thing. Or maybe you need to repent for not being thankful for the gifts of this season. Prayer and discernment can show you which is applicable to you.

Noticing the root of your anger won't automatically fix it, but it will help you start to move forward in love.

We're never completely stuck: we can try something new

Can you start to notice as soon as you feel your blood pressure start to rise? If you catch yourself on your way to an anger outburst, do what you need to do right away to stop it. That doesn't mean you can't be angry, but try to choose an appropriate way to express it.

See if one or more of these strategies could help:

  • Give yourself a "Mommy timeout." If your kids are safe, just tell them, "I feel myself getting angry and I don't want to yell, so I'm going to go take a timeout for 60 seconds in the other room and I'll be back." Use that time to get perspective however you can so that you can approach the situation more thoughtfully.
  • Count to ten and take a deep breath before you say anything.You've heard it before, but there's a reason this is everyone's go-to strategy. Pausing and taking a deep breath is a great way to model to your children how to calm yourself down.
  • Act before you cross that invisible line and explode. If your kids are doing something they're not supposed to, or if they're just being annoying, intervene early before you blow up about it. If you act soon you could calmly say something like, "Abby, you can throw the ball outside, or you can find something else to do now. If you throw it again inside I will take it away from you." If you ignore the behavior and let it go on, you might just snap and scream, "Abby! JUST STOP IT!!!"
  • Consider a new discipline strategy. If your approach to discipline isn't working for your family, maybe it's time to pray, research and try something new. If you theoretically have a discipline plan but you're not actually comfortable with it and therefore don't use it, it might be time to try something new.

 Remember that God's mercies are new every minute

My daughter Amy says that everything changed for her when she realized it's not just "every morning his mercies are new" but "every minute his mercies are new." If she'd gotten angry before breakfast, she didn't have to stick with the mentality of: "Well, today was a bust, but hopefully tomorrow will be better" That's a long time to ride out a bad attitude.

Far better to acknowledge failure and move on in grace and joy: "I didn't respond as I should have. Will you forgive me? Let's have a good rest of the day!" In most cases like this, kids are surprisingly quick to forgive. They want to have a good relational day too. And what a gift to model for our children how to ask for and receive forgiveness.

We can use anything to help teach our children

We are teaching our children more than academics. We want to teach them how to be well-adjusted, loving people who can manage their emotions. What a privilege that we can model to them how to reconcile after we mess up!

This doesn't mean it's fine to snap in anger at them, but if we do we can then model healthy repentance. You can communicate huge amounts of grace if you get down on your children's level, apologize to them for yelling and ask them to forgive you. You can tell them that you are asking God to help you grow in patience. You could even stop and pray out loud with your kids for mommy to be able to act more lovingly. Your kids might surprise you by returning the favor sometime and asking if you could pray for God to help them be more patient and loving, too.

Some translations of Ephesians 4:26 say, "Be angry, but do not sin." It's what we do with our anger that counts ... and that teaches our children what to do with their own anger.

I know this is a tough issue. And really, any adjustment of anger is going to take some self-awareness–to know why you are angry, what parts are legitimate, who is in sin, and in what ways, and then prayerful determination to change. Ask God for help and clarity, and he will help.

And if this is an overwhelming struggle for you, don't be afraid to reach out for more resources. There is no shame in reading books on anger, talking to a trusted friend, or working with a wise counselor to help you develop new patterns in your life. Praise God that we can change!

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