Monday, February 23, 2009

I thought I could, I thought I could!

One of the struggles that many homeschool parents, and apparently much of the rest of the world as well, face comes on the heels of lunch. Every day that energy dips, nose dives, plummets. Hopefully the core subjects are done, and we feel like writing off the rest of the day.

Earlier in the school year I posted my struggle with this dilemma and asked if anyone had suggestions. I got lots of responses, but they all said essentially the same thing, "I don't know, but if you find out I'd love to hear it." Encouraging to find that I would not drown alone in this sinking ship, but not very helpful.

This article on CNN talks about the afternoon blahs and recommends some of their tips for keeping productive in the workplace. Since the home is my workplace, I found their advice helpful, somewhat. Some of them I had already tried, and they work for us on occasion. We have a bit more flexibility at home as opposed to an office, so our afternoon pick-me-ups look a little different.

I have found that having a well stocked arsenal is key, because what works one day might not work the next. My afternoons have enjoyed far more productivity than in the past as we have enjoyed trying out fresh ideas to stay productive.

Breathe -- Sometimes just a few really deep breaths can give us the little kick we need. This is a simple one and something we can all do throughout each day.

Get moving -- We have our PE time shortly after lunch. Once our food has digested we head outside, up to the gym we live near, or jump into some other planned activity. Even just turning on some upbeat music and dancing around the living room together gets the blood flowing and re-energizes our day.

Get outside -- Sunshine and fresh air are incredible motivators. Today we ignored the snow on the ground and got outside to fly a kite for about half an hour. We returned inside, served up a round of hot chocolates, and hit the books again. We had another hour and a half or more of quality school time.

Don't feel guilty about a little catnap -- especially when I had more interruptions at night, I absolutely needed at least a 15 minute nap each afternoon. For me, that gave me a little rest, but didn't knock me out for the count. Every now and then I still head to bed, or the couch, for a quick bit of shut-eye.

Find some quiet interactive activities -- read outloud or listen to an audio book, play a board game, do puzzles, build with Legos. Right now we are reading Around the World in 80 Days as we have time in the afternoon. So much better than the movie! Of course, they always beg, "Don't stop, don't stop!" But, we have to get back to other activities eventually. Oh, maybe just one more chapter . . .

Plan active learning -- experiments, crafts, music, etc. My only challenge here, is that I don't often have the motivation to get into it. Once we get going it is a great afternoon choice, but sometimes it take me a bit, so this is not my first choice to renew the afternoon pace.

Have a schedule or write down a to-do list -- Most days we have a written schedule that we follow, but some days we face a hiccup to our normal routine. Even on those days I want to avoid losing the whole afternoon, so I pull out a white board and write down either an adjusted schedule or just a quick list of what we have to get done before we call it a day. This is great for partial sick days or other unexpected interruptions.

Set rewards -- we have a standing reward if all school work for the week is completed by early afternoon on Friday each week.

I while back I posted about a smattering of miscellaneous ideas for dealing with those times when we almost feel like throwing in the towel, whether morning or afternoon.

Hope some of you find this helpful to keep your day moving along. Sometimes we have set our standards too high, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to keep enjoying the plans we have laid out for the day.

These are some ideas that have definitely worked for me!


Kris said...

Oh, the afternoons can be brutal sometimes. Listening to the kids read is the worst for me. If I listen to them before lunch, I'm fine. After lunch, I'm fighting sleep the whole time. It seems like their otherwise sweet little voices just drone on and on.

I am a big fan of those 15-20 minute catnaps. When I worked outside of the home, those were the only things that got me through most days. I still indulge in one every now and then.

Usually after listening to the kids read. ;-)

Lee said...

These are some great ideas. Not just for homeschooling, but life. Thanks.

Hadley Coble said...

I'm adding those to my idea file for when we begin school in a few weeks!

Elizabeth Symington said...

I crash too in the afternoons at 4:15. I find getting up at 7 and on the go until 4, makes me tired. I either eat a snack, take a catnap or do something active. Then I feel renergized and keep moving until late evening.

5intow said...

Kris, I hear you on the reading! Sometimes I tackle that first thing in the morning, otherwise my snores sometimes interrupt them.

Lee, so often I think of ideas in terms of my own sphere and schedule, but the afternoon lull seems to be pretty universal, even though the solutions might end up looking a little different.

Good luck (just an expression, luck really has pretty much nothing to do with it), Hadley, hope all goes well!

Elizabeth, I think that running from 7-4 you have the right to be tired! Thanks for sharing what keeps you going the rest of the day.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Renae said...

Thanks for compiling such a helpful list. We always have a break after lunch, sometimes longer than others. It's my time for a nice cup of tea (or fourth cup of coffee depending on the day).

And I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who falls asleep listening to my kids read. ;)

Sherry said...

Thank you so much for the list! I love the catnaps, too, although sometimes they turn into longer ones. We also have an hour in the afternoon which is quiet time that one can read, nap, or do something quietly like writing/drawing. :D