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Home Education Magazine

May-June 2000 - Articles

One of Those Days - Deb Baker

It is not quite 9 AM, but I can tell already that it is One of Those Days. You all know exactly what I mean - a day when the kids bicker, you feel out of sorts, and no amount of Calgon is going to take you away. It is too early to tell what brought it on this time. One of Those Days comes on for all sorts of reasons. Maybe your aunt calls to tell you her hairdresser's-sister-the-teacher told her and she is telling you that homeschooling is detrimental to a child's social development. Or you smell something funny and look under your son's bed, discovering a long forgotten science project that the dog is now eating. Perhaps your daughter finds the markers and starts a mural on the kitchen wall while you are in the bathroom. Or after a long morning of errands, you meet someone you know from your homeschool support group who tells you her children are busy building a replica of The Globe Theater out of milk cartons so that they can perform Hamlet, which they just memorized. As she tells you this, your children are putting on a performance of their own, which could be entitled, "1,001 Ways to Torment a Sibling Using Only an Empty Paper Towel Tube." Or maybe it is just rainy again, or your whole family is tired. No matter the reason, it is definitely One of Those Days.

But on this day, I am ready. I have a secret weapon - I am an unschooling mom, and anything is possible. Besides, this has happened many times before. So I look at the children and announce, "This is One of Those Days." They stop and look up expectantly; ready to hear what crazy cure Mom has in mind this time. If this sounds familiar, try These remedies with your kids:
1. Find something unappreciated to investigate.

Take dryer lint, for example. Not exactly The most popular items around, but interesting nonetheless, if you stop to consider it. Where does it come from? Why? Where does it all go? (Not just in the lint trap?) What can you do with it, besides throw it out? Can you look at it and do any detective work about the load of laundry it came from? There are plenty of humble, seemingly worthless things around that you can stop and ponder.
2. Use art to defuse household tension.

Play loud or soft music, dance, sing, or lie down and listen. Look through art books and make up stories to go with the paintings and sculptures. Squish and pound clay. Cut up scraps, junk mail, or catalogs and make a collage. Use crayons, pens, or paint to scribble, doodle, or swirl your cares away. Read poetry out loud. Make up poetry, silly or serious.
3. Join in the mayhem.

This morning after I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, I found my children piling sheets and pillows on my bed and leaping into them. I was about to stop them when my six year old said "Maybe we should just have a sheet party, where we get a bunch of sheets and pile them on the floor and just mess around." Good idea!
4. Pitch a tent in the yard, or in your living room.

Stretch blankets over chairs, or just crawl into a closet together, or under a table. Bring flashlights and have a light show. Read or tell stories. Snuggle.
5. Get out of the house.

Have a picnic in the snow, or stomp around in the rain, or lie in warm grass staring at the sky. If no one wants to go outside, look out a window and watch whatever is going on out there. Try to guess where people are going, or what a bird or squirrel is going to do next.
6. Visit the grocery store

(that favorite unschooling hall of math, reading, science, history, geography, home economics, health, and probably many other topics). Get free samples, look for unusual produce, talk to the bakers, buy oranges and practice juggling, find foods for each letter of the alphabet, people-watch, pick out something exotic for lunch. While you are there, be sure to get ingredients for your favorite cookies.
7. Make cookies.

With apologies to A.A. Milne, I don't know anyone who can be uncheered by a batch of cookies. If you happen to be that person, pick another favorite comfort food and indulge. Have it for breakfast, or have a Dessert for Dinner night.
8. Take a vacation.

Get in the car and go visit your town as if you are tourists. Go to the library and check out travel books and videos. Surf the Internet for tourism sites and request free maps, and brochures. Get out an atlas and dream about places you'd love to go. Pretend you are visitors from another planet - what is that furry creature wagging its tail?
9. Announce that for the rest of the day, you will be silly.

Invite everyone else to be silly too. See who can be silliest. Tell jokes, make up funny stories, draw wacky faces, walk around backwards, or crawl.
10. Keep a One of Those Days supply box.

Put in things that will help you and your family feel better - a special book (like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), new crayons, candles, fun music, interesting things from garage sales (hats are a favorite at our house), a book of rainy day activities, and your own One of Those Days list of remedies.
11. Write letters to each other (or draw pictures).

"Mail" them in unexpected places, like in the refrigerator, or someone's sock drawer. Then go looking for them and take turns reading them.
12. Make up a treasure hunt.

Hide things and draw a map or make up clues for finding them. One person can be in charge, or each person can choose something, hide it, and give a clue to everyone else. Make the clues rhyme, or create a secret code.
13. Have a One of Those Days party.

Invite friends, or just each other. Pick a theme, make decorations, bake a treat, dress up, and celebrate together.
14. Go back to bed.

Get back into or stay in your pajamas all day. Gather up all the pillows in the house, pile into the biggest bed, make popcorn, play games, read together, or just take a big nap.
15. Declare Family Appreciation Day.

Ask everyone to think up something they appreciate about each person in your house. Have a special ceremony - light candles, play soft music, sit in a circle and hold hands to share with and appreciate each other.
16. Do something for someone else.

Brainstorm together - think of someone who would appreciate a surprise and work on that as a family. Make cookies for someone, offer to clean an older friend's house or pull weeds, bring lunch to Daddy, go through closets and donate outgrown clothes, go to the store and buy canned goods and take them to a food bank, offer to babysit so a new mom can take a nap, make flyers inviting neighbors to help clean up a park.
17. Look for the moon and howl at it. If you don't see it, draw one and howl at that instead. Don't worry; your neighbors already think you are crazy for being home with your kids all day. If they ask, you can tell them you are studying the moon, or wolves, or onomatopoeia.

By now you are probably nodding and thinking of many other things that would surely chase away even the worst One of Those Days. I'd love to hear what you do, because I am always looking for new ideas. I am realistic enough to know that some days, none of my suggestions will be appealing, or I will be past the point of being able to think one up. But my most potent remedy is probably the simplest: I hug my children and remember that I am supremely glad to be home, learning together, any day. 2000, Deb Baker

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