How is home schooling going? Don’t ask. Plus 30 non – school ideas to have fun with your kids.

I never regret having kids. Never.  My kids are the lights of my life, they have given me purpose in ways I could only imagine in pre-kid days.  We go on adventures together.  We build giant forts and dance like nobody is watching. We laugh so hard sharts happen.  But I’ve had my moments on this mothering journey where I’ve briefly imagined a childless life, and honestly, in my imagination it didn’t seem entirely terrible.  Never has this been more evident than during the covid lockdown. 

Being a mom during covid times has been HARD. My childless friends talk blissfully about the joys of working from home, while learning a new language and taking up ceramics on the side while I’m here picking up my 50th nerf dart off the floor – it’s 9 am. 

A child free girlfriend recently asked me what I’ve been doing with all my free time and I wanted to punch her through the phone.  What free time?  Between running the shop, feeding the kids, cleaning endless messes, enjoying time with my children, doing yard work, walking the dog, and doing my own school work there is no free time.  8 am – 10 pm every day is packed to the brim and there’s rarely a moment to sit on a computer and force my kids against their will to learn. School is officially a wash over here. Yep we gave up on school back in May.  Feel free to go ahead and judge me, you wouldn’t be the first.

When I tell people we essentially stopped doing school they look at me horrified. How could I be such a monster? Surely I should know my kids eventual success in life dangles dangerously in the balance and is in direct correlation with their productivity in grades three and four. Right?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not that concerned. I know there are other moms like me who just couldn’t do it. I want you to know you’re not alone.

When I talk to mom friends about how school is going I get answers from, “it’s going great” to “their reading has improved tremendously” to “we sit down and do school work from 10-3 every day” but I haven’t yet heard anyone say; “homeschooling sucks, I hate it. I got sick of fighting with my kids every day about it and I don’t have the time to sit there for hours while they pretend they’ve forgotten how to turn on a computer or use a mouse and we’re done.” So I will be the one to say it.  I’m that mom.

At the end of the day all of our experiences as moms are different.  Some of us have a partner home full time with us to help share the load.  Some of us only have one kid and one curriculum to teach.  Some of us have kids who really like online learning.  Some moms only have their kids every second week.  Some moms don’t work or do school from home.  And some moms just simply care more about school and make it their first priority. These are all ok, and so are moms who just-cant-anymore.

Me and my boys have been doing lots of other non-school things to keep them busy and the rest of the time I generally kick them outside to play in the yard.  Even though they are not killing it with school work, they are limiting their daily screen time and are learning things in other ways.  Here are a few things that we’ve enjoyed doing during lock down.  Whether you’re a home school superstar or a home school slacker like me, these are some fun things that can take the pressure off the work of motherhood and help you form lasting memories with your kids.

  1. Build a giant box fort.  Grab some duct tape and boxes from a hardware store and let them have at er.
  2. Buy an easy bake oven and let them “experiment” with baking small batches that wont burn through huge amounts of ingredients.
  3. Make puppets out of single socks.   
  4. Grow a gigantic vegetable garden.
  5. Play soccer, basketball or street hockey.
  6. Go on long bike rides.
  7. Get a foraging app and learn about your local wild edibles.
  8. Make slime.
  9. Build a firepit in the backyard and have a campout.
  10. Buy a cheap old tent trailer and fix it up together.
  11. Paint each others portraits and hang them on the wall.
  12. Order stacks of books and build them a reading corner in their rooms.
  13. Go fishing.
  14. Make sushi together.
  15. Give each other ‘makeovers’
  16. Build some mini ramps and hit some jumps on bikes, scooters or skateboards.
  17. Dance party.
  18. Freestyle rap battle.
  19. Build a simple shelter in a local wooded area out of fallen trees.
  20. Host your own ‘nailed it’ baking challenge.
  21. Make your own bath bombs
  22. See who can build the tallest lego structure
  23. Remake a home version of your favorite movie or music videos.
  24. Have a movie night…every night.
  25. Pick wildflowers and make dried arrangements.
  26. Write and illustrate your own novels.
  27. Call grandparents who might be lonely.
  28. Make sculptures with air dry clay.
  29. Do yoga or a guided mediation
  30. Nerf war

There’s more to life than school, especially if your kids are at an age where they will have no trouble picking it back up in the fall.  If you, like me, are not a home schooling superstar don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t let others make you feel guilty.  If you are a home schooling super star, try not to judge other moms who may be struggling with it all.  We are all just doing the best that we can. 

If you have any fun ideas to add to the list, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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