As a homeschooling mom of ten, there is always a lot going on in our home, and it’s hard to make everyone happy all of the time. This has led to a lot of grumbling in the past. But a few years ago our family decided to do something different and replace out grumbling with gratitude. I chronicle our journey in The Grumble Free Year, and these are four practical things I learned that can also help your family to have a grumble-free school year!
1. Start with your grumbling before you address your family’s grumbling.
Okay, I admit it, it’s hard to tell my kids to do better when I was grumbling, too. I wasn’t a loud and proud grumbler, yet I would often fall prey to the internal, grumbling martyr, and I knew the kids could tell.
My internal grumbling often went something like this:
“I can’t do this. There are too many kids and too much needed from me. I can’t keep up.”
“It’s going to be a rough day!”
“Oh, the weather is bad outside, so much for my clean house while the kids are all cooped up!”
“I’m going to have to deal with the kids grumbling again, ugh!”
Having these conversations with myself was not only a sin, but it also created a murmuring tenor in our home. I had to repent before the Lord of my grumbling before I could make progress with my children’s attitudes and seek to have a grumble-free school year.
I had to capture my grumbling thoughts and think of something to be thankful for instead.
This simple practice changes my attitude and it was noticeable, to me and my kids.
2. Take control of your unrealistic expectations and remain flexible with your kids’ schooling.
No one expected this school year to go as it has. No one. Yet here we are, and complaining about it doesn’t change things.
As parents, we often grumble because we expect things to go a certain way, but they don’t. But the fact is, things rarely go as planned. Even if the changes aren’t huge (like going from public school to homeschool or virtual school), there are always bumps in our plans.
The problem with unrealistic expectations is when the house got messy, I didn’t get as much done in the day as I had hoped, or the kids started to fight, I would get overwhelmed and begin to grumble.
In my effort to stop grumbling, I thought about my unrealistic expectations that I could clean the house and have it stay clean. (We had eleven people living in our home at one point after all!) I also considered how unrealistic it was that I could go through a day with my family, and it would be conflict-free.
Instead of giving in to those unrealistic expectations, I started proactively considering how to help my family get back on track. Some days this meant stopping to do a 10-minute cleanup, with all the kids helping. Other days, it meant pausing to help my children communicate with each other better: “How about we try that conversation again, this time with kind words?”
Think about the next few hours. What do you hope will happen? Now consider your response when something doesn’t go as planned. It doesn’t matter what happens, just think about how you’ll respond.
When we realize we’re being unrealistic and plan for a positive (not negative) reaction, we handle situations better. We look beyond the problems to find solutions. We treat our family with respect, instead of just grumbling about what went wrong.
When we react with confidence, instead of feeling like a victim, we feel better about ourselves and others—and we model this for our kids. When we can control our expectations and emotions, we can better handle the bumbles and struggles when they come.
Consider your desire to have a grumble-free school year and how to attain it in light of this. With the current pandemic, there is so much up in the air. You might even start the year with your kids going to school, and then in a few months, things could quickly change. Thinking ahead to how you’ll respond when change happens can go along way. Planning to be flexible and to communicate positively now will help when things don’t go as planned.
3. Communicate to stave off grumbling.
Often we get upset or frustrated with our kids’ grumbling when they actually have a reason behind it. Kids are little people with human emotions, fears, and frustrations. When the grumbling starts, it helps to figure out what’s really going on.
- Are they feeling residual tension and stress in our home? (Kids are amazing sponges when it comes to soaking up when we are fearful or stressed.)
- Are there needs they have that are not being met?
- Do they need extra love and attention from me?
- Are they not feeling well, sleep-deprived, or hungry?
By asking yourself these questions, you may reduce complaining and head towards a grumble-free school year by realizing your child’s needs.
For older kids, they often grumble because they know outward defiance will get them in trouble. They feel frustrated about certain things, but they know they are not allowed to act out. Questions to ask older kids are:
- What is worrying you?
- Is anything making you anxious?
Then, instead of trying to solve all the problems yourself, ask, “What do you think we can do about this?” It’s amazing what solutions kids can come up with, and older kids learn to problem solve and not just grumble about it.
Are you ready to learn how to have True Homeschool Success?
Let me show you what has worked for our family for over two and a half decades. I want to share what’s given us the power so you too can lead your family through home education. Learn more here: True Homeschool Success