The Incredible True Story of: UNSCHOOLING on a BAD DAY

I had a really rotten day a few days back. It was the sort of day where you just wake up feeling like your whole life is one big existential crisis, you know. They happen occasionally. Part of it was definitely exhaustion from a few bad nights in a row, but the rest was probably some incomprehensible mix of who knows what.

Anyway. So it was one of those days. Basically I stayed in bed until ten and then spent the rest of the morning switching between reading a book and weeping for no reason. And then I had a nap. And then I felt functional and even made supper and got passably through the day and went to bed and the next day was, for no remarkable reason, better.

These things do happen occasionally, to I would guess pretty much everyone—because we’re human. But I know that because my kids are at home, the burning question in people’s minds is: what did the kids do all day?? WERE THEIR LIVES RUINED?!

Well, they seem to have survived—thrived, even. I might in fact venture to postulate that they didn’t particularly notice a difference. They spent the morning until I got out of bed playing video games with friends and watching Paw Patrol on and off. But you may be surprised to learn that this is not even how they spent their entire day. For one, the weather here has finally risen above -20 C, quite dramatically (as is wont to do in southern Alberta). Being above zero, the snow was finally play-worthy, so the three youngest spent the remainder of the morning frolicking in the yard, building snowmen and throwing snowballs and all such wintry things. The two oldest elected to walk to the library, where they spent a couple hours perusing graphic novels.

The afternoon was full of minecraft with friends and listening to podcasts, and in the evening the boys played downstairs while E made a couple ponchos out of fabric she found.

At bedtime I did pull myself together to read a short chapter from Pippi Longstocking (it’s easy to be motivated when the result is a quiet house), and they all did their usual evening stuff—books and playing downstairs and podcasts and whatnot.

The thing is that people hear I have five kids at home and they think I’m some sort of superhero. Except what they don’t realize is that when you trust your kids to learn and explore and absorb independently, it really takes the pressure off. Which is good when sometimes you just need the freedom to feel like total garbage and not have the added guilt of ruining your children heaped onto an already terrible day.

In fact, I would like to expand further on the experience of this day—because having had five children means I’ve had five pregnancies, which for me amounts to at least a solid two months straight of “bad days”, on top of being-too-busy and way-too-tired days, and then of course the usual weeks of illness and what have you. And I am here to attest that, despite the overwhelming accumulation of less than stellar moments, my kids continue to thrive. They continue to be literate, and interesting, and social, and smart, and happy.

Unschooling has taught me this much: it’s not all about me—the kids are alright.

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