Homework Hacks, Tricks, & Fails

Watch out my friends, it is that time of year again. There is that seasonally epidemic case of the “I don’t even cares” going around and it is especially vicious this year with symptoms of “breakfast chips” and the dreaded “oh my god, this is my last pair of clean underwear”. It’s like the wild west out there. Seriously though, I don’t know about you guys but when the school year is winding down I find myself slipping down that “good mom” ladder real fast. Just a couple weeks ago my 7th grader dutifully left his lunch box on the counter before bed for me to pack the next day’s lunch. I got wrapped up in a late meeting and came home to dinner dishes and a fridge containing only a questionable hunk of Parmesan and a Star Wars figurine encased in ice in the freezer (yeah, I don’t know either). I thought to myself “no good, school lunch it is” and fell into bed. Fast forward to the next afternoon and to an offended and completely appalled 13 year-old asking exactly why I packed him trash for lunch. Yeeaaaah, not only did I not empty the lunchbox or pack it, I left it on the counter and he took it none the wiser because why would mom not pack your lunch, right? Mother of the year here folks. While I start the year out fresh, packing lunches with crusty, fresh French bread, top shelf roast beef, and heart-shaped notes of encouragement, I apparently end it by packing my dear child trash. A pretty good metaphor for our homework routine too. September I was timing his reading, correcting every math problem, and revising every paper only to now be at the point that I’m not even sure what his schedule is this last semester. “Trash lunch mom” for the win. Well, this year I’m not having that, especially when it comes to schoolwork. We’ve since regrouped and found a few little things that make at least homework time a little more bearable and/or effective. No more "trash lunch mom" moments here please.

No computer or other electronics during the school week. Yeah, I know. Sounds crazy. My sister started this one for her littles and I gave it a go. Let me tell you, so worth it. For my teen video games is his biggest distraction. He just can’t focus on anything if video games are on the table, especially homework. I would say some kids can focus enough that perhaps a timed allowance during the week after homework would suffice, but not for us. We tried, and it just didn’t work. So only weekends are appropriate for gaming in our house. Being something of gamers ourselves, implementing this one was super difficult. It took a good two or three weeks of misery and him wandering about the house like one of the Dementors in Harry Potter until my guy figured out I wasn’t going back on this one. I have to say, there are less fights about getting homework done and less general moodiness.

Check in early and often. I don’t know about your kiddos but mine has this super rare condition where he completely forgets he has homework at all. Poor thing. So, to curtail this, when we get home, checking about homework is the first thing we do, sometimes multiple times to jog that pesky memory. Especially Friday. Because if I don’t, his memory miraculously returns at 9:59 pm on Sunday night and the whole house is turned into chaos with me lecturing him on why this is miserable and him asking why I am yelling and me yelling that I am not yelling, etc. etc all while discussing the finer points of algebraic expressions that I am pretending I remember while googling it on the sly. So yeah, Friday afternoons are a must.

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Help them to calm first. After we check in, I don’t make my teen get to work immediately. They need time to decompress from all their day’s stresses too. I was a nervous teen myself and an introvert by nature, like my guy. Social interactions, even good ones, by the end of the day exhaust us. I still have to psych myself up like an Olympic medal contender before social obligations. To help, I start up the diffuser with his favorite calming blends (this is vital in the mornings too) let him do his thing, watching something reasonable on TV, playing with the dog, having a snack, whatever for a good hour first. I try to do the same, have my tea, just staying quiet, keeping the energy in the house at a lower volume.

Make a space. Where you do your work is vital to focus and productivity. That’s why our homework station is in a quiet space out of his bedroom, free from clutter, televisions, and other distractions. I try to keep it well stocked with the usual homework fare, pencils, paper. Though, for the love of all that is holy, I cannot seem to keep tape there. Like who in this house needs so much tape, and for what? Where does it all go? Anyway…

Give them a break. I struggle with this. If it were me, I’d just want to get the bloody thing done and over with. But some of our littles need to take breaks and in fact, it is actually a time-tested productivity method. Schools these days are following the advice that many studies have suggested for years, that breaks with physical activity helps children and adults learn more efficiently. I draw the line at the bouncy ball chair though, I can’t even pretend that it would look normal in my hallway.

MUSIC. Not just listening either. Scientific studies as of late have found that when children learn an instrument, their brain processes improve as does their reading level. So, when you are listening to little Madison play the clarinet and it sounds like a goose in its last, dramatic moments of life just landed in your living room, know its literally making her smarter. Mine, thankfully, has improved enough on his cello that it sounds delightful some days. And after he gets in his thirty-minute practice, his focus on homework is notably sharpened. So, we definitely try to get music in before homework.

Ultimately, we are doing better these days, but I have remind myself that we are a work in progress. Like our attempts at organization… I bought dry erase boards for him to jot down assignments, but I only find doodles of dapper dinosaurs drinking tea on them (tea-rex, seriously?). So, I always keep open to new suggestions and give them a go. But above all, I try to keep it all routine, routine, routine. Maybe this will be the semester of no missed assignments, or at least I will stop packing my child trash for lunch. Wish us luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

-Danielle

 

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When it comes to this time of year (April/May), let’s just call it like it is ladies. We are tired, beaten down, ready...but not ready for summer. We are fighting with our kids about still having to wear jackets on cold mornings, sick of homework, and our schedules are nuts now that Spring sports have finally kicked into gear. Let’s face it... our kids are less than happy this time of year as well. I feel like we all start off the year strong, homework done by 4:30, dinner made, and picture-perfect Pinterest lunches made. But by May, I’m ready to scream at the thought of another spelling test... lunches are a true joke. Do you know what my daughter brought Friday for lunch? An apple, orange, hard-boiled egg and a juice box. Stellar. And can I give a big thanks for whoever decided to count down the last thirty days of school with a theme EACH DAY?!?  Bring something that starts with “Y” or wear the rainbow. Seriously?!? I’m lucky if they have something to wear, let alone an outfit that looks like their favorite author.
I’m tired, overwhelmed, and my mind is running in a different million directions. I did pick up the other day and thought my middle child was in the car and started to pull away... not a little bit, like officially drive off. Which left him running and screaming in my car window to let him in. Yep, right in front of the whole carline, teachers and his friends. And the “mom of the year award goes to” nope! Not me!!
Ok I’ve rambled and vented enough, and I promise not to play husband and try to fix it like my husband... “lay out their clothes the night before “or “give them a check of list”. Did he forget we are raising three tiny, unreasonable humans? Well maybe one, my boys go with the flow, but when it’s time to get dressed in the morning I feel like I’m dealing with a drunk Mariah Carey when it comes to my daughter.
But never fear, here’s where my essential oils save my sanity and my kids existence. I have to say when it comes to my emotional state, I lean pretty heavily on my oils ladies. Here are some diffuser blends I use to keep my day on track. Cause ain’t nobody got time for that.



 

"Rise & Shine"

This is a great spray to get everyone up and going in the morning, including me! When it comes to getting up my 8-year-old I would swear she had been up dancing at an all-night rave. Is that still a thing? Or did I prove my age?!? She’s a nightmare. So, I open the blinds, praying to the heavens for sun and spray this blend over her bed.

 

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"Happy Mama"

I usually need to give myself some support by 9am and since it’s frowned upon to pour yourself a vodka mixer... I’m usually applying valor everywhere and have my diffuser running with this blend.

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"Homework Helper"

Nothing can make you cry quicker than your 10-year-old letting you know that his project (he was given 3 months prior) is due tomorrow. #truestory I cried. This is when you need to bring in the big guns. This is a  serious go time blend peeps. This will help everyone to stay on task, including you.

 

I also have a little secret ladies...  if you are a Young Living member, order these products I’m getting ready to let you in on. If you’re not, hit me up with an email and let’s finish up May with a bang.

Zyng- YL sells this amazing bubbly goodness energy drink called Zyng. No chemicals, low sugar and great energy support!!

Ningxia- hello adrenals!! Wake up. It’s their amazing antioxidant drink. It’s delicious and good. It’s pretty amazing for your whole system actually.

Super B’s- we as women are usually all so low in vitamin B and that’s what gives you your energy ladies!! I love these! Plus, they are infused with essential oils to make them work better and quicker in your body.
So, remember we aren’t Super Moms, but we can try different ways to get through our day with as much dignity as possible ladies...
May the FORCE be with you!! 

-Kimberly

 

Long lives the days of picking up my sweaty boys from after school care after an eight-hour day of work, and start the nightly interrogation; how was your day, did you do all your homework, I'm not sure what’s for dinner. Every night when I asked to sign their assignment books and check homework, my son would get the panic look and say, "Oh I forgot to do one thing." This usually prompted nothing but a positive, supportive response from me and I never said "WHY?!? Why do you think a game of dodgeball is a better idea than finishing your homework? It's 8:00 and I know your ONE thing will take at least an hour of us fighting. WHY can't you just do your homework after school? Why do we have to have this fight every night?"

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Fast forward to one in college and the other a junior in high school. All lessons have been taught on good habits of doing homework. No TV, sit at a desk or table, try to work for at least an hour and then give yourself a break because anything after an hour is not being retained. Yes, this is the environment I would create and enforce. This is not what my boys practice however. My son in college has often facetimed me at 11:00pm in near tears, panicked about how much homework he still has left, has only had one meal and has been studying for 3 hours. Just what a mom wants to hear. I spend the rest of the night worried about his mental and physical health. My younger son isn't too far off from his brother. Oh, how I miss the days they would be in bed by 9:00 and I knew all was well. My younger son plays three sports which means he's in sports the whole school year. Often, we don't even have dinner until 8:30 at night and homework isn't started until 9:00. This wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't in AP and honor classes. Do you know what it's like to wake up a teenager up at 6:30 when he didn't go to bed until 12:30? I don't want to wish the time away because I only have one more year, but I can't wait until the homework worry and fight is over.

I often wish I would've know about essential oils when my boys were younger. Would have been a lifesaver for them and me! They could have been used when "angry mom" alter ego took over my body. Yes, a little Peace and Calming or Stress Away would have been a game changer. I can tell you that today we rely on our oils daily. My older son's go to oils are Peppermint when he's studying and trying to retain lots of info. Protein Complete is an absolute must for him as well. En-Er-Gee when it's late and he needs to keep going, and Stress Away because let’s face it college comes with lots of stress. My younger son was created with intense emotions, so he goes for Valor, Peace and Calming and Highest Potential when doing homework. Cedarwood in the diffuser does him wonders. He also does well with citrus oils in the diffuser while he is studying.

There are days I feel like I got more sleep when they were newborns. Our nights are late and while I don't sit and do homework with them, I still have my mom duties. We all take our Ningxia because none of us have time to fall below the wellness line. I need to be on top of my game, so I can continue to have the "turn off the tv so you can focus" fight. 

-Jenny