I'm sick. Its just a cold, so I'm not going to die or anything, but being the mom and being sick ought to be mutually exclusive, in my opinion. No one gave me the number for the homeschooling sub line, so I guess I'm stuck being the one in charge, despite my deep desire to do nothing but curl up with my box of Kleenex, a hot cup of tea, and watch the rest of Downton Abbey season 3 (which I have not watched yet, so don't you dare give anything away!).
So what do you do when you're the mom, and the teacher, and there's no hope of a replacement? There are a few go-to things that can help the day go by smoothly and keep you from feeling too terribly guilty that your sick day is turning into a total day-off for the kids. (Although if it does, don't beat yourself up. This kind of flexibility is one of the benefits of homeschooling).
1. Audio books or stories
We enjoy a lot of audio stories, especially in the car. But at home, they can be a great quiet time activity, allowing you to not only get some much needed rest, but expose your kids to great language and literature at the same time. Picture this - you, on the couch with your tea (or beverage of choice), doing nothing while your kids soak up rich language and literary awesomeness. That sounds like a win-win to me.
Check out the tons of great stories by Jim Weiss, and we love all the wonderful free stories on StoryNory.com.
Yes, I am suggesting TV. Gasp! But the screen! The mind-melting effect of television! The horror!
Let go of your mommy-guilt, and turn the darn thing on. No, I don't normally let my kids watch lots of TV, but I do let them watch some and there are days when "some" turns into "a lot." Like today. But maybe use that time to watch that documentary on ancient Rome you thought the kids might enjoy. Watch March of the Penguins. Let them watch episodes of Magic School Bus. Let your preschooler watch a Leapfrog show. There are a lot of pretty great shows available, and whether you have Netflix, or some cool DVDs in your collection, declaring a movie-afternoon isn't a bad thing once in a while.
Even non-educational movies can have value. Watch The Little Mermaid, then listen to or read the original version later. Talk about how they are the same, and how they are different. Watch a fun family move, then use it as a springboard to talk about characters, plot and conflict. Movies have the ability to distill an entire plot line with character arc, conflict and resolution, all in one sitting. Use the movie to point out some of these very literary elements in a new way.
Get out some art supplies and have at it. Make recycled material robots or cars. Cover your table with a table cloth, put out your paints and paint brushes, a big stack of paper, and let them go to town. Get out the play dough, or even just a bunch of paper, crayons, markers, scissors, tape and glue. Don't worry about how much they use - let them use the supplies freely. Many kids love to create and giving them free access to supplies and the time to use them is a great use of an afternoon.
Do you hear about those families who regularly play classical music while the kids copy lines from the Declaration of Independence or the Bible? Have you been wanting to include more music exposure in your homeschool? Use the sick day to give it a try. Don't make a production out of it - just log into Spotify, or grab a classical music CD you already own, and hit play. Let it be on in the background while they play with their toys and let the melodies and magic of great music soothe you.
When all else fails, just do your best. Throw some food at them now and then, make sure they have access to clean water, and know that you'll feel better soon and a few days thrown off by illness isn't going to hurt them in the long run.