How We Make Homework Happen: Tips for Less Stressful Evenings
“Why Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today?” It was a well-known quote by Thomas Jefferson that my daughter recited to me after I commented on her completing her homework packet. This year, she gets a whole packet on Monday and it is due on Friday. (Thank you to her teacher!!!) She (or we as parents) have been very fortunate that she completes the packet every Monday night so she is essentially homework free the rest of the week (except for nightly reading). It’s been a real life changer for us.
You see in years past, our daughter would get homework on Monday night (due Wednesday) and Wednesday (due Friday). While it sounds great that in theory, you have two nights to complete homework, it caused a lot of stress in our household. If she forgot to do the homework or had after-school activities, it really made it a challenge to get the work done. You see my child doesn’t do well under pressure. In fact, just last night she started panicking that we hadn’t bought the supplies for her bee project yet. “It counts for HALF my grade mom!!!” Even though I pulled up the calendar to show her it’s not due for 17 days she is still unsettled about it. She takes after her dad; she just wants it done.
I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite and work well under pressure. I often wonder what would happen if I completed tasks in well in advance but when I think about this concept, I realize I would just be doing more and more and more until I cracked. I do far better if I have a looming deadline.
My son is like me, a procrastinator. This sometimes causes problems as it did earlier this week. My daughter had completed her 20 minutes of reading as soon as she got home, while he put his 10 minutes of reading off until just before bedtime. While she was free to cozy up and watch TV, he had to spend the last few minutes of his night reading (which was preceded by about 20 minutes of tears and screaming!).
Of course, some days are easier than others, but one trick I’ve learned this year is to try to avoid those late night meltdowns all together. I encourage my kids to read shortly after getting home from school or even take their baths and put on pajamas well before bed. This is the routine we strive for most evenings, especially when my husband is away. With my kids, I use the motivation that getting baths and homework out of the way early means we’ll have more snuggling at the end of the night. Most of the time, when I can remember this plan of attack (or when it’s possible given schedules), it works.
We also have a rule that’s been helpful. If my daughter is doing homework, my son can’t watch TV or play on the computer because it’s a distraction (and vice versa but she’s always willing so it’s a non-issue). Knowing that he can watch TV later when his sister does will often spur my son into action. Finally, my kids often fight over who gets to tub/shower first and since she usually has more homework, I’ll often pull him aside and suggest he goes and bathes first. He gets the first bath and she gets the time she needs to focus on homework.
The only challenge for me is that I have to disconnect from work and focus on getting through the routine. The payoff, however, is that it’s a lot easier to transition “back to work” after the kids are asleep because I too am gearing back up after some mindless TV watching.
What strategies does your family have to fend off homework stress?