I can still remember that Sunday night sinking feeling I used to get when I was growing up. You probably know what I’m talking about. That drastic drop from the excitement of the weekend to that low point where there was absolutely nothing to look forward to but a bleak Monday morning.
When I started teaching my own children, it didn’t take long for me to realize that homeschool families aren’t immune to the Sunday night blues.
As I keyed in on this malady, I began to notice a pattern. I made a few changes here and there, and before I knew it, I actually started to look forward to the beauty of a fresh, new Monday morning. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well, just hang with me for a minute, and I’ll let you in on a secret or two.
The underlying principle is very basic. Monday morning success depends largely on one crucial element: planning ahead. That’s it!
With this principle in mind, there are a few things I remind myself of when planning my way toward a successful Monday:
1. Monday morning starts on Friday afternoon. Friday is usually the last time I look at my planner before the weekend. The kids’ accomplishments for the week are still fresh on my mind, so it makes sense to flip over to the next page in my lesson book and quickly jot down assignments for the next week right then and there. That way I don’t have to worry about filling out lesson plans on Sunday evening (which, as we all know, can be rather blues-inducing).
2. Take time on Saturday to envision how you want your house to look on Monday. My mood is incredibly lifted when I walk into a tidy living area on Monday morning. (We all know how depressing it is to be haunted by last night’s dishes.) I remind myself of this on Saturday, and the motivational power is remarkable. I’m much more likely to stay on top of the housework and guide the children in doing the same.
3. End Sunday well. If we’ve done our work on Saturday, then Sunday can be a true day of rest. After morning worship, we often have a Sunday brunch followed by an afternoon time of rest or quiet play. As late afternoon approaches, the house starts buzzing with activity again. We use this energy to do a quick blitz, making sure the floors are tidy for the next day. (See #2.) The kids have an early dinner, and then we whip out a family game like Qwirkle or Jenga for a last hurrah. When the kiddos have been tucked in bed, my husband and I share a quiet, at-home dinner date. It’s a great way to anticipate the new week.
4. Get enough sleep. This seems obvious, but I think we sometimes try to avoid Monday by making Sunday stretch out as l-o-n-g as possible. A decent bedtime, however, makes it much easier to get up in the morning.
5. Wake up! Spend the quiet morning hours (while the children are still asleep) in a way that enables you to start well. For me, this means time spent in God’s Word and a morning walk or Pilates workout before the troops descend. (Roan has written some excellent suggestions on helping the school day run smoothly — it begins with waking up before the children! I’ve also greatly benefited from Kat’s “Maximize Your Mornings” challenge over at Inspired to Action.)
6. Serve a special breakfast. I used to serve oatmeal every Monday morning. My kids aren’t thrilled with oatmeal. I have no idea why it took me so long to realize that serving their least favorite breakfast every single Monday morning just might have a bit of a Pavlovian effect. I now send them to bed on Sunday night with visions of pancakes or waffles dancing in their heads. (It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes “special” just means cold cereal. But my kids get pretty excited over cold cereal. It probably has something to do with the oatmeal.)
7. Find little ways to make Monday special. Maybe that means tea with a math lesson, a chocolate chip for each subject completed, or a “smile envelope” to be opened by children who finish their morning work. It could be an extra story book, pumpkin scones for morning snack, a fun CD during lunchtime, or a quick and crazy run around the block (with Mommy!) at break time.
With a little bit of planning, Mondays can truly be refreshing and successful. The Sunday night blues will be a thing of the past, and before you know it, your kids will be hopping out of bed at the crack of dawn, shouting, “We want math!” Well, perhaps that’s stretching it just a bit. But the day can still be pretty cool. Trust me.
Have you found ways to add some zing to your Monday mornings?
Julianna writes about family, faith and the fullness of joy over at Petunia June. And she doesn’t hate Mondays.