What To Do When Your Day Is A Dumpster Fire

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Sharing is caring!

Hey, homeschoolers! Do you ever have days that go so badly that you just want to throw your hands up in surrender? I know I have. In this episode, we’ll discuss a better approach than surrender for a day that’s a dumpster fire.

But first I want to thank my sponsor:  the Route 60 movie.

Personal Dumpster Fires

There are a lot of reasons we want to give up on a day. Perhaps it’s personal. We might have a personal goal of eating better. But we get up and instead of having that egg white omelet packed with protein, we reach for the Pop Tarts that somehow made it into the pantry. After snarfing them and a chocolate milk laced with coffee (better known as a frappacino) down, you commit to having a salad with chicken breast for lunch–only you end up at Sonic for an impromptu family picnic and there is no way you can order a salad when the cheese curds, chili dog, and slushy are just the reward you need after a stressful morning. Now you want to surrender and wait until the next day or week to eat well.

Social Dumpster Fires

Or maybe your day is more of a social dumpster fire. You prayed for patience and you were determined to be the meek and quiet mother that you’ve read about in books. But then your child couldn’t find his shoes before you had to be out the door. A fight broke out between that child and the one he was sure intentionally moved his shoes just to aggravate him. Another child is complaining about how tired they are, how bored they are, or how hungry they are, and your patience commitment is gone.

Homeschool Dumpster Fires

Or perhaps your day is truly a homeschooling dumpster fire. You had your lesson plan that was going to have you on track. You were finally going to get caught up. And then a toilet backed up, the dog escaped the yard, or your kiddo had a meltdown over the math lesson. Suddenly it’s noon and you’ll be lucky if you make something for lunch let alone get any school done. You may as well give up for the day, right?

Wrong! I have given up on dumpster-fire days more times than I care to admit. I have even felt helpless in the face of them, as though the failure that follows is inevitable. I was having one of these days recently and I was feeling discouraged. I was going to have to wait until the next day to get back on track, right? That’s when I remembered something I learned as a child about fires. You may have learned it too. Instead of running away in a panic and surrendering to the flames when you are on fire, you stop, drop, and roll. You may have said it with me! How does this short set of instructions apply to dumpster-fire days? Allow me to explain my thinking here.


First, stop. The day does NOT have to continue on the same path. Stop what you’re doing. Stop panicking and don’t give up. This day can be salvaged. I promise!

If you’re in the middle of the chili cheese dog, ask yourself if you’re satisfied. If you are, stop eating. Don’t continue eating in despair or as a punishment. If the cheese curds are long gone, forget about them. What’s done is done.

If you are in the middle of yelling at your kids, stop. Put yourself in time out. Take some deep breaths. If you finished ranting this morning, ask your kids for forgiveness now. Then give yourself grace so you can start fresh.

If no school has been completed, stop what you’re doing instead if you can. Collect the kids and let them know that school will be back in session shortly.


After we’ve stopped, the next step is drop. For our purposes, we are going to physically or metaphorically drop to our knees in prayer. We’ve been doing this day in our own strength. Now it’s time to let God help us. Wherever you are, pray. Remind the Lord that you can’t do these things without Him. Ask Him for self-control and freedom from overeating. Ask Him for supernatural patience with your kids through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for wisdom to know which lessons are the most important to focus on as you return to your homeschool day. Then believe that He will answer that prayer. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” I love this image of God seeing exactly what’s happening with us and responding to our requests.


The final step to take when our day is a dumpster fire is to roll. For our purposes, it means to get on with the day. Philippians 3:13 tells us to look forward in our journey with God rather than back. When we have made poor food choices, we can start fresh. Wait for hunger or plan a healthy dish for your next meal. When we have lost our cool, we can say “Serenity now!”  and laugh when the kids misbehave again and play with them to blow off steam. When we haven’t followed our homeschool plan, we can create a new plan for the rest of the day or we can use our original plan. I tell families using The Organized Homeschool Life planner to either jump in where they are in their loose schedule for the day or start where they left off when you were interrupted. Either approach will help you get more done than if you give up.


Are there days that it makes sense to give up? If your neighbor invites you over for a lasagna dinner and you risk offending them if you say no, maybe it is. If your kids’ behavior doesn’t improve all day, maybe they need to see they’ve pushed Mom too far. If you’re spending the day waiting in urgent care for stitches when a kid sliced his knee open, you might want to try again tomorrow. However, when we string dumpster-fire days together and regularly give up, waiting for things to improve, I think we’ll all have more sanity when we choose a stop-drop-and-roll approach instead.


I used this approah when I felt I’d wasted a good part of the day online. I stopped and went for a walk. I returned and dropped for some prayer time. I asked the Lord for wisdom on how to spend the rest of the day and I rolled with what He said to do. And the amazing thing is I ended up feeling good about the day–so good that I wanted to share this approach with you on the podcast.

If the Organized Homeschool Life Planner would help you stop, drop, and roll on dumpster fire days, here’s the link. If you give this approach a try and it works for you, would you let me know? Screenshot this episode and share it on social media.

Have a happy homeschool week!

Speak Your Mind



Get two free planners delivered to your inbox every month. Easy, peasy.

Share via
Copy link