Some families pair up older children with younger to help them get ready. Others have someone assigned to make sure the diaper bag is stocked and in the car, water bottles, snacks, etc. We try to gather library books the day before. In fact, anything we can do the day before makes the outing that much more relaxed.

Using the same concept of margin, we try to leave "slop" time between lessons, practices and errands. If you can avoid it, don't dovetail your chauffeuring so tightly that you will be late if one appointment runs over into the next allotted time. I don't know about you, but being late is too hard on my nerves to have it be the norm!

ENJOY
"Enjoyment" and "outing" may seem like mutually exclusive terms, especially if there is a long list of things to do, and the trip conflicts with naptime. So much the more reason to focus on enjoying our children. There we are, all together in one place. Sing in the car. Laugh. Tell funny stories. It's a perfect time to let the kids know that I think they're wonderful. Then when I'm in the store, their emotional tanks won't be running on empty and they are much more likely to behave according to family standards.

There will be those inevitable times that one or more of our children behave in a less than desirable way. We need to not let embarrassment or anger be our primary response. That child is mine and I love him. I need to forget the tarnished family image, correct him, hug him, and go on.

A word here on attitudes… If we don't have time to fix our hair, we can still get by. But we should try not to leave home with a bad attitude. If we're seriously frustrated with the kids, worn-out from a busy schedule or feeling sorry for ourselves—maybe we should consider staying home until we get over it. People won't know that we've had a hard week. They'll think we look the way we do because of "homeschooling those children, poor dear." And we won't be much of a light to a darkened world, either.

DECORATION DAY
If we've done our child training "homework," done our best to make sure everyone is fed, washed and dressed, then we can smile at our crew and head out. Maybe today will be the day we'll hear those magic words, "You have HOW many kids?"

Leslie Wyatt has been married to her husband, Dave, for 20 years. They have six children ranging in age from 4-18. They have been homeschooling for 14 years.

This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, please visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.