I’m a sucker for the holidays.
For me, the process of going through the motions is a very grounding experience. Dusting off the tree and reminiscing over ornaments I’ve collected since I was a child in the 80’s is always a pleasure, as well as tacking up multiple strings of colored lights around the house. Baking Christmas cookies and watching Rudolph for the fifty-millionth time…yes, all these things I enjoy and do with increasing appreciation over the years.
Of course, as a human being, these times do not come without some form of stress. Despite my love for the season, I admit there have been years where I’ve wanted to completely chuck Christmas out the window…until I imagine my children sobbing on Christmas morning because “Mama gone crazy.” I blame the media mainly- placing all of these unrealistic expectations on our shoulders, like heavy weights wrapped in shiny paper and topped with red satin bows. Like if we aren’t spending every penny of our hard earned money, we will be forced to deal with the haunting of three ghosts for being too stingy.
Add on top of this nonsense, the idea that we have all of our regular commitments and responsibilities to keep up with. If you are reading this post, you’re commitments are probably similar to mine. I’m referring of course to homeschooling. Yes, dearest parent, you also have to make sure you are keeping up with education, or perhaps you will be visited not just by ghosts but the authorities too! Damn you for wanting to take it easy when you should be slaving away at the books!
Really, during this time of year I think we homeschooling mamas (or papas!) put way too much pressure on ourselves to keep up, out of fear that we will totally fail our children. We may put ourselves through hell, performing as though we are plate spinners twirling twenty pieces of glass above our heads. One wrong move and our balance will be thrown off and our dishes will break into a million little pieces…oie.
So during the holidays, I remember not to “spin too many plates.” I ask my family what each person expects to do for the season, and I turn to my inner child for guidance.
Most importantly, I remember to freaking RELAX. There’s really no need to place so much pressure on ourselves during a time that is supposed to be joyful. By taking a low-key approach, our children will be more than fine, and our sanity will remain intact. After the holidays, I can resume the normal day to day, but for now, I just enjoy this beautiful time of year!
The result of all of this is a light load of school work during the day, focusing mainly on holiday hands-on activities and play. Of course, we take the usual time off right around Thanksgiving and Christmas (yay for this week!), but for the remainder of the stretch we keep it light and enjoyable. While I have heard of homeschoolers taking the entire month of December off, for us I know that is not an option. With a long school absence also comes a long time of playing catch up. Therefor, if there is one thing I can learn from the plate spinner, it’s to maintain a healthy balance. That being said, it’s easier to stay focused when you only have to twirl five plates instead of seventeen.
If you are feeling the pressure of homeschooling during the holidays, I suggest keeping these three things in mind:
- Stretch it out instead of piling it on. Personally, I think it’s important to keep up with subjects that require repetition such as math and language arts (like writing and reading). However, for others such as history and science, I find that it’s totally okay to spread out the lessons. See where the kids interests are during this time, and focus on that. You can gain more by switching out regular studies for fun. Incorporate some holiday history or Christmas science experiments instead of the regular fluff; kids will soak up information when they are enjoying it!
- Give yourself a hand. Doing a light school day can free yourself up for hands-on activities such as crafting and/or baking, and it still totally counts as school! Do something artsy, like making ornaments or wreaths. Get in the kitchen and practice math with the kids by making cookies or holiday bread. The possibilities are endless! You don’t have to lasso the moon, but by doing one fun activity in place of schoolwork can make the day less stressful and more magical (and tasty!).
- For goodness sake, just read. Oh, the glory of reading! Spend afternoons with your kids relaxing on the couch with a good book (holiday themed optional!) and a cup of cocoa or tea. You can take turns reading out loud (great practice for children) or just enjoy reading to your kids. Either way, it counts both as school and fun.
As homeschool mamas, we can make this time of the school year magical or crazy miserable. Instead of wearing myself thin with spelling tests and science projects, I like to load up on making memories with my children. I don’t want them to look back on the season and remember their mother pulling her hair out because she was trying to grade math papers AND wrap presents AND
bake burn cookies at the same time! Instead, I’d like for them to remember me snuggling with them on the couch, reading Harry Potter out load as we anticipate what will happen next. Or perhaps they will remember that time I let them eat cookies for breakfast, or made a proud display of lights in their bedroom.
Yes, I want them to look back on this and smile.