Welcome to the end of November! Have you had your first homeschooling meltdown yet??? Feeling on the verge? With the holidays around the corner, it’s easy to think “Let’s take off a little time to prep for Thanksgiving” and next thing your know, it’s Candlemas and not only are you behind in every subject, but everyone is still grumpy. First, make note to plan better next year. Second, how about a some ideas to help de-stress and bring a little more peace back to your homeschool so you can actually enjoy the holidays?
1. If you can take a day or two off, do it! You don’t even have to do anything educational if you don’t want to. If you’re off, be 100% OFF! I find that if I take a break but still try to oversee “just a couple of subjects” I set myself up for frustration because I don’t really gain that much of a break, and the kids feel a bit cheated too. At most, I’ll throw on a NOVA special or other science movie I know the kids will enjoy, or display a theme of books on my wall shelves. Field trips tend to be a lot of work with lots of kids, so if you truly need a break, perhaps save the task of chasing toddlers around a museum for another time.
2. Even after a few days off, you might need to scale back for a bit. Or maybe scaling back for a week or two will help eliminate any stress. For instance if you can’t take a lot of time off over the holidays, scale back to the essential subjects or perhaps tie subjects into the season. Sometimes you’ll find that by really zeroing in on one subject for a week your struggling student could have a breakthrough that translates into a better homeschool day, and year!, for everyone. Realize that in the grand scheme of things, a few slower days, or weeks, isn’t going to negatively affect your long-term homeschool plans. If it keeps you on track for the rest of the year and prevents burnout later, it’s a necessary step. Don’t feel guilty!
3. If the demands of a specific class, curriculum, or enrollment make changing your daily lessons difficult or impossible, consider changes to the rest of your schedule. I don’t recommend backing out last-minute or breaking long-standing commitments but look where you can add more breathing room, and joy, to your day amidst the craziness. Would bringing in help with meals (grocery delivery!) or housework make it easier for you to better keep up with your school obligations? Would arranging to put your child in a sports carpool take a weight off your shoulders that would carry over into happier homeschool afternoons? Are there activities that perhaps your child should sit out this year? Sometimes its not school that’s the problem, but everything else.
4. Check your spiritual life. Are you praying or is that getting pushed to the margins to make time for teaching, correcting, shouting, and feeling like a failure?? When it most feels like we have no time to pray is usually when we need to make time the most. Focus on the liturgical year for a bit if it helps re-ground your homeschool in what’s most important.
5. Are you struggling with a discipline issue? Make sure you haven’t gotten lax in enforcing your family’s rules. Focus on the most frequent infractions to help remind everyone how things are supposed to run in your home. More ideas HERE.
6. Something that I plan into every break (scheduled or not!) is a homeschool audit. I allow myself a little time to honestly look at everything we’re doing and see where we might be straying off course and how that might be affecting our days and moods. Emptying my brains and writing out all my thoughts and fears is the first step to realizing I’m not an utter failure and my kids aren’t demons hell-bent on destroying their futures.
What do you do when burnout strikes? Leave your advice in the comments below!