Biology experiments, Christmas office party, Latin declensions, gingerbread house building, division problems, Nutcracker rehearsals, gift buying, gift wrapping, turkey roasting, cookie baking, copywork, dictation.... Each year the list gets a little longer and my mind starts exploding. How can I possibly get everything done? How will Christmas be perfect and all our schoolwork be finished? How can I homeschool through the holidays without losing my mind?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who starts to feel a little nauseated when I begin thinking about the holidays. You see, I used to LOVE the holidays. I looked forward to Thanksgiving turkey and my Granny's dressing. I was excited to decorate the house with insane amounts of glitter and garland. I eagerly anticipated finding the perfect gift for everyone on my Christmas list.
And, then, one year I didn't.
One year someone mentioned Christmas the day after Halloween (thanks, big department stores) and I began to feel queasy. It wasn't excitement that was making my stomach roll. It was anxiety. I realized that I would be cramming every moment with things on my to-do list while still trying to make the holidays magical for my kids. It was overwhelming. It was exhausting. It was mind-numbing. I was ready to call it quits before I even began.
These feelings of anxiety lasted for a couple of years until I realized that something had to give. I had to decide what was most important to my family and start there. I had to look at my crazy calendar/schedule and cut some things out. I had to not be the most amazing mom out there.
And truthfully, I wasn't the most amazing mom. You see, trying to do it all makes you the "nutjob mom." The mom the kids look at like she's lost all her marbles when she screams "It's going to be an amazing Christmas and you are ALL going to love it." (Think Clark Griswold, but without the cursing.)
"Nutjob mom" tries to cram everything she sees on Pinterest into the 6 week period that is the holidays while still maintaining all the normal homeschool schedules and routines. "Nutjob mom" wakes at dawn and stays up till the wee hours of the morning making Christmas "awesome." "Nutjob mom" lives solely on Coke Zero and visions of sugar-plums. (Although, honestly, she didn't know what a sugar-plum was until she searched it on Pinterest. Seriously, they're a thing!)
No one likes "nutjob mom," but especially not "nutjob mom." It's not as if we don't see ourselves turning into a maniacal Christmas elf. We see it, but we can't stop it. It's like your watching yourself in one of those crazy nightmares. You see the train heading toward you, but you have lost all ability to move or utter any sound. The Christmas train-wreck hits you with the full force of Black Friday shoppers trying to get to the latest toy craze (I'm looking at you Zhu Zhu Pet or annoying hamster that goes off during church and has no off switch!). It can't be stopped. But how, do you ask, can we stop something that can't be stopped? Well, there is always the option to never get on the tracks in the first place.
Don't try to cram everything you see on Pinterest into the holidays. #Homeschool Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind #ihsnet
3 Steps to Homeschool Through The Holidays Without Losing Your Mind
Step 1: Free up your schedule.
So what does a homeschooling day look like? The truth is that my homeschool probably looks a lot different from yours. That's the beauty of homeschooling. However, that doesn't mean I feel comfortable switching to your routines and you probably don't feel comfortable switching to mine. It's our routine. We're used to it. We like it. It's our routine for a reason.
But, the holidays mess with our routine. They take everything we've carefully crafted into a lovely homeschool and turn it on its end. And, they laugh and head out on January 2nd leaving us in the wake of wrapping paper and shattered school schedules.
So, the first thing you have to do is get ahead of the crazy. Look at your calendar and see where natural breaks might fall. You know, the end of a chapter, the end of a project or the end of a read aloud. Then, and this is important, Do Not Schedule Anything New. Yes, I am telling you to stop scheduling your homeschool days. Finish that writing project and don't start a new one. Come to the end of the chapter in Algebra and close the book.
Oh, I know it goes against everything in the planner in you to go against the schedule. But, you made the schedule. You own it. It doesn't own you. You are the boss of at least this one thing, even if everyone else ignores you until you threaten screen time. Take a big swig of Coke Zero and gather your courage. You are on a roll.
Step 2: Decide what is most important to you.
So, you've cleared out your schedule. You're giddy with freedom and a semi-empty calendar. Now you have to decide what YOU want to do. What is most important? Because truthfully, I could fill my holiday calendar in seconds if I added everything we could/should do between Thanksgiving and New Years. I could leave us room for 8 hours of shut-eye and a few meals.
Oh, who am I kidding? I HAVE done this. I have scheduled my family to within an inch of Valentine's trying to get every meaningful, fabulous, enriching, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring moment into our holidays. I've caused near mutinies (as a matter of fact, they may have actually mutinied and I didn't notice because I was so absorbed in being "nutjob mom").
My point is: don't add in everything you could possibly do. Find out what things you and your family want to add to your holidays. Some of our favorites are:
- Watching Christmas movies together
- Baking and building gingerbread houses with friends
- Making Christmas ornaments
- Going to see Christmas lights
- Baking cookies
- Attending the Nutcracker and other Christmas shows
Pick your favorites and add them to your schedule. But, don't get crazy. Leave some time for unexpected things like snuggling in front of the fire or cleaning up when the cat chokes on the garland. (Just keeping it real, folks.)
Step 3: Mix education and holiday fun together.
There is nothing more satisfying than having a fun, laughter-filled day and counting it as school. These are the days I live for and wish we could do every day. But, they do take planning on my part. So for the holidays, I started analyzing all the fun things my kids wanted to do and how we could apply them to school.
- Baking cookies - We could use math skills in measuring and science skills in mixing and baking. We could choose recipes from different countries and study their cultural celebrations.
- Making ornaments - We could use different art techniques to showcase our talents in creating the ornaments.
- Going to see Christmas lights - We could venture outside of our normal stomping grounds and take a field trip a few hours away. We could visit an exhibit or a park.
- Caroling - We could learn new songs and practice our vocal skills. Then we could work on our community involvement and go singing at the local nursing homes.
- Attending the Nutcracker - We could learn about the ballet, classical music, and the history of the Nutcracker. We could attend different renditions like a classical performance and a hip-hop rendition and compare the two.
- Watching Christmas movies - We could discuss the different types of cinematography, plot lines, and morals to the stories. We could compare older productions to modern ones.
There are hundreds of ways to incorporate education into celebrating the holidays. I can't even possibly list them all here. Just let your mind free and think outside of the box.
3 Steps to #Homeschooling Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind. #ihsnet
Homeschool Through The Holidays Without Losing Your Mind Series
It took me a while to drop the crazy and settle into a relaxed and enchanting homeschool from Thanksgiving through New Years. But, once I did, everyone thanked me (even if they didn't verbalize it).
Over the next few days, I'm going to be highlighting some of the ways we homeschool through the holidays. So, stick around (or better yet, subscribe for updates) and find out some more of my tricks for homeschooling through the holidays without losing your mind.
Day 1: How to Homeschool Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind - You're here! Hope you enjoyed it!
Day 3: How to Homeschool Through the Holidays with Creative Art Projects - Includes a Free lesson!
Day 6: How to Homeschool Through the Holidays With A Month Long Study of Motivating Lessons - Includes Month of Lesson Plans!