Enjoying the Holidays As A Homeschooling Mom

During my first year of homeschooling I realized something that I had never previously realized was important to me: my kid would not be making a Mother's Day craft in school to bring home.  She wouldn't be doing snowflake crafts in December, or hand turkeys in November, or baskets in the spring.

I understood the academic side of homeschooling just fine.  The curriculums to use, the daily agendas to follow, what benchmarks to hit.  But, if I wanted her to experience any of these small, seasonal traditions she would have to get them from me.

Including Mother's Day!

Homeschooling during the holidays can become a very stressful time for mothers.  Not only do you have the Christmas presents to find, family to organize, shopping to do, a house to decorate, parties and events to attend, cards to address, and 5 pounds to lose (...just keeping it real here)...

but you also want to keep up with school, maintain the extracurricular classes during the week, family to visit, Christmas crafts with the kids, homemade ornaments to decorate, traditional meals to prepare (or create, for those of us without traditions!)...

plus the nightly Bible verse and quiet time with the family to remember that this is the reason for the season....right?

Homeschooling means you can't pass off a lot of things off for the school to take care of, like daily learning, crafts, carols or parties.  It's all on you, baby.

I have a husband, 5 kids, and 18 workable hours during the day.  I have to budget with the wisdom of Solomon to get things done...so let's get things done!

1. If you have a list of 20 different things you have to do during December, I say pick 5.  This is the process of editing.  Cut out the things you don't need.  Then cut out the things that are marginally important.  Then cut out a couple that would be an honest sacrifice.  You now have 5 solid things to accomplish with your family that will be memorable and have a lasting impact on your children.  If it doesn't line up with your values, if it is stressing you out, if it costs too much money, if it overlaps with a more important event...cut it.  Go for quality, not quantity.

2. Forbid yourself from comparing what you are doing with what other families are doing.  This is a hard one, but it is going to save you a whole lot of trouble in the end.  The family who volunteers at the homeless shelter every Tuesday?  The neighbors who make homemade turkey dinners for half of the state and include handwritten notes with each one?  The mother who has sewn new dresses for the entire church play...by hand?  You have to remember: these are their lists, not your list.  If you have "visit Santa at the mall" and "send Christmas cards out before December 24th," that is your list.  Keep them seperate, and keep it real.  I'll tell ya, I would enjoy nachos and craft beer on Christmas Eve with my husband a lot more than I would enjoy a 24 course meal with 1,000 people.  

3. Be realistic with your schedule.  We have 4 classes of martial arts a week, between all the kids' classes.  We have Awanas.  We have church.  We have things that come up.  To include more items in our schedule, in this season of our life, would be foolish.  I would love to volunteer at a senior's center, or carol at the children's hospital...but that is not my season right now.  I'll just pack those ideas away for when the kids are older and we can fully enjoy the events together; but with 2 toddlers, a preschooler and 2 older kids still under the age of 10...any of my grand ideas are going to stress them out, stress me out, and in the end it wouldn't be a blessing to anybody.  Keep that in mind.

4. Find small moments during the day to relax.  When I think of the idea to "just relax," I really think of a huge bed filled with pillows in front of a fire in a cabin far, far away.  In reality, I have a tupperware bowl of leftover shepherd's pie from last night, a cup of coffee, in a Disneyland sweater and jeans wearing my neon pink running shoes...in front of a fire at my suburban house soaking up the hour of rest between events on a rather busy Saturday afternoon.  This is my hour of rest, and I'm not passing it up to work on the dishes!

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