As the self-appointed Queen of Holidays – I absolutely LOVE what everyone calls the “holiday season”. For our homeschool “The Holidays” begin in October and can last until we transition back into our routine in January. The thing is – even as much as I love this time of the year; I recognize it is stressful for parents and kids. It’s tricky to juggle the busyness of the holiday season with homeschooling. Here are my top 3 sanity-saving tips for the busy holiday season.
While I can’t alleviate all the stress of the season (family coming from out of town, for example) I hope these 3 sanity-saving tips help you leverage the flexibility of homeschooling and recognize learning regardless of your “school schedule”.
- Slow but don’t stop
- Be purposeful
- Avoid “should-ing” yourself
Slow down your homeschooling pace, but don’t stop altogether.
It’s tempting to simply plan for a break, especially in December when holiday activities reach a whole new level of crazy. I don’t advise taking official time off during any of the “holiday months”. The reason I don’t advise time off is this: It’s hard to get BACK on track when you veer off course. Think about how this applies to eating healthy, exercising, and even keeping up with the laundry. Once you are off, getting back becomes that much more difficult. Your homeschool routine and rhythm are no different.
Regardless of the master homeschool schedule you follow, use the Holiday months to slow down. Convert your 5-day week into a 4-day week, or your 4-day week into a 3-day week. Another sanity-saving tip for the busy holiday time you implement is to rotate a subject or two out of your day. I recommend not rotating out a subject if your child particularly struggles with it. We made time for math and reading every day and set aside science and history.
Another blogger explains how to take the hustle out of the holidays. Of the 10 ideas she shares to de-stress the holiday season, I think #5 is my favorite!
Focus on Traditions, New and established
Another sanity-saving tip for the busy holiday season surrounds family traditions. These months are perfect for creating new traditions and leaning on those already established.
In October my kids always needed time to make costumes for their stuffed buddies. They chose what their little friend would be for Halloween, and worked on creating the perfect costume out of fabric, recycled boxes, containers, and sometimes doll clothes.
In November this was making a new gratitude remembrance. One year we wrote gratitude on index cards and stored them in “library pockets”. Another year the kids traced their hands and wrote their gratitude item around their outline. We have created gratitude trees with leaves and many other styles that allow us to use them as decorations and reminders over the years.
A Christmas tradition may be to make homemade gifts, or to pick out a special ornament for the tree. I had my children pick their favorite bedtime stories off the shelves and wrap them in Christmas paper. Each night before bed we chose and opened one. You can use stories of the season, tried-and-true favorites or a mix!
Kids often remember family traditions more than random lessons on animal extinction. At least at THIS time of the year.
Include the kids
Another dynamic to being purposeful is to include the children as much as possible in the extra activities. Your kids can learn to make special dishes, shop, for one another, and even work on a holiday budget!
The busy holiday time is perfect for diving into the history of the holidays we celebrate and to explore how they are celebrated in other parts of the world.
Be aware of your children’s needs during parties and family meals. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy for the adults to get caught up and inadvertently ignore the kids. Bored kids get into mischief. Plan activities the kids can do themselves, like scavenger hunts, and simple crafts. This gives the adults time to “catch up” with one another. Then gather everyone young and old to play classic games like bingo, tag, dodgeball, or hide and seek.
If you have cooking to take care of, ask another adult to make sure the kids are getting special attention and have things to do. Use the BOOK BASKET or other morning activities as a gateway to connecting with relatives kids may not have seen for some time.
Release expectations and avoid “should-ing”.
Should-ing is one of those easy illnesses to fall prey to, similar to comparisonitis! Enjoy the Halloween costume party instead of focusing on how you SHOULD have bought the kids new costumes instead of allowing them to make their own. (Everyone else is in store-bought costumes!) Your kids are proud of their accomplishments.
You have an idea in your mind about how wonderful everything is going to be. A happy family, laughing and enjoying themselves. Everyone loves the new recipe you decided to share this year. This is your IDEAL – but get real…how are things really going to go (You have no idea!) Your cousin’s new baby won’t stop crying, the other kids are being a bit bossy to yours, and no one person offers to lend a hand in the kitchen… You’ll drown in shoulda, coulda, woulda land unless you find joy in the MOMENT.
Kids can have expectations about how things SHOULD go as well. One thing I find that helps is to have several conversations to help the kids be self-aware. Talk about what to do if a friend or relative says something off-color or they are just getting on your nerves. Help kids (and remind yourself) they have a choice to be proactive with their response, and not reactive to the situation.
Talk about the way it feels when you are getting annoyed or irritated. Does your heart beat faster, does your mind race, do you suddenly feel like crying? These are your body’s warning signs, and when you recognize them, you can maintain a sense of control. We can equate the warning signs to road signs. A curvy road ahead, tells a driver to slow down. A detour means you’ll need to go around, and this may add more time to the trip. These signs help you determine how to react, and what to do, the same way your feelings do!
Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling for 3 sanity-saving tips to use during the holiday months.
Are you ready to Homeschool through the Holidays?
I hope these ideas have inspired you to set aside the necessary time to organize your homeschool and enjoy the traditions of the holiday season. To help you implement the plan smoothly and have activities ready, grab this Homeschooling through the Holidays Activity Pack.