How do you manage to keep the FUN in the holidays and not let the business of the season overwhelm you? Especially when you add homeschooling to the mix?
Intentional Holiday Planning
I don't know about you, but I really have to be intentional during the holiday season so that I don't get overwhelmed with everything it brings. It's bad enough that the retail world rushes us through one holiday after another. That sense of urgency, that we are already behind, adds a ton of stress.
One of the best things about homeschooling that most moms will tell you is the ability to adjust your schedule to fit your life. The holidays are the perfect time to put this into practice and to be intentional with holiday planning. We still homeschool, a little bit, during the holidays. But, we scale back and incorporate holiday activities into our lessons. Most of all, it is important to me to keep the FUN in the holiday season, building memories that my kids and family will treasure in years to come.
For me, being intentional means starting the holiday season with a plan in place.
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Planning for FUN!
This one is probably the key to a happy and FUN holiday season. Make a plan, ahead of time, figuring out the framework of your monthly goals and commitments. But, then be flexible. I always use pencil on my calendar, because I know I'd rather erase something than to still see it marked through in pen if we need to adjust and modify our plans.
The holidays are a great time to change things up in your homeschool and scale back a bit. Instead of focusing on our regular reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, we might do a unit study or a research project during the month of December. My boys love doing crafts and hands-on activities, so we use the holidays to catch up on kits and other supplies that we haven't had time to delve into.
U Understanding your limits
Okay, so we moms know that it often falls on us to plan the holidays for our families. Between meals, shopping, decorating, shuttling kids where they need to be, and keeping the house in order, we are often the planners. I've learned the importance of understanding my limits and keeping myself in check so that I don't become a ball of stress that wraps itself around everyone else in my family. I am the first to admit that I cannot do it all. I don't really enjoy shopping, so I plan ahead to spend the least amount of time doing it (hello online retailers). I don't enjoy wrapping gifts, so I delegate that to my kids. You get the idea.
The holidays can quickly become ‘un-fun' if I'm not intentional with my choices. Figure out what you can cut back on, and don't run yourself ragged trying to do everything. (Your family will thank you.)
Scale back to the necessities and focus on the things that are important to you and your family. It is okay to say no to invitations or to bring a store-bought treat to a gathering if adding one more thing to your calendar comes at the expense of your necessities. Think about what your really want to spend time doing during the holiday season, and schedule it on your calendar BEFORE you start filling it up with other things.
One year, my husband and I realized that we had commitments outside our home every singe weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Sure, it's fun to gather with friends, family, and co-workers, but enough is enough! He was stressed out, I was stressed out, our toddlers were cranky, and all we really wanted to do was to take a deep breath and have some downtime at home during the holiday season. If it begins to feel like having time at home is a luxury, something needs to change.
When I made my list of holiday necessities, the common theme was family and home. I am striving to make these things a priority and giving them precedence before I say yes to other things. What are your holiday necessities?
My holiday necessities include:
- decorating the tree and reminiscing about special ornaments — my kids' first Christmas ones, some from my grandparents tree long ago, our pets, special characters from childhood, homemade ones…
- nights at home watching a movie with family
- cooking a holiday meal or two with my junior chef
- doing an advent calendar and/or Jesse tree together
- quiet time to reflect beside the Christmas tree
- doing fun crafts with the kids
- going on winter nature walks
- loading everyone in the car to go look at Christmas lights
- read-aloud time, even with older kids, with a holiday themed book
- leaving the tree up until New Year's (or even longer)
As you homeschool through the holidays this year, I hope you will enjoy the season and have a blessed Christmas with your family!
Anne Campbell is a writer, editor, and homeschool consultant. Homeschooling for 15 years, she recently graduated her first son, who learned at home from K5 to college. Anne enjoys customizing learning experiences to meet the needs of her 3 boys as they embrace the lightbulb moments of discovery every day. She is a VIPKID teacher and teaches homeschool teens through literature study, research paper writing, and living history experiences. Visit Anne’s blog, Learning Table, for help navigating everything homeschool, from early learning to college admission, at www.MyLearningTable.com. Follow Learning Table's adventures on Facebook and Instagram, and Pinterest.