Before you know it, the holidays will be upon us —that wonderful, busy time of the year when we moms try to do it all. Add homeschooling into the holiday busy-ness and it could end up a disaster!
I realized early in my homeschool journey that we need to do things differently during the holidays in order for everyone to remain well rested and refreshed.
First I realized that I was simply trying to do too much. I was exhausted. My kids were grumpy and disobedient. This was not the happy vision that I had for our homeschool. I had to take a step back and really decide what was the most important and needed to be accomplished during this busy season in contrast to what could be let go for a few weeks.
Second, I realized that the most important aspect of Christmas is that the focus needs to remain on Christ. I knew that in my head, but that wasn’t playing out daily in my home. I asked myself what was I doing to turn my children’s hearts toward Christ. Amidst all of the gimme, gimme, gimme and the hustle and bustle of presents and family gatherings, I wanted my children to remember that the holidays are not about all the commercial activities. Christmas is about remembering God’s greatest gift to us.
I have used these two excellent resources to help teach the true meaning of Christmas:
- What God Wants for Christmas—a devotional which focuses on the true meaning of Christmas. Each day as the children open the gifts that are included in the box, a part of the nativity story is told. The final box holds a special surprise gift, which reveals what God wants for Christmas.
- Truth in the Tinsel—a daily devotional which includes instructions for making ornaments to decorate the tree. Through the devotions and crafts, the nativity story is told.
I reluctantly decided that we could put away some of our regular studies in exchange for learning about Christmas (or another holiday) around the world. I have always found studies of how other countries celebrate major holidays extremely fascinating. I wanted to use the holidays for sharing that joy and fascination with my own children. I also realized that studying a topic in depth helped everyone to focus and really soak in some details. It allowed us to learn together as a family with each child absorbing the topic on their own level. This also helped to quiet some of the excitement that naturally comes with holiday preparation. It’s also a sneaky way to learn some geography.
Is there a topic that your child has been begging to learn more about? Let him dive in and discover all he can about it. Find some excellent videos and books from the library on the topic and allow your child to explore. I find that independent study for my kids also frees me up to work on something else while allowing them the freedom to be in charge of their own education for a bit.
Take some time to review topics that you have wanted to spend time on all year, but ran out of time. Review math facts to keep those skills sharp. Study an artist. Take a field trip. Do some science experiments just for fun.
Serve as a Family
I also decided that I wanted to focus on service as a family. What could we do for others? What project could our family take on that would be a blessing to the community?
Kids are often so excited that they can barely stand the excitement. Let them channel their excitement into something creative. Make gifts to give to their Sunday School teachers. Grandparents would love some little handmade item to place on their mantel.
And we simply can’t forget the deliciousness of home baked goods. Make it a tradition to spend the day baking and then deliver the home baked goodies to your neighbors.
Sing some Christmas carols together at a nursing home and allow your family to be a blessing to the elderly, who may not have any extended family to visit them.
If your children are older, consider taking them shopping and allowing them to choose gifts to donate to a local charity. Better yet, sponsor a family and help make their Christmas really fabulous.
Above all, I learned to be flexible. Everyone has a million things to do on their list. Why not be the one to adapt? Instead of stubbornly insisting on your own way of doing things, go ahead and let someone else make those decisions. Once I became more flexible both in my thinking and in my planning, I was able to truly begin to enjoy the season. Instead of letting a party cancellation or another family’s busy schedule stress me out, I was able to let it roll off my shoulders and go with the flow. Oh what a blessing that is!
Sometimes I think we as moms try to micro-manage every single area of our lives (and sometimes that of our family). Our children are watching us. We set the tone for our home. If I am grumpy or stressed, my children will follow suit. No wonder they were resorting to bad attitudes and bickering. I’m sad to admit that they were seeing me demonstrate some of these very same attributes. A quick change of thinking straightens that all out. Keep the focus where it needs to be during the busy season. Everything will work out how it is supposed to.