"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Monday, February 24, 2014

When It's Time to Take a Break...

In case you haven't noticed, it's February, ladies and gentlemen.  And it's a heck of a February, too.  Traffic snarl-ups, polar vortices (?), continuous snow and ice...

Man, I feel for you Northerners!

Although I live in mostly sun-shiney Florida, it's still February.  And, from what I can tell, February is traditionally the time of year when all of us homeschool Mommas want to throw in the towel, chase down that gorgeous yellow bus, and spend the day in the nearest spa.

That wonderful, had-to-have-it curriculum that was going to make this the Best. Year. Ever brings tears to everyone's eyes whenever it's opened.  The days are so very, very long.  The whining is never-ending.  

Is it just in my house?

Somehow, I don't think so.  Or if it is, could someone please lie to me so I feel better about myself?

If it's February, in our homeschool we are in a slump.  Here's how I can tell:

1.  It's February.  We had a nice, long break over Christmas and were all eager to get back into routine in early January.  (Well, most of us were).  But by now the shine has fallen off, and it seems just such a long time until summer break.  Although February is the shortest month, I swear it lasts the longest!

2.  Nothing is getting done.  None of us have any motivation left at all.  Chores take a million times longer than they need to.  All of the kiddos are dragging their feet on everything.  EVERYTHING.  We can "school" for five hours and check two or three things off the list.

And I'm not much better.  I start the week making to do lists that I actually finish.  Come Wednesday, I'm talking myself out of everything listed on them.  The thought of managing to fit in another task makes me too tired to want to try.  I just want to sleep.

Or watch reality TV.  And eat chocolate.

3.  The Tears.  Oh, the tears.  So very, very many of them.  Tears over unloading the dishwasher.  Tears over no dessert being available.  Tears over socks.  Whose turn it is to check the mail.  Who got the biggest piece of banana bread.

And the math.  Always the math.

4.  The outside starts to look so very appealing.  Blinds are opened.  We fight each other for the chance to go outside to get the dog.  Tormenting thoughts of dusty bikes and scooters torture my brain.  And I start to wonder if sending the kiddos out to play in 50 degree temps and rain would really be all that bad if I made them wear socks.

But then we'd have to fight about the socks.

5.  No one can get along.  Well, they can--if they are sleeping.  But that's about it.  And again, I am as much at fault as my kiddos are on this one.  The griping, complaining, and arguing may or may not start with me.

But I'm still going to gripe and complain about them doing it.  : )

By now we've clearly and embarassingly established that it is definitely a case of the February doldrums, or even just a matter of needing to take a break in our homeschool.  

So what do I do about it?

There are a couple of things I've tried over the years--some much more successful than others.

1.  Push through anyway.  Let me go on record saying that I so don't recommend this at all, but of course, it is the way I often go.  While it may make me feel accomplished by checking off boxes (and we all know how much I love to check off boxes), it always ends up coming back to bite me.

**This is not a good plan for our family.**

Maybe next time I'll remember.  Maybe I should make it poster-sized and laminate it and put it up all over the house.

2.  Stop.  Like, everything.  Learning will still happen for your children whether or not you give them a spelling lesson this week.  And little brains need a rest.  And big ones, too.

Go sledding.  Make hot chocolate.  Have a movie day.  Bake cookies.

Just breathe, Momma.  It's OK.

Really.  I promise.

**Another note to self.**

3.  Change things up.  Nowadays, when I start to recognize the classic signs of need-a-break meltdown coming, I look for a fun unit study to start.  My kiddos love unit study learning, and we've done some in the past that have really been big hits.  We've learned about popcorn, volcanoes, dogs, horses, and the Olympics (our latest learning).  Typically, I still have them do their math lessons, but then once those are done, we bust into the unit study of the week and go to town.

I can count it as learning.  They can count it as "time off".

Win, win.

4.  Let the students be the teachers.  My kiddos love to tell me how unintelligent I really am, and how brilliant they are.  Me being me--I like to make them prove it.  

We might take a week or just a few days to have them "teach" me back some concepts they've been learning, whether it's a play about the meaning of Christmas, fully costumed and produced by the three of them, lectures on the many types of owls, or lessons on classifying and sorting matchbox cars.

Again, a review for them.  Confirmation for me that they've learned something.

Win, win again.

5.  Field Trip Time.  Do I even need to explain?  February just may be the perfect time of year for the children's production of whichever-play-is-currently-in-your-town.  How about a trip to the local grocery store for a behind-the-scenes look?  One local Momma near

us arranged a field trip to the Post Office one year for Valentine's Day, so the kiddos could see their Valentines being sent out to far away friends and family.

Pizza places, cupcake shops, pet stores, libraries.  February just might be the perfect month to set up a visit to some of your favorites.  If you feel like that's cheating, school-wise, make your kiddos write about the trip on their way home from it.

This time of year is just such a tough one for you, Momma.  It's normal.  It will pass.  Make sure to lighten up on yourself and your kiddos while you all muddle through.  Hopefully some of these ideas will help you to make it less painful for all of you.

Do you have any ideas for getting through homeschool burnout?

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