Feeling overwhelmed, tired and frustrated? But still pressing through the list of assignments? When you’re feeling like this, should you take a break from homeschooling? Or should you continue working? And will your kids fall behind if you take a break?
Being a homeschooling parent means that you get access to a whole new level of parental guilt. Including the guilt you will feel for taking breaks from school. Homeschooling parents often have trouble justifying their need for time off because they have too much to do, all the time.
Here’s a bold truth when it comes to homeschooling and breaks.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to wait for certain times of the year to take a much needed break from homeschooling. Maybe you’re sick, or your kids are sick and have been up all night. Should you press into school work? Or should you take a break? The answer is obvious, take a break! Are you encountering a stressful life event? Should you take a break from homeschooling? Or push through? You already know the answer, take a break!
Pushing yourself and your children to accomplish assignments during a time of stress or sickness will not benefit anyone. And chances are, your child will not remember a single thing from these forced lessons. Because the brain cannot learn under intense amounts of stress.
What if you just took a break?
If you just took a break from the daily routine, and are feeling the need for another one. Should you take a break from homeschooling again? The answer is: You can do what your family needs. Maybe your family doesn’t need a total break from homeschooling. But rather a simple break from a certain trouble subject. Maybe you need a break from cooking three meals a day? Or perhaps you need a break from the never ending chores that come with motherhood.
As a homeschooling parent you are in a constant state of movement. Maybe you just need to slow down. A full break of everything can sometimes be so nice, and exactly what we need. But as a homeschooling parent you will notice that sometimes homeschooling can get lumped into the same category as laundry, cooking, cleaning and working. All the tasks turn out to be your tasks, and you’re tired of them.
So Ask Yourself, Is It a Break From Homeschooling That I Need? Or Do I Just Need to Adjust My Plate?
First of all, if you are running your homeschool like a military school, nothing will go smoothly for you. I’m sorry, but it won’t. That’s just a fact. You don’t have to run through Math, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts, Music and Art all on the same day. On the same note, you don’t need to have a beautifully clean home that people walk into and say “Wow how do you do it all?” You also don’t need to prepare three spectacular meals a day. Let’s be honest, no one will eat them all anyway.
If you feel like it’s just your plate that needs adjusting.
That’s totally fine! You are the master of your own life. If you feel like your plate is off balance than it is! It’s up to you to make the right changes to shift the plate to a maintainable balance.
You can try: Adjusting your school work.
Is the non stop curriculum draining you and your kids? Try laying out their curriculum differently each day. Instead of trying to crush all the subjects and grasp all the learning opportunities in one day, shift it around. Is math your challenge subject? Then try mixing a math day with a fun learning opportunity like art. Aim to do just one or two subjects a day. And don’t overdo it! It can be so tempting, when our kids are doing really well with a subject, to try to get them to do more. Do more lessons so you’re ‘ahead’. Or even add in more curriculum books.
Trust me when I say: Don’t do that. It’s so much better for your child to learn in a relaxed format. Rather than the chaos of adding more. Often times when you add more to the day, the balance gets totally overturned.
Using a food delivery service/order take out.
I totally understand that take out is not doable every night. Although, I really wish it could be. But if you’ve just had a day that has completely gone off the rails and you’re exhausted. Then order some take out. If you know that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are your families problem days, then do yourself a huge favour and either meal plan and prep for those three days or order a meal service.
That way you know on those days, that dinner is covered. Because dinner seems to be such a stress point for almost every mom I know. It’s just another thing that you’re expected to do after a busy day. So, planning ahead can be a game changer.
Lower the standards.
This one is oh, so hard. Especially if you gravitate towards false perfection. Perhaps you just saw a beautiful spread of your friend’s kids lunch on Pinterest. She really cut the strawberries into Mickey Mouse. How do you compete with that? Oh! The answer is so simple! You don’t. When you finally understand that you don’t need to have ridiculous standards, you will free yourself from so much stress and tension. So, your kids ate bagels for breakfast? Instead of potatoes, French toast and a fruit salad? That’s fine! Ok, so your kid had peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch? That’s great! You had cereal for dinner? That’s awesome!
Now you’re looking at your house and cringing because the laundry has been unfolded by the laundry room door for 4 days. There’s dirty dishes in the sink, and one of your kids tracked mud all through the house? It happens. One thing I have to remind myself, over and over again is that we live here! As much as I’d love to have a model home that just sparkles and shines, it’s unrealistic. Because the truth is that the second I clean the house my kids will destroy it. We live here. Lowering your standards when it comes to cleaning will greatly resolve the negative feelings that you have towards yourself.
Outsource when needed.
There are many areas of your life that you can be outsourcing if you need to. I get that as moms we feel the desire to have it altogether and to accomplish everything on our own. But let’s be honest, is that actually realistic? Were you meant to do all of the things, all of the time, on your own? Absolutely not! Pull out a piece or paper and a pen and write down the areas that you are struggling the most. Teaching the kids math? That’s ok! There are so many resources available to help with that. From online tutors to helpful workbooks.
Maybe you’re struggling with just doing a basic clean of your house? That’s totally ok! There are lots of house cleaners available for as cheap as $20 an hour. If you have someone come and help you with cleaning for just three hours every other week. That will cost you a total of $60. Alternatively, you could chat with family or friends to see if there is anyway they could help you here and there. You’d be surprised how often people would really love to help. They just don’t want to ask because they are afraid to offend your independence. And as homeschooling parents we often have a way about us that says “I can do it all! Don’t worry.” But that’s unrealistic. Please ask for help.
Have mandatory fun days.
Days that are dedicated to fun learning. No math or language arts allowed here. This day is all about science, art, and music. You could even make this special school day on a Monday, the day that is so hard to get back into the homeschool groove. Or maybe Wednesday, when everyone has the mid-week boredom. Adding in a fun day can freshen up the whole family and help everyone get back on track.
Maybe you’ve done all of these things and you’re still just not feeling it. Should you take a break from homeschooling?
Here are some clear signs that you should take a break from homeschooling:
1. You’re sick.
If you’re sick, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to take some time off school. Especially if you’re barely functioning. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. If you need a day off, that’s ok. The truth is, you don’t actually get a day off. Because as parents we are always on duty. Even so, it’s better to take a few things off your plate if you’re feeling unwell. So, put the schoolbooks away, turn on The Magic School Bus, and snuggle up on the couch.
2. A Family Emergency.
No one wants to deal with the terrifying experiences that family emergencies bring. Therefore, if you’re experiencing a family emergency, you should absolutely take time off from homeschooling. Even if there’s nothing you can directly do about the emergency. Your mind just won’t be in a clear place to teach. Pushing homeschool on a tough day like that will just make learning tricky while triggering high stress levels. Take a break.
3. Your Kids are Sick.
When your kids are sick they will have a much more difficult time focusing. Blowing their noses, having tummy aches. Rubbing their head from a head ache. Your kids need to rest. And so do you.
4. You’re just not prepared for the day.
Everyone has those days. And if someone claims that they don’t — they are lying. Instead of stressing trying to make copies and flip through lesson plans. Watch an interesting movie about history, or a documentary instead. Go outside and learn about the weather, or the uniqueness of the trees. Turn those messy, unorganized days into wholesome days that you and your children will remember.
5. Your Kids Clearly Need a Break.
It’s called a mental health day. And even kids in the public school system take them. Sometimes your kids will need a break. Just like public and private schools have PA days. You also can take days here and there to allow your kids the downtime that they need.
6. There’s a Fun Event Planned.
Learning is all around us. If you have a unique field trip planned to the museum. Then don’t force textbooks on that day. Let the learning come from this fun event or field trip that you have planed instead.
7. Your Kids Can’t Focus.
Some days you will find that your kids just can’t focus. Why does this happen? I really don’t know. Some people say it’s the full moon? But I know for a fact my kids have lost focus when there isn’t a full moon. I really don’t think that anyone knows the reason why our kids sometimes just can’t focus. But if that’s your family. Then close the workbooks and go outside. Go for a long walk, hike or run with your kids. Go to the park. Explore a new neighbourhood. Change up the scenery. Breathe in the fresh air. Let the sun shine on your face.
8. It’s Nice Outside.
This is a real thing. I’m not even kidding. So many homeschooling families that I know, who have been homeschooling for ten years or more. All say that they take breaks when it’s nice outside. Because no one wants to be stuck inside when the weather is amazing. Perhaps it’s spring and you are itching to plant a garden. Then do it! Planting a garden is an amazing learning experience for your kids. Get outside! If you’re feeling overly guilty about taking a break just because it’s nice outside. Then try moving your homeschool outside or, saving that extra work for the rainy days of summer.
You are the only one that can truly speak on behalf of your family and your homeschool. I would say follow your gut. If you feel like school just isn’t a good idea for a day, then take a break. Maybe you feel like you should still be working on some form of school. Then read some books, do an interest based learning unit. Like our Special Interest Units.
You don’t need to overwork yourself and your kids while simultaneously draining yourself of everything just because you don’t want to feel guilty for taking a day or two, or even a week off of school. Taking a homeschool break is ok to do sometimes. So, go for it!