Homeschooling during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be particularly trying/demanding. There are more events on as the semester comes to an end. On the homeschool front, we are often finishing up big projects and wrapping up units before taking an extended break. But there are a lot of other things going on too!
- There are holiday-themed parties and get-togethers.
- There are concerts.
There also more demands on our time on the home front.
- Many of us put up holiday decorations. We decorate our homes bringing out sentimental pieces from years gone by… yet create a bit of chaos and mess as we unpack those boxes… leading to more cleaning than normal!
- We try to send out holiday cards to family and friends (perhaps to keep in touch with those we don’t see as often or as family keepsakes).
- There are gifts to buy, family traditions we squeeze in and more!
Some families handle this busy period by taking most of December off. That doesn’t work for our family since we spend a lot of time traveling at other points during the year. So, these 3 to 4 weeks at the end of November and early December are especially challenging.
How do we homeschoolers keep sane, keep calm, and even enjoy this stretch of time? A bit of planning and forethought really goes a long way, especially this time of year, right? Here are a few key things that help:
1. Put time into planning and getting things on the calendar!
Many of the main events are already on our calendars. Now it’s time to start filling in the gaps! Pick out the traditions that are important to you. What kinds of things might be on our calendars?
- Outdoor decor
- Outdoor tasks (winterizing, raking, weeding, planting spring bulbs)
- Indoor decor
- Dining room table (tablecloth and decor)
- Make sure the kids have the holiday clothes AND shoes!! that fit.
- Make and send holiday cards
- Concerts – extra rehearsals, practice time at home
- Shopping for gifts (more about this later)
- Winter wear – pull out the winter coats and boots and make sure they still fit each child!
- Stock up on extra gloves (Each year, gloves seem to lose their partners around our house. We now try to pick up a number of dollar store gloves to keep in a basket near the door
- Read favorite stories or watch holiday movies
- Sleepovers – will the kids be doing special events with their extended family or close friends? Get those onto the calendar too!
Think about the key things:
- How much time will it take?
- When will we get this done?
Pencil it on the calendar, leaving enough time for things to be done without stress (ie. don’t overfill the calendar!)
2. Carve out 1 or 2 nights a week (or whatever) and keep the calendar CLEAR! Dedicate these evenings to family time and guard those times!
3. Connect to your family!
- Bedtime Connections: Choose one night a week to really check in with one family member to really listen and talk. Choose a night for each of the kids, climb into bed with them at bedtime and just listen! This is especially important for those of us with preteens and teens. Evenings are busy and many of us don’t read with the kids at bedtime any more. But make a promise to yourself to spend time building connections!
- Surprise Stickers: Once a week or so, place a sticker under one of the dinner plates or chairs. Once everyone is seated, have everyone check under their plate or chair. Everyone else in the family will think of a few nice things about that family member and share a story or example of how that person was especially nice to them or how proud or excited they were for that person. Ask everyone to come up with a specific story to share with everyone (not just saying something generic like “they were nice to me.”)
- Family Mailbox: This time of year, we have a small mailbox that sits on the dining room table. Each of us in the family has chosen a day (Monday through Friday) to be our day to receive uplifting mail. At some point during the day the rest of us will jot down something nice we noticed about him or something kind or generous he’s done… or we might just write down some qualities we really admire in him. We’ll stick our messages into the mailbox you see below. At dinner or at the end of the day, that person will check the mailbox and read those notes. It is a way of focusing not on what we’re getting, but what we’re giving and doing for others. And it feels great to receive such heart-felt messages and I know in our family, we have all kept those cards!
- Set aside time to share your favorite holiday stories or movies.
- You probably have your own family traditions and ways of connecting with one another. Drop me a note, if you have a lovely family tradition to add to the list!
4. Avoid the Rush! There are a lot of things that come up at the last minute that add in extra time and rush. Each year I fall into the same trap… I don’t think ahead about the small things, so I wind up making an extra trip to the store. Here are some things I know I could plan out ahead:
- Think through the “thank you” or “secret Santa” cards and gifts you’ll need to get for others. Jot down those that you can think of
- Private teachers
- Co-op leaders
- Scout leaders
- Teachers at church
- Music directors
- Special neighbors
- Special services
- Trim-a-tree gifts
- Can you write those cards out ahead of time?
- Can you buy those small gifts or cards ahead of time?
- Can you have some generic gifts on hand for secret Santa gift exchanges?
- bath salts
- nice journal and pen
- craft kit
- paints & canvas (art consumables)
- gift card
- car charger and cords
5. Enjoy Your Break! You… we… have chosen a challenging, important job homeschooling our kids. We owe it to ourselves and to our kids to come back from these holidays feeling refreshed and energized! Remember that you deserve some down-time and mental time off too!
- Once your break arrives, enjoy and cherish that down time! Be sure to spend some time cherishing your family and friends!
- Celebrate the big and little things in your life!
- Take time to pamper yourself!
- Give yourself a mental break from your normal homeschool responsibilities.
- Do things that refresh and inspire YOU! Take an extra few days/weeks to recuperate if you have a full house of guests or if the holiday rush wears you out! The time spent relaxing will come back to you ten-fold if you take the time for yourself too!
If you are interested, here are some of the printables I’ve added to my Homeschool Planner lately:
Last year I made some holiday-themed planning pages. You can click here to download the Free Homeschool Planner Fall & Holiday Theme if you are interested! (Sorry, I haven’t changed the calendar pages, so be sure not to print those! The updated calendar are included above or in the calendar set below.) ~Liesl
If you are interested in the free 2018-2019 printable calendar you’ll find it here: (I’ll have a new 2019-2020 printable calendar at some point soon.) I often like to print 4 months per page so I can take a quick glance at the dates.
If you are interested in our free Homeschool Planner you’ll find it here: Free Homeschool Planner and Discovery Journal. This unique homeschool planning packet is currently FREE to download! It is nearly 100 pages! Not only does this packet include daily and weekly planning pages, checklists and record keeping pages, but it also includes various homeschool journaling pages… think gratitude journal meets homeschool goal setting!
If you are thinking about the topics and units you might want to cover with the kids next year, you might want to check out these free Resource Guides
You might be interested in these other holiday posts:
- Homemade Christmas Keepsakes – I already have the Christmas ribbon with the kids’ photos strung up in the living room! Ooooooh, I love pulling that out every year!! 🙂 I’m sharing these a little bit early because homemade crafts always take a bit more planning to add into our busy schedules this time of year, right?!
- Free Christmas Music For Beginning Piano
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts. You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well.
Again, you can click here to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter!
Happy Homeschooling, everyone!! ~Liesl