Does anyone else feel it this time of year? This year, I feel particularly burned out. While I am not sure, the cause is probably my heavy load of schooling with a 4th, 1st grader (who doesn't want to do school), and a preschooler. A person can only work so hard, so long, before they become burned out. In the past, I have been very unwise by working too hard, so hard that it leaves me with a feeling of never being able to refresh myself again. In order to do the jobs God has set before me, I need address this problem because when we are burned out, everything suffers. We are in danger of abandoning our dreams and goals. Not to mention, it is not a fun place to be.
The reason January is so hard is the lack of sunlight and fresh air, but it is also because it follows December. A month with filled with heavy demands and a flurry of fun-filled activities. Once it is all over, it leaves us very drained. The chances are if I fill this way, my children do too. Just as we need that summer brake to restore ourselves, I am thinking we may need a winter break too.
My first thought at this is, I must be crazy. Wouldn't I want to take the opportunity of less activities to get a load of homeschooling work done? Wouldn't spring be a much better time to have off because of the beautiful weather? The answer would depend on your situation. It also depends on your children, mind usually happily play between breakfast and lunch with no structured activities, other then a simple daily schedule. Since our curriculum (MFW) has outside time built into our lesson plans, I know we will have time outside in spring. Also, while I do not have co-op, I do still have to take my daughter for violin lessons Friday morning. So, I am wondering if this crazy idea will work?
One popular break is to take the month of December off, so the household can focus on preparing and participating in the Christmas season. This works very well for some people. Now, this might sound like a scrooge, but sometimes I get concerned with the overwhelming attention we give Christ's birth compared with attention we give Christ's resurrection. While I LOVE Christmas traditions, it is my goal that our Christmas celebrations are more symmetrical to our Easter celebrations. This will not be completely realistic or for everyone, but I would like to try. Thus, I cannot take off December unless I plan to take off April.
While I cannot try out my idea this school year, I plan to try it next year. It seems for us that doing school this time of year is such a battle between winter moods and post Christmas fog. Winter is a great time too for getting inside house projects done. By getting the house tidy, it gives us so much more time, makes our chores easier, and is much less frustrating. Personally, I find I need those big blocks of time in summer and winter to get my household in order and bust some of those many little sources of frustration.
One of the things that I truly dislike is not getting to put an idea into action right away. Ok, so I have a good idea for NEXT year, but what do I do about now? Since we end up doing 39 weeks of school*, I am going to cut myself some slack and do a week or 2 of light school days. On these days my 4th grader will not do language arts or any of the extras like Rosetta Stone or New Jersey History(this is in addition to MFW social studies), and my 1st grader will stay the same. This should save us 1 and 1/2 hours a day, but they are still getting 36 weeks of "complete" school days. Any other ideas to combat winter burn out?
*Here is the brake down of the 39 weeks: 34 weeks MFW curriculum, 4 weeks Co-op, 1 week IWOAS testing. That doesn't even include field trips! That leaves me 3 weeks of light schools. Do you know the public school down the street from me calls it a full day if they feed them lunch? While I do think Co-op and IWOAS count as school days, there are just so many weeks in the year and I want to finish our curriculum.