Do you have times when you are overly stressed out about projects hanging over your head? Times when you are simply over-tired and dragging? Times when you just feel dull and need a change of pace? Maybe it is time for a break from your normal homeschool routine.
Even though we just finished a lovely and restful week off while Steve was home from work for March Break, by Saturday night, I knew we still needed another week to complete some projects, do some preparation for next year’s homeschool and work on some Spring cleaning. When I am at the point that I realize we need some time off, I have two choices. I can either press ahead without taking the needed time off or I can plan for an effective week.
Many times I press ahead. Sometimes, this works out fine, but if we are truly desperate for a break, we generally drag through the day (or week) and our homeschool is no fun and not very efficient. However, If I decide early on to just accept that we have this need, we can have a much more successful week. On Sunday afternoon, I took out my home management notebook and got to work planning our week. (Don’t be intimidated…at this point, my home management notebook is just a spiral notebook with a canvas cover. It has no fancy sections. I just use it to keep all my to-do lists and notes to myself in one place.)
Here are my suggestions for taking time off that you can feel good about:
1. Decide the purpose of your time off. Is it home management time you are needing (clearing up some projects, decluttering, getting a garden ready for Spring)? Are you or your children desperate for some rest and relaxation? (I know…who isn’t? We’re talking about more than the usual tired, here.) Are you just feeling kind of stale and need something different to perk things up? (This is a pretty typical November or February/Early March sentiment.) Since we just had a nice rest last week, what we needed this week was focussed home management time.
2. Decide the length of time off you need. Generally, this will be either a day or a week. However, when I have a baby, I plan ahead to take 6 weeks off. We decided to go for a full week this week partly because of the amount of things that needed doing and partly because toward the end of the week, our homeschool would be disrupted anyway with 1/2 the children going off to visit Grammy overnight.
3. Plan your time. Now that you have determined generally why you are taking time off, decide the specifics. Are you resting? You might plan to stay in your P.J.’s until noon and read some blogs or pick up a novel to linger over. (Maybe you are not as relaxation-challenged as I am, but I find that if I plan to relax, I feel less guilty that if I just don’t manage to do my normal routine.) If you are taking ‘Change of Pace’ time, plan ahead for whatever you are going to do. We like to sometimes simply visit another branch of our library. We have several that are about a 1/2 hour drive from our home, so it is an ‘event’ to visit one. We can all choose from a different selection of books, take some home and return them to our home branch — for FREE! Maybe you want to head out for an entire morning at a park or do something on a bigger scale such as visiting a Science Centre or a Museum. Home management time off needs the most preparation, but will be very rewarding, too. I just open my notebook to a fresh page and start listing out the things I want to get done. I try not to overplan (I want to feel successful, afterall!). Once I have a good idea of what I want to get done, I schedule in my activities by writing them down on a specific plan. I also made a list of ‘service opportunities’ for the children so that they would be making a good contribution this week.
4. Plan your meals. Don’t overthink this step or hyperventilate at the suggestion if you are not a meal-planner. Simply think about meals that will fit in well with your plan. Meals for resting should be very simple and, if possible, prepared by children. I usually look after dinner and assign children to breakfast and lunch. If you are taking ‘Change of Pace’ time and are going to be heading out to a museum or a park, plan food that can be toted along if you want to avoid buying while out. Or, plan ahead to go out for lunch or to pick up bagels and cream cheese when you are on the go. (Pack some snacks, napkins, knives and water.) If it is home management time, do yourself a favour and plan a simple crockpot meal for dinner.
5. Communicate your plan. I like to wait to let our children know we are taking time off from school until I am clear about the when, why and what. Otherwise, they will just think it is a free-for-all and will not be happy when I start doling out extra chores. This week, the children clearly understood that we would be working. The list of jobs that need to be done are clearly written down in my notebook and during work-time chunks, they may simply pick something to do.
In case you are interested, here is what I have planned for my Home Management Week:
– finish up conference talk
– make buttermilk and pickled beets
– cut 6yo’s hair
– make bread, yogurt and granola
– print off next year’s AmblesideOnline booklists
– cut 8yo’s hair
– blog post: taking time-off
– create list of items to purchase/look for at conference
– get conference handouts/overheads copied
– blog post: haircutting at home
– paint remaining kitchen drawers
– blog post: gluten-free guests
– work on decluttering basement
– blog post: reading links
As you can see, my list is conservative and also more sparse toward the end of the week. This is good because as you can also see, I only got one thing on my list done yesterday. When I plan fewer things toward the end of the week, things I don’t get done are easily shifted along.