I love the holidays, but my stress level goes up quite a bit in November and December. I need to find a way to deal with this better, maybe you do too.
Spending more time with extended family and the fun traditions of the holidays are all so much fun. But keeping up with homeschooling and the many added responsibilities of the holiday months can be overwhelming.
Here are some tips for balancing the many responsibilities of the holidays while homeschooling.
Tip #1: Reduce stress by cutting back on some subjects or studies in your school schedule
It’s okay to make school days shorter during the weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cut back on what subjects you’re teaching each day or let your kids do a little less in each subject, so they finish their work earlier and you have more free time to do the extra holiday tasks. They won’t get that behind and they can catch up later after the holidays if necessary.
Tip #2: Purpose to have a “Jesus-focused” holiday season
The month of November is a great time to talk about the many blessings God has given us and practice giving thanks to God each day. It’s said that doing something for 30 days develops a habit, so hopefully your family will develop a sincere attitude of gratitude over the month and will practice gratitude all throughout the year. Check out my blogpost on Gratefulness for some fun ideas!
In December, take time to reflect on why Christians celebrate Christmas, focusing on who Jesus is and why He came to this earth and all He’s done for us. Read through one of the Gospels as a family. Memorize the story of Jesus’ birth together. Find a way to help someone in need during the holidays, encouraging your children to always think about what Jesus would do for others. Read through this Forty Names of Jesus Devotional together as a family. You’ll find as you focus on the meanings of His name, it will increase your appreciation for Him even more.
Tip #3: Include some of the area holiday activities as part of school
A Christmas musical or concert are great fine arts experiences. Or how about serving at a local homeless shelter or a food shelf as a family for a service project? Find out if a local church has a live nativity scene or participate in putting one on at your church.
Tip #4: Incorporate some of the holiday into your schoolwork
Use the holiday traditions to direct some of your studies.
Hospitality is a wonderful gift to develop in your children. Have people over and teach your children how to be good hosts and hostesses. Have a “friends” thanksgiving party with your children’s help.
For a handwriting or writing assignment, let your kids write notes to their grandparents. They can decorate the note, add pictures (there’s art for the day also!) and give it to them for Christmas. Or write thank you notes after Christmas to teach your children to be grateful and work on their handwriting at the same time.
Instead of studying your usual history lesson, take time to watch the Jesus movie and talk about the time when Jesus lived and why He came. Encourage your children to put together a short drama enacting the story of Jesus’ birth and perform it for extended family when you’re together. Our extended family loved seeing our children do this.
Enlist your children in helping you do the holiday baking, cooking, and decorating.
Have your children make gifts for each other and for extended family. This can take the place of art, and possibly some other subjects depending on what they create for their gifts.
Tip #5: Simplify
I found that I was carrying on traditions that I didn’t really enjoy. I stopped doing the ones that our family didn’t find as fun and simplified our holiday that way. Give yourself the freedom to cut out some of the unnecessary traditions or activities.
Tip #6: Delegate some of the tasks you have as a mom
We don’t need to try to be superwoman! Although I’ve seen some amazing women, I don’t think any of us can really “do it all” without getting worn out and exhausted. I know I tried for many years, and it really affected my health. The first step to avoiding burnout, health problems, or emotional breakdown is admitting that we can’t do it all. Make a list of all that needs to be done to prepare for the holiday and have a family meeting to divide the tasks amongst the family.
Tip #7: Realize that your children care more about spending time with you than they do about getting more gifts
It seems like gift giving at Christmas has gotten out of hand. Honestly, children don’t NEED all that stuff and it breeds an attitude of materialism and greediness when they receive it. Plus, it adds a lot of emotional and financial stress when we try to buy gifts for everyone in the family at the same time of year. And it detracts from our focus on Jesus and His birth.
Several years ago, IKEA put out a commercial that was eye-opening. It shows what kids really value most during the holidays. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: IKEA Christmas video
I pray this holiday season will be one that is joy-filled and stress free! I encourage you to seek Jesus, He’s the real reason for the season! Rest in Him and He will give you the strength you need to do all that you have on your plate.
I’d love to hear how you lessen your stress during this busy season – please leave a comment with what works for you.