Last August (or September) the new school year began and everyone was excited and off to a good start. Fall soon arrived, and the cooler weather was invigorating. And then, before you knew it, it was time to celebrate Thanksgiving and then Christmas! (This year, with Thanksgiving being celebrated so late in the month, these two holidays fall almost back-to-back.) After Christmas the fun and excitement wains and the clean-up begins! Before you know it, the new year will begin and it’s time to get back to the books, resuming a regular schedule. For some families this transition is easy and exciting (particularly for those who function much better on daily routine), while for others — well, let’s just say they’d rather stay in bed with a good book, putting things off for another day or two. If you fall into the later category, this article is for you!
In order to avoid mid-year burn out, it will be helpful to intentionally plan ahead. Realizing that you are in control, and knowing that your attitude and actions are important to returning to a semblance of organization while maintaining joy is a great first step! We all know that if mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.
There’s no need to jump from holiday mode to school mode in a single day. Find time to be alone to pray and prepare yourself before starting back to a full schedule. One of my regrets is not communicating my plans (and/or my heart) to my children, assuming they would somehow know exactly why I did the things I did with pure motives, centered around what was best for them. Take time to explain your plans for getting back on track and encourage your kiddos to be invested in the process without complaining. You may want to ask for their ideas to may make this process easier! Start off slowly, perhaps beginning with a morning time routine as you read, sing, pray, and discuss plans for returning to your academic schedule. If possible, begin re-acclimating to your academic schedule a week or two before co-op begins (if part of a co-op). For older students who are involved in outside classes, getting back into a routine the week before will be helpful for them as well. When I organized co-ops, I purposefully did not begin the co-ops until late January, allowing for time after Christmas to get back into the swing of academic schedules.
Be sure to plan for fun with events such as field trips, or watching documentaries or movies that enhance academics. Reinstating a schedule does not mean you have to be strict. Be unpredictable now and then. Change the times or location for study (outside, parks, etc.). Add exercise to your routine (jump rope, obstacle courses, bike rides, etc.) If family members get sick, slow down and do what needs to be done to restore health. Schedules are tools we use to organize our lives, but sticking to a schedule should not take precedence over necessary interruptions or unforeseen opportunities. Burnout is often caused by a parent’s obsession with sticking to a schedule (or a particular curriculum) whether it is working for their family, or not. Be flexible. Re-evaluate and make changes that will restore joy to everyone!
Getting back into the swing of things after a holiday can be stressful so be proactive and make plans that will enable a smooth, and joyful, transition. You will be glad you did and I am fairly certain your kiddos will be glad as well.