Originally Published: January 2004
Frequently, homeschooling moms find themselves looking for relief from a case of the January blues. My guess is that this seasonal ailment is the simple result of living on adrenaline from our grand beginnings in September through all the extra tasks in November and December. If our children have been especially busy preparing for and participating in holiday performances, they may be suffering from the same fatigue and lack of motivation. No matter what the reason, if you or your kids feel as if you’re just “going through the motions,” here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Change the methods used for learning. Varying the way we receive and use information increases our ability to retrieve what we have learned. So, if the kids have been using lots of workbooks, introduce games, software, and videos. If they’ve been using a hands-on approach, give them some paperwork. If they’ve been out and about over the holidays, say no to field trip invitations and stay at home for awhile.
- I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Have the kids do chores while you read aloud or discuss a topic. Discussion is always a valuable teaching technique, and since kids need to learn how to carry out a variety of household tasks, you are accomplishing two objectives with a minimum of effort.
- Schedule 45 minutes to an hour of quiet time for everyone—that means you too! Determine boundaries: in bedrooms, on their beds? What can they do: read, draw, listen to Bible story tapes? I used this time for personal prayer and Bible study, and had my children do the same. They could read, listen to, color, or draw anything related to the Bible. I made sure they had books and tapes they enjoyed so this hour would always be a welcome period.
- Increase hours of sleep. Set a reasonable, and perhaps earlier, bed time for everyone. Then set a new, later time for school to start. Kids need 9 to 11 hours of sleep normally, but will need even more if they’ve been living on adrenaline for awhile. Moms may need 10 or 11 hours before starting to feel better. Don’t try to compensate for the extra sleep by making the kids rush through work. Instead decrease the work load so that they can feel successful. Further anxiety will just drag out the recovery process.
- Look for ways to decrease your own work load so that you can operate at a slower pace without guilt. Add cooking to your kids’ curriculum. Let them correct their own papers. Assign activities that require little or no preparation on your part. Send them to a friend’s house on Saturday so you can have a day to yourself.
What? You can’t possibly take a break? None of these suggestions are possible? And to top it off, you feel guilty for being exhausted and even depressed? First, recognize that these symptoms are part of the adrenaline cycle. When we’re pumped up to do whatever must be done, we have to allow our bodies (and minds) down time to recover. Attitudes can be contagious—our own or our kids’. When we are interested in teaching, they are more interested in learning. When they are eager to work on something, we feel relieved and happy, even if we’re still tired.
Rest helps the body, and time in prayer and praise helps the mind and spirit—ours and our kids. At the very least, find a way for everyone to take a quiet time together. Lower the lights and listen to worship music for 10 minutes. Later, take another short break to read and discuss a passage of Scripture. Curtail overnights, late outings, even late family nights, long enough for everyone to go to sleep earlier than usual. Remember, once everyone’s been refreshed, it’s not difficult to work more effectively and efficiently—making up for “lost” time. Refreshed is the best way to begin a new year!