Breaking Down the Break
So, the kids are home from school. How is that going?
We are taking a break from homeschooling as well, so we’re all home and in full Winter Break mode. Add up all that family time, the change in routines, and the excitement of the impending holiday, and the results can be unpredictable, to say the least. What can we do to ensure that these days at home go as well as they can?
- Keep the routines that you can. It is tempting to let everyone (including ourselves) sleep in, and that can be nice, for sure. But if your children are accustomed to the way the morning goes in getting up and getting ready for school, pushing the day back can be disruptive. We try to keep the structure of the day intact as much as possible, sticking to predictable mealtimes, bedtimes, chores, daily activities, and downtimes in order to keep things predictable. The more things that they can anticipate happening in the usual way, the more comforted and settled they will feel.
- Pace yourselves. Just because we are faced with all this unstructured time does not mean that we should try to fill it with activities. Even the “fun” can be overwhelming without allowing for the quiet periods we all need in order to recharge. The adults will need to do this too, and if you are used to having time to yourself during the day, be sure to allow for that as well.
- Prioritize the holiday stuff. Every family has its own traditions and the children especially will delight in those activities—decorating the house, baking, taking in the lights around town—that they associate with this time of year. But I’ve found that trying to force it can be more stressful than it is worth. One of our favorite traditions has been to visit a tree farm to select a tree and cut it down. This year, however, due to a variety of factors (the extra soggy weather, a general lack of funds, and a general lack of tree space), we decided to scale back on that particular adventure. We stopped at a tree lot in town and took home a smaller and cheaper (but completely charming) tree, a process that took ten minutes instead of most of an afternoon.
- Get outside if you can. Especially if the kids are spending more idle time at home, and adjusting to the slower pace away from school, it is all the more important to spend time walking, hiking, and moving around out of doors. We have been taking advantage of those brief windows of non-rain.
- Transition back to school time. If we have been keeping a predictable schedule and balancing periods of activity with downtime, this will be easier to manage. Going back to school at the end of the break won’t be as much of a jolt if everyone knows what to expect.
- Be patient with each other, and with yourself. Everyone in the family is dealing with changes, and even pleasant changes can be difficult. If we remember that everyone has to adjust on both ends of the break, we might avoid the feeling of desperation that comes with having everyone just…around for so many days. Also, keep in mind that it’s normal for kids and adults to feel a bit of a crash when all the excitement is over. Anticipating that is a job of parenting, it’s true. But the easier and more predictable it is for our children the saner we will be.