Seasoned homeschoolers know that winter, especially February and March, can be rough. With gray days and lousy weather it can feel like the school year will drag on forever. It isn’t just tough with little kids: teenagers can suffer in the winter too. Spring will come and it will get better. But until then, here are a few ideas to help make it until spring.
Don’t get ahead of yourself : If you start thinking “homeschooling has ruined all of our lives and we need to quit” try to stop yourself. Winter is usually not the best time to make major decisions about homeschooling. Mark it on your calendar for the first week in April and think about it then. If you start to feel like “everything is failing” – make one or two small changes and work from there.
Hello sun: If you see the sun outdoors, even if it is cool outside, go out and grab some Vitamin D.
Prioritize taking care of yourself: Homeschooling your teenagers is demanding work that can be frustrating at times. If you are feeling burned out, it is time to put a greater priority on taking care of yourself. Some ideas: do yoga, take a nap, soak in a hot tub, do something creative, take time to read something you enjoy, sing, dance, exercise daily, talk to an old friend on the phone, buy yourself a little gift, learn something new or write in a journal. Negative attitudes can be contagious in a family so try to give yourself some space to be separate from the kids and bring back in some positive energy.
Snow day: Why homeschool if you can’t take the day off now and then? Think about what recharges your batteries. You might choose a “pajama day” where you stay at home and just enjoy hobbies. Or, maybe it would be better to get out of the house for lunch and a matinee.
Drop a thing or two: While winter may not be the ideal time to decide to stop homeschooling, it is okay to sometimes let go of a subject or an online course that is a poor fit. If it hasn’t worked since September it isn’t magically going to start working in February. The course doesn’t necessarily have to be dropped off the transcript entirely. Maybe it can be continued with a new approach. Sometimes just making one or two changes can be a big relief.
Spring and summer planning: Gardening catalogs and gardening planning sometimes offer hope in the wintertime.
Field trips: Field trips aren’t just for little kids. Can you think of any local museum you haven’t visited for years that might be fun to visit again?
New project: If you enjoy crafts winter can be a nice time to start a craft or home project. While Pinterest and Ravelry can be great fun, they can also lead to too much time collecting perfect ideas and not enough really enjoying your craft.
Pay attention to all that is good: It can be easy to get caught in a negative cycle thinking about if your homeschooling is working, but take the time to acknowledge the positive ways your kids have grown and developed. Look at what they’ve learned since they started high school and note how much closer you are to reaching your goals.
Challenge yourself to learn something new: Keep your own brain alive by learning about something totally separate from homeschooling and parenting. Learn computer coding, photo editing, ukulele, etc.
Playdate: Yes, by high school they are a bit old to call it a playdate, but how about inviting old friends over for the afternoon? It is a good excuse to bake and take a break.
Fresh flowers or a new plant: Getting some life and nature in the home can be a great pick me up. It doesn’t have to be a big expensive bouquet to do the trick.
Take a break: Remember your teenagers don’t need you every minute. Absence really can make the heart grow fonder. It helps relationships to get a break from each other sometimes and it is an important part of the teen move to independence that you have time away from each other. Don’t feel guilty for skipping out on school time to go have coffee or lunch with a friend.
I hope there is some idea there that will help you make it through the winter homeschool blues. I’d love to hear how your family gets through the winter, so please share your strategies in the comment section.