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Holiday Stress

You would think that holidays will be a time of rest and relaxation, but many times it can have quite the opposite effect. It gets compounded for homeschoolers because of the following reasons:

  • The stress of getting the house in order for company coming over for Thanksgiving or other holidays;
  • The stress of critical family members coming over and dumping their prejudice against homeschooling on you as you cook the turkey;
  • The stress of knowing that taking a break will cause some loss of facts that you don’t want to start all over with;
  • Financial stress

I would like to address each one a bit in my next few articles.

The stress of getting the house in order for company:

As homeschoolers, we have lots more educational things hanging around our houses than most other families and it takes up extra room and sometimes can be all over the house. That can be very inhibiting if you need to have a large group of people over to your home for an event like Thanksgiving, especially if they’re not very supportive of your decision to homeschool. It means you have to organize and put some things away or at least clear a path from the front door and make it look like you have a semi-neat house. Then we haven’t even discussed the actual cleaning that sometimes takes a backseat while we’re so busy schooling, socializing, and chauffeuring.

Here are some tips for dealing with this.

  • Prioritize: First of all, make a list of all the things that have to get done around the house before you would feel comfortable having anyone over. On this list, prioritize the items on the list into groups, e.g. “Absolutely have to be done”, “Really try to do”, “Would be nice to have this done” or something similar.
  • Make it a family event: You can pick one or two days before all the festivities start, where everyone in the family helps out to clean up and make things neat, maybe move some things to the garage or the homeschool room if you have one. Make it a fun day by breaking up the cleaning tasks into short periods where everyone gets to do one specific thing. Set a timer and just clean up as fast as possible. At the end of the task, take a little break and do something fun, like playing a short game. Then, jump in again and do some more for a set amount of time. You can even possibly do something extra fun at the end of the day, like going somewhere for dinner or dessert or if you’re short on cash, just cook everyone’s favorite meal that night or come up with something the whole family enjoys and do that together that night. That will take some of the drudgery out of the task if everyone is excited about the reward at the end of the day.
  • Break tasks into smaller pieces: For younger kids I would suggest not giving them big tasks at first, because it gets too overwhelming for them. If you want their room to be cleaned up, don’t say “Clean your room”, but instead you can help them break it down into smaller tasks. Say, for example, that the room is covered in toy cars, Legos, train track pieces and stuffed animals, you can break it into 4 separate time periods, first just find all the toy cars and put them away. Then next is the Legos etc.
  • Teach sorting skills: For a slightly older child you can practice sorting skills by e.g. showing them how to clean up by putting things in different piles and then putting the piles away instead of walking to the same location 10 times to deliver items that belong in another room.
  • Delegate: For myself, I always pick the things that no-one else can do to do myself. I delegate and supervise the rest.
  • Make it a game: Sometimes it helps to make a game out of the cleaning process too. I’ve seen a Lego teacher race with his students and he would be “the master”. They would play “Faster than the master” at the end of each Lego class. It was amazing to see all the little kids running around cleaning up and sorting those Legos into the correct spots and having fun at the same time!
  • Decoration time: The same can be done for putting up decorations by dividing up the tasks between different family members, each according to their ability and age.
  • Music helps: Putting on some energetic music also seems to help people perform faster at cleaning jobs.
  • Cleaning tips: If you feel you still need some more help with cleaning, consult flylady.com for some other helpful tips. You can also do an internet search for “house cleaning tips” and you would have a myriad articles to read.
  • Keep the goal in mind: Last, but not least, remember that a perfect house is not the ultimate goal during the holidays, but spending fun, quality time with family and friends is. When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, focus on that for a bit.
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