How Many Catch Up Days are Okay for Homeschooling? | Mentoring Wednesdays for Moms
Here’s a question from Lisa, a sweet mama over in our Homeschooling Moms Facebook group:
I would love to hear ideas on what to do when you feel like you’ve reached your limit, but you are out of catch-up days (days you would have used to take a break so you don’t end up spending the day yelling at your kids). I haven’t reached this point this year, but since I’ve gotten there before…. Or when you question whether or not it would be better for your kids to go to public school rather than be at home with a mommy who is yelling way too much.”
Let me just address this question in the best way I know how… by sharing a glimpse into my life.
If you walked into my house right now, you’d find us engaged in a very “unschooling” sort of day:
My 11 and 9 year olds are off working on math lessons.
My 7 year old is outside riding his bicycle.
My 5 year old is half-dressed and scrounging in the kitchen for breakfast (apparently he didn’t eat with the rest of the family this morning?).
My 2 year old is tagging along with his daddy, who is outside feeding his animals.
Yes, Wednesdays are normally school days at our house. So why are we in what appears to be a funk right now?
Well, I’ve been neck deep in church stuff the last few weeks. (We just wrapped up our ladies retreat on Saturday.)
On top of that, we had company for about five days.
And on top of that, I’m still getting back on my feet after a nasty battle with fatigue earlier this month.
So yes, this is a “down” day for us. It’s been a “down” few weeks for us, simply because we’ve been in survival mode.
So how many catch up days are okay for homeschoolers?
Well, how many do you need, Mama?
What season of life are you in?
Has there been sickness in the family?
Are you pregnant or taking care of a new baby?
Do you have a houseful of little people?
Are you expecting or hosting company?
Do you have a remodel project going on at your house?
Have you recently moved or are you getting ready to move?
What keeps your emotional equilibrium balanced and healthy?
What keeps your body rested and your mind sharp?
The answers to the first seven questions will give you a good idea of how many “down days” you might need this week, or this month, or this year.
The answers to last last two questions will give you a good idea on how to order and simplify your lifestyle so that you can function (and, ideally, thrive) emotionally, physically and mentally as a homeschooling mom.
Obviously, we can’t just “not do school” because we’re stressed, tired, or busy. Too many “down days” will turn into a down year!
But we do have to make some extra space in our schedule for life to happen!
How I Plan for Interruptions and Breaks in Our Homeschooling Year
I have a very simple plan for making room in our homeschool year for interruptions and breaks:
- I plan on doing about 30 to 34 weeks of school in a 52-week year. Curriculum that centers around a 36-week school year either gets tweaked, or I ditch it and move on to something else.
- I work margins into our yearly schedule. Generally speaking, we hit the books four about 4 to 6 weeks, then take a break. A lot of times, these breaks center around holidays, family trips, ministry projects, and sometimes just because.
For instance, the two-week break we are currently wrapping up was penciled into my homeschool schedule for this fall. I knew we would likely be extra busy getting ready for the ladies retreat at our church, so I left a margin for a two week break.
I had no idea that I’d find myself in bed with fatigue at that same time! When I looked over our fall schedule a few weeks ago and realized I’d left some wiggle room for an extra break during September, I took it! It has been a huge blessing to have some down time to get back on our feet.
- I simplify our homeschooling so that we can realistically “get done” with school on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis. I talk to a lot of moms who feel like they are constantly behind in school, and I have to wonder what all they are trying to accomplish? Possibly, too much.
For me, homeschooling has to be “doable” if I’m going to actually be able to do it. That means we simplify our subjects, our weekly and daily lesson plans, and our yearly schedule.
I’m not super woman.
I’m not competing with the public school system or model.
We are a family, and our homeschooling has to fit into our family life. I want to enjoy homeschooling. I want my kids to enjoy it. When homeschooling becomes a huge source of stress and causes feelings of failure, I push back a bit and evaluate what I’m trying to accomplish and why.
Interruptions will come.
Breaks are sometimes necessary.
Make room in your life for LIFE to happen, Mama!
Roll with the punches.
Enjoy the ride.
Some days and weeks will seem extra productive.
Other times, you have to know when to push through the resistance, and when to pull back and regroup.
Next time we’ll talk about yelling at your kids… yes, homeschool moms sometimes do this! We’ll tackle that soon on our Mentoring Wednesday for Moms posts.
Check out my other posts on homeschooling.
If you’re a homeschooling mom, I’d love to connect with you over in our private homeschool group on Facebook!
Take a peek at my homeschooling ebook!
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.