Summer is coming fast, and for most homeschool moms that means some kind of a break. Whether you take the entire summer off, or just a couple of weeks here and there, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most of that summer downtime—not for your kids, but for you.
Even though we are pretty relaxed homeschoolers, I still find myself needing to take a week or two off. I give myself full permission to not think about whether the kids are doing educational activities or not, whether they are learning anything or not (but of course they always are). The only thing that never changes is reading aloud before bed. But other than that, letting myself off the hook mentally does wonders for my emotional and mental health.
How to Make the Most of Summer Break
Most Make the Most of Your Summer Break posts for homeschool moms go something like this:
- Declutter your homeschool curriculum
- Get organized around the house
- Meal plan a month or two ahead
And on and on it goes.
Now all of those things are awesome and highly recommended. However, I wanted to offer somewhat unconventional advice for how to spend your summer break. If you choose to follow it, I think you will return to your regular homeschool routine energized and refreshed.
1. Read Fiction and/or Watch a Movie
Most of the homeschool moms I know spend all their reading time in the education and parenting departments. When was the last time you picked up a book you wanted to read just for you?
Get recommendations for good books by asking friends on Facebook. Sometimes social media is good for something. I much prefer reading a book I know a friend already enjoyed rather than risk wasting my time on some random book from the library.
If fiction just isn't your thing (or even if it is), you're probably behind on movie watching—I know I am. I actually consider falling behind a good thing, because the number of good movies to choose from is pretty lengthy by the time I get to it.
2. Declutter Your Schedule
Summer break is the perfect time to take an honest look at your calendar.
- What's on the schedule because it needs to be?
- What's on there that's nice to have, but not completely necessary?
- What on the nice-to-have list that is stressing you out?
- What is something you've made a must that doesn.t really need to be a must?
Here’s the thing about decluttering your schedule: the hardest part is saying no to something that you used to do. Once you start cutting things, it gets easier to say no from the start instead of having to get yourself out of commitments you already made.
You may have a hard time deciding what to cut because you are afraid of disappointing someone—anyone from your children to the director of your local co-op. But is someone else's disappointment worth trading your sanity and the emotional health of your family? Absolutely not. They'll get over it pretty quickly.
Once you say no the first time, it gets so much easier the second, the third, and the fourth.
3. Date Your Kids
We spend so much energy on our kids'; education. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time spending time with my kids without an ulterior educational or parenting motive. Summer break is the perfect time to just be with them.
- Play a game
- Take a walk
- Grab an ice cream cone
- Have a conversation without an end goal
If you have more than one kid, getting one on one time can be so refreshing. It’s amazing how different kids can be when they are not with their siblings. Dates with my kids help me see them as individuals, to remember what makes them unique, and to find out what is really going on with them. They also get my complete attention, which is rare these days.
4. Focus on Your Spouse
Maybe you're better at this than I am, but I find it so difficult to split my focus between all my different roles. Spouse (wife, in my case) is, unfortunately, the one that's the easiest to let fall by the wayside.
Depending on your spouse's personality, the demands of your kids are probably far more persistent, more urgent, and overall, more in your face (or your ears) than his are. I often reason, “He's an adult; he can wait. Kids can't.” Well, he often ends up waiting and waiting and waiting some more, to get just a few undivided minutes of my time and attention.
Make a point to get a couple of dates in during your summer break. Swap babysitting time with a friend or have a date at home after the kids are in bed.
This might be a good time to discuss the state of your marriage and talk about your individual needs—what's getting met, what's not? How can we strengthen our marriage?
Or, it might not be a good time for that at all.
Perhaps what you need most is to relax, have fun together, and to talk about insignificant nonsense. Because after you have kids and start homeschooling, those times are few and far between.
5. Spend Time on a Hobby
Do your hobbies get neglected during the regular grind of homeschooling? Yeah, mine too.
Use the summer to pick back up a hobby you love or explore a completely new one. One of my favorite homeschool mentors, Julie Bogart, talks a lot about “awesome adulting.” She said, “Be the kind of adult that makes adulthood look awesome.”
Your kids need to see you doing something you love that's just yours. If you jump start your hobby during a break, you are also more likely to prioritize it during the regular homeschool year.
Summer Break: Final Thoughts
Prioritizing any of these things will be a challenge. Why? Because of all the other things you could do during your summer break—remember that list at the beginning? The decluttering your house, going through your homeschool curriculum, etc. is all physically in front of you.
At least for me, it’s easier to spend time working on physical stuff that's in my face, the stuff that's almost begging to be done. Spending time just being with my family (without multitasking at the speed of light) and thinking about big picture things, like our calendar, takes intentionality and self-control.
Realistically, I know you'll probably be doing all the other practical things, too. So if the thought of adding all five things on this list intimidates you, pick just one or two. Even if you add one of these to your summer break to-do list, I think you'll return from summer break a happier and healthier homeschool mom.
About the Author
June loves deep discussions about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging at This Simple Balance, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with four kids ages eight and under doesn’t happen very often!