No school December
It's here, it's here!
I can hardly believe we are at the end of another year. Christmas time is by far my very favorite time of the year. I remember as a kid, I would stay up late watching Christmas movies by the Christmas tree and I would just stare at all the beautiful twinkling lights and try to soak up every single moment because I just could not get enough. I remember hearing adults around me say, "I just can't wait until Christmas is over, it's stressful!" Meanwhile, I have always felt that December 26th is one of the saddest days of the year simply because Christmas is over. I did not understand how something so magical could make people feel anything less than 100 percent joy all the time. (I know, I sound a bit like buddy the elf ;)
As I became an adult and have had kids of my own, I still love Christmas and it is still my favorite time of the year. However, now as an adult myself, I can see glimpses of how what other adults would say when I was a kid, could be true. Although, I refuse to let the commercialism and pressure steal the very joy of the season. Most importantly, because now as an adult, I have a firm grasp on the very reason we even celebrate the season.
My perspective maintains my joy.
It is interesting how two different perspectives on one Holiday can change hearts, attitudes, and lives. You see, when I was a child, my joy came from the excitement of the lights, listening to Christmas music on repeat and watching all the Christmas movies, all the time and of course dreaming about getting everything on my Christmas list. Now, my joy comes from knowing Jesus and celebrating this perfect gift and praying that God would fill our hearts with just a glimpse of His character, joy, and anticipation so that others would receive this gift. I now fully comprehend the fact that there is no better gift than the promise of eternity with the Heavenly Father.
Listen to this:
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD (emphasis added by me) news that will cause GREAT joy for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'" —Luke 2:9-11
Did you hear that?! This season of Christmas and anticipation is supposed to cause you GREAT joy, not just for some, but for ALL. This is a reflection of a heart that has heard and received the GOOD news.
I believe if you go into Christmas with a thankful heart and maintain the mindset that it is a celebration of the gift of life, hope, love, and joy, your focus will be exactly where it should be and you will sense peace in the midst of the Christmas season.
You may be wondering what all this Christmas talk has to do with this radical December homeschool schedule.
Last year, I decided I was going to get back to the basics. I decided I did not want my kids to see me in a constant frantic state of mind the entire month because there is too much to do and not enough time to do it all and this does not at all reflect the way we as Christians should be celebrating an advent season. Honestly, that is a typical homeschool day without the added holiday fun.
So, like any sane and logical woman might do, I decided to cut out school in the month of December.
(Whaaaaatt?!? Did she just say she does not do school work with her kids the WHOLE month of December?!— Is that even legal?!)
I know, right? Honestly, being the rule follower that I am, I struggled with this concept last year and even felt a little guilty as we got closer to the month of December. However, if any of you have followed me for very long, you will know that I am a big Sally Clarkson fan. One day I was listening to her podcast and she mentioned how she always took the month of December off from homeschooling her children, so guess what? I felt completely justified. ;) All her kids turned out more than ok.
But, being the planner that I am, I still needed a plan. For me, wasted time is not enjoyable time. I also did not want to create this free-for-all and then hear my kids constantly tell me how board they are all day.
Just like the little girl who used to sit by the Christmas tree lights until all hours of the night to ensure she did not miss an ounce of Christmas, this big girl still desires to take in every bit of the Christmas season with my family. I do not want my kids to feel stressed, or rushed during the time of year that offers more hope and joy than any other time. My hope is they can look at Christmas as the best time of the year because they focused on the one who gave all, and in turn, they celebrated out of love, joy and anticipation and gave to those around them from their hearts.
Not obligation, just joy.
That mindset gets lost in the hustle and bustle of trying to fit everything into the holiday season, not to mention so many things that do not even matter in the grand scheme of things.
So in December. We celebrate.
We spend a good chunk of our morning in the Bible (what is the point of Christmas if my kids do not know The Christmas Story?) We also found a couple of advent books and devotions that we mesh. We love one called "The Family Advent" because it incorporates excitement with activities and scripture. I feel like it does a great job of keeping the kids engaged by giving them clues to look for in the story and crafts or activities to go along with the day. However, if you want to do the devotion completely, there is a little prep work or materials to buy.
We were also gifted "The Jesse Tree" Advent devotional last year. I was so excited because I had just heard about it through the God Centered Mom podcast, but I did not have the time to put together the necessary items or throw a "Jesse Tree" party like they suggest. I think this is a great devotion to do right before bed with the whole family. It can be a bit lengthier, but I really appreciate the questions that come along with it lending to some great conversation before bed.
After Bible and devotion, we spend 30 minutes to an hour reading Christmas books together snuggled up on the couch or by the fire. Completely un-rushed time just enjoying our books and not just "trying to get our reading in".
This year we are doing a bit more "school" than we typically would in December. Jude is going for Memory Master in Classical Conversations. He is doing so well, but we are also still going to spend our break from Co-op doing a bit of drilling to make sure he really has the first 12 weeks under his belt, as well as getting ahead a bit.
Then we have the rest of the day for BAKING, crafting, playing outside, serving others in our community and spending time together treasuring these days and making memories. By the way, if you are a homeschool Mama and you were not aware that there are hours to be logged in baking..well now you know. ;) Jude also really enjoys getting his art kit out and just creating. He will often do this while watching a documentary or another educational show.
Also, if you catch Hobby Lobby on the right week, I am a big sucker for the kid craft ornaments and they are 50% off every other week. I love the kids tree filled with all the ornaments they have made throughout the years. They are by far my favorite.
Even though we really only cut out our Math and Phonics, it takes some pressure off for the Holiday and a good chunk of time and frustration (depending on the day) for both myself and my kids. It is a win-win for everyone because we are super intentional about focusing on Jesus and our family. Not that we are not intentional the other 12 months of the year, but it is just a great time for us to slow down and we enjoy it so much. Not to mention the flexibility it gives us. If I am really honest, I usually catch myself saying (more than I would care to admit), "Sorry Jude (Lila/Gwyn) we don't have time to do that. We have to finish school so we can clean up the house, practice music, run some errands and get dinner ready before we head off to (fill in the blank with 1 of 5 different week night activities)."
It fills my heart with joy, and puts a huge smile on my kids face right now when they ask, "Mom, can we make cookies today?" And I can look at them with a smile and say, "Yes! Let's make cookies."
These are the types of traditions I hope my kids look back and smile on and perhaps even continue with their kids. It is so much fun as a Mom to see my kids already get excited about the Month of December, partially because they think they are not doing any "school" ;) but they start talking about all the fun things to look forward to and the ways we have celebrated in the past.
Cutting out some responsibilities and slowing down in this season is a decision I will not regret.
What are some of your favorite traditions with your kids? What are your favorite things to bake, or craft? I love to hear your ideas because I know that this blogging community only gets stronger when we share our thoughts, ideas and inspiration. Let's encourage each other friends!
Have a wonderful week, and I hope you tuck away several memory nuggets of special moments shared with your kiddos.