037: The Holidays: Good Time to Relax at Home and Avoid Crowds

by | Nov 29, 2021

Welcome, my Tenacious Homeschool Tribe!

For today’s episode, the last one of this fall, I thought I would wear this really cute blouse that I just absolutely adore! I’ve been wearing it a lot. I don’t know how it hasn’t been damaged because I keep washing it and putting it back on. I just like it so much. I found it on Amazon. Isn’t it cute? 

In any case, I wanted to talk about another option for the holiday season, and that is to say that this is a wonderful time to relax and stay at home and avoid the crowds.

Some years, you’re just not up to it. This year, we were really not up to do much for Halloween. The kids did go to one party, and they did the trick or treating. One of my daughters took advantage of Universal Studios Halloween nights, but that was about it. We were so busy taking theater classes, rehearsing for theater performances, going to volleyball, learning how to read. You know, all of those wonderful things that we were just too busy to get into it. And there have been other times in our homeschool journey where that has happened. I mean, I remember one time I was literally released from the hospital on Christmas Eve. There was no way we were going to be doing anything big that year. So, sometimes you just need a low-key time. 

This Thanksgiving, for us, it’s going to be very low-key, not so much because of the pandemic, but primarily because we’re kind of exhausted, and we just really need a break.

One of the things that can get a little crazy when you’re a homeschooling family is you will go to all of these meetups. Oh my goodness… There are some people where you really have to wonder how they managed to do their laundry, eat, and breathe because they will have these wonderfully decorated homes, have the seven-course meals day after day, and homeschool seven kids! That’s just not me. I could barely manage the twins when I only had the twins, let alone now that I have four. It’s just a lot going on. And sometimes, I find it very overwhelming and stressful.

So, some holiday seasons we have very low-key holidays is just us, and that is it. That’s it. Sometimes, not often, I don’t even cook on Christmas Eve or Christmas. We always decorate a tree. We always have our gift-giving. But there’s a lot to be said for low-key holidays—not going out at all. This is really a personal choice. It’s always about what’s best for your family.

Now, one of the things that homeschoolers are great at is staycations! Just stay at home. It’s a wonderful period in which the individuals and the family can just stay home and participate in leisure activities with a day trip here and there or no trips at all. It really depends on what you as a family want to do. 

This year for Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to do anything that required overnight accommodation, anything that required me to travel outside of our homes. I wanted to be home, and I wanted things to be low-key this year. Just tired, as you can tell from all my gray hair, so I haven’t even colored my hair. 

This past week, our family just stayed home, and one of my daughters watched movies and relaxed. The other one’s reading. The other one is learning to create NFTs and analog horror. So, you know, just doing different things. Dad is out with his friends because well he loves to socialize. He’s our social butterfly. Me? I’m doing some grading, some final year-end stuff but taking my time. I have to admit that today I took a three-hour nap. Just fell asleep in the living room, and the kids didn’t bother me. They took care of each other. It was wonderful. I just took a three-hour nap. It’s a wonderful little staycation! 

You can play tourist in your hometown. If you want you can try a fitness class. You can book a spa day. Mom, you deserve it! Leave the kids with grandma, leave the kids with dad, go and have your hair done! See? I need to do that. Go and have your nails done. Just take a little time for yourself. 

Plan fun activities. The kids don’t know it, but I just got a new karaoke set. I’m just really looking forward to that! So, it should arrive from Amazon before Christmas, and I am just looking forward to enjoying my sweet torture because they have wonderful voices, and I can’t sing. 

Visit your favorite local restaurants. I don’t do that much when we’re in the Caribbean. Even though they have pretty strict rules, they don’t allow anybody not vaccinated to eat indoors. I still prefer to eat outdoors. So, I have done a lot of outdoor dining since the pandemic started. 

Volunteer at your local charity. We didn’t do that during Thanksgiving time, but we plan to volunteer at a local no-kill shelter during our Christmas vacation. 

Take a cooking lesson. If you don’t want to go to a cooking lesson in person, there’s Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and all these apps have cooking shows. Get the stuff and put it together, do it by yourself, do it with the kids, do it with one kid, that one child will feel special.

Host a party. For Thanksgiving, we did have a small get-together. I wouldn’t call it a party because at my house party means a lot of people! But it was two dear family friends, you know, a total of six people and us and that was it. 

Go to a hotel room. Leave the kids at home spend some time with your husband or your wife to reconnect. 

Set up a scavenger hunt. I’m dying to do this! I just haven’t gotten around to it because I have a lot to do. But our fall semester is always super busy because we spend it stateside, and the kids have a lot of things to go to. Still, when we’re in the Caribbean, it’s a far more low-key semester, so I bet I’m going to have an opportunity to set up a scavenger hunt at that point. 

Hit the mountains. Hit the beach. Get in your pool! I’m going to do that immediately after finishing this recording. I want to get in the pool with the girls and our new puppy! But I’ll tell you about the puppy later. 

Host the movie night. We did that last night. Two of the kids’ friends came over, and I got them their favorite pizza. Some like Hawaiian, some like pepperoni, some like cheese, and they’ve watched two movies. And believe it or not, they chose educational movies. We had read Of Mice and Men and The Lord of the Flies, and they decided they wanted to see the movies, and they did. They had a great time. They said it was a little depressing, but they really enjoyed the movies.

And think about something, okay, sometimes we get really carried away by the structure of our lives. You don’t have to host an indoor movie night. You get a white sheet, a small $149 projector from Amazon and link it up to your phone or your laptop, and you can have yourself an outdoor movie night. My kids love that! They think it’s such a treat. It’s not, especially since I use the projector for school sometimes. So it’s just a wonderful opportunity to do something different. And that would be the next thing. You could go out there and try something new. You could have your kids try something new. I don’t know about yours, but mine used to be really adventurous until they hit the teen years. 

And then, all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh… Mom…” 

I still make them! And guess what? Despite all the complaining and whining that precedes the event, they end up having a great time! I’m a big proponent of having our kids push boundaries to enhance their experience, primarily because that is one of the most important things about homeschooling. We’re not just teaching book knowledge. We’re teaching them how to be people how to be part of a community. And for me, I’m teaching them to have a moral compass that’s very important. 

Try new recipes. I told my daughters this year that it was time for them to join me in cooking our Thanksgiving dinner. Because in the past, I’ve done it by myself. And honestly, I love it. I know that some people complain that Thanksgiving is so overwhelming. I just like to do it. It’s one of the things I enjoy doing. I get up. I start making desserts. Getting all of that ready, start baking. Once I get all my baking done, I put in my turkey. Once the turkeys cook, then I start doing all the turkey fixings. I’m very blessed with two ovens, so that makes it a little bit easier. 

This year I’m trying something new. I bought one of those Turkey cookers. It kind of looks like a crockpot. We’ll see how it turns out. It’s my first time trying this out. This year I bought the girls in helping me make Thanksgiving dinner, and we even decided to try some new recipes because our friends requested some dishes we had never tried before. Like I’ve never made that sweet potato casserole with the little marshmallows. For some reason, it’s just not an appealing dish for our family. We’ve also never done brussel sprouts. I looked at them, and all I could think was, “yuck.” I never tasted them. I don’t know why all I’m thinking is “yuck.” But that’s where my brain goes. And this year, we tried recipes, and they were delicious! It’s just a wonderful experience. 

Yes, there were some challenges because, well, there’s always going to be challenging when you’re cooking with three fourteen-year-olds, but it was still a lot of fun! So, even though we were not technically homeschooling my kids, we’re still learning new skills. 

Start your own do-it-yourself project. You know, I’ve been decorating the hallway. I’ve been cleaning my pantries and my laundry room, reorganizing. I have the kids going through their rooms, doing a deep cleaning, figuring out what they want to keep, what they want to throw away or give away—nothing big this year. But we’ll see what comes along. It is a good time to do it, and we have done it in the past. I remember once we made a base for a bed. It was just a lot of fun! When the twins were young, we created this base for an IKEA bed that gave us some storage space downstairs. And of course, we’ve also painted rooms with the Mickey club themes and the little Einstein themes. I just did different things during the holiday season. 

Explore the world from home. You know there are tons of documentaries on history, in different countries, in different cities—lots of different stuff out there. So, you can stay home and still have your feet out there in this great world. And right now, that’s not a terrible thing, right? Though we are going to be traveling this year, we’re going to Vegas for New Year. My brother-in-law has a place on the Las Vegas strip, and he invited us to join him this year. Isn’t he a wonderful brother-in-law? I mean, he’s willing to put up with all these people, and the girls are super jazzed about that! I don’t know what we’re going to do when we’re in Vegas like we haven’t thought it out that far. We’ll probably go to a couple of shows. Yes, safety first. We’re all vaccinated and wearing masks and trying to stay safe, but trying to still live a life. 

And of course, one of my favorites as a mom of four is sleep. Today my husband was kind of shocked! He was like, “Why are you still in bed? It’s eleven.” 

“I don’t care that kids can have cereal.” 

“What about lunch?” 

“They can make themselves a sandwich.” 

You know, one day is not going to kill them. Two days it’s not going to kill them. Three days is not going to kill them. The entire week? It’s not going to kill them. Sometimes you just need a break. You just need a break, and sometimes the kids need a break from us making the meat green and brussels sprouts and beans and all those wonderful foods that are good for them, but they hate.

It took me a while to figure this out. But one of the most wonderful benefits of homeschooling is really that you can live your life on your own terms. You can travel when you want. You have complete flexibility over your calendar, flexibility during the day. I can’t tell you the number of times I taught in the morning because we had activities in the afternoon or switched them. You know, I taught in the afternoon because, well, we knew we wanted to go out in the morning or chose not to do any schoolwork. 

The thing is that when they’re younger, there’s so much everything. Almost everything that they do can become part of your curriculum. So, it’s really easy to pack in those 182 days with a balance of activities. You know, you can be doing arithmetic, English and learning about the theatre, performing arts. You could be learning about soap making, cooking, how to create budgets. It’s just such a plethora of options. 

It does change a lot when you hit middle school and high school, depending on the state you live in and your specific goals, whether your kids are college-bound or not college-bound. So it really depends on all of that. This year, we’ve been a little bit more hemmed in because two of our children decided that they wanted to go to a traditional school setting, and so that really caused us to get creative on our juggling. Fortunately, we have a wonderful family who’s willing to keep our kids for one to two weeks at a time, but it just changes the dynamic. We’ll see how it goes next year.

But remember, the holiday season doesn’t have to be all hustle and bustle. You can have a good time by relaxing at home and avoiding the crowds!

Hey, I’d really love to get a message from you letting me know what you would like me to talk about. I have a lot of ideas, but I would like to tailor my shows to your interest. So, please hit me up by rating and reviewing the show on iTunes, sending me an email @hswdrb.com, joining our Facebook group, leaving a message on Tik Tok, leaving a message on Instagram. 

Remember, life can be overwhelming. Homeschooling does not have to be! Don’t forget to check out our Facebook homeschool support group. For more links and resources, please visit our website! Till next week! Enjoy your kiddos!

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