Hit The Winter Restart

Gray clouds hover above us and dirty snow covers the ground. Winter woes hit whether we have home educated for six months or twenty years. As holiday festivities end and decorations find rest in the attic, we hear our days shout “hit the restart”. Plow through the winter gray—rejuvenate, refocus, and readjust. Your home will be happier for the reboot.

Rejuvenate

“I cannot make it through the rest of the year!” I have spoken these words and so have my children, especially between January and March. Our minds are tired from the holidays. Routines need to be reworked. Colder, sometimes inclement weather keeps us inside and less active. We need makeovers, in body and mind. But how?

Rejuvenation comes in many forms, differing for every person. Personally, the outlets for my rejuvenation changed with my seasons of motherhood. When my boys were young with boundless energy, I was exhausted by afternoon. I had to ask my husband for help.  Our solution—he would come home from work and head outside to play ball with the boys. I used the time to read or make dinner. His afternoon help broke up my day. When I had four young learners, I needed a mental break from skip counting and potty training. Planning a coffee chat with a friend or sitting quietly to write and pray, brightened my attitude, bringing hope. Then, years later when my young adult was working on personal fitness and invited me to join her on bike rides, the physical exercise brought renewed energy to my body. Different seasons required different solutions.

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Renewal is an individual preference. Recognizing the need and scheduling time for renewal is vital to our outlook and productivity. Reflect on the areas of your life that feel stale. Consider how you might freshen up those areas. Start slowly, add one change at a time, and you will experience rejuvenation throughout the year.

Our children, teens, and fellow homeschooling friends also need refreshment. Look for ways to lock arms and renew together. Sit alongside a child who is struggling with math. Play team Scrabble for spelling practice. Brainstorm as a family about new meal options. Build camaraderie by inviting a friend to join you at the library. Together you can find resources for each family’s upcoming studies.

Refreshed, physically, mentally and spiritually, our thinking begins to reprogram.  Evaluate what worked well during the first semester. Give God praise for His provisions. Be courageous and make changes in stagnant areas. God’s goodness and our gratitude bring a new beginning.

Refocus

“I quit!” In my twenty-one years of homeschooling my husband has heard those words often—words of frustration and despair. My husband Mike reminds me that God has been faithful to meet our needs, but not always the way I thought they would be met. When I refocus I see how my selfishness and expectations affect my thinking.

A different perspective reboots my thinking. When a child hits a learning snag, I remind myself to focus on accomplishments instead of lessons waiting to be taught or goals waiting to be met. When a group of moms discuss their children’s behavior or achievements, I remind myself my children have unique developmental timetables. Those reminders allow my mind not to fall prey to fear and comparison. Instead I rely on truth to settle my soul and allow God to reveal His goodness.

Sometimes my refocus requires me to reconsider priorities as needs of my family change. A newly diagnosed illness might require frequent, unanticipated doctor’s visits. An ailing grandparent might need help with house chores. With added appointments and time away from home, I packed a school-on-the-road bag, ready for days when waiting rooms or grandma’s living room became school rooms. Reconsidering my priorities in unexpected circumstances helped me to adjust our days and make those difficult times run smoothly.

Thinking outside the box has helped me rethink and replan during difficult seasons. One year along our journey, pre term labor put me on bed rest. Gone were field trips we had planned. Gone were visits to the park. I could no longer walk from room to room to meet the needs of my growing family. They had to come to me. During those six weeks of bed rest, our family room became the hub of our homeschool. The children brought their books to the area. Sometimes blankets and sleeping bags cushioned the floor for read aloud time. Wonderful pieces of literature were enjoyed. We appreciated one another for what each could contribute to the family. Those days deepened family relationships, and we learned in the process.

Readjust

“We will never catch up!” My thinking can get the best of me, running my best intentions and efforts over like a freight train. Thinking ahead of my circumstances leaves my mind exhausted and my spirit weary from worry.

Many times by readjusting a small component of my schedule, I can multiply time. A plan to grocery shop after music lessons when I am near my favorite market, frees up time on another day. A plan to enroll my children in simultaneous art classes  saves on-the-road time. When I check email or return phone calls at a specific time of day, I open white space to enjoy a game of Parcheesi with a child. Limiting my days away from home helps me use time more efficiently and gives my children bigger chunks of time with something of interest.

Every semester I am tempted to add a new enrichment opportunity to our schedule, positive that something fresh will give us a boost. However, I have learned that without eliminating a less than best or worn out activity, I simply add another thing to our days. I quickly find us overloaded and exhausted, longing for spring break!

Winter weather often keeps us inside our home. This is a good time to consider other indoor venues. A local library may be hosting a worthwhile class or event, a nearby science center may open a new exhibit, or an ailing neighbor might enjoy a visit. As clear skies return, we move outside, incorporating nature centers, bike rides, lake picnics, or mountain hikes. An adjustment in scenery lifts spirits and allows for renewed perspectives.

Rearranging and reorganizing helps to boost moods and energy. Disorganization clutters my visual surroundings and often throws my children off kilter. When I rearrange furniture or learning areas, sort art supplies, replace posters and visual learning resources, reorganize the family library, and resharpen pencils, positive physical changes give us all brighter outlooks.

I have found midyear winter is not the most prudent time to make major schooling decisions. In January and February when local private schools and co-ops garner preregistrations with enticing ads, I remind myself to diligently seek God’s leading for the upcoming school year. In addition to prayerful thought, I seek counsel from my husband. We process problem areas, seek options and solutions. A wise friend, who knows our family well and has faced similar circumstances, can sometimes bring sunshine to cloudy areas. God has been faithful to bring clarity to my mind and renewed vision in times of need.

Spring is Coming!

You can redirect your steps today. Rejuvenate, refocus, and readjust—these three actions can transform attitudes, bringing hope and gratitude for God’s provision for your family. Plow the gray snow aside. Spring blossoms wait to burst forth. Go ahead. Hit the restart!

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Cheryl Bastian and her husband Mike have seven children and have been homeschooling since 1993, Cheryl organized and led a Central Florida support group, mentors current leaders, and remains active in the homeschooling community. As an author and speaker, Cheryl encourages parents to embrace the education and training of their children. Her books and resources are available at www.cherylbastian.com.

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This article was originally published in the Homeschooling Today Magazine 2015 winter issue. Get more quality, relevant articles like these delivered to your door or to your inbox with your subscription to homeschooling today!

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