It is, unfortunately, a very real thing. As you probably already know, Mom Guilt stems from the nagging voice that says you’re not doing something you should be doing. Or you should be doing more. Or you’re not doing the right things. In fact, no matter what you do or how much you do, you may always feel bad that you didn’t do or juggle more.
I suspect this is a particularly big issue with homeschooling moms because our lifestyle choices inevitably come with sacrifices. If you work while homeschooling, you may feel bad for not being with your kids more or for not doing as many hands-on activities. Or maybe you quit working outside the home to homeschool, and you feel guilty about not contributing (or not contributing as much) to the household financially. Or, if you work from home and homeschool, you may feel guilty about your kids seeing you spend so much time on the computer or on the phone.
It’s ridiculous when you think about it because there’s no logical way to win.
No matter how we approach homeschooling, we’re all just doing the best we can. We definitely shouldn’t feel bad about doing our best, (but no one said Mom Guilt wasn’t ridiculous!). If you’ve never experienced these sorts of destructive thoughts, then for the love of all things good, please do not start worrying about them now. (That’s exactly the sort of thinking that will lead you towards the dark path to Mom Guilt.) Just enjoy the freedom you have and don’t question it.
However, if you, like me, do struggle with the dreaded Mom Guilt, then you know what a real and unique struggle the holidays can present. There are so many holiday to-dos and traditions that we long to make room for each year! But we also think we must also keep on top of homeschooling, take care of the house, do the Christmas shopping (and wrapping), maintain relationships, work (or work from home), and handle all the other numerous things we sign ourselves up for. Even if we hustle and get it all done, we often end up just being grumpy, tired mamas. Social media doesn’t help, with its gleaming portraits of everyone juggling all of this (seemingly) effortlessly.
And then there’s the question of what to do about homeschooling. Do we take off extra time for the holidays? The very question can, for some, trigger (unmerited) feelings of guilt and inadequacy. This year, I am fighting the Holiday Homeschool Mom Guilt with cold, hard logic. You see, I’ve been thinking about the whole season, and about homeschooling, and I’ve reached some conclusions.
- It IS okay to let go of traditional schooling during the holiday season.
- It is NOT okay to feel guilty about it.
I am about to hit you (and myself) with some freeing affirmations. Here are 5 reasons why you should drop the Mom Guilt over dropping schoolwork this holiday season.
5 Reasons to Drop the Mom Guilt About Dropping Schoolwork This Holiday Season
1. Our kids are always learning.
On Thanksgiving week, I told my daughter we were going to take the week “off” school. Later that day, she was doing a Cranberry Raft STEAM Engineering Challenge activity that involved building cranberry-and-toothpick structures while listening to a Magic Treehouse audiobook. At one point, she looked up at me and said, “I’m so glad we have the week off school.” I tried not to laugh because she was doing exactly the kinds of things we like to do “for school,” but the activities were her choice.
This is one thing I really love about homeschooling. Learning and life are just so tangled up together that it’d be hard to separate them even if you try. And that’s amazing! I’m a firm believer that a kid’s natural state is one of learning and that the nature of homeschooling cultivates that. Our kids are always playing, experimenting, and learning!
The point is, there’s no reason to stress about our kids’ brains melting just because they take a little time off from handwriting or worksheets. Kids are natural learners, especially when we make time to invite them to do life with us or engage in special traditions of the season.
2. Christmas is a special kind of unit study.
Have you ever thought about all of the cool things our kids learn during the Christmas/holiday season? Let’s think about it like a special unit study for a minute. This list won’t cover everything, but just a few of the things our kids can learn during the holiday season are:
- baking (math, home economics, and even social studies)
- cleaning (home economics)
- writing and mailing cards/letters to Santa or to friends and family (handwriting and life skills)
- learning about the meaning of Christmas (history/spiritual learning)
- pageants, plays, and Christmas caroling (drama/music)
- arts and crafts (art/STEAM)
- traditions of Christmas (history)
- shopping for gifts (budgeting/life skills)
- service projects/volunteering (“heart learning”/character building)
- and even Christmas science experiments (that results in Christmas ornaments)!
I could probably keep going here, but you get it, right? Pretty much everything we consider a “to-do” of Christmas can be extremely educational and meaningful if a bit of mindfulness is taken to involve our kids. I’m not saying you have to have a formal lesson on anything or even have kids document their experiences. From my own experiences, I’ve noticed that sometimes a mindset shift is all that is needed for real-life learning experiences. This simple shift can make more of an impact on everyone involved!
The Christmas season is not very long, but it’s packed with some very specific experiences. Many are educational – and meaningful – experiences that are worth sharing with our kids. We shared an article on our sister site, Hip Homeschool Moms, that goes into more detail about this topic. It shares 10 holiday activities you can include in your homeschool. So when the Mom Guilt tries to strike at you for taking off school during the holiday season, think about this. Remind yourself that you can always consider Christmas to be a very special unit study.
3. You probably aren’t actually getting behind at all!
Now for you pragmatists out there, let’s tackle that Mom Guilt with some cold, hard numbers. Most states require that kids attend school 180 days out of the year. Are you the kind of homeschooling mom who feels guilty for taking off extra time around the holidays? If so, I’m willing to bet that you are also the kind of homeschooling mom who involves your kids in educational experiences (if not strict “schooling”) during the summer months and maybe weekends, too.
Your kids probably don’t take off the same holidays that children in public school do, either. Given that, it’s very unlikely that taking a little extra time off for the holiday season is going to set your child(ren) back at all. It’s unlikely it will eat away too many of their school days. And, as I’ve already said, there is still lots of learning happening. It may be under the radar and not documented with a worksheet, but it’s happening!
If you’re new to homeschooling, think about this. Traditional public and private school classrooms also ease up a little bit and lean into more fun activities during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The kids’ brains are on the holidays anyway, so it’s okay to embrace that (yes, without feeling guilty). And when it comes down to brass tacks, some extra days off “on paper” in December will do no harm.
4. We’re teaching our kids how to feel about the holidays.
The fact is that our kids are always observing our actions and reactions. The way we respond to (potential) holiday stress can make a lifelong impact. So can our decision to relax and embrace the spirit of this time of year.
When my daughter is all grown up and celebrating the Christmas season with her own family, I want her to remember the quality time we spent together around Christmas. I want her to look back and recall how certain things were a priority around this time of year, and I’m more than okay with “school” not being one of them. I hope she associates Christmas with joy, hope, and a spirit of giving instead of stress. Operation Christmas Child (not traditional schoolwork) is what I hope she’ll remember as a priority during the holidays. The Nutcracker, her first Christmas ballet performance, is what I hope she remembers as a fun Christmas experience she shared with friends and family.
These seemingly small decisions of priority are the things that make powerful memories later. My own mom was really good about involving me with Christmas traditions when I was growing up. Especially since she’s not here anymore, I look back on her example of a joyful holiday spirit and am so thankful for that. When I stop and really think about it, I’m grateful that homeschooling gives us the flexibility to spend more time – and be more mindful – in making those sorts of memories this time of year!
5. Christmases with our kids are limited!
It’s sad but true; the Christmases of childhood are limited. You can always take some extra time for school during the summer or on weekends, but you can’t get a Christmas from your kids’ childhood years back. I’m not saying that you have to take off school to have a lovely or magical Christmas with your children. However, I am saying that if that’s what you need to do to be the best, most relaxed version of yourself or to prioritize holiday traditions that you’d otherwise not have time for, then it is worth it. No permission needed. No guilt required!
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Katie Gustafson has been a member of the world of “weird, unsocialized homeschoolers” for a long time–first as an alumnus and now as a homeschooling mom to a fiercely fun little girl! She’s very into anything creative, especially writing, dancing, and painting. She’s also particularly passionate about literature and owns more books than she will probably ever be able to read. However, she reassures herself with the belief that, in the event of a digital apocalypse, she’s cultivating a much-needed physical library for future generations. Katie is happy to contribute articles to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Moms and Sparketh. She also has a personal blog on writewhereuare.com.