We are currently embarking on our first spring break. The whole week! Are we heading to Florida? Mexico?
No. I kinda wish, but no. We’re taking a break because – burn out.
I felt myself slipping into this burn out phase a few weeks ago. Everything annoyed me. I was crabby and snippy with the kids and especially my husband because “you don’t get how tough this is!” The thought of getting up and trudging through another boring day of lessons was getting harder and harder as the weeks wore on.
The Reason Behind It All
Alicia of the past would have pulled herself up by the bootstraps, pulled everyone along with me, and made school/home/family life work if it killed me.
But I know now that pushing through isn’t always the answer. (Sometimes it can be, but not for this. Not right now.) Towards the middle of last week, the reason for my unmotivated, annoyed demeanor hit me.
I was totally burned out.
It had been a really busy few weeks with birthdays, appointments, outings, husband working out of town, and a cold snap after a hint of spring in Minnesota sending us all back indoors to stare at the same four walls we’d been staring at for months.
Burn out is a real thing.
As homeschool parents, we give and give and give. And when we’re depleted of rest, proper nutrition, and personal fulfillment – like time to recuperate or enjoy something for ourselves – we give some more. We pour out from the bottom of the barrel. When there’s nothing left to give out, instead of serving our family with contentment, joy, and fulfillment, we’re edgy, angry, and unmotivated.
I realized that I hadn’t exercised in two weeks, I’d been staying up till midnight most nights and getting up late, and wasn’t taking any time in the evenings to take a bath, read, or plan for the next day. I was doing nothing to replenish at all.
The Remedy: A Break
There’s a time to push on, and there’s a time to pull back, and everything in me told me it was time to pull back right now.
Every July/August when I’m planning an outline for my school year, I create a framework for the year, marking off days I want to take off from school, and the days I want to start and finish. Looking over my calendar, I realized that there was a week marked off for spring break. We never take a spring break. Ironically, the week marked off was the one we were about to go into.
I balked at first, thinking that taking a week-long break would set us back. But it really wouldn’t. It was already planned out. And I knew it was best for us to take a breather.
A Well-Planned Spring Break
I know it would seem like taking a week of doing absolutely nothing for a week would be really tempting, but I knew that wouldn’t help me get rejuvenated and refreshed. We always do better with a little structure in our house, so I put a plan in place before our spring break week arrived.
I made an easy list of all the things I wanted to accomplish. (I say “easy” because I knew I didn’t want to get stressed out about the week that was supposed to be my saving grace.)
Each day had a purpose of solving little things around here that were currently driving me nuts. I took these tasks and split them into categories and paired each day of the week with a category.
Monday: Organizing Day – tackle two closets, one cabinet, and one bookshelf that needed some organizing. (In all, this took me about two hours, and it made me feel SO much better about the state of my house.)
Tuesday: School Planning Day – plan out the last two weeks of school, sketch out a spring routine, tidy the bookshelves, gather supplies for some fun projects, get those projects on the calendar, and gather some resources and books from homeschool moms that inspire me since I’m not attending a homeschool conference this year.
Wednesday: Kitchen Day – take the afternoon to prepare and cook a bunch of freezer meals to get ready for the busy weeks ahead with spring baseball beginning. (Dinnertime is the bane of my existence so much of the time and having dinner in the freezer always makes me feel so much better about it!)
Thursday: Desk Day – take a couple of hours at my desk to organize it, add some flowers or a plant and a candle, balance the checkbook, organize some computer files, and write a couple of notes I’ve been meaning to write.
Friday: Fun Day! Celebrate our week of productivity and rest with a trip to the zoo, a new lunch spot, or an afternoon with friends.
What About the Kids?
I know what you’re probably thinking. What are the kids doing while you’re getting all this stuff done?
Well, they’re getting refreshed too. First, I was honest with my kids. I’ve found this is the best way to get them to see where I’m coming from as their mama. I told them that I was struggling with motivation and there were some things around the house that were really getting to me. They understood and agreed to be diligent about entertaining themselves, organizing a few things of their own, and pulling out some play things they’d forgotten about.
Before our spring break started, I made a big list for them full of ideas like:
- Give your bikes a spring tune-up: air the tires, dust off the dirt from winter, check the brakes
- Pull out any Tinker Crates you haven’t finished
- Go through the Nerf Gun stash and toss any that don’t work anymore
- Chose extra chores around the house to earn money, like cleaning the inside of the car windows (another thing that drives me batty), vacuuming under the couch cushions, sweeping off the deck, etc.
- Do a puzzle
- Practice pitching or play catch
This is just a sampling of their list, so they have been quite busy. I also gave them a little more sleep-in time, but not much. We’re not treating this week as a vacation, but more like a time to get our acts together while taking a breather from the everyday grind.
Do You Need a Break, Too?
If you feel angry and unmotivated right now, you might just need a break, too. You might need some time to breathe some life into yourself. Find what gives you energy and do that thing. Try:
- Reading good fictional books that have nothing to do with homeschooling, parenting, or self-improvement
- Organizing closets
- Running or walking on the trail
- Chatting with a friend
- Taking long baths before bed
- Getting a haircut or painting your nails
- Buying a new pair of jeans
These are all ways we can refill our cups because, ultimately, we need something to pour out. And nobody can pour from an empty cup.
I’m already feeling better, and we’re only 1 1/2 days into our spring break.
I’m so glad I listened to myself this time.
Are you taking a spring break this year? What are your plans?