Mental Health Days for Homeschoolers
My friend Jeanne has a post, The Field Trip Not Taken, to which I could definitely relate:
Sometimes, in homeschooling, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I tend to be a go-er and a do-er, and contrary to the vision of homeschooling that is so pervasive but so mistaken, homeschoolers aren’t necessarilyhome all that much.
Fall is usually a hectic time for us, but for some reason, this year it seems even more so. Part of that is just the regular adjustment we have after spending the summers in Ocean City. Our summers tend to be very unscheduled...the past couple of years the boys have not even wanted to do any summer camps. By the time fall rolls around, we are all ready to get back into a "schedule." But for some reason this year it has seemed almost too scheduled.
I usually try to schedule at a least a day or so during the week when we do not have any activities planned, but that did not work as well this fall. Mostly due to really good opportunities. Kyle took a four week Marine Biology class through the Smithsonian Educational Resource Center. While it was an incredible class, it was also an hour away and ate up a good portion of our Mondays. Add onto that gymnastics and park day on Tuesdays, Ancestral Knowledge (a fantastic naturalist class where Kyle spends the day from 10am - 3 pm in the woods at Lake Accotink) on Wednesdays, various activities with our local homeschool group on Thursdays and our new secular homeschool co-op on Fridays (where Jason is taking a Civics class and Kyle is taking Zoology). Needless to say, our weeks have been packed.
We also have been traveling a lot lately...my cousin's wedding in New Jersey, a Virginia Tech football game (for Kyle and me) and a trip to New York City, complete with a pizza tour (for Jeff and Jason), camping at the Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground and just this weekend a trip back to Ocean City for a friend's 16th birthday. And the traveling is not over yet...in about 4 weeks we will be heading to SPLASH at MIT, then the boys will visit their grandparents in Virginia Beach over Thanksgiving and then it will be time for our annual trip with friends to Great Wolf Lodge.
I'm tired just thinking about it.
It is all good and it is all fun and it is all made up of fantastic opportunities. But I need to remind myself that it is also ok to take a mental health day now and then. That it is ok to say no to something fun or something that would be a great opportunity. That quiet days at home are needed to balance out the more busy days away.
So lately I have been choosing to forgo that great hike with our homeschool friends and have chosen to take it easy when all three of us came down with a cold earlier this month. And when Kyle seemed on the fence about signing up for the four week extension of his Ancestral Knowledge class, I made an executive decision that he was not going to do it (thus regaining our Wednesdays). He hasn't complained about missing it, which I am taking as a sign that he is looking forward to the down time as much as I am.
in talking with my friends, it seems as if I am not the only one in this boat. Despite all our good intentions, it can be very difficult to avoid becoming over-scheduled. And probably explains why we chuckle anytime a non-homeschool friend asks us "the socialization question." The truth is that socialization is the least of our worries and we struggle with how to pack in everything that we want to do in a day, just like our friends whose kids are in school. Only we have all day in which to schedule our activities...I have no idea how we would do it if we had to squeeze it all in during "after school" hours and while having to deal with hours of homework on top of everything else.
Sometimes it is good to step back and remind myself that part of the reason we are homeschooling is to minimize our participation in the rat race aspect of schooling (heck, of life)...that need to go, go, go. Homeschooling does not make us immune to the worry that our kids are "missing out" if we pass up an opportunity that does not fit our schedule. But I have to remind myself that it is ok to say, as Jeanne did, "Enough is enough. We’ve been too busy."
Because there will always be another opportunity. And sometimes a quiet day at home will be full of its own opportunities that should not be missed.