This time of year is really tricky for teachers, at least those of us who teach at home. Recently I’ve come across several women (fellow homeschooling moms) who are tired and weary. Some are ready to give up and stick their kids in the public school; others are just in need of some changes at home. Let me just say, “Been there; done that.”
I have experienced those feelings before: being weary of the same old routine (or lack thereof) and feeling like I’m cheating my children out of activities, friends, and academic success. All of these feelings would hit me at the same time every year—right after Christmas. Every fall I would start off with a bang, happily make it through the holidays, then hit the downhill slide every February. I would actually feel sad for my kids, as though I were depriving them of a better life.
One year, as I began to get that familiar feeling, I mentioned it to a friend (my very honest friend), and her simple words gave me a profound revelation: “It’s not the kids that are feeling this way; it’s just you.” Wow! Could that be true? Was it possible that my kids were perfectly content, but I was the one who was not content?
Yes! It was not only possible; it was very true! That year I found some ways to handle my winter “sinking spell,” and we got through the year more successfully. The problem was that the next year I began to feel the same way, at the same time.
Through much prayer and revelation from God, I began to see that this was not a result of homeschooling and had nothing to do with my children, but rather it had everything to do with the season of winter. I had the winter blues.
The great thing about revelation is that it frees you up to act differently and with purpose. Once I understood that this was just a season and it wouldn’t last forever, during that time I began to purposefully set up activities that would help me focus on “doing” instead of just “being.”
For instance, one winter I bought a huge jigsaw puzzle and set it up on a table in the living room. Every night when I would start to feel anxious, I would simply work on the puzzle.
I also realized that the hustle and bustle of the holidays led to a letdown when the slower pace of January set in. I began to feel isolated because we were not getting out as much as we had been during the fall months. I began to realize how the enemy was using this time to work on my mind and make me feel disconnected with others. So I chose to combat this too, by purposely making time for visiting with friends, going on extra trips with the kids, and just staying busy.
I also discovered that walking had an amazing effect on my feelings, so I would walk outside, every day, no matter what the weather looked like. Just stepping outside made a difference.
Another year I walked around the house taking mental inventory and then listed on paper all the things I could work on. When I was done, I had listed about twenty things that I needed to complete or change in my home. Some were small, such as rearranging the dishes in my dining room hutch, and some were bigger projects, such as catching up on my scrapbooks. Regardless, there were twenty things that I could do when I needed to refocus my thoughts (and change my mood).
This year I have even specifically identified some tasks as “winter projects,” just to give me something to look forward to. Even though I was tempted to start on some of these before Christmas, I listed them in my daily planner to be done during the month of February, and I have patiently been waiting for February to arrive.
Most importantly, we moms need to be careful to make sure that our minds are clear vessels, ready to be used by God and not the enemy, who is lurking around, seeking to devour. The more alert we are, the better we can fight off the feeling of despair that may be around the corner. We need to make good decisions about what we’re putting into our minds during this time. We could do some quality reading, learn a new skill, catch up on reading the homeschooling magazines we have stacked on the desk, or listen to Christian music or messages that will renew our minds—anything that will lighten our spirits and refresh our attitudes. Winter can become a time of renewal instead of a time when your energy is depleted emotionally for one reason or another.
We need to be careful to not make major decisions during this time, such as decisions that will dramatically affect our children’s futures. Many homeschooling moms give up during this time of year, for the simple reason that they are overwhelmed and mistake it as a schooling issue instead of a personal issue. Let the season pass and the sun shine again, and everything will look different.
Find ways to stay busy and keep your household going in a positive direction. You may not be the only person in your house who is struggling. One year I shared with my husband how I was feeling, and he surprised me by telling me that he gets the blues too. Why that shocked me, I don’t know, but I felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who was dealing with the winter blues. Find a friend who is willing to be honest with you, and make a point to get together. I have discovered that I have several friends who have experienced this same frustration after the holiday season. They need encouragement as much as I do.
Most importantly, seek God throughout this tough time. He has been my Rock (of course); I can always count on Him. The Bible is full of Scriptures about God wanting us to have sound minds, clear minds. Read His Word and let it be a healing balm to your weary soul. I have discovered that even during the times when I don’t want to read the Bible, if I will just pick it up and do it anyway, God will bless that time, and it will not be a wasted investment. There is life in His Word.
So, my friend, if this winter finds you weary and blue, take heart! The spring is coming! The sun will find its way back into your home and your life.
Change something; do something; visit someone; go somewhere. Live life like the blessing that it is.
Debbie Slaughter has homeschooled her two boys for thirteen years. When she is not teaching, cooking, or cleaning, she likes to spend her time organizing her home, blogging, and having coffee with friends. You can check out her weekly journals at HomeschoolBlogger.com/2boysmom or HeritageCreek.blogspot.com.
Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in Winter 2010-11 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free atwww.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps atwww.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.