We went on vacation to my grandparents' lake house, and I diligently planned my own vacation for this trip. It made such a difference! Jeremy gets to fish, cook, and take the kids fishing. Usually, I just go with the flow and do the laundry. You know what I mean? I usually keep doing the same mothering just in a different place.
This time, I didn't. I decided to make this vacation my own, too. I packed my yoga mat and downloaded a bunch of yoga videos. I packed all the books. And I packed my little music box loaded down with classical education podcasts. I told the kids I would be ignoring them all week. (I didn't really.)
You know how we're all excited to start the school year in August? That's how I felt by the end of the week. I was ready and inspired and excited to start teaching again.
I'm ready to go in August, but then about 6 weeks later I'm ready to, well, quit. Our co-op is already trying to schedule in plenty of break weeks, and now I'm going to take advantage of those. Some of the weeks we'll obviously need for catching up (please don't tell me I'm the only one who can get behind in three weeks time). But about every 6 weeks, I'm going to plan on a re-inspiration week. Of course, we can't go on vacation every time, and Jeremy can't take the week off to help take care of the kids. But I can still plan an inspiring week at home for myself.
I thought I'd share my resources for a week (weekend, day) of inspiration, just in case anyone else is feeling a slight decrease in your inspiration for your homeschool.
For Your Soul, Mind, and Body
So you probably already know what you want to do. Think of this break as a chance to really feed your soul, and your mind, and your body. What does your soul need? To create. Some of us are cooks, some artists, some musicians, some learners, and to feed our souls best, we need to cater to that part of ourselves that gives us energy in a good, true, and beautiful way. For me, on this trip it was making connections between all the random books and podcasts I was reading and listening to. For others, it may be painting either a picture or a room, writing a poem, cooking a fabulous meal, knitting a scarf, or playing lovely music. Plan to create something beautiful.
To inspire your mind, you'll want books that are both challenging and easy. Not so challenging that you are exhausted by the end of the week, but challenging in an inspiring sort of way. And don't be afraid to choose books that aren't related to home schooling or home making. I read The Once and Future King, The Silence of St. Thomas, and Canterbury Tales on my vacation and the former two actually made me think about biology. So pick the book you've wanted to read, or haven't finished yet, and read it.
Teaching From Rest (of course!)
Smooth Easy Days (free e-book)
From Homer to Harry Potter (for literature inspiration)
The Quotidian Mysteries (great for a short break)
Arithmetic for Parents (for math inspiration)
Another way to inspire your mind is to listen to podcasts. It took some practice, but I can now listen to the podcasts while I'm doing something else. (Usually walking, but sometimes cleaning.) There have been several podcasts that have blown me away and were just the pep talk I needed to keep going.
Circe Institute (Especially Ask Andrew, A Perpetual Feast, and The Mason Jar)
I highly suggest you also take some time to get in some extra activity, like exercise. It gives your body a nice break from sitting and doing school work during the day. And takes care of inspiring your body to be strong! I love yoga and walking/running. Yoga with Adrienne is a series of free yoga videos on YouTube that I thoroughly enjoy. While I'm walking/running, I like listening to podcasts. Makes it doubly productive. I also really love playing soccer, so I could just play outside with the kids when Jeremy's not around to watch them while I go.
I'd try to stay away from the internet, you want this to be a time for feeding your soul, and Facebook doesn't really do that. So if you are going to listen to podcasts, pick them out and download them beforehand. If you have a Roku, you can watch the YouTube videos on your TV.
For the Kids
We don't want to abandon our children to the TV for the full break, although if you only get a day off, it wouldn't kill them to watch a couple movies if that's what you need. Mostly though, especially if you get a week off, you'll want to provide them with plenty of fun things. Plan on going to the library the first day, or the day before so they have all new books to keep them reading for a while. Let them play outside as much as they want, but if you need to be out there with them, set up a chair for you to sit and read or listen to podcasts.
Give them audio books. Choose one that all of them will love. Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Little House, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, Secret Garden, Black Beauty, Peter Pan, Stuart Little, and Tale of Despereaux have all been popular here.
For the readers, pick out a book for them to read that isn't school related. Try to pick one that is slightly under their reading level, but captivating. Let them bring home lots of picture books from the library, but try to limit the books that you have to read to them. (Not that reading aloud to them is a bad thing, but that's not what this week is for.) Schedule a reading/quiet time every afternoon for naps so that you have some extra time to do what you want (or nap yourself).
For the littles, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a box of toys that you only bring out for the break weeks. (Just make sure to put their regular toys away for the break so that they don't destroy the house.) Or just let them do their own thing. Don't be insulted when they come to you with their problems (how dare you need a diaper change!), but solve their problem and then let them go back to playing.
I would plan on at least some TV time, either fun family movie nights (Little Prince, Pirate's Passage, Nanny McPhee, Boxcar Children, The Water Horse) or just some shows for the kids to watch (Sarah and Duck, Heidi, Lily's Driftwood Bay, Puffin Rock, Fantasia). All of those suggestions are on Netflix. (Annie, Adventures of Micky Matson, The Perfect Game are a couple of my suggestions on Amazon.)
And if you want to give them some educational shows, try the BBC Farm documentaries on YouTube. The kids love them. (Tales from the Green Valley, Tudor Monastery Farm, War Farm, Victorian Farm, etc.) There's also Cosmic Kids Yoga and Grimm Fairy Tales on YouTube.
For The Housework
In order to have a proper break week, we have to do some prepping. On the other hand, this is a break time from school work, so you should have a few hours everyday that will be free for your reading and breaking pleasure even if you have to spend some time on house work everyday.
Plan on spending 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening cleaning up the house together. If you have a large family, make sure to do a load of laundry everyday, at least. You don't want to get to the end of the break and have to spend all of your inspiration on cleaning up the house.
If your husband is not into the whole cooking thing, then plan for easy meals. Double up on your cooking beforehand, and freeze half the meal. Pick out some easy recipes, or if all you have is a weekend, buy frozen pizzas and whatnot. Make sure to buy paper products (plates, cups, etc.) for easier clean up too. It's better if the food is nourishing, but try not to let it stress you out.
And on the other hand, you may be like my husband and really enjoy cooking. It's a strange concept for the rest of us. But if that is you, plan on cooking to your heart's desire.
This break is meant to feed your soul, mind, and body, remember? So do what you love. Although, I will limit that feeding to good things for you. Nourish, inspire, and excite your soul, mind, and body to keep on doing the next good thing. Cook, exercise, read, listen, create! What's your thing?