How to homeschool through the holidays (without going crazy)

homeschooling-holidaysWritten by Melissa Camara Wilkins

There’s a question that comes up for me every holiday season. It’s one of those important philosophical questions, right up there with, “What is the meaning of life?” and “Who moved my cheese?”

It’s this: How, when you are already a busy homeschooling parent, do you add in all kinds of holiday fun without going a little crazy in the process?

I can’t claim to steer completely clear of “a little bit crazy” territory, but I do have a few practices that help.

I really believe the secret to doing it all is that you don’t. You don’t even try. I’m pretty sure that’s how to keep things merry-and-not-miserable, too: you don’t do it all. You do less.

That’s how you and I can enjoy homeschooling and holidaying, both at the same time. We’re not going to do all the things. We’re not even going to pretend to do all the things. We’re going to do the things that are best for our own families, and we’re going to let go of the rest.


I want my kids to have plenty of room to soak up the holidays. They need time to bake, space to decorate, and a chance to secretly make each other gifts without being found out. I want them to have time to ask questions, and room to explore answers. I want there to be candle light and carols and cocoa.

To make any of that happen, I’m going to have to let go of a bunch of other things.

Do Less to Enjoy More

Here’s what I’m letting go of to make more room for what matters most to us over the holidays:


When there are library books piled on Christmas books piled on math books, we aren’t going to enjoy any of it. Before anything new and holiday-ish comes in, we have to return all the library books, and weed out anything we don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. (Again. It’s an ongoing process.)

Toys that always end up underfoot

I know that having tiny scraps from paper-snowflake-making mingled with tiny Legos on the floor will make my head explode. My head exploding is not how we want to celebrate, so anything with a million little parts, or anything that tends to get left out at the end of the day, gets shelved out of sight over the holidays as a sanity-preservation method.



Sort of! We don’t quit learning activities altogether over the holidays, but we do hold our routines very loosely. That gives us more time for holiday projects, and taking a break from our usual structure also gives us perspective on what’s been working and what hasn’t. That way, by the time January rolls around, we’re ready to reset our routines.

Weekly outings

We find more time in our days by crossing out all of our usual-but-not-critical activities for a few weeks. Trips to the library, play groups, coffee dates: if they can wait until January, we let them wait until January.

Christmas cookies for lunch

I’m also letting go of the idea that we should always be willing to skip our usual habits in favor of whimsy over the holidays. “Someone invited us over for late-night caroling? For the third night in a row? Sure!” Except no.

We need to mostly stick to the routines that help us get enough sleep, and fresh air, and meals that are not made entirely of marshmallow fudge. Our bodies need that if we’re going to enjoy anything holiday-ish at all.


What We’re Making Room FOR

When I start to freak out a little because things don’t look usual, when I start to worry that maybe we’re not doing enough, I remind myself of everything my kids ARE learning.

They’re learning about the importance of rest.

They’re learning about the built-in rhythm of the seasons.

They’re learning how to prioritize, when the long list of holiday things they want to do doesn’t match up with the limitations of time and space and energy.

They’re learning how to improvise when holiday ideas don’t go according to plan.

They’re learning about making space for what matters.

They’re learning about leaving room for quiet in the midst of holiday busyness.

They’re learning about wonder and joy, and about anticipating both.

They’re learning about whether we go through this season feeling frantic and overwhelmed, or if we find ways to make room for peace and awe. They’re learning whether the holidays are a time to endure, or a time to enjoy.

(Cait and Kara graciously invited me onto a recent episode of the Homeschool Sisters Podcast for even more discussion of homeschooling through the holidays. Check it out if you need ideas for bringing more peace to your season!)

Now I want to know—what are YOU letting go of this holiday season?

About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins is a homeschooling mom of six in Southern California. She writes about being who you were made to be and letting go of the rest.


  1. We’re completely letting go of our homeschool schedule until next month, as we’re on break. While I love all things Christmas, we really do try to keep it low-key by doing simple things like baking, watching Christmas movies, making gingerbread houses, etc. This weekend we have 3 Christmas parties ina row, so that’s probably as hectic as we’re going to get. I’m all about simplicity. I have to be with the number of kids I have!
    Shelly’s latest post: Is It Time to Abolish Truancy Laws for Good?

  2. I love this and couldn’t agree more! There is no room in our energy reserves, our homes or our minds when we try to cram more and more in; letting go clears away so we can enjoy the things we CHOOSE to do even more!
    Heather @wellermommablog’s latest post: Overwhelmed: How to Do Less and Be More Happy

  3. This is so beautiful! <3 I kind of want to come to your house 😉

  4. I love your flexibility during the Christmas season. All homeschool moms deal with the hustle and bustle in a different way, but we all realize that you just can’t do-it-all 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Lisa Ehrman’s latest post: Save-A-Lot Grocery Gift Card Giveaway

  5. Samia Gayle says:

    Thanks for you beautiful post as usual. I decided to make a few videos so that my kindergarteners can listen to me while I am busy shopping etc. I posted one on YouTube and will eventually post the others. I have provided a link so you guys can browse if you’d like.

Share Your Thoughts


CommentLuv badge

Travel the world all summer with our
FREE summer book club, starting soon!

anabolic pharma