by Kyndra Steinmann

Ever since we returned from the HEAV Convention, we’ve been slacking off around here! Partly because the weather has been lovely and we’ve all wanted more time outside, partly because we’ve had a lot of activities, but mostly because I was tired of school and wanted some time to think through the last year and the upcoming year and figure out what changes needed to be made.


Mostly it’s been good, and so I’m pretty happy with the decision to take some time off. BUT there are some things that taking time off has revealed–or maybe aggravated until I couldn’t ignore them anymore–and those things have me wondering if taking breaks of more than a couple of days are really worth the effort.


First of all, there seems to be a LOT more quarreling when we have too many days off. I expect a certain amount of disagreement from four opinionated children between the ages of seven and two, but the kind of quarreling we get when we take a long break has more to do with selfishness than with people having different opinions about what they should do. We have quarreling over toys, over who is being pesty and who isn’t, and a general unwillingness to give way to one another. The time I was going to use to evaluate last year and write up this year quickly evaporates as the children request constant intervention in their spats.


Secondly–and this is mostly my fault–as part of taking a break, I let regular chores slide and just call on the children as I need them. That works fine for a bit, but over time, they resent the interruption in their playtime, I get tired of the fight and suddenly they aren’t pitching in at all and the house shows it! With so many people with sensory issues in the house, a messy house causes a higher level of stress, which manifests in tears, whining, and the quarreling mentioned above. We have to cut back on fun outings because the extra stimulation becomes too much to handle. Since part of the reason to take time off was to have outings, I’m again left wondering if it was worth it?


Thirdly, with so much time on their hands, the children come up with an amazing quantity of boredom-driven mischief: taking the screens out of the windows to jump in and out, flooding the yard with the sprinkler, making paint footprints in the basement to “make it pretty”…you get the idea! Nothing intentionally naughty, but not what they would be doing with their free time under normal circumstances.


Finally, I get grumpy. I plan a nice break for us and it doesn’t turn out the way I imagined, so I’m annoyed and disappointed and that comes out in shortness and snappiness with my children and husband, which is never a good thing.


So what to do? We do need some times of rest and refreshment, but it seems that a month of “time off” is too long. Now, I not only haven’t accomplished what I wanted to, but I also have some retraining to do before we start our new school year. I need to sit down with the children, talk about what has gone wrong and how we will work together to fix it, and also confess the ways that I have sinned against them. Then I need to have concrete plans for starting fresh, doing the retraining necessary, and prepping us for a successful 2014-2015 school year with many short breaks instead of one long one!


Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


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  1. Lynna says:

    Kyndra, this is so true. There really is no “time off” in parenting. We can get refreshment by changing the routine, but we’re still on-duty. I remember reading an author who described various situations (like, for example, on vacation) where we somehow expect that our children will become “self-parenting”. This was a “light bulb” moment for me – realizing that the frustrations I experienced during our break times were probably more a factor of my expectations than their behavior.

    However, the other thing I realized is that sometimes breaks give us an opportunity to observe and work on character issues that were present all along, but somewhat masked by “busy”. It’s such a tricky balance – how to stretch your kids to be more self-monitoring … without putting them in a place of temptation beyond what they can reasonably be expected to handle.

    Good post, well stated. Thanks, Kyndra.