School-Life Balance

I did it again! I skipped a post. In my defence, we’ve just come out of a week-long school vacation, and we try to have as much time together during vacations as we can possibly get. That means that my blog took a backseat this last weekend of the vacation.

School vacations are always a balancing act. It’s wonderful to have my daughter home with me – she’s a lovely girl and I have a great time hanging out with her and doing things together with her that we both enjoy, like baking cookies, playing games, doing projects.

Of course, just because it’s vacation that doesn’t mean that the household will suddenly start doing itself. This naturally means that the necessary chores need to be done either in our “spare time” (read: when we should be sleeping), or that I will have to find some way of making my daughter complicit in my activities during the day. Happily, this works about half the time: she doesn’t mind joining me on grocery shopping trips, or helping me catalog books, or dust (she loves dusting; it’s a little odd, but you won’t hear me complaining!). For other things, such as sorting laundry, I have to catch her in the right mood.

But I digress.

I feel strongly that school vacation means taking a break from school – period. We do plenty of activities with her that allow her to pick up some knowledge, but I will not do any school curriculum work with her at home when she should be relaxing. I know some people feel that school is not so stressful at the age of seven and that a little work during vacations is fine, but right now while she’s still so young, I disagree. She’ll have to get on the treadmill soon enough as it is; I’d like her to enjoy being young and relatively unencumbered while she can.

What seems small to us is pretty impressive to a child, and school is to children what work is to us. It comes with both satisfaction and frustration, it takes energy and commitment, and – as is the case with work – the results sometimes exceed expectations, and sometimes they aren’t what they expect or would hope for. So when the vacation rolls around, my kid gets a break. That way, she can return to school rested and able to study and learn with fresh energy.

It’s Monday morning now, and my daughter is back at her desk in her classroom. Luckily, there are lots of little breaks coming up, what with Easter and Pentecost around the corner, so we’ll have plenty of chances to balance out the intensity of school with the relaxation that comes with the pressure being off for a few days.

I hope that my approach teaches her that work is work and play is play, and that it’s okay to draw some lines. Establishing a good balance between work and relaxation makes for a productive and happy life. I do hope she’ll end up being better at it than I am. I still haven’t quite found the off-switch when it comes to work but as my daughter learns that balance is important, she might teach me a thing or two.

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