Homeschooling in February (Or how to deal with Giant Despair)

February has to be the most difficult month to homeschool. We've been at it already for six-seven months but three more months remain of our school calendar. February is somewhat like middle age. We've trekked a good distance, but rather than seeing the progress, often it is easier to focus on all the things we haven't done. And the days are still cold and dark.

But sometimes our February blues go beyond normal feelings. How does a homeschool mom deal with extended times of depression? Homeschool moms can't exactly opt out for a month or two until the sun shines again or life returns to a happier place.

For our Girls' Book Club, my younger daughters and I have been discussing Pilgrim's Progress. In this week's selection, Christian and Hopeful strayed from the path and ended up at Doubting Castle in the clutches of Giant Despair. Christian almost succumbs to the Giant's command to do away with himself, but his friend Hopeful urges him to be patient:

But let us exercise a little more patience. Remember how thou playedst the man at Vanity Fair, and wast neither afraid of the chain nor cage, nor yet of bloody death: wherefore let us (at least to avoid the shame that it becomes not a Christian to be found in) bear up with patience as well as we can.

Shortly after this, his patience is rewarded as Christian remembers he has a key in his pocket, a key that will release them from the dungeon. What was his key? Promise! And he had it all along.

From my experience, here are some of the more helpful things for dealing with the blues.

1. Spend more time, not less, with the Lord.
(Even if you don't feel like it.) Dwell in the Word and get to know God's promises which never fail.

My old cross country skis make it easier to get outside
2. Go outside every day, no matter what the weather. (Even when you don't feel like it.) This goes for your children, too. Fresh air and exercise are great blues killers.

3. Keep busy. Find some fun projects. I like to sew with bright, beautiful fabrics in winter. There's something about cutting up and rearranging gorgeous bits of color that lifts my spirits.

4. Spend time with friends.  Take time to relax and laugh.

I was able to ski (and laugh!) with friends this week. So much fun!

4.  Take Hopeful's advice: Be patient. Trust God to do His work even through the darkness.

Blackberry seems to enjoy the snow

If you struggle in this way, take heart. Many other moms do, too. And a number have written helpful advice. Here are some.

Melissa wrote a two part series on the Bright Ideas Blog.
   Homeschooling with Depression, Part I: Survival Tips

   Homescholing with Depression, Part II: Finding God

Candace blogs at His Mercy Is New, and she has a series of five posts about
   Homeschooling With Depression

Marty at Marty's Musing has a post called "4 Practical Tips for Coping With Anxiety and the Blues."

And here's a post I wrote a couple of years ago about Melancholy, the Puritan term for what we call depression and another about helping your husband when he is the one dealing with Giant Despair.


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