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One of the things that drains me the most is being rushed or not having enough time to complete whatever it is we’re doing. Knowing this about myself, I decided, several years ago, to schedule in time to take a breather and to catch up on our work. When I’m writing lesson plans, I schedule four full days of work, leaving the fifth day less full with plenty of time for review and catch-up. Whatever doesn’t get completed earlier in the week is completed on Friday. This doesn’t mean that we slack off and purposefully leave work until Friday. What it does mean is that I usually schedule too much work or I don’t have an accurate idea of how much time an assignment will take. Instead of getting frustrated or leaving assignments incomplete, we know that we can tie up loose ends on Friday.

If we don’t need Friday to complete work, we use it to do something different and fun. Often Fridays become a game day. We might spend the entire morning playing card games and board games. Some of our favorites include Boggle, Sequence, Muggins, Five Crowns, or Chess. These games are not only fun but also are a great way to review spelling, reading and math skills. There is something especially cozy in the winter when we’re gathered on the family room floor before a lit fire playing games.

Another fun Friday activity is to do an art project or music appreciation. I have a difficult time doing these on my own. I’ve found it helpful over the years to get together in a small group for these activities. Not only is it more fun but also having the commitment means it will happen!

A refreshing activity for our family is to have lots of time to read aloud. There’s nothing more life-giving than to transcend time and space while reading a wonderful book. We love the Fridays we spend reading.

Having time to catch up on chores or a house project is also refreshing to me. I appreciate having time to clean or straighten a trouble spot or to get to an overdue project. By keeping our Friday schedule more open, we have time as a family to learn new homemaking skills. One year we enjoyed a quilting class in our home on Friday afternoons. We also have worked on scrapbooking and baking projects. Throughout December we will use the time to work on gifts and Christmas baking.

By the way, be sure to leave lots of time in December to truly enjoy the holiday season. This means not doing some of your regular activities and schoolwork. Instead of adding Christmas on to an already full schedule, we have the wonderful opportunity to make the celebration of Christ’s birth the center of focus. Focusing on the Savior through Advent readings and special Christmas stories, crafts, and activities truly can revive our hearts and spirits.

Instead of being wiped out when Friday afternoon rolls around, I am usually refreshed from the change in routine and the Friday activity. Catch-up time is vital at our house.

Copyright 2002. Sharon Collard. Reprinted by CHEA of California with permission of the author.

This article was originally published in the Teaching@Home newsletter from Alameda County.