How I Overcame Homeschool Burnout

 

How I Overcame Homeschool Burnout

As you get older, you begin to see certain cycles that reappear in regular fashion over time.  One of those cycles occurs regularly in the months after the Winter Holidays and before Spring Break.

February marks what I only half jokingly refer to as National Homeschool Burnout Month.

Signs of Homeschool Burnout

Any of these signs familiar?:

  • irritability (well more than usual!)
  • feeling depressed and hopeless
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • considering putting your kids in school
  • feeling angry and resentful towards family members
  • lack of confidence
  • feeling like your kids are behind or not learning enough

We all feel these things from time to time for sure, but to feel these things intensely while lacking hope that tomorrow will be a better day moves these feelings from the ‘bad day’ category to the official homeschool burnout category.

No one is immune to homeschool burnout.  From the newbie homeschooler to the veteran homeschooler – we all get out of balance from time to time.  The only difference perhaps for me as one of those veteran homeschool moms is that I am better able to see burnout coming.  I am well familiar with the factors that cause me to burn out and when I begin to lose my joy, I know it’s time to step back and change the way I’ve been doing things.

Causes of Homeschool Burnout

Burnout is caused by any number of imbalances within your home and school.

  • having unrealistic expectations
  • becoming too busy with outside activities
  • being too isolated, without enough outside interaction
  • unresolved parenting/relationship issues
  • not taking care of you – mom

Overcoming Homeschool Burnout

In my 18 years of homeschooling, I have felt the signs of burnout more than I would like to admit.  The good news is that I am still homeschooling!  Not only that, but I am glad that I didn’t quit.  These are the most effective things that I have done to help me regain balance in my home and school and rediscover the joy of homeschooling.

Pray:  I no longer find it strange that the bathroom is my prayer closet.  If I don’t make time for prayer – prayer for me, for my kids, for my day, for my homeschool – I am building my foundation on thin air.  If God is your rock, then lean on Him, mama!  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.  Philippians 4:5-7 

Talk to another homeschool mom:  Knowing that you are not alone can be just the thing to lift the gloom of homeschool burnout.  We all experience burnout at one time or another.  Talking to someone who can relate to the ups and downs of homeschooling can help put your worries in perspective.  You didn’t think that homeschool park days were just for kids did you?

Revisit your schedule:  We’ve all heard it said that we are not to be ruled by our schedules.  The opposite is true as well.  If there is no known order to your days, life becomes chaotic and unmanageable.  Every year we create a basic homeschool scheduleWe stick to that schedule as closely as possible until we have a good feel for the rhythm of our days.  Usually, our days stick to this routine for some time before beginning to get loose and unravel.  If my days are not flowing, I know it is time to revisit our schedule and get back on track.

Cut back on academics:  I know some of you are opening your email servers to send me a note right now, but wait!  Taking a break from the regularly scheduled schoolwork to relax and enjoy each others’ company without the pressure of the academic load can be just the thing to remind you of why you like each other.  Read together, talk about what you have been learning, plan a field trip or a day at the beach. Letting go of expectations for a short time has breathed life into our homeschool on many occasions.

Consider learning styles:  I could write a book on this subject but suffice to say that there are curricula that you may find engaging and exciting that are the complete opposite of the way your child learns best.  Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit.  Try reading aloud from History or Science, taking time to discuss thoughts and observations.  Try some hands on projects.  Find a YouTube video (with parental guidance, please!) that explains certain subjects.  Find some field trip to bring subjects to life.  Consider switching curriculum or changing the way you use the one you have.  Learn more about learning styles in this post.

Plan some outside activities:  Cabin fever anyone?  Changing the focus in your home oftentimes brings out the best in us.  I’m not looking at the crumbs on the floor or how many lessons are left in the Math book.  The kids have room to roam and explore.  Charlotte Mason said that kids should have ‘something to think about, something to love and something to do’.  Getting out of the house has a way of accomplishing these things!

Restrict your outside activities:  On the other hand, if you are constantly out of the house and are finding it hard to catch up because you just aren’t home to homeschool, consider cutting some activities out.  What are your family goals?  Are the activities you are involved in leading your family in the right direction?  Cut the ones that aren’t.  If you can, organize car pools with other families to reduce your time out of the house. 

Spend some quality time with your husband:  Homeschool burnout often comes when we are putting too much of ourselves into the homeschool.  Husbands also tend to be more objective about the home life situation.  Listen to what he says and try out his suggestions – you may be surprised how simple changes can affect the whole family. 

Find time for yourself:  I hesitate to write this because of the ‘me-time’ trap that I struggled with as a young mom.  I just knew if I could get some (more) time alone, everything would be better.  The trouble was that the more me-time I had, the more I wanted.  Me-time does not fix unruly kids or a disorganized home or tense relationships.  Make sure your alone time is not an escape as much as it is an opportunity to fill mom up.  Have coffee with a friend or go for a walk out side or go read for an hour at the library.  Find what ever it is that refreshes you and find a way to schedule it into your week. 

Personal health:  There are seasons in life where a lack of sufficient sleep is just a part of the deal.  If that is the case with you right now, know that it will improve.  Enjoy the days with your little ones for they surely do pass by quickly!  If your kids are sleeping through the night, be sure you are getting to bed early enough so that you are getting enough sleep.  Drink water, choose living foods, find a good vitamin. These are all things that, when done regularly, make a world of difference.  Read this post on my top 10 tips for having more energy. 

This is not meant to be a legalistic checklist of what to do in your homeschool.  They are my observations of areas that we busy homeschool moms can get trapped.  Pray and ask God to help you figure out where the imbalance lies in your home.  Oh yes, liberal amounts of chocolate won’t hurt either!

What tips do you have for overcoming homeschool burnout?

Related Posts:

Dear Discouraged Mama

Understanding Learning Styles

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Can’t Get it All Done

Help!  My Child Won’t do His Schoolwork!

Pregnancy and Other Real Life Obstacles to Homeschooling

If you are experiencing homeschool burnout, you are not alone!  Click the image below to read how other homeschool moms have overcome homeschool burnout:

survivingthewinterblahs

Marianne Sunderland

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Comments

  1. I just found your site by googling “large family planner” and boy, did the Lord bring me right to what I needed!!!! I’ve read through a few posts and am finding much blessing! We homeschool (some kids), I am nearly completely burnt out, we have kids who learn differently, and we are a large family with 8 kids (3 thru foster-care adoption). Your words and ideas are just what I needed. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Good ideas! It is so important for homeschooling moms to take care of themselves. My whole blog is dedicated to encouraging burnt out homeschool moms, moms considering school, and former homeschooling moms. Please feel free to share.

  3. Amy Morehead says:

    Thank You for sharing your heart and the encouragement it was to me . I really needed to read this today 🙂 I love the quote you shared from Charlotte Mason. I don’t remember reading it or hearing it before. God Bless you in a very special way today. ~ Amy

  4. I can relate on so many levels, except sending my kids to public school. I have been homeschooling 9 years, and this years burnout has been the worst. You hit the nail on the head with considering learning styles. Over the course of the years I found the girls have changed their learning styles as they have matured. With that said, I have found myself trying to do it all for all 3 girls. It has been exhausting and fun at the same time. This year, it has become more than I can handle and I have planned to pull in some help for next year through curriculum changes. Burnout sucks.

  5. I’m a little embarrassed to write this, but I’ve been homeschooling for 13 years and just graduated my oldest and I am burnt toast! I still have 4 to go and it was refreshing to hear from another veteran homeschool mom (which are hard to find, by the way!) say that burnout is like an ebb and flow sometimes because that is exactly how I have found myself. Actually, for the last couple of years and I’m hoping to flow out of it soon! This is way longer than usual for me. Your suggestions are so right on, and I appreciate the reminder!

  6. I burnt out after a few years. Well, not sure if it was burnout or something more – I was extremely consumed with everything and then experienced extreme anxiety that I could not control. We put our kids into Christian school and I put myself into a season of “Sabbath rest”. It was the most beautiful and amazing time with the Lord I have ever experienced. The kids have been there 2 years now but I am once again considering the hs journey as my children don’t like school. I must admit though, that I am afraid, b/c of what happened to me 2 years ago. I never want to be in that place again. So my heart wants to hs, but my head is telling me that it is too hard. I am wrestling in my heart and it feels so difficult to know what to do. Thanks for your words about burnout. I pray that we can come to a good decision that leaves everyone healthy.

    • Marianne Sunderland says:

      Dealing with anxiety is one of God’s specialties! I have a daughter who has struggled with anxiety (still does some times) but she has learned to lean hard on the Lord like it sounds like you have and that has been a complete game changer!

  7. I home schooled my kids the last 6 years and put my 3 kids in public school in February. They absolutely love it. They are doing better academically and socially. I was burnt out! I still do some schoolwork with them in the evenings. The biggest blessing is that I really enjoy the time we get to spend together now. Our relationships have improved. It has been a win/win situation.

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