Do you find that you are suffering from homeschool burnout? At the beginning of the school year I am always wide eyed and bushy tailed and overfilled with excitement at what the new year ahead could bring. New teaching materials abound, a freshly updated learning area in our home, a sense of peace and tranquility that just seems to ooze effortlessly out of my home. Then, by the end of the school year that excitement can fizzle and I end up grasping for anything some days as it seems and I reminisce to my high school days when I looked forward to the weekend and no school.
Even though my family has been actively homeschooling since our son was 3 years old, we have hit only minor bumps in our journey of frustration and the feeling of wanting to throw in the towel. I think when push comes to shove and the stress of life events compounds on a grueling school load that it can become overwhelming, or at least it did this year for me. Between our son’s health challenges and the tests and counseling that have not stopped, my husband’s new business that has him working from home again, moving our home, my business growing faster than I can keep up with it, over committing to outside activities, and my chronic health problems going at lighting speed downhill it is all enough to just be plain exhausted.
When homeschool burnout happens there are really only two things logically can be done. You can either choose to walk away completely or work through them. For me I have a high goals set in our homeschool. When I do not reach them or get anywhere close, then I tend to go down the road of questioning whether we are doing enough? What if I were using a different curriculum? Am I really doing this right? It’s that constant battle of trying to prove to myself that I can indeed see this homeschooling journey through to the end that weighs on me.
Then the comparing can happen where we see our friends or perhaps someone else online doing “more” than we are. In reality the comparison game will never help mend what is broken and ultimately what works for one family in their homeschooling journey will more than likely not work for my family on our journey.
So, then how did I pull myself out of this mess? I know I am stressed out which can cause my kids to feel some of the stress as well, even though I really try for it not to. We are around one another all day long so it is inevitable that when one of us is in a bad mood or down that it affects the rest of us in the household. So I took a breather. For the first time ever since 2011 I took a break from my business. I seriously must have been in crazy town to have not taken a break before now, but as I am sure many of you can relate to running your own business, you have to wear multiple hats. What I found was that it really wasn’t homeschool burnout, which after talking with homeschooling friends often ends up being the case… that something else in life is weighing down on the homeschooling parent rather than homeschooling itself. For me it was just plain life burnout. I needed to head into my walk-in closet of life and rearranging my hats of responsibility and importance. Just like you need to spring clean your home, I think that it is a good habit to spring clean your priorities every now and then as well.
I have learned to accept my limitations and to look for the warning signs of exhaustion. I LOVE homeschooling my children. I am passionate about it. That passion was just temporarily overshadowed by a crazy year in my family’s lives. Luckily the burnout for me only lasted 3 weeks and that was all I needed to put my duckies in a row and get back on track with everything.
The lesson I learned this time is that homeschooling is very flexible, which is great, but the person creating the lessons and overall schedule has to be flexible as well and I well….ahm…I like my schedules and routines and flexibility in general in my life is something that I will openly say is not a strength I possess. So I stepped back, looked at everything with a clear, well rested mind, and made a few minor tweaks to things in our lessons. Doing this not only in our school, but also in other aspects of my life was all I needed. I can’t do it all and I am okay with that.
Homeschool burnout happens to everyone on their homeschooling journey. Some people may face it more often than others and some may just be far wiser than I and are able to see the signs and put a top to the exhaustion before it takes over your day to day life. The key is how you deal with the burnout moving forward, just like many challenging situations you have and will encounter in life.
The lesson that I know I knew well in advance of this burnout but I was just way too tired to see was: Put yourself first sometimes too homeschool mamas because without you at your best all of the other homeschooling dominoes tend to quickly go tumbling down before you know it.