The other day a fellow homeschooling mom confided in me. “I’m exhausted with homeschooling. Maybe even burnt out. I don’t feel like I even want to do it anymore.” As a homeschool mom of two, I immediately told her that I could sympathize with her. Homeschool mom burnout is real. And even though we certainly don’t mean to, we sometimes even bring it on ourselves. We just try so hard and want so much for our children that we often push ourselves, and sometimes our children, too hard. After our little chat, and my pep talk to her, I gave some thought to how I could help other parents who are in a similar situation. I also sought the advice of other parents in the Time4Learning-Families Facebook group and I’ve compiled our suggestions below.
Five practical tips for preventing homeschooling burnout:
- Allow your children to plan the day: Hand the reins over to your children and let them pick out what the day’s activities will be.
- Announce an impromptu holiday: Sleep in and then spend the day lounging and doing fun activities. Don’t even think about or discuss school studies.
- Take a field trip: Go to the park, a museum, zoo, or other location away from the classroom setting.
- Throw in a unit study: I find that taking a short break from our regular curriculum plan and focusing on a thematic homeschool unit study really breathes life back into our schedule.
- Relax your schedule: Don’t be so worried about adhering to your schedule. It’s okay to mix things up, so your daily routine doesn’t become monotonous.
In addition to these great suggestions from the community, here are some other ideas I’ve gleaned from the past decade of homeschooling that can reduce homeschool stress.
Three additional tips to manage homeschool burnout:
- Buck Your Own Homeschool System
- Don’t Try to Keep up With the Joneses
- Check Your Homeschool Superhero Complex
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Buck Your Own Homeschool System
Many homeschoolers put a system in place. I’ll use myself as an example. I woke the children up at a certain time, we ate breakfast, did chores and then started the school day. Math began first, then language arts, and this system ran until the day was through. But after a while, the system got old and stale. The children became bored with it, and quite honestly, I did too. This boredom led to whining and complaining. Soon, no one was happy or motivated. But I was afraid to buck the system. I put it in place for a reason, after all – so my children would have a format they could easily follow. I didn’t anticipate that this order would lead to disorder. I finally gave myself permission to change things up, throw a monkey wrench in the works and make things exciting. Now I let my children sleep in on occasion, turn off the computers and take a walk in the park, or give them time to socialize either in person or online. For example, Time4Learning provides Time4Friends. It’s a safe and secure social network site. So go ahead, buck the system.
Don’t Try To Keep Up With The Joneses
Just as grownups buy cars or other items they can’t afford because everyone else has them, some homeschooling parents try to keep up with other homeschoolers. Take it from me, this is a recipe for disaster. You may not bankrupt your bankroll but you will bankrupt your spirit, energy, and enthusiasm. Why? Because you’ll spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing instead of focusing on what you’re doing. I avoid this by incorporating what I like about another parent’s teaching style or curriculum choices into my own homeschooling endeavors. I don’t compare myself against them. I use their knowledge and experience to improve my abilities and, as a consequence, improve the educational experience my children are enjoying.
Check Your Superhero Complex
I don’t have an insignia on my chest, nor can I leap tall buildings in a single bound. (I can play a mean game of wiffle ball, though.) I tell homeschooling moms and dads all the time, “It’s okay to ask for help.” We are not superheroes. The superhero complex many homeschoolers take on only exhausts them and the burnout blues soon follow. So let me repeat myself: the best help for homeschooling moms is to ASK FOR ASSISTANCE. The first thing I’d do is ask my spouse or significant other. There’s a good chance they won’t offer because they will assume you have everything under control. So it’s up to you to initiate the request. If they can’t help, I would recommend joining a homeschooling cooperative. Many co-ops share teaching responsibilities. When I joined our local co-op, other homeschooling parents had no trouble lending a hand – as long as I reciprocated at a later date. You could also find more information on online forums. Time4Learning offers a Parent Forum that many homeschoolers count on for valuable advice. Best of luck, my fellow homeschool moms.