Burnout is defined as feeling depressed, exhausted, and exasperated, basically being worn out, even ready to give up. Burnout is a fairly common problem among homeschoolers at some point in their homeschool journey, so if you’re feeling a little bit this way, don’t despair! The daily grind, continuous lesson planning, teaching and dealing with attitudes and childhood issues can eventually start to wear on us. Think about it: we’re with our children almost 24/7/365 days of the year! We don’t tend to get a lot of breaks unless we’re intentional about it. We fill a lot of roles: wife, mom, teacher, nurse, cook, launderer, guidance counselor, taxi driver and more! That’s a lot for anyone to take on!
Has homeschooling become more of a chore than a joy? If you’re feeling burned out, the first thing I recommend is that you ask God to show you what needs to change in your situation to help you recover. He knows everything about you and is able to reveal the causes of your weariness. There are many causes of burnout, too many to cover in this blog post! So I’ll just cover the most common causes and give you some suggestions for what to do about them.
Possible causes of burnout and what do to about them:
1. Curriculum issues- If the curriculum you’re using isn’t working for your family or is taking too much time and energy, it can cause burnout. Michael Smith from HSLDA stated that they are seeing a trend; more moms are getting burned out with homeschooling. The connection they’re seeing is that it’s usually moms who have a highly structured curriculum or program. If this is your issue, take some time to reevaluate what your goals are for homeschooling your children. I’d encourage you to take a week off from homeschooling and look into some other curriculum that might be a better fit for your family.
Remember that we’re not a public school and we don’t need to teach like we are. Realize that children don’t need to sit and “do school” for long hours each day, they can be learning so much from their times of play. Take time to enjoy reading good literature to your children, explore opportunities to learn that aren’t textbook related: field trips, co-ops, real-life books, learning games and projects.
If your curriculum is causing you to feel burned out, I’d love to meet with you and help you find curriculum and a schedule that would work better for you and your children, just contact me via the “contact me” link on my home page if you want to meet with me about this.
2. Doing too much– this can be either in your homeschool schedule (trying to do it all) or it can be in another area of your life outside the home.
Are you the only one who does all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. in your home? Children can be enlisted to help with household chores at an early age, and it’s really great training for them to help.
We can also over-commit in serving others outside the home. We are NOT superwomen! And God doesn’t expect us to be either! Ask God to show you where you might need to cut back in your schedule. (your husband might also have some ideas on this one!).
3. Children with learning struggles-If you have a child who is not learning as easily as you hoped he or she would be, this can be very stressful and time consuming and can cause burnout.
There are resources out there to help you with a struggling child. Check out Dianne Craft’s website: www.diannecraft.com for some ideas on how to help your child learn better. There are also several good phonics and math programs that are good for struggling learners.
Invest in helping them overcome whatever is causing their struggle. Find a support group for parents of struggling learners so you can talk about it and learn from others.
4. Physical Issues: sickness or lack of sleep can cause you to feel burned out.
Hopefully this is short lived, but it’s important for you to take steps to help yourself feel better. Health problems really drain you and it’s important that you take care of yourself in this area. Sometimes we’re so busy taking care of everyone else, we neglect our own health.
Our first year of homeschooling I came down with Mono! I was so afraid I’d fail my kids because I was too sick to really teach them. Thankfully a fellow homeschooler suggested that I put the workbooks away and instead spend time reading good books to them. It was a great time of relaxed learning that taught me a lot about the value of reading out loud to our kids.
5. Not taking time for yourself– Think of yourself like a sponge full of water. If a sponge gets squeezed out till it’s dry, it isn’t much use anymore unless you soak it in water again. Similarly, you need to replenish yourself. As a full time teacher, mother and wife, you need to take time to meet your own needs too.
Ask your husband to help you by giving you time to do some things you enjoy without the kids. Or go out on a date with your hubby. Do you have a favorite hobby? Take some time to enjoy it. Or spend some time with friends. I found that getting exercise really helped me overcome the February blues that seemed to hit every year. I give you permission to take care of yourself (not that you really need my permission, but sometimes we just need someone to tell us it’s okay!)!
6. Not depending on God– As we get more confident in what we’re doing, we begin to forget that we need God’s help on a daily basis to homeschool our children and we try to do it in our own strength. This happened to me more than once over my years of homeschooling. John 15:5 says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We NEED God’s help! He doesn’t want us to do this on our own, He wants to help us. I’ve been writing daily devotions that I’d love to share with you to help you stay on track with depending on the Lord. Look for the link on my website: “Renewing Your Mind- Daily Devotions for the Busy Mom” – and sign up to receive these daily devotions.
7. Not enough support– We need support from our husband, family and friends to stay the course. If you need more support from your husband, talk to him about it. He can’t read your mind, but he’s likely to be willing to help you more if you let him know! Also there are great support groups for homeschoolers out there. Join MACHE or your state organization and find local support groups near you.
8. Lost sight of your goals– You may have gotten to the place where you’ve forgotten why you chose to homeschool. Have you ever written out some goals or reasons for homeschooling? Pull those out and review why you’re doing this anyway! If you’ve never done this, sit down with your spouse and talk about why you’re homeschooling and what you hope to accomplish and get a renewed sense of purpose.
There are definitely other reasons for burnout than those listed here, but I think these are some of the top ones. I want to encourage you, before you just give up on homeschooling all together, pray and seek God’s help to overcome these feelings of burnout. When He calls us to homeschool, He’ll also give us the strength and help we need to do it!