Home Education

Overcoming Homeschool Burn Out … You Are Not Alone

I sat in my big green chair the other night, feeling like a failure.  In my right mind I knew I was tired, coming off a week of illness which had followed an amazing vacation away.  This was not the moment to measure my worth or my performance in any arena of life.  Still, I sat there, up later than I should be because my mind was buzzing with thoughts about the ways I hadn’t lived up to what I wanted as a home educating mom.

It’s funny how we create agendas for ourselves, set the bar at a certain height and then when we fail to meet our own self-imposed standards, we berate ourselves for not measuring up.  Why do we need these measurements?  I truly think it is fear that drives us into creating false expectations.  We fear letting go and trusting that our kids are going to be alright.  We worry that we aren’t doing enough.  We burden ourselves as though we hold the key to their success and our efforts and input are going to make all the difference in their long-term happiness.  Truthfully we can get ourselves so worked up that we are burnt out before our feet even hit the floor to start the day.

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As I sat there in my big green chair, I decided I ought to email all my inner craziness to a dear friend.  I told her she surely didn’t need to respond – after all I was just venting and I’d be better after a good night’s rest.  How little I realized I needed her response.  She lovingly answered.  {God is so good, you know?}  She took the time to jot down some wisdom about letting go and giving myself grace.  She reminded me how amazing my boys are in the ways that matter and how in her eyes I’ve had something to do with their love of learning and their sweet character.  I was so touched and encouraged.

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The next day I opened my inbox to see a blog post from another friend.  According to her, February is burnout month for home educators.  I am just a statistic after all.  That, believe it or not, was very comforting.  My little middle of the night musings about how I’ve failed my boys are not unique.  Maybe you’ve had these dark moments too.  We all go through times when we want to throw the towel in.

A few things saved me from my self-deprecating spiral

I didn’t keep my thoughts to myself. 
Call a friend, email, text, put a sign in your yard … do what it takes to let those who care about you know that you are tying a knot at the end of your rope and hanging on for dear life.  Don’t fret that they will think you are less than amazing.  Honestly, most of them will be relieved to know there is one more mom out there who flounders sometimes.  Share your burden and you cut it at least in half.

I was reminded that I wasn’t alone.
This is normal stuff – burnout.  It happens to the best of moms.  It’s par for the course, so it will pass.  You will rise up again and do things with your kids that make you say, “Homeschool, baby!” all over again.

I stepped back to get perspective.
Remember your mission.  Why do you home educate in the first place?  What have you always loved about the way you learn together as a family?  What have your kids loved in the past?  Take some time to remember what is most important to you.  Sometimes this even means taking a day or two off of any structured school work just so you can step back, breathe, plan, rearrange and come back refreshed.  So you just took three weeks off for the Christmas season.  You can still take a day or two this week and in the long haul it won’t matter one iota in terms of what you miss.  It may make a world of difference in what you gain.

I recommitted to what matters most.
What matters to me is my boys’ character and their relationships: with God, within our family and with others.  What matters beyond that is specific to each boy.  I remembered my priorities and I am still taking time looking over what I think we need to add, drop or rearrange to make the rest of this school year more of what I want it to be.  Home education, like flying, requires a constant adjustment to remain on course.  There is no such thing as autopilot.

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I took a breath.
Whatever you do, invest in recharging your battery.  You won’t ever miss the little time you take off, but you’ll make some memories you wish you could delete if you don’t care for your burnout by filling your own tank and regaining perspective.  This can mean doing something fun instead of the same old, same old.  It could mean scheduling a field trip.  Maybe it’s taking school out to the park or another setting.  Inviting another family to join you for learning one day can give you much needed time with another mom while giving your kids the connection they crave.  Sometimes we just have to allow the kids to pop movies in for part of the day while we step back and truly regroup by praying and planning.

If you are a statistic like me and February hit you with burnout, be encouraged.  You’ll make it through this.  Don’t throw in the towel just yet – at least not until you try on a few of the suggestions here.

I’d love to hear from you and pray for you.  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    h west
    February 4, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    oh, patricia. take 2 cool lime refreshers and call me in the morning.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    February 5, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    You are hilarious, Miss H. I'm all good. It was a momentary flash of insanity and thanks to dear friends and the grace of God we are back to goodness.

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