We’ve all been there. Some more often than others. We love our children; we want to homeschool; but you’re just done, feeling somewhat like a failure or just too tired to battle any further. Some of the common mistakes we make that take us to burnout are: OVERSCHEDULING, too rigid lesson plans, lack of support, comparing kids, setting goals or expectations too high, or someone within or near the family not adjusting to your homeschool schedule.
Overscheduling is very common place. In our area there are awesome opportunities for homeschoolers on every corner, homeschool groups, park days, homeschool days at museums, the zoo, the co-op classes, scouts, dance, karate, sports, etc. My kids laugh that we car school at times because we’re always on the go. Some families can handle that better than others. But if you’ve overcommitted your kids in one place you must remember to let up somewhere else. They can’t get math done if you’ve been out of the house every day this week. Now if all those events were worthwhile, then math can wait. If Math means more, then you’ll have to cut some of those good options.
Lesson Plans can be great but they can also be a great weight around your neck, pulling you under. I venture to say that within the first month everyone’s already off their perfectly designed lesson plan they labored over all summer. It’s been meticulously designed to include every possible element in every subject and works exactly to the day to work though in 180 days. But someone forgot to tell the in-laws, the neighbors, the church committees, the co-op teacher that gave extra homework, etc. Interferences are endless. Instead of looking at these inconveniences as detrimental to your homeschool look them in the eye for what they are: learning experiences. As a parent with a child that successfully navigated college it’s very clear that homeschoolers learn and see that there are distractions and interruptions in life. It’s part of the learning process to learn how to navigate them and keep on track. Being able to adjust is a key to an abundant life. Lesson plans may be better if they have general concepts to cover each month with more flexibility in how and when to get those goals accomplished.
Support issues come in many forms. Maybe you don’t have the support of an extended family members and it’s a frustration. Maybe the lack of support is closer and even a spouse that is always questioning you or requiring proof of success. Maybe your family is supportive but you feel like you’re out there all alone navigating the homeschool world. Homeschool support groups serve this purpose. There are others out there that have the same experiences, problems, relative, tried something you’ve always wondered about, successfully navigated that curriculum, learning disability or have a child with similar tendencies. Surrounding yourself and your children with other homeschoolers help your self confidence and can be very uplifting. It’s always beneficial to be around others that understand what you do day in and day out. Pulling away from other people and homeschooling in isolation is generally going to fester insecurity, loneliness and doubt. Guard your homeschool boundaries from those that figure you’re always available because you’re home or they don’t have anything pressing to do so they figure you don’t either or the exact opposite that they have REAL jobs and you don’t so can you… But do not isolate yourself either. Even most school teachers don’t teach EVERY subject, multiple grade levels. Homeschooling is a unique situation that takes a unique group of friends. We all need help and support at some time in our lives. Successful and/or seasoned homeschoolers can also feel satisfaction and belonging to continue in homeschool activities to help the newbies.
Other ways to avoid burnout are to set homeschool priorities. Write them down and post them somewhere you’ll see them, because 6 months from now when the burnout starts you’ll have forgotten those priorities. Looking back on those priorities help to keep things in check on regular basis. Remember that if schools had the perfect answers, set up, or curriculum then they would work for everyone. Don’t feel pressured to meet other’s standards. As a homeschooler you have 7 days a week, 365 days a year to get it in and then even next year you are not passing your child on to anyone else. You can cover what you didn’t get to and are well aware of the holes they have that will need additional work. Also the purpose of homeschooling is to teach your child to love to learn. If that goal is accomplished, it won’t matter if anything is missed because they will know how to go back and learn it for themselves.
So Burnout is natural. You are not a failure. You can do it. Take a few steps to analyze the cause. Take a few days to relax and de-stress then you can get back to it. It’s definitely worth the work and stress.
~Written by Sandra Coughlin