Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homeschool Burnout

I have really enjoyed homeschooling my kids and I find great joy in teaching my kids. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. At times it’s not so fun for me or even the kids.

There are days, weeks, and even seasons that I have lost my zeal. I feel irritable, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like my kids are behind, and thinking that others can do a better job teaching my kids. 

This is homeschool burnout. Whether you are a new homeschooler or a veteran homeschooler it’s going to happen at some point and usually several times throughout your homeschool journey. 

If you feel like: 

You’re failing your kids academically.

Depressed and feel like it’s a hopeless cause.

Are you ready to chase the yellow school bus down the road and enroll them in school?

Are you feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling.

Comparing yourself to how much better other homeschool moms do teaching their kids.

Then you are probably experiencing homeschool burnout. Even after 10 years I get burnt out. This last year and a half I have really struggled a lot with it.
What do I do when I feel this way?
The first thing I do is to pray for directions, peace, my kids, and myself in our homeschool. You may say that, “I do pray daily”. That’s great but, sometimes I really pray and lay my burdens down to my heavenly father and tell Him that I feel helpless and overwhelmed. He is faithful! 

Take another look at your schedule. Are you trying to get too much done in one day? Is it realistic for each child? Both of my kids are different. If I scheduled Bug as much work as I do Little Man it would be a nightmare. Her work loads changes often. Depending on her health issues it can effect whether I can increase or decrease her school work or even certain subjects. I have to pay attention to her more so I can adapt it regularly for her needs.

Remember homeschooling isn’t all academics. Remind yourself why you are homeschooling. What are your homeschooling goals? We often forget that we can be flexible in our homeschool. Stop comparing your homeschool to someone else. Every homeschool is unique. Trying to model someone else’s homeschool is a train wreck.

Some days you just need to relax and do something fun. Go on a field trip, set up a play date, a craft, read a book snuggled up on the couch, sleep in, and maybe just take the day off to get refreshed. Take care of yourself and let the kids play for a day or two.

Are you overloaded with outside activities? Reevaluate and see if it’s something that is really necessary. Outside activities can be time zappers that take away from academics. I am not saying to stop them all. I know a homeschool mom that does swimming (in the spring), gymnastics, co-op, music, scouts, PE, and sports camps (in season) every week. Is it really necessary to do that many outside activities? No wonder she looks so stressed out and is always complaining about being behind in school. Even doing half of that is a lot. I don’t know how she does what she does. I use to be amazed by all she does-like she is a super homeschool mom. Now, I worry about her as her kids are getting older. Maybe the swimming lessons can be scheduled in the summer. Maybe she could not do PE during the sports camps. I know that her kids hate being as busy. They have mentioned it several times to my kids. They don’t get to do field trips and play dates because they are so overloaded. They barely take any days off. Maybe, it works for her family as I don’t see the day to day of her homeschool. I know it wouldn’t work for me.

Sit down with your kids and find out what they enjoy. When I schedule outside activities that my kids aren’t thrilled about it rubs off on me. There are things that I don’t give them a choice. 

Cutting back on the academics can also help. I find that I over schedule every year. I take on more than we can accomplish. If the day is not going well and we feel like we are rushing to get it all done. This is when I know it’s too much.

Maybe a certain curriculum choice isn’t working out as you’d originally planned. It’s okay to stop it or do just parts of it. Maybe you can borrow something from a friend?

Every child learns different. It could be the learning styles of your kids. My kids are totally on the opposite side of each other with their learning styles.

It hard when it’s something as precious as our kids when we are burnt out on schooling our kids. Remember you are wearing several hats as a teacher, mom, cook, and so on.

I have recently had a burn out and slowly getting over it. Yes, I said slowly. With moving, remodeling, and an emotional rollercoaster in the last year I have been going on fumes. 

This year I tried something different thinking that maybe we needed a complete change of pace. I changed the way I schedule our academic schedule to put more responsibility for my kids. Well I’m finding that it has created a lot more issues then it’s worth at this point. Both the kids and I found out that having something typed up every week caused a lot of stress. If we had other activities pop up unexpectedly. Which life happens and it seems to happen a lot with a child with disabilities. My kids just felt overwhelmed if something had to be carried over. Much to my surprise with them seeing it on their weekly list it drove them crazy and caused a lot of emotions. Even though we carried over some schoolwork with my previous scheduling I guess it just stands out more in my kids minds that they missed lessons. 

We have gone back to our old basic scheduling of me just preparing it the night before. I would put it in our workboxes. They don’t have to check anything off. If we have something that comes up unexpectedly I would just adjust it to fit our needs. We haven't been using our workboxes so I thought it was a good time to change things up. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Wow, it was that easy of a fix. As much as I wanted the new schedule to work I just have to accept that it just didn’t work for us. It bugged me as I have several friends who do this and they love it. I felt like I was doing something wrong. Then I reminded myself that every homeschool is unique and I don’t have to do it like XYZ. Maybe when my son gets older we can revisit it. Everyone is much happier now that I went back to my schedule that has worked for the last 10 years. My schedule was a basic yearly schedule that I planned out during our break. I had goals, subjects, projects, and books that I had planned out. I knew how many lessons needed to be done in a year and planned out how many needed to be done in the school year. I was well organized.

I did a lot of changes in our curriculum also this last year. For the most part everything has been a good fit. I needed to reduce my school budget. With a few exceptions on two subjects for Little Man. I have had to reevaluate what is truly not working or is it my son just trying to get out of it. Yes, he would rather be on some grand adventure playing. One subject was just not a good fit for him and he felt it was too easy for him and he didn’t like the stories he was reading. It brought many tears and he did a poor job with it. I found out that the curriculum bored him and it was too easy for him. 

The other subject he thought it was interesting and I noticed that it challenged him. I changed it to not letting it be an independent subject and I have been reading it with him and working with him on every question. That has been a big relief to him. The tears have vanished. Praise God it is getting better now that I have made adjustments.

I found that I was irritable because of the kids were stressed out on having a typed out schedule that they had to check off.  It made me and the kids feel overwhelmed. We just had to figure out what was causing it. It made me feel like I was failing to educate my kids properly. I just had to take a step back and pray. Then make adjustments. Even take a few days off and not just for appointments and remodeling. 

Not only does it happen to us as moms but, kids have homeschool burnout also. Sometimes we as moms feel great but, are kids are running on fumes. Give them a break to be a kid and take some time off to get refreshed.
Homeschool burn out happens to everyone. It’s normal and it’s even okay. Learn to recognize the symptoms before it gets really bad. I encourage you to type out why you homeschool and hang it up in your classroom so you can remember why homeschooling is important to you. 
I want my kids to have good memories of homeschooling and of me.

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