Dear Burned Out Homeschool Mom,
Are you having a hard day today? Feeling exhausted? Frustrated? Ready to give up? Ready to ship your little sweeties off on the yellow bus so you can take a break? I understand! I’ve been there too.
I’ve been homeschooling for 22 years, and I’ve had many days when I thought I just couldn’t do it any more. I was ready to give up. To pack up my kiddos and send them off to school somewhere so I could regain my sanity. You too? Yep, I get it!
So what can you do about it if you’re in that situation? Dealing with burnout is a very real and serious issue. However, there are some effective coping strategies that can help you relieve some of the pressure and get into a better routine.
Put on a happy face.
One of the most important things I’ve learned over my homeschool years is that I set the tone in my house. If I wake up feeling grouchy, my children will probably be grouchy that day too! But if I decide to try my best to be happy (or at least pleasant), my children often behave much better. Of course we all have days now and then when we just feel crummy. That’s life. But if we try most of the time to be pleasant, our children will (hopefully!) learn from our good examples and will be more pleasant too. And even if you don’t feel happy, do your best to act happy! You may even end up tricking yourself into feeling better. 🙂
However, there’s something important you need to keep in mind. If you think you’re truly depressed, you need to see a doctor you trust!
Depression can be dangerous and often isn’t something you can get over on your own or pretend away. If you wake up consistently feeling down, please don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to seek medical help. Many of us have gone through depression. It’s so much better to admit it, seek help, and move toward feeling better! In fact, it’ll end up being better for you and your whole family. So don’t just “think about it.” If you’re depressed, get help. Now.
Take care of yourself.
I know. That’s easier said than done. But it’s also important. Necessary. For the good of your husband and your children, you must take care of yourself. I don’t mean that you have to eat only organic fruits and vegetables, work out five days a week, sleep late every Saturday, and never deal with stress.
Those things would be nice, but they aren’t what I’m talking about, and they’re probably not always possible right now, anyway. But there are things you can do to take care of yourself. You may not be able to do all of them, but maybe you can do one or two things for you that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Or maybe there’s something that’s not listed here that’s more important to you. Think about yourself and your own situation, and use these suggestions as starting points.
- Read a book for fun.
- Go for a walk with a friend–or even all by yourself.
- Call a friend to chat for a few minutes.
- Go on a date with your husband or have a girls’ night out with friends.
- Try not to eat too much junk food.
- Take a good vitamin supplement.
- Get out in the sunshine as often as possible.
- Turn on some music to enjoy while you do housework.
- Take a “power nap.”
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get to bed at a decent time.
- Diffuse essential oils or burn a candle to make the house smell good.
- Take a bubble bath, even if it’s early in the morning or late at night.
- Bake something for fun.
Don’t stress about your homeschool.
Think it’s easier said than done? Maybe, but -believe it or not- your homeschool does NOT have to be perfect. You do NOT have to be a perfect teacher. Your children do NOT have to be perfect students. Actually, ALL of these things can be perfectly IMperfect, and your kids will STILL turn out okay!
Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that public and private school teachers are just people? They’re just like you! There’s nothing magical or perfect about them, either! Give yourself a break and realize that the single most important thing you can do to be a good teacher is care about your students. (And I’m willing to bet that you do care about them quite a lot!)
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to have balance in your homeschool. Yes, your children do need to participate in outside activities like art or music lessons or church activities or sports if possible. But they don’t need to do these things every single day or every single evening. If you find yourself living in the car to get to all of those extracurricular activities to the point where you (and maybe your children too!) are tired and miserable, cut back on what you’re doing!
Or it could be that you’re in the opposite situation. Maybe you never get out of the house with your children. In that case, choose one or two activities to begin participating in. Start small. Maybe meet some friends at the park once a week or so to let the kids play and the moms visit. Maybe let your children begin a class or sport of some kind. Maybe your local library has a story time. Think about what might work for you and your children, talk with other moms in your local homeschool group or local area, and get out of the house once in a while for some fun!
Pray about it.
Personally, I’m the worst about worrying, feeling helpless, worrying some more, and then finally praying about it when I’m not sure how to handle a situation. I don’t know why I do it, but I often think of praying as a last resort instead of a first response. I have to remind myself sometimes that God cares about everything we go through–whether it’s related to our homeschools, finances, personal lives, or other areas. I guess sometimes I feel like I’m bothering God with my small problems when there are so many more important situations going on with so many people. But guess what? God cares about our homeschools! He cares when we feel burned out. So don’t wait to pray until you feel like things are out of control.
Ask for help from friends or family.
Sometimes we are reluctant to ask for help from friends and family members. We may feel like we don’t have people we can ask for help. If you do have family members close by, ask them for help! If you don’t have family close by or if your family members can’t or won’t help, ask a friend.
It’s so important to be part of a local homeschool group, church, play group, babysitting co-op, or some other kind of supportive group or organization if you possibly can because most of us at one time or another need help! You may be able to trade babysitting with another family or hire a teen who’s willing to work for a rate you can afford. Local churches or homeschool groups may even have volunteers who are willing to give you a break once in a while. It won’t hurt to ask!
Keep this in mind.
Most of us go through burnout at one time or another. It’s not fun. It’s not something we want to go through. But it is normal. And it is possible to get through it and keep on going with a happy life and a happy and productive homeschool! Going through burnout does not mean that you have to send your children to school somewhere in order to feel better again. It doesn’t mean you’ll always feel this way. It just means that you need to make a few changes in order to handle things until you feel better. It means you need to reach out for help. It means you need to give yourself some grace for a while.
Want more information about preventing or dealing with homeschool burnout?
Here are some additional articles that I think you’ll find helpful!
If you’ve gone through homeschool burnout, what have you done to get through it? We want to hear from you!