It happens to the best of homeschool families: homeschool burnout. It’s the point at which you simply do not want to look at another lesson plan or spelling list or sit down and work on multiplication facts. I’ve read many articles that discuss how to avoid homeschool burnout, but what happens if you can’t avoid it?
As homeschool parents, we’re often busy juggling multiple schedules, task lists, volunteering, taxiing children to and from activities, homemaking and sometimes even working at a job. Sometimes, you never see it coming, but you wake up one day with zero motivation or desire to do “school.” While each family’s situation is unique, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for if you should find yourself in “burnout” mode.
1. Let go of the guilt. In my previous blog post, “Homeschooling, You’re Doing It Wrong!,” I talked about letting go of the guilt in your homeschool. This advice applies here as well. You can’t be all things to all people at all times, and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to feel unmotivated for a bit. Remember, this is only temporary. It will pass. With a little time, you’ll be able to return to schooling, full of passion.
2. Take some time off. If your state laws don’t regulate otherwise, take a few days off. Maybe even take a week off if you need to. You’ll be able to get more accomplished after a short break than by trying to dredge through the days. Use the time to catch up on all of those “loose ends” you’ve been meaning to tie up, work on your favorite hobby, or just hang out with the kids.
3. Liven up your studies. If you can’t take time off from homeschooling, consider varying your routine a little. You can plan a field trip, watch a documentary or plan a day of educational games.
As with any other trade or craft, you need to hone your craft, keeping up with the latest news, techniques and tools.
4. Meet with other homeschooling moms or dads. Attend (or organize) a parents’ night out with your local homeschool support group. You can host an evening in your home or your local coffee shop. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. It might be a good idea to have an idea of some conversation starters, just to break the ice. By the end of the evening, you’ll likely find support and inspiration from other parents.
5. Attend a conference. Homeschooling conferences can be a great source of inspiration and support. Consider homeschooling your craft or profession. As with any other trade or craft, you need to hone your craft, keeping up with the latest news, techniques and tools. Many conferences for homeschoolers are family friendly with programming options for children. This can be a fantastic way for everyone to make friends and ignite the fire.
6. Take time for YOU. You are wearing many hats: parent, educator, spouse and female (or male) head of the household. Likely, most of your waking hours are dedicated to taking care of and doing for others. While you can’t completely ignore these responsibilities without consequences, it is important to routinely incorporate time for taking care of you. You’ll need to determine what works best for you and your family. Some homeschool parents set aside a little time every day while others prefer to arrange for child care for a full day once a month. Going grocery shopping without the children doesn’t count!
7. Reconsider your curriculum. If you’ve been on the edge of “burnout” for a while, you may want to reassess your current curriculum. Is it boring? Does it actually meet your children’s needs and fit your lifestyle? You might be able to spice things up by tweaking it yourself and supplementing with other resources, such as those you’ll find at LessonPathways. With the wide variety of options today, there is no need to be “stuck” with a curriculum you don’t like.
8. Reconsider your commitments. Take an honest look at your schedule. Too much “busy-ness” can lead to too much stress for you and your children. As the homeschooling movement grows, so does the number of opportunities for our children to participate in playgroups, co-ops and extracurricular activities. While we all want our children to have the best opportunities, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to take advantage of ALL opportunities. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Determine whether your current list of outside activities is truly enriching your homeschool or stressing it.
These are a few things I’ve done when I felt unmotivated. If you find yourself in this same situation, I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you’ve experienced homeschool burnout before, I’d love to hear how you overcame it. Please feel free to post your experiences in the comments section.
This post was written by Christina S., a homeschool mom, living in Michigan, with her husband, two children, dog, cat, guinea pig and turtle. You can read more about her by visiting the “Our People” page.