This is the third post in my Back to “Home” School blog series. I’ve given some advice to new homeschooling mothers and helped you to get your materials organized for a great year. Today, I’m going to give you some tips to avoiding burn out.
Whether this is your first year or your 13th, no one is immune to homeschooling burn out. It can strike at any time, but for many, it hits right around February, when your smack in the middle of the winter doldrums and everyone is getting tired of the same routine.
How do you know you are experiencing homeschooling burn-out? Well, let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms:
- Are you feeling like maybe it’s time to just send your children to the local public school?
- Do you want to toss your school books out the window?
- Do you find yourself feeling irritable at everyone all day?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then you are probably experiencing burn out. We all question our decision to homeschool at some point in time, but if you step back and re-evaluate and realize that you did make the right decision, then it’s time to dig your way out of the quagmire of fatigue.
Get inspired with a good book.
Here are a few of my favorite go-to homeschooling books:
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home You really can’t go wrong with The Well Trained Mind – it’s probably my all time favorite homeschool read. I also adore Susan Wise Bauer’s Audio Lectures – and she even has one on avoiding burn out!
- Learning All The Time – really any of John Holt’s books are a great place to go in order to remind yourself of why you are on this journey in the first place. I first read this book when my oldest was about 7, and I’ve returned to it several times since. I would never consider myself an unschooler, but I love the idea that learning is always happening, and that children naturally want to learn.
- The Three R’s and You Can Teach Your Child Successfully: Grades 4-8 Ruth Beechick’s books were some of the first I read when I began homeschooling. She lays out a great foundation for the K-3 years in The Three R’s and then extends it with You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, which covers grades 4 – 8. There is a bit of Christian content in You Can Teach, but it’s easy to skip over.
- A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning
If the thought of reading Charlotte Mason’s original writings overwhelms you (they are massive!) then this is a beautifully written guide to how to give your children a Charlotte Mason style education. It was one of the first books I read about the Charlotte Mason philosophy. This book does come from a Christian perspective, so if that would bother you, definitely skip it. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a secular Charlotte Mason book. I should probably get on top of that. 😉
- Drive: 9 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Achieve I came across this book when I was looking for a way to inspire my oldest child to be more motivated about her education.
This book is full of great ideas and tips on how to help your children become motivated and inspired. I’ve read this book a couple of times over the years and I actually just added this to my To Read pile again, because it’s been about a year since I read it last and I feel like we all need a motivation boost.
Change up your academic routine.
Sometimes burn out happens because you have gotten your homeschooling into a rut. You could try changing things up with a unit study. Build Your Library has several to choose from. Unit studies can be a great way to combat burn out, because it gives you the opportunity to change up your studies for a brief period of time. Then, when you return back to your regular routine, it will feel fresh again.
Or why not have a read-a-thon where you spend a whole day or even week just reading lots of great books. Curl up with blankets, hot chocolate, finger food snacks, and piles of books.
If you live somewhere that get’s snow – do a bit of nature study focused on winter and snow!
- Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1)
- Animals in Winter (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1)
- The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder
- The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes
- Snowflake Bentley
If you’ve gotten behind in a particular subject – say science or art, spend a few weeks just focusing on that particular subject. My kids love it when I surprise them with an Art week or a Science week.
Get out of the house.
Go on a field trip, or even just get out of the house for a walk. A bit of exercise and fresh air, even when it’s cold and snowy, can really do wonders for your outlook on life. Especially if you’ve been cooped up for an extended period of time, you will all benefit from a fun field trip.
Take care of YOU!
Sometimes burn out has nothing to do with homeschooling. When you spend all of your time doing things for everyone else like planning lessons, cooking meals, or running the kids back and forth to activities, you can lose yourself a bit in the shuffle. Do something just for yourself. Get a haircut, spend some time alone and read a good book, take a relaxing bath, eat some chocolate – I’m convinced all problems can be solved with chocolate. 😉 Be sure you are taking care of yourself – drink enough water, eat well, get enough sleep, and try to fit in a little exercise (I say this as much to myself as I do to you). When you take care of yourself, you’ll have the energy to face everything else.
I know this sounds counter-productive – if you are burnt out, you’re too tired and overwhelmed to clean! But seriously, pick a spot that you will see regularly, and get it pristine and organized. This will become an oasis of sorts. Having at least one area of my home completely cleaned and organized makes me feel better and gives me the energy to tackle anything else that comes my way. Even if it’s just walking into the bathroom to gaze at the neatly folded towels in the linen closet.
Know that Burnout can strike anyone…
Even the most enthusiastic among us. So having some tricks up your sleeve can alleviate things before they get to the point when you are ready to throw in the towel completely. Sometimes, just knowing you aren’t in this alone can be enough to pull you out of the doldrums.
Related Article(s): Back to “Home” School Series (B2HS)
- B2HS: Advice to the New Homeschooling Mother
- B2HS: Getting Organized for the New School Year
- B2HS: Tips for Avoiding Homeschooling Burn Out
- B2HS: Build Your Own Timeline 101
- B2HS: Tips for a Great First Day