It happens every year, right around February. The thrill of the shiny new school year has worn off, the daily grind has started grinding on your nerves – maybe the cold weather is keeping you inside and your family is suffering from a bout of cabin fever. Winter burnout hits all of us, homeschool newbies and veterans alike. Maybe you feel like it’s time to throw in the towel, send the kids to school and be done with the whole thing. But take a moment first and get some perspective!
There are many reasons we end up burned out, but I think the chief reason is the simplest – boredom. It’s halfway through the year and if you follow a routine, you’re maybe getting bored. Change things up a little bit and you will all feel better for it. Now I don’t mean drop everything and buy all new curriculum. But if things are feeling a bit stale, maybe take a week or two and do a unit study, or focus on an interest – art or space or whatever strikes you and your children’s fancy. Taking some time off from your routine and when you come back to it again, everything will feel fresh again.
All those kits and projects and fun books you bought at the beginning of the year (or 5 years ago!) but never got around to? Pull them out right now and declare Fun School! Your kids will think it’s Christmas.
If you live in a snowy climate, spend a few days on nature study – there are lots of great winter themed nature books:
Here are a few other hints and tips to beat the winter blues:
Spring cleaning! Yes, I know it’s not spring, but sometimes sprucing things up around the house can make you feel so much better. And just the thought of spring can energize things. Not to mention, it’s easier to think in a clean, clutter-free house.
Get out of the house – this is hard if you live in a cold climate, but if it’s not below freezing, getting outside for some fresh air and exercise can make all the difference. And mom – you too! Don’t neglect yourself here. It’s easy to send the children out and think you’re getting some quiet time, but you need that fresh air and sunshine just as much as they do! So go out and play with them. Just think of all the calories you’re burning. 😉
And on that note – bake a treat. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE baking. Unfortunately, I also love eating all those delicious treats. So I have to make it a special occasion thing. But hey, winter burnout counts as a special occasion, right? So bake that recipe you’ve been drooling over on Pinterest and then go run around outside with your children for a while. And what kid doesn’t love to bake? Let them help and call it life-skills.
Grow something – especially if you live in a cold climate, bringing some green into your home can work wonders. Start planning your spring garden and plant your seedlings. Just seeing that green can make the whole world seem brighter.
Don’t forget to take care of you! It’s easy for us homeschool moms to get lost in the day-to-day mothering/schooling/homemaking 24/7, but we are people too, and we need to take a little time for ourselves. Burnout doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with homeschooling. We may not have the means or the time to take a week long spa vacation, but we can go out for coffee and then spend a quiet hour at the bookstore or library, or get a pedicure and a hair cut – whatever helps you relax. Even if it’s just for one hour once a week, that hour can make all the difference in your perspective. So don’t neglect yourself!
The winter blues don’t have to ruin your homeschool year – take a moment to focus on what everyone needs right now – whether it’s a clean space, more time outdoors or a week off from the routine – and then recharge your family’s batteries.
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.