I’ve been there far too many times.
At my wits end.
Whiney, complaining children.
Everyone irritated with each other.
Wondering why we chose this crazy life of homeschooling.
Dreaming of a clean, quiet, organized home with children in school.
If you’ve homeschooled for more than a day, you know what I mean. With all of the joys, and blessings of educating our children from home, there is a reality that we all must come to terms with—homeschooling is hard work! No matter how ambitious your dreams of homeschooling are, burn-out is still looming on the horizon. Why? Because homeschooling is 24 hour parenting with no breaks. No matter how much we love and enjoy our children, they are still a lot of work. Life with children means the constant meeting of needs. Constant problem solving. It means giving and giving and giving some more. Sometimes with little rest, little acknowledgement, and of course, no pay! There’s no applause for the work we do.
Yet, the work we do is so invaluable. Caring for these souls that have been placed in our care is a gift. Loving these little people and shaping their minds is indeed a great work.
I want to share some tips that I’ve learned along the way to help you minimize and perhaps even avoid burnout. It will lead to a more enjoyable homeschooling experience for your entire family.
You need rest
Take breaks, get away from kids, do things that energize you. It’s not selfish. They need time away from you too. Plan daily, weekly and annually to spend time away from your children. No lesson planning. Energize yourself. Read a book. Take a nap. Relax. Recharge. Do something that gives you a break– something that you enjoy. Have some fun! We’re not talking about neglecting your family. Your children need you to recharge. This will enable you to be a better mom, wife, and teacher. You will appreciate your life and children more. Don’t wait until you’re at the end of your rope to take a break. Plan to take rest. Make it a part of your lifestyle.
Let rest and breaks become the normal rhythm of your homeschool.
Don’t wait until everyone is completely exhausted and at each other’s throat. If you find yourself bored with the same old thing, change it up for a day or a week. Be careful not to let curriculums and programs keep you from taking the breaks you need. We all need a periodic change of pace. It will refresh and recharge your homeschool. Remember you’re homeschooling long term. FORGET ABOUT GETTING BEHIND. One the major benefits of homeschooling is having the flexibility to do what is best for your family. This principle still applies if you’re children are in school. Parents have the authority to decide when a break is needed. It’s ok.
Don’t press yourself or your children beyond what is reasonable.
Sometimes we set unattainable goals in the name excellence. Here are some red flags for knowing that you’re setting unreasonable goals: 1. Your children are consistently breaking down in tears. They are frustrated and exasperated. 2. You are consistently frustrated and to the point of tears. 3. If you find yourself saying to yourself that you just need to work harder or your child needs to work harder when you know you’ve done your best, your expectations aren’t reasonable for you or your child. Seek out feedback from others that you trust. I’d love to be that trusted advisor for you.
Keep margin in your activity schedule.
Avoid scheduling too many activities outside of the home and/or scheduling too much school work within in a day. You can’t do everything—at the same time! Keep a long term perspective. You will have the opportunity to do many different things over the course of your homeschooling journey, but you can’t do it all in one year. It’s ok to say “no”, for now. So that your life has sanity.
Here’s an example of what I mean: My youngest son has wanted to play basketball for several years, however his oldest brother is involved in sports. My husband coached basketball, and the kids and I were involved in a rigorous homeschooling program. Therefore our financial resources and time were already spent. We just couldn’t add another activity to our plate, and we knew our son had many more years to participate in sports. Now that he is 12, and we’ve made other adjustments to our schedule, we’ve allowed him to play. The guideline that our family tries to follow when choosing to say yes to an activity is that the activity must be beneficial (in some way) to the entire family.
If you find yourself snapping at your kids for moving too slowly. If your children are whining constantly, and missing nap time, and going to bed too late, you may be over scheduling. Consider cutting some activity out, and adding more down time to your life. Keep in mind there are seasons for busyness, but even in those seasons, always schedule down time.
Focus on Basic Skills
When choosing curriculums and subjects, focus on basic skills. Do not allow other people to pressure you to do something that they feel passionate about. There is time over the course of your child’s academic career to study many subjects. You don’t have to do it all right now. They have a lifetime to learn.
Go to bed!
I know that seems obvious, but many parents find themselves up late every night trying to get it all done. Going to bed at a reasonable time, recharges your body for the next day. A tired, and sleepy parent will not be able to give her children her best. Even if the dishes need to wait until tomorrow, go to bed.
Don’t expect a spotless, beautiful home.
When your family is busy learning together, keeping everything spotless isn’t a priority. Of course, there needs to be some measure of orderliness. What each family requires is different. Work together. Do the best you can and know that this is a season. There will be days to come when the children are gone, and the house is much cleaner. I remind myself of this often. Moms (and Dads), it’s not about what you want or like, it’s about what’s best for your family. By the way, cleanliness is NOT next to godliness.
I hope these tips help provide some much needed sanity to your family’s homeschool.