Did you know that it's National Homeschool Burnout Month? Ok. . .well, actually it isn't, but it might be feeling that way. All homeschooling moms struggle with it at some time and the gap between Christmas break and Spring break seems to be a popular time for burnout to strike.
It's my opinion that burnout hits this time of year because Christmas demands a lot of time and energy from you, Mom. Let's face it, much of that Christmas "magic" that takes place. . .think cookies, Christmas dinner, decorating the house and tree, shopping and wrapping gifts and CLEANING UP AFTER ALL OF THESE THINGS comes from you. This leaves your reserves of time and energy on low. When we bravely start school in January we think we can push through until that precious Spring Break in mid-March. It doesn't usually take me very long to realize that I've made a dreadful miscalculation as the tired, cranky, self-doubting, "I'm not good at homeschooling and am ruining my children" feelings begin to emanate from me.
Before you allow yourself to fall completely to the bottom of the pit of despair, let me offer you some encouragement. This burnout feeling is NORMAL. You are doing an extremely demanding job when you homeschool and it is quite normal to feel this way once in a while. But, it doesn't feel good to live this way. What can you do about it?
Here are some suggestions to combat burnout:
Chat with another homeschool mom: It's good to talk to someone who is also homeschooling. I have a couple of gals that I can when I need some encouragement and I always feel better at the end of our conversation. If you have never called another homeschool mom when you need some reassurance or encouragement I strongly urge you to work up the courage and do it. I'm pretty sure she'll treat you kindly because odds are she has been through whatever you're struggling with.
Take the day off (or two or three): Take a day or a few days to break the routine. Take your kids to a museum, the park for a nature walk, or just to Chuck E. Cheese to burn off some of that excess "been cooped up all winter" energy. If you're feeling burned out, guess what. . .your kids probably are too!
Plan a monthly "Teacher's Day": Use this day to catch up on all the homeschool tasks that have been pushed to the back burner. Check papers, figure grades, make lessons plans for the upcoming month or whatever you need to do so that you can feel like you have "handles" on your homeschool.
Spend some quality time with your husband: This guy is pretty great. He loves you and he loves the same kids you do. Get some time alone with him and ask for his perspective on how things are going. Share the things that you are feeling as well as seeing in your homeschool and ask him for suggestions on how to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. Try some of the things he suggests. He might be so flattered that he'll take you out for dinner. Win-Win, ladies.
Find a homeschool convention: Iowa has a pretty amazing one this coming June 11-13 in Des Moines at the Airport Holiday Inn. My husband and I have gone every year for 12 years and it is a non-negotiable for us. We both get encouraged and spend time talking about what we think is going well in our homeschool and what we think we could improve on. The speakers they get are amazing every year. You can learn more here.
This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few of my ideas to help you survive homeschool burnout. We all experience it. I've been homeschooling for 12 years and the only difference between now and my first year is that I have learned to recognize when burnout tries to creep in on me. Be encouraged, be strong, and don't forget that it's only 31 more days until Spring Break!