Need tips for avoiding burnout? This past fall many families jumped into homeschooling for the first time. Others made a renewed commitment. But spring has sprung, children are antsy, Mom is tired, frustration is building, interest is waning.
If this sounds like you — don’t worry; you are not alone! If possible, declare a week of spring break and use the time to refresh yourself, and renew your interest and commitment. If taking an entire week off is not possible, set aside a day, or simply find time in the day, to focus on your needs as a homeschool mom, and the needs of your children and family.
Here are 6 tips for avoiding burnout:
1. Remember why you decided to educate your children at home.
In the trenches, it is good to remember how you got there. Why did your family decide to homeschool? Make a list of the reasons; write them down. Keep them in a safe place to refer to again…and again. If you began by operating on convictions born from answered prayer, turning back is probably not the right choice!
2. Look for fruit.
Sometimes it is easy to let the negative overshadow the positives. Make a list of positive progress you see. Note what IS working. Look for the good. Focus on the positive.
3. Avoid comparisons.
Nothing can take the shine off of a thing quicker than comparing it to someone else’s thing. Have you found yourself comparing your family to other families and falling short? Stop. Focus on being the best you you can be.
4. Take off the cape.
You don’t have to be Superwoman. You don’t have to have it all together. You don’t have to jump through the hoops that your extended family, neighbors, community, homeschool group, or the world at large might ask you to. Pray for wisdom. Follow your heart. Your children need you to be you!
5. Remove unrealistic expectations.
Do you feel you need to be at a certain place because the scope or sequence says so? Is your pace too fast or too slow? Honor the individuality of each child. Gear your pace to your child’s ability. You and your child will find the right pace refreshing.
6. Address specific problems individually.
What specific things are creating difficulties? Make a list and address each one individually. Sometimes the biggest troublemakers are the easiest to change. For example:
- Schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Struggling under too much “stuff”? Do you have time each day to focus on relationships? Can you combine subjects or children? Consider a unit study. Drop the superfluous things that your children can learn on their own without a structured program of instruction. Scale back outside-the-home activities. Spend more time together with your children. Take a day off now and then to just enjoy!
- Attitudes. Character first has new meaning in a homeschool situation! Don’t allow bad attitudes, laziness, sloppiness, or dawdling to drive you crazy. Nip each issue in the bud. Everything can be done well, on time, and in neat order — even if it means accomplishing less, especially in the beginning as these new habits are developed. Sometimes it is worth it just to step back and focus on character issues before moving forward again.
- Methods. Perhaps your approach doesn’t fit one or more children. Perhaps a textbook-dictated schedule is overwhelming the family. Perhaps reading more books together as a family or working on projects would be more beneficial. You don’t have to make a sudden switch to something completely different. Instead, try simplifying your approach.
- Materials. Are you putting too much faith in the books you use? The materials we use are usually the first things we change when dissatisfied because they usually get the lion’s share of the blame, and they are tangible. But switching books will not necessarily bring the type of change we are looking for if we are already frustrated. Really, any materials can be used for the most part, if you use them instead of letting them use you. Instead of throwing the books out:
- Remember that you don’t have to do all of the busywork.
- You can read through texts and discuss them instead of having your child fill in blanks.
- Work every other problem in math if your child “gets it.”
- Simplify by incorporating more natural methods.
If you do decide that a particular curriculum isn’t meeting your needs, determine why before you sell and buy something else.
Those of us who educated our children all the way through could tell you stories — of failures, discouragement, disappointments, and times when we wanted to throw in the towel. But we grow — and our commitment only strengthens — through trials, large or small.
Those trips “up against the wall” serve to mold and change us and our families into what they need to be to effectively serve. And when we come through them, we know where our real strength lies.