I don’t know about you, but by the beginning of May, you can stick me with a fork because I’m done. I’m tired. I’m worn out from all the curricular AND extracurricular activities. I’m barely hanging on, and the words you’ll hear most often from my mouth those days are, “just skip it!” My homeschooling mojo has left the building. My inspiration lies wet and soggy somewhere underneath a pile of once shiny-new ideas. I need a pick-me-up, and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with almond milk just won’t do. I’m experiencing homeschool burnout.
I’ve been through this before. Many times. Here are three things that have helped me avoid homeschool burnout (in order).
Stop Feeling Guilty
I know you feel it. You can’t deny it. We homeschool moms are the ones who begin each year with our polished new ideas and clean schedules and high hopes. When we get to May and are reminded of all the ways in which our ideas didn’t pan out, we feel awful. It’s to be expected. But guilt (or remorse or regret) just don’t serve us. Throw those feelings away and replace them with a mind open to learning why those ideas didn’t pan out. For me, it’s usually because of one of these three things:
- I lost my momentum and didn’t hold myself and my kids accountable
- I over scheduled. My eyes for curriculum and activities were bigger than my clock and calendar
- Some of the plan just wasn’t right for my kids
It’s all okay. We learn as we go. Isn’t that what we tell our children? We do, too. And it’s all good. It is!
Talk to Everyone
Talk to your spouse, your partner, or a trusted friend. Reach out to your homeschool evaluator. (I LOVE my job as a homeschool consultant and evaluator, because I am fortunate enough to be able to tell my families over and over again, “It’s okay. We all go through it” and that helps me. Talk to your kids. Talk to everyone!
Go over your plan for the past year with your kids and get their input. This is invaluable for making a new plan for the next year. Examine what did and didn’t work. Make two lists: One for what DID work well and one for what didn’t go as planned. Revamp the old and let this examination bring forth a new, improved plan.
Do Something New
Leave the books behind and find an adventure. Do something fun as a family. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are some fun family activities that don’t cost a cent. Maybe you only have a half a day to do something, it’s okay. Go outside and built a snow fort with your kids, take a long drive, hop on the city bus and ride it around. Think outside the box and create an adventure: the type of adventure that will bring memories for years to come. Sometimes that’s all you need for a reset.
Attend a Conference
I’ll be honest. In the first years of my homeschooling, I didn’t attend any conferences. I thought I had so many years of experience in the classroom, and so many inservice hours attending educational conferences, that I didn’t really need anything to help me get started. And that may have been true at the beginning. But once my girls got into the upper elementary years, I began attending every conference I could. I love to learn and gather ideas from any/every one and there is nothing better to reinsure you than to come away from a conference with fresh new ideas.
I consider conferences my new inservice hours. Online conferences, for me, are best, although I do enjoy the hustle and bustle of our giant local conference. Online conferences have more benefits for me though. I can review videos again and again (and I have, many times), and I can take notes at my own pace while listening. In fact, just yesterday, I watched videos from a conference I attended last fall about homeschooling high school. I can never learn enough, and I like to learn at my own pace, when I have a few quiet, uninterrupted moments.
Plans help! Don’t be a slave to your plan book, but keep an overall general idea about where you’d like to go, and where you’d like to be by each week, sememster, year, or whatever feels best to you. Sometimes having a rhythm is more helpful than a specific routine or plan, so use whatever method works best for you. Just don’t abandon your plans completely! Take a break if you need to, but shift your plans so that you can get back on track without feeling guilty. We’ve created a flexible homeschool planner that you can use to fit your lifestyle. You can download it for free here.
*Now that you’ve gotten some great tips about how to avoid homeschool burnout, be sure to visit Blessed Grove Homeschooling for tips on how to homeschool on a budget. Grab your free teacher resource journal while you’re there!