Friday, April 9, 2010

Feeling Burnt Out? Been There, Done That, T-Shirt's Buried Somewhere In the Laundry Pile.

PhotobucketLast week was crazy busy and I never had the chance to answer the Blog Cruise question of the week.  I found this slightly ironic, as the question was what to do about burnout.  Back in my Bible college days, I often heard the phrase, "Better to burn out than rust out."  It was a phrase we disliked, as we realized that either way- you're out.  How is that a good thing?

Homeschool burnout is a real issue.  Frankly, burnout with anything we do is a real issue.  Sometimes I am just plain burnt out on life.  And last week I was unsure how I would respond to this question, as many days I'm feeling it myself.

Then I went to my Women's Bible Study this morning.  We're working through Beth Moore's updated Breaking Free study and in the DVD session, she spoke on the "captivity of activity".  As soon as she began, I became uncomfortable.  I know one of my issues with burn out is that I want to do everything and then I get to the point where I can do nothing.  What she shared was nothing new and yet somehow very difficult to apply.  I needed the reminder, perhaps you do as well.

We can't do it all.  In our culture, we are praised for doing it all.  We want to do it all.  We desire to be that Super Mom.  (Tell me it's not just me?).  I'm sure you've heard it before- we can do a few things well or several things not so well.  This applies in homeschooling as well.  When I began, I had grand visions of my children being "super star homeschoolers". You know, the kind who grace the magazine covers in matching outfits, speak three languages, and have colleges fighting for their presence.  Instead, I'm happy if all my children are wearing clothes and have showered recently, can remember how to say "My name is" in Spanish, and have full time jobs when they finish high school.  Have I given up?  Have I settled?  No, I have simply become more realistic in what's right for our family and where our priorities need to be.  We need realistic goals and we need to stay focused on what God wants for our specific family, right now.

We must rest.  This was a biggie for me.  I feel that I am naturally a lazy person.  Struggling with illness for awhile now, I frequently spend time sitting and feel that is resting.  But in reality, I may be resting my body but my mind rarely rests.  I always want to be doing, at least mentally, and rarely take time to just relax and rest in the Lord.  I don't take the time to become refreshed.  We go, go, go and do, do, do until we finally have had enough and we just want to quit in frustration.  We lose ourselves in exhaustion and we just don't want to do it anymore.  Everything seems too hard and we start believing we can't.

So what do we do about it, when we get to this point?

First, I believe we need to make time to rest.  Sometimes, our kids are just as burnt out with homeschooling and they need a rest as well.  Take a week or two and just decompress.  Read books aloud together.  Have a reading day where everyone reads silently.  Watch movies and drink hot cocoa.  Play at the park.  Build "fairy houses" in the backyard.  Make a fort in the living room.  Have fun with your kids and remember they are the reason you started this homeschooling thing in the first place.  For me, the relationship with my children outweighs any academics.  Rest and enjoy each others company. 

Then we need to really pray and discover what we need to be doing right now, with our family.  Not what our best friend thinks we should be doing or what that awesome homeschooler who does these great projects with her kids is doing or what our relative who is a public school teacher tells us we should be doing.  Is our curriculum working?  Is our philosophy working? Do we need to read a few encouraging books to help get us re-focused and renew our vision?  Do we need to let go of a few sports or programs or classes or whatever?  Am I expecting too much of myself?  Am I doing too much outside the home?  Do I need to add something outside the home?  Why am I doing this? What is my purpose and what needs to change to better meet that?  And again, do we just need an extended break?

After fourteen years of homeschooling, I can tell you that burn out is real and it will occur more than once.  But I can also tell you that the joy and excitement of homeschooling can return and you can do it.   You don't need to be Super Mom, you just need to be Mom.  Focus on the priorities and make time to rest.  God didn't rest the seventh day because he was tired, but because he knew we would be.  Frequently, burn out is merely exhaustion.  Rest and refresh.  That joy will return.

Check out more answers to these questions at the TOS Crew Blog Cruise Hub.  
Links will be posted each Tuesday!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

This is sooo true, you've captured how we've been feeling for a while, we're now re-charging our batteries before we decide where to go next, and yep...our t-shirt is most definatly on the laundry pile...if only I could find it!!!!



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