Monday, January 24, 2011

What Do I Do About Homeschool Burn Out?

The Blog Cruise has been MIA for a bit.  The cruise itself was on holiday break for awhile and then I missed the boat last week when I completely forgot it was back on schedule. And I probably should just skip writing something for this week and go read what everyone else has to say because the topic for this week is: How do you avoid burn-out? and I'm currently feeling rather burnt out myself!

 We're in our 15th year of homeschooling.  Burn out is a problem that seems to come and go in cycles. Some days, homeschooling is not fun.  It's not even enjoyable.  It's just plain work. 

Is that too honest?

At this moment, the kids are hyper and need to get outside but it's bitterly cold. The house is a cluttered mess and seems too overwhelming to even start the digging out process. My motivation level is at zero and my mood echoes the gloomy, cold, icky weather. Cabin fever/burn out has set in.
But wait, wasn't the question how to avoid burn out?  Then what am I doing telling you all about my current state of it?  How can that possibly be helpful?

Because I don't think there is any way to avoid temporary burn out.  Most commitments at some time or other become just that- a commitment.  We may not always feel like being married but we made a commitment to our spouse so we continue working on the relationship until we begin to feel it again.  We don't just throw up our hands and immediately give up. Sometimes we may not feel like being parents, but there they are, demanding to be feed and cared for everyday.  GRIN.

I'm not saying once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler.  I am saying that we shouldn't simply give up when we hit burn out.  It may be hard to avoid but it can be worked through, whether we feel like it or not (and believe me, I'm not feeling it myself at the moment). 

So what do you do to work through it?  Let's take the examples above once again.  If we're not feeling it in our marriage, we may try getting away together, spending time in activity we both enjoy, seeking counsel, taking time to do special things, etc.  If we need a bit of a parenting break, we may slip out to the nearest Starbucks with a book for an hour or so of regaining our sense of person or have a night out with the girls or declare a movie day and order pizza.  What we don't do is the same old thing we have been doing.  That only leads to more burn out.

So to apply it to your homeschool- If we're feeling burnt out and we just keep pushing through doing the same old same old every day, we'll probably continue on down the road until we're a stress mess (Uh oh, as I type this I am recognizing myself.  I hate it when I don't apply my own advice. Happens too often!).  Sometimes we need to just take a break and enjoy each other. Or scrub the house so we can think. Or spend some time in pursuit of individual interests.  But what if someone has been questioning your relaxed homeschool style and even though you don't want to admit it has affected you, it has, and so you're not ready to take a break? (Talking to myself again.  Blogging is like free therapy).  Or you need to document school days so you need to do something more than unschool? Maybe it's time to swap things up.  Read a great book aloud.  Scale down to just the basics.  Play educational games.  Assign a group project or individual projects that the kids will enjoy working on (be sure these are non-Mom intensive!). Try a unit study or lapbook on a fun topic (Chocoloate? Pizza? MRSA?).  Don't add these to what you are doing, pick one or more that you like and do that instead.  

Give yourself a break.  Give the kids a break.  Change it up a bit.  Read a few homeschooling books to get you going again.  Make time for your local support group.  And most importantly- realize it's a normal thing to go through and quit beating yourself up for being a bad homeschool mom. 

I've been doing this a lot lately.  Listening to too many criticisms and focusing on all of my failings.  But when I look objectively at my two graduates, I am happy with their education and see them prepared for life and the paths they are choosing for themselves.  Through many years and cycles of excitement, burnt out, excitement, burn out, my kids have turned out pretty well and I've managed to give them an education I'm happy with, no matter what others may think.  And if the Not-So-Superwoman can do it, so can you.  And if I can do it twice, I guess I can do it five more times. 



The Domestic Goddess said...

Excellent post Lori! I was talking to someone interested in homeschooling last night. I spoke at length about how great homeschooling is because it allows you to be flexible. Then I realized I'm rarely flexible in my own homeschooling. Your post reminds me that we have to give ourselves permission to take advantage of the flexibility we have in homeschooling.

Lori said...

Aaack! Typos! And my phone won't let me edit them. This is what I get for posting raw thoughts. :-p


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