As a homeschooling family, there are often no defined boundary lines between home, daily life, school, and your personal life as a parent. Essentially, homeschooled children are always in the mix.
This is one of the joys and amazing benefits of home education – the opportunity to create a lifestyle that includes the entire family learning, living, and growing together. And while there is much to admire about this blend of learning and life, there are also challenges when the lines between kids, homelife, and education are so blurred. Finding balance in this homeschool lifestyle can easily lead to feelings of overwhelm.
In this post I cover some ways to keep your sanity and avoid homeschool burnout while trying to juggle everything.
Catalysts for homeschool burnout
When children are in a brick-and-mortar school and not in the home for a large portion of the day, it’s a bit easier to navigate disruptions to your routine like waiting for the cable technician or having a new appliance installed. When kids are home all day, these everyday occurrences can wreak havoc on your homeschool routine.
Similarly, real-life events like the birth of a new baby, an illness or death in the family, or truly any event that changes the status quo – even for a short time – can lead to stress in your homeschool. If you can maintain a flexible attitude and understand that these disruptions exist just for a season, it will help you keep your sanity. Just remember: this too shall pass.
If you’re looking for ways to balance everything and do everything, you won’t find that answer here. It’s next to impossible to be able to do it all, especially if you’re a homeschooling family. Know that virtually every family on this journey has dealt with doubt, fear, and the inclination that maybe they’re not cut out for this. The truth of the matter is that life happens and despite the events that unfold in our lives, if we feel as though homeschooling is the right choice, let it be the right choice.
If you’re feeling stressed, that does not mean that you should rethink your decision to homeschool your children. It will serve you well to acknowledge that homeschooling is not always going to flow and life will get in the way. The beauty of homeschooling is that once things settle down, your kids can jump right back in where they left off. They don’t have to feel as though they’re behind because they’re on their own individual educational path and their own individual pace.
Flexibility is Key to Avoiding Homeschool Burnout
It’s common to get caught up in checking off all the boxes and working through curriculum checklists. Often, the stress that comes with sticking to the schedule can be a source of homeschool burnout not just for mom, but for the kids too. Consider the reasons you decided to homeschool your children. Rushing through the curriculum for the sake of getting it done benefits no one. You need to work your curriculum; don’t let your curriculum work you.
Remain flexible in knowing that you don’t have to get everything done on a strict timeline, especially when your children are young. Internalizing this point is the key to maintaining your sanity and avoiding homeschool burnout.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back to assess how far you’ve come. Putting the curriculum aside for a while is ok. As the homeschooling parent, you are the facilitator of your child’s learning and can make the executive decision to pull back and just ‘be’ for a while. Spend time out in nature, visit the library or your favorite museums, and watch documentaries together.
Further, if you are homeschooling you are likely doing so in part because you value having your child involved real life experiences. Why not reframe all the “disruptions” to your homeschool routine as valuable life experiences? If your child skips math for a day but learns about real estate transactions while you refinance your mortgage, that is valuable learning. If you skip history for a while because a new baby has come into the family, don’t stress. Your child is learning about the cycle of life and the needs of young babies as you welcome your newest addition.
The ability to re-define these “interruptions” as valuable life lessons can greatly reduce stress and make it easier for you to avoid burnout.
Change is OK and Can Be a Good Thing
When in doubt, change it out.
One of the biggest pieces of advice most homeschoolers get is to try to avoid spending a lot of money on curriculum. This is especially important when first starting out. You really don’t know what will resonate with both you and your child. Hold off until you are able to get a clear sense of your child’s learning style. Discover your preferred teaching method and your combined educational goals first. The fastest way to tension and weariness around homeschool is through a curriculum that just doesn’t work. If you or your child are struggling with the teaching materials and not able to find the joy in learning, it may be time for a change. After all, education should be engaging and enjoyable!
Consider alternate curriculum options or piece together one on your own, if at all. It could be time to reconsider not just your curriculum, but your educational philosophy as well. If you are a traditional homeschooling family, it could be that unschooling is a better choice. It goes back to flexibility, of course, and knowing when it’s time to take a step back. Changing up even just one small thing in your homeschool could have a profound effect on you and your child’s willingness to continue on this journey.
Outsource Some Life and Homeschool Duties
Many times, the responsibilities of homeschooling, figuring out dinner, grocery shopping, and keeping the home running smoothly fall on one parent. If this is the case in your situation, it may be time to delegate. For some families, this might mean bringing in a housekeeper. Other families may choose to order groceries online and have them delivered or buy into a meal subscription service.
There are ways to outsource education as well, to avoid homeschool burnout. There are myriad options that take some of the homeschooling responsibilities off of a parent. Look into homeschool co-ops in your area and see if you can drop your child off for classes one or more days per week.
Or explore the plethora of online teaching resources that exist, such as Outschool, Mystery Science, Time 4 Learning, or Khan Academy. Incorporating these types of lessons into your homeschool is a great way to keep your sanity while homeschooling your children. It doesn’t have to be a permanent solution either; you can utilize online resources for a season of life and then opt to do other things if and when that works best for you and your child.
Practice Self-Care in a Way That Works for You
Often we hear wellness advocates suggest self-care as a means for making it through the daily stresses of life and as a way to rejuvenate from the emotional labor that goes into running a household. You’ve likely heard that simply taking a shower or bubble bath are not adequate methods of self-care, but as busy homeschooling moms, we know that we need to take what we can get where we can.
Time alone in nature or a simple walk around the block alone can do wonders for combatting the daily stresses of life. Or consider implementing a “quiet time” period several afternoons a week where your children have to read or play silently in their rooms while you have a chance to do other things.
As a homeschooling mom, you are around your children all day. Find those cherished pockets of time for yourself. Even if it’s just preparing dinner by yourself while listening to your favorite podcast, whatever works for you, works for you, despite how the internet defines self-care.
But truly, the best way to avoid homeschool burnout is to let go of some of your expectations. Eliminate any preconceived notions you may have of what homeschooling is and how it should look. Allowing yourself this simple grace is a gift that can radically shift things for the better. Remember that it often takes a few years to settle into a good homeschool routine. It will take time to develop a true sense of what your homeschool is all about. There are no quick fixes. As far as home education goes, slow and steady wins the race.
You’ve got this!