Homeschool burnout is real. And it’s no surprise. As homeschool parents we are tasked with stewarding our children’s spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social development, all while nurturing a healthy marriage, keeping a home running smoothly, and quite possibly holding down a job as well. That can be a heavy load to carry. It’s enough to overwhelm anyone and maybe even make you question the decision to homeschool in the first place. I’ve certainly been there.
In moments of stress and exhaustion, I find myself returning to the advice of a seasoned homeschool mom: “When you’re tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” Maybe you’re in the throes of burnout right now, and you’re tempted to give up. Here are some strategies you can implement right now to restore rest to your days and allow your enthusiasm for homeschooling to flourish again.
Simplify your schedule. You don’t have to do everything. Eliminate non-essential subjects from your schedule for a few days or weeks (without guilt!). Remember very few traditionally-educated students finish the whole book in every class. Just focus on math and language arts for a few days and see if you feel your spirits lifting.
Step away from comparisons. If you’re feeding your soul a steady diet of picture-perfect Instagram photos and Facebook posts, you’re probably trying to live up to some pretty impossible standards, maybe without even realizing it. Take a break from social media for a bit. Set aside some time at the end of every day to list the things you did accomplish. Sometimes returning your attention to your own homeschooling journey and appreciating all the things you are doing well will be all it takes to put some motivation back into your homeschooling.
Read aloud. Reading with your children is one of the best things you can do to nurture your relationship with them while giving their brains a workout. If your interactions with your kids have been strained lately, a day of cuddling on the couch with a mug of steaming hot cocoa and a stack of picture books or an afternoon spent lying in the back yard while Mom reads a favorite chapter book can be wonderfully restorative.
Spend time in nature. Take the day off and go for a hike, visit the beach, or take a picnic to the park just because you can. Flexibility is one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling. And nothing lifts the fog of burnout like a change of routine and some good old-fashioned fresh air. Better yet make spending time in nature a part of your daily routine. Starting your day with a nature walk or a bike ride around the block might be the best thing you can do for your homeschool. Having an outlet for their energy at the start of the day helps many kids settle in to focus on their seatwork with less fuss, and the time outside will do you good too.
Examine your self-care habits. When are you taking time to recharge? What activities fill you up and nourish your soul? If you’re an introvert, you need to prioritize daily alone time. If you’re an extrovert, finding room in your schedule to connect with friends or go to a homeschool support group may be essential. Make sure you have at least one block of time per day aside for you. Whether that means getting up before your kids so you can pray and get centered before you hit the day running, or putting on a show for the kids so you can retreat to your room with a book and an afternoon cup of tea, or enlisting your husband’s help so that you can meet up with your mom friends for coffee one morning a week, find a way to make time to invest in your own well-being.
Anyone who’s been homeschooling long enough can surely tell of a season when they were ready to throw in the towel. But burnout doesn’t have to be the end of your homeschool journey. Homeschooling is worth it! And by taking some time to simplify and recharge you can see joy return to your homeschool.