I am a stay-at-home mom to 4 kids and I also homeschool. I really love that I get to stay home and that I get to teach my kids. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I experience my share of bad days and challenges. As a mom (whether you homeschool or not) I’m sure you experience rough moments, too.
It’s possible to feel some symptoms of burnout, even if you are doing something you good or something you love. I know that homeschooling is the right choice for our family, but I still have to prioritize certain things to help make sure I don’t burn out entirely. These are a few practical ways that help me avoid experiencing burnout.
Take school breaks
Monotony can really be a key factor to experiencing burnout. When we find ourselves stuck in an endless cycle with no end in sight it gets overwhelming and a little depressing. If you are home with your kids week after week with little variety, make a change. There are many positives about keeping to consistent rhythms and routines, but there has to be some flexibility from time to time as well. You, as the teacher, might need a mental break, and your kids can benefit from one, too.
Taking a break from school can be as simple as picking a random week day and doing something out of the ordinary (an out-of-the-house adventure or something relaxing at home… the possibilities are endless) or something more coordinated like going on a week-long getaway as a family. Maybe you need to adjust your schedule and expectations and switch to a 4-day school week. Maybe you need to plan a monthly fun adventure day to mix things up. Or maybe you just need to give yourself permission to take a break if you are having a bad day. Taking a day to recharge or restart doesn’t make you a failure, in fact, it’ll probably make you a more effective parent.
Keep track of the small victories
In the middle of homeschooling, especially if you are balancing teaching multiple kids, you can lose sight of your end goal. It is hard to see progress when you are in the thick of it and working closely with your child day in and day out. But don’t forget that those small victories and the little pieces of progress you see in your kids really are what you teaching is all about. Learning doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a steady process.
Last year I use a chart to write down some specific goals for my kindergartner. They were tied to a timeline in our school year, so we could easily measure them. Each time she met a goal we celebrated in a simple way. At first I thought this would be a fun way to motivate her, which it was. But I quickly realized it was also beneficial for me as her teacher and mom. It helped me see the progress we made and encouraged me that, in fact, she was learning and this homeschool thing was working out okay.
Make time for yourself
Maybe the idea of having time for anything extra sounds absurd. As a stay-at-home-mom who homeschools I can certainly say my days are full and busy, but when I fill my days with only meeting others needs, I run dry and burnout. When I neglect to take even a few minutes for myself, I feel the negative effects on myself which then effects my kids.
All of us have the same hours in our day. All of us choose how to fill those hours. Yes, some of that time is spent doing things we don’t want to do but we must (for me that’s dishes and changing poopy diapers). But then there are gaps and moments in our day that we chose to fill in our own ways. Even if its 15-30 minutes, it’s something. Make sure you find that time in your day and do something for yourself. Take a bath. Read a book. Exercise. Write. Create. Nap. Something. Make it a priority and communicate with your kids or spouse that you need that time. Build it into the day.
Beyond just the daily or weekly time, get creative and maybe schedule out some more extended time for yourself. Plan it ahead of time if needed and make it happen. Find a babysitter, schedule around your spouse’s day off, or swap childcare with another homeschool mom who could benefit from some time as well! Get creative. If something is a high enough priority you will find a way to make it happen.
When I’m isolated, I am not my best. When I feel alone, I start to fall apart. The power of connection is so amazing. Thankfully there are so many ways to stay connected to other moms who are in the trenches with me. Whether it’s through texting, social media, or in person interactions, I find I do much better when I am connected. We all like to know there are other moms facing the same challenges and struggles. Sharing our own experiences and perspectives with others helps them, and listening to the experiences and perspectives of others helps us. We need each other, mamas!
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of ways to avoid burnout, but hopefully it’s a helpful start for you. If there is something you’d add to the list, please share!