No matter what you do, positive person or not or how well-organized you are, homeschool burnout looms because the 10 biggest homeschool burnout triggers are linked to life. Avoiding the unexpected is not possible, but you can plan for the unexpected.
Look at these 10 biggest homeschool burnout triggers and a tip or two on how to cope. Besides, instead of telling you how wonderful homeschooling will be, I want you prepared to dig your heels in when times are tough.
One/A pregnancy (complicated or not).
It may seem obvious that a pregnancy causes burnout, but when you have pregnancy brain it can seem otherwise. Somehow I thought I could keep on pushing because we were in a school year.
It took my third pregnancy before I actually planned activities when I would have to stop and rest.
Laid up on the couch and on bed rest for a few weeks, I pulled out activities for my preschooler and kindergartner, which nowadays are called busy bag activities.
Key to keeping your kids entertained and learning is to have everything they need for an activity in a bag. I could get up once, pull down several activities from the closet and have my two boys sit at my feet on the couch while we learned.
Two/ A long term sickness whether it’s your immediate or extended family.
In addition to pregnancy, I have experienced an ICU stay for my husband, an ICU stay for my sister and a long-term facility care for my mother-in-law.
At the time, it can seem that your life will never return to normal. It might not and may be changed. But change is also part of homeschooling.
I did four things to cope with what seemed like insurmountable stress.
- I divided our school subjects in half and did half one day and the other half the next day.
- I bought each kid a backpack so that we could learn on the go and moved our schoolroom into the backpacks.
- I purchased easy workbooks because this is the time to use them.
- I purchased an online subscription to Time4Learning.
Avoiding Top Homeschool Burnout Triggers
Three/ The transition to high school.
You will eventually get to high school and hear my heart when I say that is not the time to quit, but it may seem like it at the time.
If you have a rebellious teen it can make this time period worse. One tip I learned was to be sure that your teen has a say in what he wants to learn and pursue.
Don’t feel like you have to give up everything you have dreamed of for your child, but know that they are entering adulthood and are a unique person.
Part of being a unique person is recognizing their interests, strengths and weaknesses and then allowing them explore them. When you’re at this point in your journey, remember what brought you to homeschooling, which is being able to raise a unique individual.
Instead of throwing in the towel and sending your kid to public school, work with him and decide whether or not an online high school is an option. Some kids do better by answering to somebody else.
My boys never had to experience this, but we also homeschooled from the beginning, which I have learned makes a huge difference. If your child has had other teachers besides you, he may view that as normal.
Be willing to compromise, but not give up your standards always makes for a fair way of getting through the high school years.
Four/ When homeschool planning is overly ambitious.
Guilty as charged. I can always tell newer homeschoolers or homeschoolers who will burnout quickly by the exhaustive lists of homeschool subjects they think they will cover.
Writing it down is key to being sure your list is doable.
When you simply list it, and not plug a homeschool subject into a time slot on your day, it stays as overly ambitious. The next step is hitting a brick wall and burnout follows.
Overly ambitious homeschooling can backfire with sad consequences.
I have known families through the years that have lost their teens because they would not yield or compromise their plans. How sad.
Look at the tips on my three part series What Homeschool Subjects to Teach and When to Teach Them and Divide And Conquer The Ever Growing List of Homeschool Subjects.
Five/ Too many fun activities outside the house.
There have been years that we have been able to do more than other years, but balance is the key no matter how fun are the activities.
This is also exacerbated by how many kids you have. Don’t think that a mom with an only child can’t fall into this trap by trying to be sure her kid gets a social life.
Whether you are a mom of many or an only, your child needs you. There is no substitute for your guidance. Be selective on choosing outside activities and one thing I did when my kids wanted different ones was to alternate them each week.
One week we did art and the next week we did music to satisfy all of my kids. We went slower, but all of my kids benefited from mixing up and cutting back our activities.
Six/ Too many volunteer projects by mom.
When I conducted workshops, many of the moms confessed how many volunteer programs they were a part of.
I encourage you to make your family priority. Even good and worthy volunteering projects can add stress and cause burnout when it’s not necessary. As kids grow older and circumstances change, I have been able to do more things I enjoy.
From Daunting to Doable
Seven/ Failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s true.
The opposite end of overly ambitious planning is feeling like your wings would be clipped if you followed a more scripted schedule.
It takes time to find a middle ground that suits your unique personality. Key to success is knowing your personality and knowing how to rein yourself in.
For example, I know that I tend to be a drill sergeant and have my kids march to the minutes on a schedule (nobody liked me when I first started homeschooling).
All these years I have worked on being more flexible by following more of a block schedule or scheduling zones of times.
If you have the opposite problem, then start by scheduling things for 15 minutes at a time until you find a rhythm to fit your style. You can even use a timer in the beginning as you get the feel for the amount of time needed for a subject.
Training yourself to move through your day accomplishing what you plan without pushing you and your kids will lead to a productive and meaningful day.
Eight/ Job loss or change.
Coping with several of these changes too, I learned to cut back my school to just the core subjects as we adjusted to a new schedule or change in income.
We have owned our own business and my husband has worked 7 days a week for 12 hours days. In all the cases of job changes, I have allowed myself a month or so to adjust to the schedule. For example, when my husband worked 12 hours a day for 7 days a week, I got my kids up early as well so that they were ready for bed at the same time as my husband.
If you don’t get the rest of your household in sync with your husband’s schedule and try to maintain different family schedules, it can trigger stress.
When we moved, I always thought I could keep on homeschooling during that stressful time. I learned that learning to pack and moving can come under Home Economics if you train your children while moving.
My boys always wanted to help pack and looking at the positive, moving is a wonderful time to declutter.
Instead of thinking that our schooling was being interrupted, I viewed that time as our time off of school. Of course we had to make up but it’s so much more easier making up when you choose to take time off to move.
Ten/ Unbending, inflexible, stubborn and immovable and no it’s not the toddler.
Flexible, bending and reasonable didn’t exactly abound in my life or should I say they are not my best qualities. However, homeschooling has a way of seasoning you to showcase those qualities.
Learning to adjust your homeschool course, accepting you and your kids shortcomings and allowing others to help you when you need it, keeps you on the sane road to homeschooling.
By giving you this heads up on things that you may experience in your journey, I hope you can enjoy the high moments that you will encounter and remember that the lows will pass.
Hugs and love ya,
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