Homeschooling is a gift but let’s face it, there are many days when that’s hard to remember when you are surrounded by young children and your to-do list is ever-expanding.
the seemingly endless days of homeschooling can feel overwhelming.
Something we have all felt at some point.
In this post, I will share 7 things you should implement in your homeschooling to prevent and fix burnout for good.
What are the symptoms of homeschool burnout?
- Burnout is frustration at your environment do you feel like you are out of control?
- It’s a shorter temper, are you quick to anger? do you raise your voice? do you feel as though showing up takes physical and mental strength you can no longer muster?
- are you constantly distracted? Do you zone out, or feel disconnected?
- do you cut short lessons?
- take on more of the problem solving yourself rather than your child?
The reasons for homeschool burnout could be:
- you are taking on too much to teach
- You are taking on too much outside of the home
- You are not getting enough sleep
- Your homeschool area wherever that may be is noisy and stressful.
- Your children need training.
I have a post on this, called how to homeschool with little kids that explain how to train your children for school time.
Quite frankly I know that training children can be a hot topic of debate, there are those who are all for it and those dead against it.
My opinion is, each to their own.
But it doesn’t change the fact that if you don’t train your children to have some rules at a young age to help you maximise your time spent homeschooling and instilling the behaviours that correspond to a stress-free environment then you will be burnt out and often.
Children who aren’t trained to respect homeschooling time will turn into children who don’t want to homeschool and who aren’t equipped to manage self-learning and if you have allowed them to dictate at a young age what they will and won’t do, they turn into teenagers who fail out of the education system, homeschooled or not.
- You just need a break.
- Screen addiction, how much time are you spending on your phone?
When you google screen addiction the 1st page on Google is all about children with screen addiction which is a definite problem.
However, what is overlooked is the screen addiction of parents.
This leads to the same symptoms which are absolutely terrifying when you consider that the main symptom of screen addiction is the gradual loss of relationships!
Plus the lack of motivation, inability to get quality sleep and your screen becomes your only mood booster. Does this sound familiar, trust me, in this day and age, everyone can battle screen addiction!
Screen addiction is classified as spending more than 90-120 minutes a day on any screen, but I consider that much less on phones, as the way we can constantly dip in and out of social media, makes it a distraction to the mind even when you aren’t looking at it.
In my opinion, the symptoms I listed above of burnout, are a mix of burnout, but also someone who is suffering from screen addiction which in itself is a growing problem for homeschooling mothers and causes burnout very quickly.
HOW TO AVOID HOMESCHOOL BURNOUT
Teach less, I feel like I have already said this more than once here at thesimplemamma, It’s becoming my homeschooling catchphrase.
I live by it, especially in the early years of homeschooling. I have a blog post on how long you should be spending homeschooling each day here.
Did you know that 57% of what a child learns is lost within an hour after learning it?
After a day 70% is lost.
It’s why it’s proven that learning things through song is far superior to speaking the words or reading them to retain the information.
memorizing passages or poems can be mastered through repetition and training of the mind over long periods of time.
It’s not impossible to retain information, we all do it, and we all learn things, but we don’t recall all that we learn, we usually recall what is important or interesting to us.
Once it is no longer important or we no longer recall it on a regular basis we forget.
So, if you are teaching a young child, and they are at the stages of core learning, of reading, writing, the stepping stones of basic problem-solving skills every concept must be mastered.
Teaching them things that aren’t relevant to them as history and science, as fun as they can be, as good as it can make you feel doesn’t make sense and is a waste of your time.
A child needs consistency in the basics to master them.
SWITCH UP YOUR MINDSET, YOUR CHILD IS NOT MISSING OUT
Your goal in teaching a young child is to teach them to learn.
Not cram useless information into their minds to tick off a list of what they should know.
Just like there are stages to learning to read, there are stages of learning to learn and don’t worry about not delivering enough variety or extracurriculars right now, you are giving them everything they need in the building blocks of reading and problem-solving.
in the future, you will have children who can read and problem solve themselves, and your homeschooling world changes.
Teach them to read, teach them to problem solve on their own, You give them the building blocks to learning for the rest of their life.
I understand that if you are a burnt-out homeschooler to older children (12 and up) this may not be a viable step to take to the degree that you could if you were teaching young children.
My advice is to assess and cull what is extra and not at all interesting to them ( not maths!) stop moulding test bunnies and let them pursue their interests.
learning about what interests us is truly joyful and you expand so much more and it’s proved that learning a topic that you are truly interested in is the only one you will retain.
obviously do the basics, I am a firm believer in instilling the idea that you have to do what you don’t like, life isn’t always fun, maths, English, grammar and good reading material but allow your children to choose something they want to spend time pursuing.
and if you are in a curriculum that has a massive workload that your children hate then give it up and if they are in the teenage years let them help find a new one.
Another way to limit your daily time for both you and your students, and relieve the stress of getting it all done is spending each day focusing on a particular subject or two subjects rather than a list of all subjects.
Start your day with the subject you least like.
Take a break if you feel frustrated, but be sure to avoid screens during break time.
What should you spend time on?
See my post on how to become a minimalist Homeschooler!
plus I have several posts on what I use to teach, which is the very basics for young children (aged four to ten)
As a mother of young children, this stage is full of distraction. It’s tempting to blend as many things together as we can, to try and get more done.
It can work with other things but not homeschooling.
Homeschooling shouldn’t be an entire morning, it should be two hours, tops, even if you are teaching 3 or four children under the age of 10-12.
So, create a block for your homeschool time.
It is free of everything else.
Put the phone away.
Turn off screens, leave your laptop on your desk, don’t bring a planner or a shopping list.
Block it, and just be there.
In this way you reduce distraction, and when I say distraction, what happens over time if you get in the habit of blending school time with time to do what you need to do, school becomes the distraction.
Don’t let that happen. It leads to burnout very quickly because no one like distractions when you are trying to get things done.
Don’t let school become a distraction.
A word of advice, try to always get your homeschooling done in the morning
When you are suffering from burnout, it’s easy to put it off, to get the house tidy, finish the laundry, or just spend the morning snuggling on the couch, but the stress of beginning an afternoon knowing you still have to do school will only make your burnout worse, and you will most likely put it off.
there is nothing better in my opinion than to finish up lunch knowing that school is done, and the day is now yours to get things done.
You don’t have to start crazy early, but just time blocking your morning to at least an hour or two of school is a great way to start your ( when you are ready after a coffee and breakfast!) day and combat burnout.
This leads me to my next point.
CONNECT – WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
As a homeschooling mother, I have my WHY written where I can see it.
99.9% per cent of the time homeschoolers’ why is that they know that they can provide something for their child/ren that the outside world/public school system can’t.
You cannot rely on stamina and motivation for long-term joy during homeschooling, like a diet or wanting to achieve something that requires short-term motivation for long-term goals your why has to be clear and recalled often.
My why, as a homeschooling mother is I believe that I can give my children an education suited for them to thrive and more importantly I can instil the beliefs and values that I want my children to have, which the public school system will not provide.
I encourage you to write your why where you can see it often, to help you remember that you are here for a greater reason than just delivering today’s lesson.
WORKING ON YOUR CONNECTION TO PREVENT HOMESCHOOL BURNOUT
Creating a personal connection is something that brings joy.
A personal connection is a bond where you can feel seen, heard and known. it is crucial for both you and your child to connect, as the connection you build and maintain will limit the feelings of stress and frustration.
Now I get it, these are your kids, of course, you are “connected” you know them, you raise them, you love them.
But homeschooling is a long business and we tend to form habits, and when you are tired and in this current world, probably a little bit stressed, connections become strained.
You need to know that due to different love languages, your idea of connection may not be that of your child’s and so what looks to them like pursuing a connection, may not feel to you the same, and vice versa.
Maintaining a connection through the busy days is crucial to preventing homeschooling burnout.
THIS IS DONE BY USING SCHOOL TIME AS CONNECTING TIME BY DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT JUST TO CONNECT
Sometimes school needs to take a break.
When we are midway, and I feel frustrated, I see the clock ticking, everyone is wriggling and maths is taking an age to complete and the children are on edge because I am starting to show my frustration.
Make a pot of hot cocoa, grab a snack, put the books away for a moment and initiate conversation let the children talk.
Note, don’t you talk, children know you are stressed, they feel that you aren’t enjoying your time, and while you know it’s not them, they don’t know that, and so your stress makes them stressed about you and how you feel about them.
Ask them a question, listen and just be with them.
If you have children over the age of 5-6 you can ask them questions here that will help you determine their love languages, it’s a fun way to help you maintain that quality connection with your children as they grow into adults.
It’s not school time wasted, they will most likely retain more information from the conversation than whatever you stopped.
Take that break for 10-15 minutes and pick up again, connections with people happen not just through being around them, they happen with time spent listening and talking and enjoying time together.
Don’t underestimate a break to connect. It brings joy to your homeschooling and where there is joy, there is no burnout.
Do whatever you want to take that break.
Just taking a break, send them to play, but invite your children back with a picnic lunch, or a tea party with sandwiches, or if you can bake a cake, sit down and talk. (I know this is time-intensive but kids do love a tea party! have everyone help in the cleaning up)
Play cards, like snap or Uno, build a puzzle together host a colouring competition.
Play hide and seek
Go for a walk
Using the school block in your day and investing in maintaining your connection is just as important as getting school done. I don’t do this all the time, just when I can sense I need to when I don’t feel good and I might realise I haven’t spent some time with my older boys for a while.
FOUR DAY SCHOOL WEEK FOR THE BUSY HOMESCHOOL MOTHER
I have recently switched to a four-day school week, why I wasn’t doing this all along I HAVE NO IDEA!
I already implement all of the above if I am feeling like homeschooling is getting a bit blah.
But man was I busy!
With young children and homeschooling, my days are hectic and it’s hard to stay on top of things.
The weekend is just too short, I would try to rest on the weekend, My husband and I try to spend time together which is very important to both of us but these days spare time is hard to find, there is cleaning and washing to do, and we have gardening and social gatherings and all the things that eat your weekend.
I never had time to rest.
Now I don’t do school on Fridays, On Fridays, I take time to clean my home. I go and cut greenery, I finish a painting project, and I do something that I could never get done on a regular basis if I was schooling 5 days a week.
Staying on top of your environment is crucial.
If you are trying to be consistent and show up every day, without feeling stressed out and tired then your environment needs to be clean and organised.
You need to know that you can do it, that you will have time, and that you can accomplish what needs to be done.
If you feel like you can’t do it.
Like you can never catch up, can never see the light at the end of the tunnel, will lead to serious burnout in general and very quickly.
Taking a day of the week off, to be intentional in your home is important and well worth it.
You shouldn’t feel guilty, because it’s life and homeschooling is part of life, it’s not separate, it’s not something that isn’t impacted by your surroundings.
Take the day off, My advice is, to use it wisely, if it’s a day of rest so be it, but I like to think of it as a day to set my scene, to mould my home into a habitat that is calming.
When the week is long I know I have a day, a day to stop and to reset and it keeps me going, knowing my goal is short-term and I’m not on the hamster wheel for weeks on end waiting for a break.
This leads me to my next point.
QUIET TIME TO PREVENT HOMESCHOOL BURNOUT IN FAMILIES
I am a big advocator of quiet time. It’s something I absolutely love and something I will never stop no matter how old my children get.
In my home it is natural, and while my children still need the occasional reprimand for being too loud, it is an expected and anticipated part of our day.
For the children 3 and under it’s time for sleep, and they sleep for around 2 hours.
for the other children, it is a time to play in their rooms or outside, they aren’t to ask for snacks, to be entertained, and there is no tv ( on the weekends I do allow them to play some games I have downloaded on my phone) and for two hours, they do not bother me.
If you don’t have this in your home, then you are missing out on hours every day to get things done without children, this is when I make youtube videos, or write blog posts, four days a week I work out at this time.
Motherhood is not a race that runs you ragged, if you have steps in place to help you own time in your day, you will own your days, you will get more done, even with young children.
IF YOU ARE BURNT OUT TAKE A BREAK AND PLAN SHORT-TERM GOALS
If you are seriously burnt out already and could cry at the thought of homeschooling right now.
Take three weeks off.
not one, not two, three.
Two is for you and one is to take the wheel. don’t be afraid of time off, it’s crucial and you’re not helping anyone by pressing on, this won’t help itself.
asses your weaknesses, why did you burn out? if you have some idea, then you need to write down where you think you are going wrong.
PLANNING SHORT TERM GOALS-WHY TO
Now I am not much of a planner, but I acknowledge that homeschooling needs an element of planning.
You need to know where your short term goals lie.
Ditch the long-term goals.
Noone successful got to where they are only aspiring to reach huge long-term goals.
The short term is finishing a page, starting a chapter.
The short term is finishing 10 pages of maths, and then rewarding with a treat.
The short term is doable in a day, a week, or two weeks.
Important skills are learned a little at a time, like climbing a ladder, one foot after the other, at first, you don’t feel like you have moved much at all but then you look down and the ground is further than you thought.
You have moved, you have climbed, and you can look back and see all the goals you have passed, you did it and your child did it, it leaves you feeling capable and that homeschooling is achievable.
That feeling drives away burnout.
Yes we all know the long-term goals, teach your child to read to learn, we want them to learn exciting things and fun things, we want them to make friends, and learn a musical instrument, we want to open up the world of history and science and see them flourish into adults.
What’s your goal today?
the next day?
Show up again.
Don’t plan for next month, plan for tomorrow, it’s achievable. It’s doable and getting it done is rewarding. That’s how long term goals are achieved, through today and tomorrow.
CHANGE IT UP TO PREVENT BURNOUT
While I am minimal in what I teach, my collection is eclectic and not entirely minimal and I like it that way.
I like it that way because I have options, if my kids are bored with the usual, which is the downside of teaching so little, then I can pull out something different, ditch the work we’ve been doing for a few days and offer them something interesting, different and engaging.
The books I love to use to switch things up are primary language lessons by Emma Searl, this is book filled with gorgeously illustrated pictures that are engaging for young children and you can open it to any page and be able to do a lesson, with just reading, looking at the pictures and asking prompted questions, there is everything from days of the week to how to write a letter and address an envelope, great basic teaching that will impart useful knowledge in a different way so your children and you can feel refreshed.
Getting books like this is a great way to switch things up, I also use nature books, and human anatomy science books, just anything to pull out and read, ask questions and draw the pictures, act it out, there is so much to learn!
Prompt your children about what do they want to know?
I focus on this at least once a week, so that way I can prevent the burnout that can occur from doing to much of the same.
It’s not a bad thing to switch up your curriculum from time to time, especially if your new to homeschooling and you children are young, everyone needs to find what works for them, the system, the teaching style and the workload.
Fixing burnout comes with an understanding that there is no failure in homeschooling, there is learning and adapting.
In summary, the best advice I can give you is to relax, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint, you can go as hard as you can all the time, you need to do it moderately for the long term.
We can all feel inadequate, we can all feel like we aren’t doing enough, but since when is education only what we deliver, your children can learn for their whole lives, you don’t have to fill every gap, trust me, let them grow into their own interests and do exactly what your capable of doing for the long-haul, be honest with yourself, it’s usually less than you would like, but it’s consistent delivery of skills that build on each other, of connection, conversation and joy that creates a meaningful education.
- Accept that you can’t always do everything you want to do.
- Seasons change, and your time and ability will too, eventually you will do the things you want to do.
- you don’t have to do extracurricular if you don’t want to when teaching young children, do the basics, and you can introduce more when they can read and teach themselves.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, run your race, you will succeed if you focus on yourself.
I hope this post helped you, leave a comment if you have a question, or you can subscribe to my email for weekly homeschooling tips and encouragement.
Another homeschooling post of mine that might help you combat burnout for good is my minimalist homeschooling post!
Yours in homeschooling,
the simple mamma.
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