10 Ways to Burnout as a Homeschooling Mother

I will never forget my first homeschooling conference. My sons were only two years old, so I reasoned I had plenty of time to spend researching all our educational options. I considered my attendance at the conference as part of my research.

The weekend was life-changing in many ways. Profound and inspiring. I felt encouraged and excited, fueled by the educational possibilities I envisioned for our family.

But I noticed something else, too. Many of the mothers attending looked…tired. Worn down.

This concerned me. “Is this what homeschooling does to mamas?” I wondered. It was really important in my mind to have a long-term strategy within our homeschooling lifestyle. I knew if I wore myself completely thin the first year there wouldn’t be much left in reserve for future years.

Over time, as I’ve traveled this path myself and have met many homeschooling families, I’ve noticed certain qualities that can lead a mama to lose her spark.

Here are ten ways to burnout as a homeschooling mother. Do you recognize yourself on this list?

1. Structure your home just like a school building–complete with a flag and rows of desks.

2. Plan your homeschooling day’s schedule to look exactly as it would at the school down the street.

3. Whatever the cost, trudge through that curriculum you bought cover to cover, in spite of the fact that both you and your children became bored three months ago.

4. Stay home at all times and never meet up with your friends.

5. Begin when your child is in kindergarten to plan his entire homeschooling career until high school, including how you plan to teach him algebra.

6. Never attend any homeschooling conferences or groups in your area.

7. Don’t read any homeschooling books, blogs, or forums online.

8. Spend too much time reading homeschooling books, blogs, or forums online–and be sure to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing.

9. Give up all your outside interests in order to serve your family and children–who needs free time anyway?

10. Don’t pay any attention to your cues or your children’s cues when they tell you it’s time for a change or a break.

We all go through seasons of ups and downs occasionally. One of the advantages of the homeschooling lifestyle is that, more or less, we get to manage our days the way we choose. But sometimes through our choices we neglect ourselves.

Homeschooling should bring life and joy to everyone in the family. If that’s not what you’re experiencing, take the time to consider where you burned out along the way, and what you can do to light your spark again.

Have you experienced a period of homeschooling burnout? What did you do to recharge and refuel?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Jenny says:

    Great post! I hit a brick wall last year. Taking a look at what was working for us & taking a break to do something fun (& educational) that we wouldn’t usually do got us back on track. Along with talking to friends who also homeschool.

  2. Susan says:

    Jamie, such a poignant post for this time of year when so many homeschooling mamas are reflecting on our closing year and looking on to the next. It is easy to forget the distinction between educating a whole child and merely schooling. Schooling leaves us all wanting, but truly raising up our children enriches the entire family. Thank you!
    .-= Susan’s last blog: Memorial Day Prayer =-.

  3. I am so guilty of #3 – we did that this year (and blogging about it Thursday) – definitely something I learned NEVER to do again!! $$ is no comparison to joy in learning!!

    Stef
    .-= stef @ Layton Family Joy’s last blog: Monday Exhort – Something I’m Not =-.

  4. That’s a great list! It’s so true too. We can so easily try TOO HARD because we think we need to do it like so & so’s family, or be like the school so we “cover everything”. When we do that it’s just so easy to miss the most important part about homeschooling… being together and learning together.
    .-= Dawn@ 5 Kids and a Dog’s last blog: The MOB Society Twitter Party is Tonight! =-.

  5. Lisa Peterson says:

    I love all the ideas that I find here, though I tend not to comment as I’m an elementary school teacher rather than a home school teacher. But I just had to say that- I LOVE this list. I don’t know how all you home schoolers are able to do it all on your own. But if every traditional school teacher could look at this list and avoid those same pitfalls our public schools would be amazing. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas, I love using them in my own classroom.

  6. It certainly is possible to burn out as a homeschooling mother, if you don’t take time out for yourself. It’s hard sometimes to find time to maintain your own interests…one thing I do to refresh myself is, every evening after supper, I go upstairs to my bedroom, with a cup of tea, lock my door, and read a chapter of a novel while the kids play with their dad downstairs. I enjoy this so much! Moms need a few minutes each day that are just for themselves.

  7. Mena says:

    Great article. I’m just starting to home school. I like the last post on a practical way to find time for yourself. Can people share more of these? Thanks! It would help a lot.

    • Kika says:

      You’ve probably heard of this idea before but when my kids were younger we’d have a required “rest or read time”; this gave me 30-60 minutes of time to put my feet up, have a coffee/tea and read. I had to discipline myself to actually rest during this time, though, rather than doing housework. It was necessary for my kids to have this time in their own rooms or else they would inevitably start talking to me and it wouldn’t be a real rest for me.

  8. Jen says:

    I can definitely relate to #9. I think as moms in general we put a lot of pressure on our selves to constantly be providing perfect learning opportunities for our children. It is easy for mom to get lost in the shuffle. We are looking forward to a relaxing and hopefully rejuvenating summer. Thanks for the post!
    .-= Jen’s last blog: Summer Reading List =-.

  9. Nola says:

    This is a great list! I will have to keep this in mind.

    Just starting out means that I haven’t gotten to this point. BUT I have totally experienced burn out as a stay at home mother and homemaker. The best way that I have found to get over that is to take some time off. EAsier done with freezer meals made in advance…

    Anyways we “get out” to the local lake and park if possible and spend some time there pinics, walks along the trail, playing at the park etc. and it really helps. Something about outdoors and water. Its harder in the winter though. Sometimes we go just down to the corner and look at the frozen creek and back if its super cold.

  10. Deb says:

    Ooh, #5 and #8 are hitting a little close to home…

  11. Carmen Vidal says:

    Oh Laura, I’ve been there trying to make sure they experience too much! Sure didn’t want them to miss out on anything… Our oldest is finishing his 9th and I’m grateful that I’ve learned my lesson. We now with God’s guidance are learning to take every day in stride, learning to be flexible and learning to enjoy those precious moments, yes even as we enter the high school years.

    One of the best retreats I’ve gone to was Sally Clarkson’s (see http://www.wholeheart.org), many years ago. It really helped me have a different perspective of what God’s will was for our children. I was then able to refocus on why I chose homeschooling in the first place.

    blessings
    carmen
    .-= Carmen Vidal’s last blog: Haricots Verts en Salade/Green Bean Salad with Red Pepper and Flax Seeds =-.

  12. Angela says:

    Our homeschooling days brought out the best and worst of “me”. But it was such a gift to find out who I am (as a teacher, wife, and mother)…who my children are and how they learn and see the world…and to learn to let things “go”. I tried to homeschool “just” like some wonderful families I knew, but they were not “me” or my children. It was so freeing to let God lead and know that the way we needed to learn and live was different, but also just as great if not better!

    Take the time weekly to do some soul-searching, follow your passions, and recharge!
    .-= Angela’s last blog: A Letter to Our House =-.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Good article! I am only a mom to a small baby, but I might homeschool someday. I think women should make sure to take care of themselves, so that they can take better care of their families.

  14. Great article. #9 is one I’ve seen myself falling into! YIkes!! I’m so glad I”m not alone out there, sometimes that’s all we need to know..that our experience is being shared by other mamas out there. Thanks!

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