Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
I know I may shock some of you by mentioning this, but not every homeschool day looks like Little House on the Prairie.
Some days look more like Nightmare on Elm Street.
Instead of hardworking kids listening to Mom, it could be that you reach a season where your days consist more of policing sibling squabbles and just trying to have everyone make it through until bedtime. I speak from personal experience!
I do not believe that homeschooling is the right choice for every family in every season. But it does make me feel saddened when I see a mom stop purely because of burnout. Equally sad is when families continue on, but without any of the joy they once had.
I remember when I was first considering homeschooling it was the 24/7ness of the prospect that I found most daunting. Years later I still feel that way. I find that the kids’ educations don’t worry me nearly as much as the burnout that can result from this type of lifestyle.
This pace isn’t sustainable long-term without experiencing burnout at some point along the way. Kris’s recent post attests to that. This is why we need to have a plan in place to manage when it occurs.
I felt validated and encouraged on this topic when I came across the book A Mother’s Rule of Life. It’s written by homeschooling mother of five, Holly Pierlot.
In this passage she explains why she developed a “Mother’s Sabbath” :
“So many times over my years as a mother, I had felt tired, overwhelmed, and worn out. So often I felt I couldn’t get any personal space to think, what with the continual onslaught of “Mummy! Mummy!” coming from the children, or the work that I hadn’t finished staring me in the face.
I needed quiet time alone.”
Moms need time away from our children in the same way that office workers need time away from the office. It’s not about not loving our families enough; it’s about the ability to maintain perspective and joy in all we’re doing.
We won’t get that if we don’t plan for it.
At the very least, plan quiet rest time in your day no matter how old your kids are—even when they outgrow naptime. I also have a sitter that comes once a week for five hours. You may need a mother’s helper, maybe you live close to family, or just have another mom friend you can switch with. Another idea is taking off every other Saturday while your husband is home–this is what Holly Pierlot did for her Mother’s Sabbath.
If we recognize that burnout will sometimes creep up on us, we’ll be prepared. If we never expect it, it can totally throw us and lead to unhappiness, depression, and putting kids in school even when that isn’t really our heart’s desire.
We need to realize that burnout is inevitable, so we can plan for it.
Have you experienced burnout as a homeschool mom? How do you plan for it?