for when you want to quit

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Have you ever just wanted to quit? Throw in the towel–hand in your resignation?

I have. Just a few weeks ago, in fact.

Maybe it had something to do with it being February, the notorious homeschool burnout season. Or perhaps the fact that my husband had two work trips to Asia with Love146 in the month, leaving me to single parent for several days. Maybe because I launched a new e-book, which has occupied mornings, evenings, and in-betweens for quite a while.

Or maybe we’re all just a bit stir-crazy, longing to see leaves on trees and flower buds once more.

Know what I mean? Have you ever experienced any of these burnout signs?

  • Complaints from your kids, more than usual
  • Everything seems harder than usual
  • More tears around, from you and/or the children
  • You find yourself escaping–to the computer or the TV or the pantry

How should we handle the times when we feel like quitting?

1. Consider school.

That’s right, I said the “s” word. It’s fine to consider the pros and cons of the educational options you have.

Last year I spent time visiting the public and private schools in my area–just to see. Doing so showed me the options, and also ended up confirming even more our choice to homeschool. We always want to remain open-minded to the venue that will serve our kids’ learning best.

2. Don’t make any rash decisions.

Sure, consider school, but don’t sprint down the street and drop your child off on the sidewalk!

There’s no need to rush into a decision without proper time to evaluate what is best.

3. Write a list of what you love about homeschooling.

At times when I’m tempted by school, I remind myself of all we love about our current lifestyle–the flexibility, the individualized education, the ability to go at the children’s pace. In spite of the challenges, it’s a pretty good thing we have going on here.

Bring out your family’s mission statement and review your motivation and purpose behind why you’ve made the choices you’re living with.

4. Take a break.

Traditional school teachers can’t just choose to take a break when students (or themselves) are getting antsy. But we can.

Maybe we need a day off, maybe a week, maybe a month. What really matters is to take what you need. Three months off in the summer is overrated anyway.

5. See what spring brings.

I am often astounded at how a simple change of seasons can make life seem easier. We’re well into March now, with spring right around the corner. Days are longer and life is brighter.

We may find the hard aspects of life lighten up all on their own.

Have you ever had a period when you wanted to quit homeschooling? What steps did you take to bounce back?

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About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Yes! Oh, most definitely yes!

    We recently took an early Spring Break and I think we’re all, the kids and myself, in a better place for it. In fact, I’ve decided that we’ll take another week off later in the Spring, too.

    We seem to enjoy our days more, but also learn more and love the education path we’ve chosen, when we give ourselves some time “off” once in a while.

    Thanks for being honest about this topic, Jamie!
    Kara @SimpleKids’s latest post: Knitting (or Crocheting) Along: Mother Bear

  2. Great post! February is a tough month for those of us that live in the northern states. I wrote a page on my website a while ago about avoiding homeschool burnout. There are 8 suggestions there if you want to read over them too
    Heidi’s latest post: Homeschool Preschool Curriculum

  3. OH Yes, I’ve had them. We’ve been home schooling for 11 years. My four kids are broken out into two sets with a large gap between them. This year the last of the older set graduated. I really felt myself sag. It was as if I had accomplished a great feat and now I needed a break. But, I still had two more children, one in 5th grade and one in 1st. So, we unschooled for all of the fall. I learned that although I really enjoy this method of learning, and the kids did in fact learn, it is not for me over the long haul. And this January we got back on schedule. Here is a post I wrote during that period –
    Savannah@HammockTracks’s latest post: Hammock Track Tales – The Doctor in Savannah

  4. February must be the month for burnout — I just wrote about this topic as well. Last year at this time, however, I was suffering real burnout. I had homeschooled for 10 years, and was fairly certain I would not be able to continue. I toured local public and charter schools and investigated my options. Let’s just say that is a real cure for burnout. When I am burnt out, often it is because I am feeling guilty, or think that my kids are not getting a good enough education. Go look at what every one else is getting and you will feel like a genius! Not to be too negative, I feel there are great teachers out there. But it really helped me to look over my options and realize that I was making the right decision for our family by continuing to keep my kids at home.
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: Kitchen How-To: “Healthy-fying” a Recipe

  5. Funny you should write about this! I made a decision over the weekend to change our regular routine this week. The forecast looks beautiful so I want more time to be outside. Plus there is a lot of clutter and some small projects around the house that are generally distracting and stressing me out while undone. So we are doing “lite” school (math, daily grammar review, piano practice & Bible) and focusing on life skills 🙂 of spring cleaning and decluttering and playing. This is one of the joys of homeschool. We are in charge of our schedules and days.

    • Linda,
      I’m with you! I am looking around the house and every little pile of “stuff” is making me absolutely crazy and upset. I decided that spring cleaning was in order, and if my kids want to play outside all day while I work on it, that is fine with me. I’ve been joining them outside on a blanket now and then to read books aloud, so I feel like we are still schooling and I get to enjoy some sunshine as well. 🙂

  6. Thanks for this, Jamie! Truly, February is a tough month, right?? We ended it by making the decision to take a several-month break as we overcome the burnout, move to a city, and begin pool season. We’re all excited about the break, but also about getting back to school after it.

    Thanks again.
    Monica Selby’s latest post: Inspiration

  7. Isn’t it ALWAYS February when this happens? Why February?

    Thanks for your article.


  8. You know, this must be true even in public schools, that February is a tough stretch – or it would be without all those Mondays off! My family loves the extra daddy days – hopefully that will help keep February fresh for us!
    Brenna’s latest post: Highlights from Miss D’s Week

  9. I have certainly experienced some burnout though never wanted to quit homeschooling. The way I do things now are far different from when I started out. And I often have periods where we need to take little breaks, or just have project weeks, or whatever to just recharge and regain enthusiasm and energy.
    Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: To Walk Humbly

  10. So true! It’s dark and raining here in Michigan and we are all sick. This is a much needed break. Thanks for putting it out there Jamie.

  11. Oh, only every few weeks! And most definitely in late January. I would usually take a step back, regroup, start a fun new read-aloud, plan an extended field trip, anything to change the pace a bit. When I would consider the alternatives I knew I didn’t want to quit, we just needed a change of pace!
    Bernice @ Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: A different type of clutter

  12. Thanks for posting this! Just took 2 weeks off due to having friends visiting from the US and it was MUCH needed! Many times I think that throwing the towel in would be soooo easy, but when I stop, take time to think and pray, everything comes back into perspective and mommy and family are much happier!
    Lisa’s latest post: The Art of Hospitality

  13. This is a very timely post! We’re feeling the burn-out, big time! Lots of tears, lots of unfinished lessons, etc.
    Today is the first day of our Spring break. We’re all really looking forward to the down time.
    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one feeling homeschool burn-out at this time of year.

  14. Katherine says:

    We were suffering major burnout as well and then we took a week break that was forced due to a stomach bug that got us all sick. Our 6 year old had to get fluids at the ER he was so sick which was really scary. We took 7 days to just get better and now we all have a refreshed attitude and so much more energy. I don’t wish the stomach bug on anyone but the break I definitely suggest, it made such a difference, I just wish I had thought to do it rather than it being a necessity thing, now I know for the future though.

  15. Oh man, do I ever understand. For me, it’s March that kills me. Every year. It’s my husband’s busy season at work, and we’ve got two birthdays (next year, I think we’ll skip the parties with friends. It’s too crazy and too much prep work.) We get behind in school, life, everything, then I feel like a failure, like, “Why am I even trying this? I’m doing a terrible job!” This year was even crazier with a book lauch (my own fault, I realize).
    So, I have to just not make any decisions in March.
    I force myself to go to the YMCA at least twice a week for a break.
    And, I remember that March always ends and the sun comes out again!

  16. Yep! I absolutely have! I think sometimes we homeschoolers make it worse for ourselves by constantly talking up the merits of this lifestyle. But mostly I think we just need a break and a new perspective.

    Last year, I wrote Sometimes, I Feel Like Quitting. Sometimes I do!
    Sarah @ Amongst Lovely Things’s latest post: Weekend Doings & Sweet Baby Cheeks

  17. I like almost all your suggestions, but for us it is not every an option to “consider school.” There’s no way I’m sending my kids into the government schools, and I don’t even like the school environment (i.e., cookie-cutter approach to learning) that exists in solid Christian schools.

    One thing that has helped us is a schedule that gives us a week off after six weeks of study. That gives us definite breaks to look forward to when we start to get tired and/or stir-crazy.
    Tina H.’s latest post: Discipleship Deliberation: February, 2012

  18. I think February is a tough month for maybe just about everyone, those in school and those homeschooling! I just had a “I want to quit day” and my 2 oldest children attend a Waldorf school in our area. We will most likely be homeschooling next year, and it is hard seeing them come home these days more and more grouchy from school. It’s funny because it’s easy to look at homeschooling and think it will be the answer to the grumpiness. Maybe it will in many ways, but I know it’s easy to think “the grass is always greener”. This is a good reminder that whatever educational route you choose there are pros and cons and there will always be tough days whether you choose to send them to school or keep them at home.

  19. Hi Jamie,
    How funny you’re writing about this, I guess every Homeschooler that has a blog has a similar post on somewhere on their blog. Your points on what to reflect are very good, in fact I believe I did all of the above and also talked to successful Homeschoolers which was an advice from my husband saying, you have to talk to these Parents who are successful, they must be doing something right and I felt like I was in therapy lol. It really really helped and I pored my heart out and they helped me SO MUCH !! One of my friend just helped me analyze what might my problem be. The following link is my first blog post on my blog about the exact Topic. *smile*

    may God make it easy for all of us to teach and guide our Kids to the best of our abilities and may HE be with us all the way!!
    Myriam’s latest post: Part #2 of my initial Post "My first real Meltdown"

  20. I appreciate what you’re saying – but I would so love it if everyone would quit complaining about their “days” of single parenthood. I am a single parent. It isn’t for a day, and it isn’t about having to do it all alone for a few days. It’s about BEING alone in your decisions, your choices, financially, physically and your children not having someone to call Mommy or Daddy. Several bloggers I follow have said this recently and I actually kind of find it offensive. This is a real struggle for some people and a real loneliness. You have a partner, always. Whether he’s here or not, he’s still your partner and cares for you and your family. You’re lucky when you consider the all evil “school” that you financially can stay home and educate. For you it isn’t a choice of your children being bullied to death or managing to work full time and educate full time, really and truly, alone. I understand everyone has their struggles and yours are your own but it just feels kind of like listen to someone complain about the color of their Lexus when you don’t even have a car.

    • Wow, Anna, I don’t think it sounds like that at all. But you and other single parents have my utmost respect as you’re right, I cannot even begin to imagine all the balls that you juggle.
      Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: for when you want to quit

      • Sorry but I just want to add that I don’t think that was warranted at all. Jaime was talking honestly about HER life and situation. @Anna, it really sounds like you have a ton going on and I’m sorry for that, but attacking this great woman who is being honest about her situation feels really wrong to me. Yes being a full time single parent is tough but that doesn’t mean that other mums face no challenges or difficulties, we can all point to someone worse off and you never know what people are handling.

        For myself I loved this post, it spoke to my heart and helped give me some peace about my own struggles. I really appreciate the honesty and frankness of this post, as well as Jaime’s ever present compassion and good sense.
        Emmalina’s latest post: Six Egg Sunday

    • Heather N says:

      Maybe “parent alone for a few days” would be a different (better?) choice of words. I dislike it when my sister uses the phrase “single parent” when her hubby is out of town for one day because, like “Anna” said, she is not truly a single parent (neither am I). I’m sure it was not meant to be offensive, however.

  21. This was a timely post. We live in China, so there’s an added layer of frustration at finding materials and books. Joining the international school system is tempting at times. But when I think about how much we would be forsaking, it helps me get back on track. Sometimes I think I just need to space to dream it for a second and then snap myself back to reality 🙂
    Carrie’s latest post: Treated like a Servant

  22. Sharlene says:

    I am so glad you posted this. This is our 1st year to homeschool so I’m already riddled w/ self doubt. My husband is gone for 2 weeks at a time and then gets a week off. So homeschooling has been the best way for us all o get to spend time together. That being said, it is also extremely tough because I am homeschooling our two boys and taking care of our 3rd who is 10 mon by myself 3 weeks out of the month. These last few weeks have seemed particularly hard. I have just not had the motivation to keep up our usual pace and somedays I feel like maybe I made the wrong decision. It is so refreshing to hear that I am not the only one who feels like this at times. And you’re right! It is amazing to see how much can change just by spring showing up.
    Thank you for some perspective

  23. Yes, I have felt that way, though I knew I wouldn’t actually quit. This has been a difficult month for us, too, for various reasons. My 9-yo son started acting out about everything school related, and I was at my wit’s end. Last weekend I got together with a gal from our alternative school who has been through our program with 4 kids. I really just needed to get someone else’s perspective. It helped so much to have someone else to talk to. She helped me to see where to focus and where to back off, and to realize all the great things my kids were learning and doing. And she helped me see we were going to be just fine. It was so refreshing.

  24. I think breaks are an essential part of the learning process. Recovery time, time to absorb new material. My husband I have always been interested in tear round schools for the reason that we think short breaks promote learning whereas three months off lumped together once a year is detrimental to learning. Now that our eyes are open even wider and we are preparing ourselves for a continued homeschool journey, I look forward to being able to take breaks as needed, whether for unexpected life events or just a little pick-us-up!

  25. Shoulda checked my blog yesterday before I signed my kid up for school. It was something we were considering for few months, though, and now there is a new baby in the house and I am spread too thin 🙁 How do moms with lots of kids/babes do this?!
    Paula’s latest post: Home Birth Certificate

    • Kat in the Hat says:

      I don’t know. Makes me wonder how much is done every day, and how much is survival done all together, hopefully in a loving environment, hopefully with children who listen to their parents’ instructions (one of mine is not wired that way, he thrives in the gifted program – at school, and has been happy there for all of elementary school) He and I would never work as homeschoolers. My #2 works well as a homeschooler, but I worry that I’m setting her up to have the same academic strengths and weaknesses that I have/had. I homeschool one, with one underfoot, and feel like it takes all my mental capacity and patience and fears to survive each week. Year one is not something to laugh at. It’s intimidating being “the one” in charge of everything. EVERYTHING. Add working afternoons and evenings (as a teacher, ironically), and it’s downright overwhelming.

  26. Our February (and beginning of March) was brutal. We also went and toured the school that my boys used to attend. I left a lot of the choice up to the kids (as some of them were interested in going to school), but in the end – they all decided that they just wanted to continue homeschooling.

    For us, I think it was compounded by the fact that several of the families in our homeschooling group either put their kids in school or have made arrangements to do it for next school year.
    Angie @ Many Little Blessings’s latest post: Fun and Educational Activities to Do with Young Children using Balls

  27. This is my first year homeschooling my 12 year old daughter, and it has been a rough go! Aside form do all of the homeschooling planning and teaching all on my own (no help from hubby), and a part time job from home, the biggest challenge is my 23 month old son. Man it is hard to occupy him and teach my easily distracted daughter! I have wanted to quit many times, and still do not feel as if I have a good handle on things, nor do I have enough hours in the day to complete work, school, housework and caring for my toddler. I am hoping this is a learning curve? And next year will be better. I hope.
    Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site’s latest post: Can the “Wake to Sleep” Method Help Lengthen Your Baby’s Short Naps?

    • One of the things I remind myself of often is that I read somewhere that it takes 2-3 YEARS to really hit your groove with homeschooling. Certainly more than a couple of weeks or months. We just started year 3 and we’re still making adjustments but lo and behold, I think we’re finally getting it. Definitely a learning curve, and give yourself A LOT of time to figure out how your daughter learns best and what can be done specifically to meet her needs. I have found that this is not intuitive at all – it’s A LOT of trial and error. Hang in there, and good luck!

  28. A break. Yes. This mom needs the spring break more than the kids do, just to get the **** laundry caught up. We’ve done 10 weeks straight since the first of the year, and next week is my break. We’re ending our 10 weeks tomorrow with a field trip, so going out with a bang.
    trina’s latest post: Scouting materials

  29. I really needed this! We are in burn out mood now. National Iowa testing in two weeks! I also homeschool in West Virginia and after three years, I still have not found a homeschool group that fits our needs! Cripes!

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