Written by contributor Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Homeschool mom burn-out. It’s a horrible feeling. I’ve had bouts with it off and on over the course of our nine-going-on-ten years homeschooling, but never as bad as this last year.
I was done. Wiped out. The last few weeks of our 2010-2011 school year can only be described as “muddling through.”
My kids will all tell you that this summer was the most boring ever. And, they’re probably right. We didn’t do anything remotely educational. We didn’t do much that was even especially fun. There was entirely too much video-game-playing, TV-watching, and Internet-surfing.
And, I can only muster up the tiniest bit of guilt over that because I needed it. I needed a couple of months to decompress.
I didn’t think I would be excited to start school this year. In fact, I was dreading it. However, when the first day started getting close, I was surprised to find that I was excited.
There were three things that I think helped me bounce back:
Taking Some Guilt-Free Time Off
I didn’t let myself feel guilty (much) about holing our family up at home this summer and indulging in too much mindless activity. I knew that continuing to push myself was only going to exacerbate the problem.
Just as when a person has reached physical exhaustion and has to rest, a person who has reached mental exhaustion needs to allow the mind time to rest and recuperate.
Reconnecting with My Kids
After taking some time off to let my mind rest, I knew I needed to reconnect with my kids in a capacity other than teacher, household manager, and disciplinarian.
Wii sports, board games, and cards were played. Ice cream treats were enjoyed. Movies were watched.
Photo by Yougendra174
Finding Something to be Excited About
It wasn’t until just a couple of weeks before school that I finally decided on a new history program. Who knew that the prospect of brand-new curriculum to be explored could penetrate the haze of tedium?
Whether it’s new curriculum, a fun family project, or a great field trip, find something that you can get enthused about because enthusiasm is contagious.
Now that I am past the burn-out stage, I plan on taking a few steps to avoid miring down in that quicksand again this year.
Plan More Breaks
This school year, we’ve started a little early, but planned in more breaks. About once every six weeks, we’ll have a long weekend or a week off (and three weeks at Christmas).
I especially wanted to make sure that I’d planned a long weekend for mid-February after reading something last year about the winter doldrums being the reason that public schools plan a break about that time.
By mid-winter, everyone is getting a little case of cabin fever. Christmas break is over and spring break seems so far away. Why continue to push through the long winter days when a little break might do everyone a world of good?
Include More Fun
This year, I am committed to planning more field trips and social outings. Those field trips that we haven’t done for a few years because we already did them when my oldest was in elementary school? We’re doing them again because my younger two don’t really remember them and they’re fun.
I’m also planning to organize a “lunch and a movie” outing at least once every two or three months. We’ll plan a place to meet for lunch and pick a movie at the local $1 theater and invite all our homeschool friends to join us.
We’ll probably pick a movie for the teens to enjoy as a group, while the moms and younger kids enjoy a kid-friendly option. Even my teenager has admitted that this will be fun.
Photo by bizmac
Take Mental Health Breaks As Needed
Despite all my best efforts, I’m sure there are going to be unplanned days when we all just need a break. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can take those from time to time. We don’t have to break from learning entirely to enjoy the benefits of a mental health day, but sometimes it’s in everyone’s best interests to put the formal learning aside for awhile.
Need some ideas? Check out 15 Ideas for a Mental Health Day.
Have you ever suffered a really bad case of homeschool mom burn-out? How did you bounce back?