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Defeating “Homeschool Burnout” Part 1
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Homeschool Burnout: [ hōm′sko͞ol bern´out ]
emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from a combination of exposure to environmental and internal stressors that involve teaching (one's children) at home while simultaneously keeping house, washing mountain loads of laundry, cooking dinner, wiping noses, carrying a baby on a hip, keeping a toddler entertained and being a good helper to a husband. In addition to signs of exhaustion, this type of burnout exhibits an increasingly negative attitude toward the choice to homeschool in the first place, low self-esteem, and personal devaluation. Second guessing and threats of putting kids on a bus are often associated with homeschool burnout

Homeschool burnout always finds us at the most inconvenient of times. We become knocked off track, losing some of our bearings along the way. Loss of purpose and reasoning for even having our children at home becomes the whisper we begin to hear. These are the dark moments the devil works hard to convince us to "just quit, already!" "Seriously, why do you even do this to yourself?" It's the moment we realize that it's just not working out the way it was planned to be! Then comes the fear of just throwing in that towel, with feelings of regret for even thinking such a thought because we know, deep down, we just can't! The reasons we chose to homeschool in the first place come back to our hearts and minds. That's when we come to realize we are desperately in need of a remedy.

After homeschooling for several years, I experienced this type of burnout more than once. In fact, it probably happened several times throughout a school year. It's absolutely ugly! I want to share with you a few "tips of the trade" today, and a few tomorrow, to better help DEFEAT this ugly burnout.

• Do Your Best at Getting Rest – It's important to get to bed at a decent time. A rested momma is a peaceful momma. (Now I understand babies and little ones can mess with this one a lot! Take each season with stride.) Whatever we can do to get there will help our days run more smoothly. Sometimes adequate rest will be better accomplished by taking short snoozes here and there while nursing a baby or just stopping to take a nap with the little ones after lunch, if at all possible.

• Rise & Shine Before the Children – Doing this will enable you to find some adequate time for a cup of coffee or tea while spending some time in God's Word and prayer. Maybe take a little time to exercise, time to shower, and dress for success! When we dress for our day, it not only changes our demeanor but enables us to feel put together and ready to tackle our daily duties "professionally."

• Make Breakfast Ahead of Time - Some of my most smooth running days have been the ones I have breakfast ready to go or at least partially prepped in advance with a plan in place. Take note - fuller and more nutritional breakfasts allow for lighter lunches!

• Skip Lunch - Planning for lunch can feel like one of the hardest parts of a homeschooling day because it means making time to clean up the kitchen AGAIN. Depending on where you do school, it can also mean having to clear the table of books and school supplies, causing what can feel like a near-catastrophic interruption to your schedule! Lunches are sometimes one of the hardest parts of a homeschooling day. Put simply, it's more work than it's often worth! Many days when we don't have leftovers available, my kids and I won't have lunch. If we have a large breakfast in the morning, we just snack for lunch. A boiled egg and a cup of yogurt, cheese & crackers, or we have "tea time", which involves a light snack served with hot tea.

• Morning & Evening Chores – A morning and evening routine for our children is very helpful for any mom's sanity! Make a list of chores, print them on pretty paper, place them on the fridge, or a central location where they can be viewed often and where you can easily keep track of what chores your children have done. This works for all kinds of ages! Even we moms need reminders sometimes! There are also so many fun and free Chore apps for families whose children have digital devices.

• Plan A Daily Schedule – Try not to overschedule. Set realistic goals. Allow time for spontaneous and creative moments in your learning. Plan your lessons (or if you use Distance Learning Online - your school schedule is planned for you! Tweak it to meet your child's needs!) Chores, meals, and even playtime are good to have on a schedule. You don't necessarily need a timed schedule, as that can create more chaos and more stress than needed for your day. But DO have a plan with your routines listed for each day. When children know what to expect throughout their day, it makes things run more smoothly. Remember the importance of being flexible as well. Just don't be a Scrooge with your time! Finding a balance takes a little time.

• Give It a Name – A fun way to make homeschooling more official or refreshing is by giving your school a name! A meaningful name! Make it a family event. Pick a name that fits your family and why you've chosen to homeschool. Or maybe everyone can submit names into a hat, but whatever you choose, make it fun! When children can participate in something "big" they can begin to take pride in something they can now claim as theirs too! Sometimes something "new" helps things become more refreshed.

• Don't Compare – Don't get distracted by what other homeschool families may or may not be doing. Your homeschool experience and family are uniquely yours. Your family will look completely different from mine or the mom two church pews in front of you. That's just one of the many wonderful things that makes homeschooling so beautiful. Each family is contributing something uniquely different. And every child is uniquely gifted for their own God-given purpose. Each family is given the great honor to be able to chisel and chip away, instill and provide the recourses to help their children find their special talents and gifts the Lord has set in place for them. And to think we get the privilege of this happening right under our own roof!

• Each Child is Unique – they are wonderfully and fearfully made. They come with their own unique personalities and needs. Needs that will determine how they learn best. Be attentive. What may work for one child may not necessarily work for another. Don't be tied to any particular way of presenting or teaching your BJU Press Homeschool Material. If it isn't working for one child, don't be afraid to tweak it to help better advance their learning. Just another great thing about homeschooling! You can customize your school materials to meet each child's special learning needs and learning styles! Homeschooling isn't meant to be a "one size fits all". Homeschooling is about looking outside of the box and not being shoved into a one size fits all mold or method. Something we find with using Distance Learning Online is that each of the 7 learning styles is already addressed and can be tweaked even more by you as the parent!

• Learn to Say "No" – Many families choose to be heavily involved in the extras, and it might just work for some families. But it's totally okay if your child is not in sports or music lessons! Life is busy, and the most important time you can invest in your child isn't always by watching his/her game or recital. As you homeschool you won't always have time for all the "extras." Focus on what's most important to you and your family, and remember the eternal rewards you are reaping as a homeschooling parent on a daily basis. This might help in choosing what activities are important to your family at this time. And it may change over time, as you hit high school or before. Evaluate the "extras" in your life and their ultimate purpose and final goal and outcome. Remember, it's okay to say "no" to good things.

• Don't Answer the Phone – And all introverts say, "Amen!" Okay, okay, this may be a little overboard, but seriously, hear me out! Make sure to notify your family and friends of your school hours and let them know that you will not be answering your phone during those times. Be sure to check your messages for emergencies. Other than that – a no-phone policy for homeschooling is a secret weapon for a much smoother, less chaotic day! When you have such a plan in place, it helps you not feel guilty when you don't answer every call or text right away. Everyone will know the crazy homeschooling momma has spoken, and her plan is now in place! Ha! Not answering texts or phone calls during these set times is helpful in keeping your school day on track and keeping you well-focused without outside distractions. Be sure to return phone calls at the end of your school day or at your earliest convenience. (Husbands' calls are totally an exception!)

• If Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy – It's a pretty known fact! If we are grumpy, distracted, and irritable, our children will eventually be too! This doesn't mean you must plaster a fake smile on. Just learn to monitor and control your mood and your tone because Moms truly set the mood in the home! Your attitude DOES affect and rub off on others. If your children seem to be unreasonably crabby or anxious, take an honest look at yourself first. There have been so many times when the problem has been me, not my children. Mommas, we can be the positive solution! Stay tuned to Part 2 of Defeating "Homeschool Burnout".

Meet the Author

Esther Black - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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