3 Ways to Beat Homeschooling Burnout

Family Matters on 01.02.12

Photo: SergisBlog/Creative Commons

If you're a homeschooler who's daydreaming about putting off the after-holidays restart of your schedule, then I hate to break it to you, but you are burnt out! It may have crept in slowly or hit you all at once, but the results are the same: an easily angered, completely frustrated, and downright cranky parent.

No one said homeschooling would be easy, but it shouldn't be a burden either. So if this is you, then you need some tricks and tips to start the new year off right

1. Slash Your Schedule

You know that homeschooling has tons of social benefits, but you still fill your kids' calendars with field trips, sports, learning co-ops, and other activities. First, you need to take an honest look at your week ahead: Get out a notepad and a red pen and write down every activity and field trip you have committed to. Ask yourself which activities are the most important and which can be cut. Are the morning activities adding too much stress? Did you leave room for unstructured playtime? Will you have time to go grocery shopping or to hit the gym? Be brutal with that red pen: If you can't bear to make any cuts, then you are doomed to reside in a land of perpetual burnout -- and trust me, it won't end well.

2. Stop "Doing" School

Are you arguing with your kids to finish their work? Can you even get them to start? Does your homeschool feel more like a battlefield than an exciting learning adventure? You are not alone in your frustration, but it's easier to fix than you might think. Dr. Raymond Moore, author of Home School Burnout, writes that "The most frequent cause (of burnout) is the use of conventional 'packaged' curricula, keeping the mother and children tied to books for hours a day." In other words: You're all bored.

So, if your current teaching methods and materials aren't working, take some time off to discover which teaching style is right for your family and then start fresh when you feel prepared to begin your new approach. Your kids will appreciate the break, and you will feel reinvigorated once freed from the stress of fighting your children to learn.

3. Lower Your Expectations

Sure I would love for my daughter to be fluent in Spanish, proficient in reading, a piano prodigy, and a math whiz, but she's six and I need to take a chill pill. I am no tiger mom, and living vicariously through our children almost never works out. One surefire way to avoid burnout is to set reasonable expectations of your children -- and yourself. 

If dinner consists of pancakes and sausage, and the bathrooms go an extra day or two or five without getting cleaned, no one will fault you (except yourself, so get over it). Our children don't need a perfect parent who has it all together, they just need a mom or dad who are realistic in the expectations they place on themselves and their family. 

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