I spoke to a younger homeschooling mom this week who was clearly exhausted and suffering from burn-out.
After telling me why she was dreading the next two months of “school” , I asked her if she’d ever considered this:
“You are completely in charge of your own happiness. You don’t need permission to make changes for your own sanity. If you are discouraged, change something or nothing will change.”
She needed to look for creative ways to make room for things that bring her joy. She was suffocating and needed some soul-oxygen.
I have been in her shoes too many times to count. We don’t have time so we don’t take time. It’s a vicious cycle.
Sometimes we get so stuck in the same old rut, that we don’t even know we are spinning our tires and headed nowhere. Spinning our tires requires movement and energy, so we equate that with productivity. Fast paced, multi-tasking, non-stop activity does not guaranteed progress. In fact, I’ve found that it almost guarantees burnout.
The great amount of work that is truly on the shoulders of a homeschooling mom can scare us into a life of hurry and worry.
We begin pushing our kids to perform with a “standardized expectation” where kids can’t be themselves or excel in their own strengths. No, come end of the year, we must all perform for the test. Proficiency in every subject. Just call me Drill Sargent Mom.
Maybe we forget that education is not simply about gaining knowledge to pass tests.
It’s about relationships, training, direction, discipleship, character, and the atmosphere of home.
Charlotte Mason was a huge proponent of the “The Atmosphere” of education, that sense of well-being, connection, and joy that you share with your child that assures them that you are glad that you are together today!
We are training for real life situations.
Grandma is sick. We’re packing it up to get her some ginger ale and make some soup.
Mrs. Jones lost her baby. We’re headed there to watch her kids so she can rest.
Mrs. Smith is really struggling this week. She’s coming here for coffee and we’re going to cheer up her kids.
Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s real life training. And we have to plan time for small things that will yield big results in our happiness. (This will be different for every person, depending on your interests!)
If you are dreading the end of your school year and you find yourself less than enthusiastic about it, evaluate why.
- What has zapped all your energy?
- Where are you stretched too thin?
- Have you become the “do everything” mom, so that the kids aren’t carrying their weight?
- Have you let behavior slide so that your days are filled with a constant chorus of whining?
- Have you taken time to refresh your own soul?
- Have you purposely pursued time away from the kids/classroom to nurture life-giving friendships?
- What inspiring friend can you plan to spend time with this week?
- Are you looking for ways to serve others outside of your own home?
- How can you provide moments of beauty in your daily routine?
- Are you over-committed somewhere? What can you cut?
- Have you under-nourished your own interests? What can you add?
Being a homeschool mom should not mean that you are now cloistered into your locked house, only to emerge for necessities like groceries and doctor’s appointments. You don’t stop being a sister, daughter, friend, neighbor when you teach at home. In fact, this role almost requires you that intentionally pursue a connected lifestyle to spark imagination and inspiration.
If you are suffering from burnout, and you still have a way to go in the semester, it’s time to change something. Write down two things you can do this week to plan for moments of beauty and inspiration.
Oh, I know. It’ll slow down your pace. You may only finish 130 lessons, rather than 140, but I think your kids’ experiences will be richer. (Don’t worry. The traditionally schooled kids rarely finish all their textbooks either.)
- Make tea time a daily thing.
- Take an afternoon to shut off all electronic devices and spend some serious time in the sun and fresh air.
- Take a nature walk.
- Arrange a small display of flowers for the table.
- Notice the beauty around you in nature.
- Notice the negative self talk in your own mind. Maybe your own words rolling round and round in your head–words or failure, or bitterness, regret, or disappointment–are the reason you are so sour and drained. Dwelling on the negatives will always do that to you.
- Take a walk.
- Get some exercise.
- Head to the library and find books that inspire you to learn something new.
- Paint outside with the kids.
- Laugh with a friend.
- Make a bon fire.
- Read aloud to the kids.
- Enjoy a treat together.
- Invite people over. Connect in meaningful ways. Live. Enjoy your life and the people in it.
If you are dreading the homestretch, change it up. You’re on your own schedule. And you don’t need anyone’s permission to care for your self. You are in charge of your own happiness!
What are you going to do this week to plan for happy and inspiring moments? Share in the comments!