Burnout, fatigue, frustration or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity, has been a buzz word since the 1970’s. It originated when psychologists coined the term to describe their own mental state.
Homeschool moms are not exempt from burnout. It seems that you are pulled in every direction. Every one wants a piece of you. You are expected to teach the kids all things, (whether they are on one level or six different levels), make sure everyone has clean clothes and healthy meals, all the kids are clean and well taken care of, your house is clean and you keep your husband happy. You are a taxi driver, the family nurse,secretary, etc.
One thing that can lead to burnout is that overwhelming feeling that you have to do it all. And I am here to tell you, you don’t.
John Donne, an English poet, who lived from 1572-1631, wrote an amazing poem, “No Man Is An Island.”
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me;
Because I am involved in mankind
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
My friend, you were not created to go it alone. You are not Wonder Woman. No one expects you to be all things to all people, especially God.
In Genesis 2:18, God tells us,The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
In Exodus 18:14, 18, Moses father-in-law instructs him that he can’t go it alone.
v. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
v. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourself out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it
You are probably thinking, “I feel that God wants me to homeschool, yet I am exhausted. I feel so alone. How can I possibly continue
- Join a homeschool support group The name says it all. A good support group is a lifesaver. Homeschooling moms will relate to your feelings. Make friends with an experienced homeschooler; seasoned homeschooling moms who are active in support groups want to help. I don’t know what I would have done without my mentors and homeschooling friends while I was in the trenches.
- Enlist your husband to help Homeschooling is a family endeavor. Get your husband to teach a subject or take the kids out while you do tidy up the house. I used to leave the kids at home with my husband when I did the weekly grocery shopping and I also left them with him and did lesson planning at the library. Those couple of hours per week helped me keep my sanity when the kids were young.
If your older kids are giving you a hard time, get your husband to talk to them. You don’t have to be the sole disciplinarian either.
- Delegate Do you have older kids? If so, get them to help. I know that sometimes it is easier to do it yourself; you feel they don’t do as good a job as you or they argue too much. Let them do it; it’s the only way they are going to learn. It may take longer in the short term, but it will be well worth it in the long term. Let your kids take on some of the household chores, maybe a child can fix lunch for everyone. How about letting an older child help a younger child with math facts or listen to them read.
- Hire someone to help with housekeeping If funds permit, hire a housekeeping service to come in once a week or even every other week to help you stay on top of things. Consider hiring a babysitter for a couple of hours to babysit the younger children while you get things done or to even help with homeschooling. Teenage homeschoolers are always looking for a little extra money and are usually eager to work.
- Consider joining a co-op or share homeschooling duties with another family While I was homeschooling, I took part in both informal and formal homeschool co-ops. One year I did Konos with another family. We took turns doing monthly units. When it was my turn, the kids came over to my house and the other mom had a break and visa versa. Or split the homeschool duties one day per week. One mom can teach math and the other can teach language arts. Formal co-op are great. You sign up to teach a class you love and someone else teaches the things you don’t particularly enjoy and you only have to teach one grade level instead of several. A co-op was a life saver for me when my daughter entered high school. We were butting heads over Algebra and the thought of dissecting in my house sent me into nervous twitches. I did not have the money for a private tutor and the co-op was the perfect solution.
- Hire a private tutor/paid instructor Do not be afraid to hire someone to teach your children something that you don’t feel comfortable with.
Most importantly, spend a few minutes each day with God. Not spending time with God will definitely lead to burnout and is the quickest way to de-rail what God wants for your family.
Remember you are the only person who has your unique gifts and talents. God did not give you gifts in all areas, just in the areas that make you YOU!
Ask God to help you figure it out. He helped me and I know he’ll help you.
Part 2 of the series will look at how comparing yourself to others can lead to burnout.