If you’ve been a home educator for any length of time, you know one thing—homeschool burnout is real!
Believe me, I know. As a longtime homeschooler since 1993 and the former director of a homeschool enrichment academy, I talk with many parents about the issues that they encounter in homeschooling their children.
That’s why I wrote this blog post. Below, I’ll share the top five reasons homeschool parents experience burnout and what you can do to avoid fizzling out from all the stress.
1. Comparing your homeschool to someone else’s homeschool
Folks, comparing what you do to someone else in entirely different circumstances is hugely damaging to you and your family.
Some people school year-round. Some people school four days a week. Some people’s children have a propensity for languages and speak more than one. Some children struggle with English. Try to take inspiration and encouragement from what others are doing instead of using their accomplishments as a way to make yourself feel inadequate.
If you only take away one nugget from this blog post, let it be this—don’t compare what you’re doing to what others are doing!
2. Doing too much
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to choose classes and activities for our children. I often see homeschoolers whose children are involved in so many activities that they’re rarely home, family life suffers, and the children and parents begin to experience burnout.
The younger the student, the fewer extracurricular activities he or she should be doing. A freshman will have a lot to do just getting used to the rigors that high school work demands. You will probably need to be more available to your child during this first year of high school. Scheduling too many activities will increase the pressure on both of you, which leads to burnout.
Older high school students also need to be helped not to have too full of a schedule. I had students at my academy who told me that they were exhausted because they worked, did sports, played an instrument, had rigorous honors and AP classes, and also were in Scouts or other youth civic organizations.
We all want our children to be well rounded and have a great education, but it’s important to find balance and make sure that every family member (you too, mom and dad!) has time to just be.
Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing. Everyone (even kids) needs a work-life balance.
3. Doing it all yourself
The homeschooling life is a full life. By choosing to homeschool, you took on another full-time job in addition to what you were already doing. It’s all too easy as a homeschooling parent to feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
Just remember this: You don’t have to do everything yourself.
Get your children involved in helping to make meals as well as to clean and maintain your home. Even young children can be taught to do real jobs that are a big help to the household. Get other adult family members to assist you with your homeschooling. Grandma and Grandpa (if they are supportive of homeschooling) can also be great resources.
4. Not having an end to your school day
One of my children taught me a valuable lesson early on in our homeschool when she asked me to spell a word for her one evening. I suggested that she get the dictionary and look up the word herself. She responded, “Can’t you just be my mom right now and spell the word for me?”
At that moment, I decided that the school day would have an end, just as public and private schools do. While it’s true that we have teachable moments outside of our lesson plans, we also need to designate school hours. This is a help to us and our kids.
Knowing that we have only so much time to complete work helps all of us to be better managers of our time. It also allows us to be a family after school is done for the day. Our kids need us as their parents as well as their educational facilitators.
5. Not making time for yourself
Making time for yourself as a home educator is crucial. You may think you don’t have time to exercise, go out to dinner with your spouse or partner, or go to that really cool monthly parent’s night out. But the truth is, those things are what give you the physical and mental energy you need to homeschool your child.
I neglected the physical care and upkeep of myself as a homeschool parent until 2009, when I woke up and realized that I needed to make my health a priority. I feel better today than I did twenty years ago. I wish I had made time to care for myself earlier.
If you haven’t made your physical, mental, and social wellbeing a priority, I encourage you to start immediately. You and your family will benefit immensely!
So there you have it—the top five areas where we can experience burnout if we aren’t careful. As homeschool parents, we need to consciously create balance in our lives so that we have endurance for our whole homeschooling career and can make it all the way to the finish line of graduation for each student.