In a blog post I wrote about winding down the school year, I mentioned what a productive year I thought it has been and that for the first time ever I did not have the Jan/Feb homeschool burnout that I know a lot of homeschool moms experience. Some moms experience this at different times of the year, it just so happens that mine would hit Jan/Feb and then again in May. I love homeschooling my children but those times of year are very hard to get through. So what was different this year, and how can you conquer homeschool burnout?
One of the biggest changes for me this year was curriculum choice. Since I have been homeschooling, I have changed curriculum several times, many times using curriculum that other people had given to me. While it started out being free, it came with a price. The main curriculum I was using was very teacher intensive, sorted by grade level, and I did not enjoy teaching it. By the time Jan/Feb rolled around I was tired and ready to be finished with all of it! This year, I started looking at different curriculum and buying things that we could use as a family, or was student led, or open and go type teaching. We started using Mystery of History, which I love and we can pick and choose how much or little we want to do on each topic. We switched to Apolgia Science which the boys can do altogether and Chelsea can teach herself. We started using All About Reading/Spelling which are open and go programs that I enjoy teaching and I don't have to prepare daily for. Everything that Chelsea is working on she can do on her own with little guidance from the teacher. Switching her to Math U See is one of the best decisions I made and will be switching all the children to it for next year.
Working on a 4 day a week schedule has been a huge blessing to me. We use that 5th day to go to Art Class, visit with friends, run errands we can't get to during the week, and do some straightening up we don't get to. If I tried to do schoolwork on Fridays with all those other things I would go crazy!
Taking small breaks throughout the year helps me to avoid burnout. We take time off in November, December, and March. We also try to take some days off for educational/fun field trips. This help gives a little variety to our year.
Limit outside activities/obligations. If you know me in real life you are probably laughing at this one because I do not do a very good job of this. I have a hard time saying no, which is how we end up leading all of the various activities we are involved in. But, the year I suffered from the worst homeschool burnout was the year that in addition to all the other things we do I taught a Wednesday afternoon class at our church. There was just something about having to squeeze everything into the morning, wake up the little ones from their naps head into town to teach a class full of preschoolers for 2 hours, load my children back up, and take them home to feed them that just pushed me over the edge. It was like VBS stress all year long!! I realized I was not doing anyone a favor (least of all my husband and children) and I just had to say no. Homeschooling life got much better after that. You need to be able to just say no to things that are causing you a ton of extra stress. Your home (school) and family need to come first.
If there is something you and your children really don't like, don't be afraid to change it. On the flip side, if there is a schedule/curriculum you love and it's working great, don't feel like you need to change it because somebody else tells you its the "wrong" curriculum or you think you aren't spending as much time on school as your friend down the street.
Get outside and get some fresh air!! I don't think its any coincidence that most people get that burn out feeling during the winter months. You and your children are cooped up more than usual and the weather is dreary. Enjoy the sunshine and get outside when you can. Take a day off from your regular work and go take a Nature Walk or other outdoor activity. You will feel much better!
When you are going through major life changes, give yourself a break and take a little break. A few years ago, we made a major move in January after living in temporary housing for 3 months, and just coming back from a Disney World vacation. Oh yeah, and I was almost 6 months pregnant!! I was trying to unpack and adjust to all of the changes for me and the children while being pregnant and keeping to our regular school schedule. It was a big mistake! I should have gave myself and the children a few weeks off to settle in and ease into our school work.
I don't have all of the answers, but I do know that these are some of the things that have helped me. I am so blessed to have my children home with me and to be able to homeschool, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. Teaching curriculum I love, having realistic expectations, and letting go of very stressful outside activities all have helped me to enjoy all of my homeschooling adventure.
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