Did you know that burnout is not something reserved for business leaders in the fast-paced executive world? Here are five ideas to help you prevent or reverse burnout in your homeschool.
I doubt anyone can go the distance of all these homeschool years without experiencing burnout at least once.
Even though the atmosphere of every home is strongly and particularly its own, as human beings, we all tend to fall into the same traps. For the sake of efficiency, our actions become so automatic that we forget how much joy they once brought us.
You know that you should feel grateful for the opportunity to homeschool, but instead, you feel irritable and unmotivated.
You read that you should feel grateful for each dirty plate you put into the dishwasher because it contained the food that nourished your children, and yet what you really want to do is throw that plate at the kitchen wall.
Or maybe you don’t want to throw anything. Your burnout manifests as a profound sense of tiredness, and an overwhelming desire to crawl under the blankets and not come out until… never.
While going away for a vacation is always a good idea (but not always feasible), there are simple things you can do today (at no cost) to reduce or eliminate the sense of burnout.
Ways to Eliminate Homeschool Burnout
You Don’t Have to Set Yourself on Fire to Make Other People Warm
We, homeschooling moms, tend to be so hard on ourselves. We’re geography teachers, math tutors, living room spelling bee coaches, DIY science camp coordinators, best curriculum researchers, and of course, our kids’ cheerleaders, cooks, drivers, nurses, and laundry attendants.
We do so much!
We have done it for so long.
No matter how many times we hear that we don’t have to set ourselves on fire to keep other people warm, we do it and hope that we can get to the finish line before we’re totally burned to a crisp.
Only, homeschooling is not a race: it’s a marathon, and the finish line is years, if not decades, away.
Saying “no” seems weak, but when you do, you will be surprised at how much extra energy you can find to connect with your kids.
Action step: Make a list of everything you’re planning to do today. Cross out three things that drain you and don’t bring you joy. If kids complain that there are sandwiches for dinner or you skipped driving someone to soccer practice today, say, “I’m sorry but today is my day off.”
What You Seek is Seeking You
Your happiness doesn’t lie on the other side of this pile of laundry, dinner cleanup, or science project.
It’s here now.
There’s no need for pushing, straining, or forcing. You can release your grasp, relax your shoulders, and let your jaw unclench. There! Doesn’t that feel better?
What you want will find its way to you. The only thing that is required of you is to stay present, so you can hear that tiny voice inside your head that knows what to do and which way to go.
You were meant for great things. There is nobody in the whole entire world that could be you better than you.
You owe it to the world to be the best version of yourself.
Look into your own heart.
What gives you joy?
What makes you come alive?
I know you. You are the kind of woman who would do anything to make sure her children are okay. You roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done.
Now, give your kids the life-changing gift of a happy mother. Because when you let your light shine, you give your children permission to do the same.
Action step: Do things you love because you are the only you that will ever be, and you deserve it. Make a list of things that make you come alive, then dedicate 10-15 (maybe even 30!) minutes each day and do something from your list.
Combat Burnout With Meditation
It feels so indulgent, just to sit there and do nothing when there is so much to be done!
It can even feel stressful at first. But you can get better at meditation just by sitting there and doing nothing.
When I just started meditation two decades ago, it seemed to trigger an almost panic-like response. My throat constricted, my mind raced, “I have to do this! And this! And this! Why am I sitting here when I could be doing those things?!” I had a strong urge to jump up and run off, clutching a to-do list to my heaving chest.
The moment I start meditation, my mind goes blank.
Sometimes thoughts come. I’m only human. But they’re so blurry. My mind doesn’t engage with them. They come, and they go.
Meditation is a tropical escape in the middle of harsh winter. It recharges everything: body, brain, and soul. It gives energy. It makes you more patient, resilient, and engaged with your life.
Don’t let your most amazing superpower remain dormant when you can tap into it anytime you want and need.
Action step: Put headphones on, close your eyes, and make your breath as loud as the ocean wave. Headphones amplify your own breathing. Allow it to become your whole world. If thoughts start intruding, think, “At this moment, there’s nothing but this breath.”
The Power of Hugs to Melt Burnout
Remember the Beatles’ “all we need is love?“
Perhaps the greatest discovery humans have made is that hugs release oxytocin – “the love hormone” that magically reduces stress hormones in our body, as well as endorphins, internally produced morphine-like hormones that produce a general feeling of well-being.
What’s even more amazing is that our bodies release all of those things not only when we experience the hug but then again when we remember it.
Are you getting enough hugs?!
According to “the mother of family therapy,” Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
What are you waiting for?!
Action step: Go hug your kids right now. Make it a good, strong momma-bear hug. Then set your timer to go off every hour, so you have a reminder to hug your kids all day long.
Pivoting to Prevent Burnout
As a homeschooling family, you have a rare gift: the freedom to choose those activities that have the most powerful emotional resonance.
The integers, syntax, and equiangular triangles will still be there tomorrow.
Today you can choose to celebrate something.
I love celebrating. It turns every day into a memorable experience.
The celebration doesn’t have to be stressful and time-consuming. I choose activities we can do together, and I pick something my kids can do independently so that I can have a break. Then we make a cake together.
Action step: Print a calendar that lists all the little holidays that can be turned into family celebrations. You can print ours here (they are free!). Each day contains a simple book that you can use as a conversation starter (or warm-up activity), and also lists something you can celebrate.