The year just started. Everything is going great. I can’t possibly be experiencing homeschool burnout when it’s only November, can I?
Or perhaps it’s spring… “March Madness” has set in and I’m not talking about basketball.
Is your to-do list so long you have used up all the paper you got on sale at back-to-school time? Perhaps you’re uncertain if anyone in the house has clean clothes to wear tomorrow.
Did you just stop reading and get up to answer the door for the pizza delivery?
I get it!
Homeschool burnout can strike at any time during the year.
I loved homeschooling my children – but every once in a while needed a bit of a break. I experienced homeschool mom guilt immediately. How can I ask my husband who works all day for this break? How can I ask other moms who are just as stressed as I am for this break?
I also have to consider the kids! I’m working so hard to instill a strong work ethic in them. I want them to embrace a love of learning attitude.
In the depths of my homeschooling years, I went so far as to tell my kids that everything was learning, and every day was a school day. We did not take weekends, holidays, or summers off. I simply adapted the activities we did and the attitudes of my children to see every learning opportunity.
So often we are simply surviving until the next vacation. I completely get it, I love Fridays as much as the next Mom, and Summer held special meaning, especially when I was both homeschooling and working full time in a school setting.
While embracing that “every day was a school day” I wanted to give my children special memories as well. They wanted to have time off like their friends. On a whim, I told them they could have leap day off. Any year in which there was a leap day, they could do WHATEVER THEY WANTED all day, there would be NO SCHOOL!
This idea was a HUGE HIT and my kids LOVED IT. We officially started this idea with leap day 2012. My children were 8, 9, and 10 years old. They filled their day with video games and junk food, staying up as late as possible. In 2016 they wised up and set their alarms for 12 am on February 29th BEGINNING their day of binge gaming as early as possible and continuing into the night. The memories of “outsmarting mom” are cherished to this day!
I highly recommend adding a leap day celebration into your school rotation!
However, when Mom needs a sick day, or homeschool burnout is real, you can’t even wait for the weekend, let alone leap day!
I have some ideas for “time off” and embracing the NOW in between those precious single vacation days that occur once every four years. Because, let’s face it – balancing life as both mom and teacher aren’t always easy and you can’t exactly call in and get a substitute can you? You don’t even get a snow day!
Even if you live in an area where there is snow – why would homeschoolers NEED a Snow Day? It’s not like you are traveling to get to school/ The whole point of a snow day is the unsafe travel conditions right? As I understand them, if you have too many snow days in a school year you have to make them up in the warmer months – so you don’t get out on time in June. In that case, snow days start to become quite unappealing!
The feelings of Homeschool burnout are sending a message
The burnout feeling, regardless of WHEN I was feeling it, was telling me to make an adjustment, and make it quickly.
First and foremost, I need to realize if I need a break – the kids do too! What if I could give myself a quick recharge and get out of this homeschool rut, avoid burnout and come out looking like a super mom all in one swoop? I didn’t take extra time to catch up on all that “stuff” – I took extra time to CONNECT WITH THEM.
Here are some things you can do on burnout days: (Remember, you are fully participating as well)
1. No School for the day
Tip # 1 – Take a day off, Do not “power through” until the weekend, or planned school holiday. Cancel school for the day. Say out loud: “No school today kids – we are going to do XYZ instead.
If you are a regular reader of the Homeschool Holiday blog this one may surprise you because I always say – We do school every day 24/7. It’s true, we do – because everything is learning. My kids only got “off” on Leap Year Day and “burn out days”.
Because I framed our school philosophy as “everything is learning”, we have school every day, nights and weekends too, Burnout days were SO SPECIAL, and we were truly able to recharge.
Changing the curriculum for the day has a major impact on both you and your kids. Routine is wonderful, but breaking it can be just as wonderful when you need to deal with homeschool burnout.
Take A Mystery Ride
My favorite way to change up the curriculum was the Mystery Ride. I would plan a fun family day. If possible, encourage your husband to take the day off work. Do not tell the kids ANYTHING. Wake them up, load them in the car and tell them you are going on a mystery ride, school is canceled for the day. Give a set of clues relating to your destination if you want and see if they can guess, or just drive.
Ideas include visiting museums, amusement parks, or going to visit family that lives a few hours away. You can hike and picnic or do all the “tourist” things in a city nearby.
Set up Activity Centers
Spend the day doing arts and crafts or building lego, or a mix. Hold “centers” like they do in school. Let each child pick an activity. You pick one too. Set the timer and rotate through the activities as a family for the designated time.
Hold a Movie Marathon Day
There is something so refreshing to the soul in becoming a couch potato for an entire day! Have you shown your children Darby O’Gill and the Little people or Journey to the Center of the Earth? (The one with Pat Boone) The classics. Pop popcorn. Add butter. If you have to, get in the car and go buy candy. Remember it’s a SPECIAL DAY. After the movie is over, download my FREE Movie Discussion Guide. Depending on the ages of your children you can also design movie posters or make puppets of the characters.
Go ahead and let them play video games – But the catch – I want you to play with them! The same for board games. Take a trip to the store and pick out a brand new one together. Mix it up, play video games before lunch, and board games after lunch.
Do some informal Nature Studies
Pack a picnic and head to the park. Complete some impromptu nature studies. All you need is paper and a pencil. Just draw anything from nature that is interesting. Another method is to find 5 things and talk about them! If you can’t get to a park your yard is PERFECT. Nothing about the day needs to be complicated.
IF you absolutely need to get your own stuff done
As an absolute LAST RESORT if things have gotten out of control cancel school and give your kids a play day – go ahead and catch up on laundry and whatever is causing you stress. Meet for lunch and chat about their activities and thank them for keeping busy so you can get some things done. Order Pizza for dinner! You won’t be able to truly reset if these things are LOOMING. If you can’t find a way to do the chores together in a fun way – just let the kids play and power through. Taking 1-3 days to reset is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE! Mix and Match any of the above activities. Use idea #2 below – adjust your schedule and hold half days of school so you can get the house in order!
2. Adjust your homeschool schedule and routine as needed
Evaluate your schedule – are you feeling burnout because you are trying to fit too much in? Or is your routine off? Have you been letting the kids sleep in and that has things out of whack?
As homeschoolers often we feel the pressure that somehow our children are behind so we try to cram every last everything into our day. Take a deep breath. Your children are right where they are supposed to be. Go ahead and give yourself permission to simplify. End your day 30 to 45 minutes early. Add 15 minutes to your lunch break if needed so you can read a story or do a quick nature study.
Do you use “Brain Breaks” in your homeschool? Simply put a brain break is a 3 – 5 minute mental break in between tasks so kids have a chance to reset and refocus before moving on. When Burnout hits – it just might be time to remember to implement Brain Breaks! Physical brain breaks like dancing are popular, but mental brain breaks like playing with legos or pattern blocks are great too!
If you have gotten off your routine, plan a gentle reset. Start bedtime earlier with an extra story or a warm bath. Turn on a warm tone light in the bedroom a few minutes before you wake up the kids so it’s not so bright and they have time to adjust. Commit to your routine over schoolwork if that’s what it takes.
3. Find something to CELEBRATE to cope with the homeschooling rut.
What are you celebrating? Burnout and boredom go hand in hand. Use the Holiday of the day to infuse some fun into the school year. Just one a week Is all it takes! Adding a holiday in every day may produce overwhelm. Use the CALENDAR OF HOLIDAYS to find resources available for each week and choose something that looks interesting. If there is a holiday there that I DON’T have a resource for – go for it. My feelings won’t be hurt, my goal is for you and your kids to connect, whatever it takes!
Looking for more ideas to reduce stress and burnout? Check out these resources:
Ideas for Self Care for Tired Teachers From PreKay Essentials
The Burnout Remedy for Parents – Jaymee Davis with Schoolio
Maybe some of my TIME SAVING HACKS for your homeschool will help.
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