Homeschool Mom Burnout Is A Real Thing
Why We Experience Homeschool Mom Burnout And How We Can Overcome It
As I sit here writing to you I am sitting next to the fireplace at Panera. I have just enjoyed a bread bowl loaded with broccoli cheese soup and I am still working on a Caramel Latte. Twice while I was waiting on my food, I almost cried.
As a homeschool Mom, I am accepting that the sacrifices every Mom must make to pull off this lifestyle are 100% worth it. But that does not mean it is not hard. That does not mean we don’t have days where we have to fight back the tears at those rare moments when we actually manage five minutes alone, even if it’s in a crowd waiting on their own bread bowl.
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Sometimes it feels like too much, and I start feeling overwhelmed. Then, I find myself wondering where that woman I once was went. And missing her a bit. And finally, I start feeling guilty for even having such thoughts, for being somewhat selfish in my missing her. After all, who I have become is beautiful too. But freedom is something I have little of. And stress and chaos are available in abundance. Can anyone relate? What do we do when homeschool burnout sets in? Let’s think it through.
Why Do Homeschool Moms Sometime Cry In The Wait Line at Panera?
Homeschool Mom’s Put Themselves Last Too Often
Every homeschool Mom has times where she becomes overwhelmed. It’s easy to lose yourself as you set your own needs and passions aside again and again, yet step up to be the source of those very things for your children twenty-four hours a day and 365 days a year.
Homeschool Moms Have A Full-Time Job
Homeschool Moms spend countless hours every week pouring time and energy into lesson plans that we know will excite our child and hold their interest and teach them things that really matter. And we work at finding ways to make those things stick. Then we have to actually teach them. And if they aren’t hitting home, we have to be super flexible and ready with back up plans. This part alone makes for a full-time job in and of itself. The planning and the teaching.
We work and we work and we work on this part of our life. Providing an education that includes everything our child needs and is fun and engaging. But this is not our only job. And it is also not one we set aside and go home from at the end of the day to unwind. It is a way of life. It is our life. But there is more to it than lesson plans and standing up to teach…
Homeschool Moms Are Also Full-Time Housewives
As a Homeschool Mom, we have to work harder than most at the housework because the house is constantly in motion. There are no children running off to school for eight hours and we aren’t reporting to an office with a cleaning staff. So we clean. We sometimes feel like we are always cleaning a house that is never clean.
I personally have a great need for a neat and tidy house and so I fight that battle with Shera force. I refuse to let it go. A messy house does not feel like a home to me. I secretly wish I could be one of those moms who has her priorities straight and doesn’t care if there is laundry on the floor as long as there is a smile on the face of her child. But I am not that Mom.
And so I push back against that hurricane wind of gale force dishes, and dirty floors, and beds, and laundry, and vacuuming and windows, and dust, and it just rushes over me and around me faster than I can manage but I keep pushing. I’m the stubborn type. Full on Capricorn. I never know when to quit. I need to learn when to quit. Most of us Homeschool Moms need to learn when it’s ok to quit.
Homeschool Moms Cook More Than Most
Homeschool Moms also cook often. Most of us cook at least two meals a day. Personally, I love to cook. It relaxes me. I like healthy food. The smell of food cooking in a warm house makes it a home to me too so I don’t mind the cooking. But when you cook, you have to shop a lot. And then you also have to clean a lot. The trouble is there is never enough time for all of that shopping and cleaning, even when we have help from our child. So it’s a real thing. Another challenge. A daily struggle. Another one of the things that are building and building until the inevitable happens and we find ourselves crying soundlessly in the Panera line or sobbing in the shower. It’s another one of those things that can get really heavy.
Homeschool Moms Are At Home Too Often And Not Often Enough
Homeschool Moms also run a lot. You see, homeschool happens only in parts in the home. Most of the actual lessons happen in the homeschool room but there are always classes away from home, and sports and PE happen away from school, and often art happens away from home, and then there is speech, doctors appointments, and orthodontics appointments, and there are all of the community services events and on and on.
Even recess often happens away from home because even though we are tired of running, sometimes those four walls of our house still can start to feel a little too close, and so we need to get out, and a walk around the block just won’t cut it. Real nature. High mountains. Thick woods. Those things call us. And offer peace we can’t find in the house with all the dishes and cooking and lessons to teach and beds to be made. And so we run around like crazy.
Homeschool Moms Rarely Experience A Moment Alone
I think the very hardest part of being a Homeschool Mom is that you have almost no privacy. Often, the only moments we have to ourselves are scheduled onto a calendar that has only tiny slivers of open slots. For me, many days, the only quiet I manage in an entire day is in the shower. I imagine that sometimes it might be nice to sit down and enjoy some quiet. You know, just because I feel like I need it.
Once upon a time the ride home from work was when I had a chance to sort things out in my mind. I often wish I had a reason for a daily drive all alone. Just me and the radio and God, hanging out. But that is not part of it right now. Maybe I need a daily drive… Maybe Homeschool Mom’s should insist on a few solo rides a week, just to think.
Homeschool Moms Have A Huge Responsibility And Their Actions Have A Lasting Impact On The People They Love Most
People tend to think that Homeschool Moms have it so easy. Staying at home, playing with the kids, and such. Well, I started working when I was fourteen years old. And I have worked up to three jobs at the same time. I have also worked up to ninety hour weeks regularly. And I have never worked so hard in all my life as I do now as a Homeschool Mom. And the stakes have also never been so high. Making sure that T gets an amazing and thorough education is the ultimate responsibility. And seeing that he is not only prepared for college but also for life is a priority I insist upon keeping at the top of the list. This is something every Homeschool Mom knows. It’s up to us to get it right. We have one chance at this, and failure is not an option.
Homeschool Moms Have Eternal Internal To Do Lists
And at the end of the day, instead of going home, we go through that eternal internal To-Do List. Eventually, we learn to accept that while we didn’t get it all done, we got a lot done and that’s awesome. And we try not to notice that all the things on that list that were ours, about us or for us, they are ones left on the list day after day after day after month after month after month and even year after year after year.
But sometimes we do notice. And it hurts. It’s hard. Still, we force our chins back up and remember this is but a season. And it passes all too quickly. And then, before we know it, there will come a time when the list is much shorter. Too short. We know we will miss this. No doubt we will. But still, it’s hard.
So What Do We Do When We Can’t Take It Anymore?
We Have To Remember What We Gain And Not Focus On What We Have Lost
My calendar never has an empty slot. And weekends are just as crazy. When I worked eighty and ninety hours a week I traveled less and cleaned less and didn’t even know how incredible that was. But then I also missed my boy. And I had to hear about what he was learning and what he was interested in and who his friends were, and how he was feeling, in stolen moments at the very end of the day. I had to know him from a distance.
And that wasn’t ok. That was far from ok. I have to keep that in mind as I struggle with the challenges of this lifestyle. Every homeschool Mom has to stay focused on the truth that while this is not easy, it is worth it. The gains are far greater than the losses.
No matter what, no matter how hard it gets, we wouldn’t trade homeschooling for the world. For me, the relationship I have with T is precious. We are so close. We are mother and son and also the best of friends. You can not beat that. And that will last a lot longer than this homeschool journey will.
We Have To Make Time That Is Just For Us
How many times have I heard, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and agreed wholeheartedly? We have to take care of ourselves. Where I go wrong is that I decide I will save all of the things I need to be doing for me until after everyone else has already settled for the night.
The trouble with that is I often don’t get to sleep until one or two or even often three in the morning. And I have passed forty. With that passing, my ability to function well and feel well has vanished without enough sleep. I require that eight hours of sleep the doc is always talking about. But right now I go to bed really late and I also get up early so that I can workout before T gets up. Because I also require exercise to feel good. And the cycle continues… Yawn…
Homeschool Moms Have To Schedule Their Own Time And Stick To It
When I attended a Homeschool Blogger Retreat last March I was inspired to insist upon work hours where the kids are absolutely not allowed to interrupt short of a genuine emergency. I put this practice in place and it was working out great until I started to worry that maybe T needed to get out into nature more, or I really needed time to run to the grocery store, or I hadn’t managed to get numbers eight through twelve done on that To-Do List and I ended up handing that time back over. I have to stop that.
Homeschool Moms Have To Remember That This Journey Won’t Last Forever
When those inevitable times come that we feel like this never-ending tsunami of events and lessons and cooking and cleaning won’t end, we simply need to remember, yes, it will. The days can feel really long but the years always end up feeling too short. I know. I am in my fifth year of homeschooling. And it has flown by. Stay the course, the reward is grand. Say it to yourself. Speak it out! Shout it to the rooftops if you must but hold tightly to the truth that the reward is worth it.
Homeschool Moms Have To Remember We Are Doing Work That Really Matters
We matter. Giving our children an amazing education that includes faith, morality, life skills, and is directed by the student, is actually giving them a massive gift. One that will last the rest of their lives. Think of it. The fruits of our labor will live on. Our efforts will affect the lives of our children and their children and their children’s children.
The efforts we make now will affect our kids and shape their futures. The careers our children go on to, the families they build, the faith they stand on in hard times, and their ability to function as happy, healthy, adults, will be shaped in large part by their homeschool journey. What more could any mother ask for than the chance to give their child the best possible shot at a bright future?
Being A Homeschool Mom Is A Blessing
Homeschooling is a blessing. It is a blessing more than it is work, or lack of privacy, or hard days, or frustration. More than anything, it is a blessing. Shout that one to the rooftops too!
In conclusion, I have made us Burnt Out Homeschool Moms a new To-Do List!
Burnt Out Homeschool Mom To-Do List
- Make time for yourself and let the laundry wait.
- Consider cereal and leftovers as good meals. Spend less time cooking and cleaning and use that time to take care fo yourself.
- Don’t sacrifice the time you set aside for yourself unless there is an actual emergency. Being low on bread and milk is not one.
- If you have to drive to the coffee shop, a bookstore, or Panera, find some quiet. Relax into it. You need it.
- Remember why you are doing this and who you are doing this for.
- Pray often.
- Cry when you need too. It’s ok.
- Smile. You are doing a great job!
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