Why do you want to homeschool after all?
Sometimes the weariness and the dailiness of homeschool get the best of us. We become “mini martyrs” because we’re committed to the cause, but we don’t actually like the process or we feel that the alternatives are so loathsome, we will not consider them despite the fact that we feel miserable.
How you feel about homeschool absolutely impacts how your kids feel about being home with you. You are the one who creates the momentum, the peace, the joy, and the enthusiasm of home education. If you’re not feeling it, no one else is either.
That’s a lot of pressure.
For those of you on summer break, this is the time to find your joy again (or at minimum, your peace). Homeschool burnout is real and can’t be ignored or minimized.
There are two ways forward.
1. Go back to the beginning. Why did you sign up to homeschool anyway? Remember what energized you—the time with kids, the joy of learning, the opportunity to create a home of shared discovery. Are you still doing those things? Have you switched to a strategy that is no longer life-giving to you because you are at the “now this counts” stage?
Is your life over-burdened by other activities and you forgot that homeschooling requires attention outside the school day hours? Are you expecting it to continue without your investment into ideas and learning and trying new things?
Have you given up on one of your challenging children? What did you do for that child at the beginning that you’ve forgotten?
Are you being seduced by methods that go against the grain of your natural personality?
2. Go forward. You need new ideas to keep you going. Read. Talk to others. Change one dynamic in your homeschool (less structure or more structure). Be intentional. Make plans (things you can look forward to).
Part of what made homeschooling more exciting at the beginning was its “newness.” You need to inject a little “new” back into the equation. Find a new theory to apply, take a class, join a group, go to a homeschool convention, pick a new curriculum for one of the subjects that has lost its liveliness. Learn something new for yourself just “cuz.” Let your own learning lead you.
You can’t expect yesterday’s inspiration to fuel today’s responsibilities.
You can use the past to help ground you (remember why you were happy before) and you can use the future to lead you (create new ways to be happy in the days to come).
Above all: know yourself. If you are burnt out, identify the source (you have teens and they are less eager to cooperate; you’re under pressure from external factors like illness, job loss, pregnancy, a new job, or some other change in circumstance; one of your children still can’t _________ – read, calculate, write, cooperate). Address the issue: self-education, conversation, and if it helps, therapy.
You can’t get to happy homeschool without an honest look at what’s ailing you and your children. You have time. Take a long slow look.
It’s also okay to coast for a while, to drift, to let go of the reins and create peacefulness through mindful inattention. Sometimes just living day to day, trusting that your energies will rebound once you let down the vigilance is enough. Really. Try that for a little while if you haven’t got the energy to sink your teeth into the nitty gritty.
Check in with yourself on a monthly basis and see if the pressure, inertia, or disappointment ease.
Allow yourself to notice little things: why you like one of your children, how watching TV together brings laughter that’s been missing, the way you feel more energized when you exercise or run or do yoga in the morning before everyone gets up.
Be good to you, and let go of the self-recriminations. This is a problem to solve or a circumstance to learn to live with, for now, for this season. It’s not a life sentence. Go back to one day at a time.
Cross-posted on facebook.