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Back to Homeschool: Burnout

If you are new to homeschooling, or about to embark on this journey, you may wonder how in the world all this excitement might be traded for something called burnout. And the burnout I'm referring to is usually not really homeschool burnout; it's more of a feeling of being generally overwhelmed.
Since homeschooling becomes a lifestyle, the burnout can stem from this major addition to your lifestyle.

So, what are the symptoms? 
The symptoms must not be confused with the causes. As with a medical illness, symptoms point you to the cause, and a diagnosis. In the following article, I will address many of the causes. And each of these individual causes have one disparity in common, worded perfectly by Amy at Raising Arrows: 


Behavior problems: Do your children need boundaries? Ill-behaved children can wreak havoc in the home, and will definitely disrupt the best-laid plans. Obedience to parents is a common theme in scripture, which means it should be a priority in our homes. Training, discipline, and behavior should be an important part of your curriculum. They are infinitely more important than academics.
"Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."
                                                                      – Proverbs 29:17
Is this scripture evident in your home? Do you feel delight in your children? Or do you feel frustration (or even dread?).  I can usually trace my stress to a behavior problem that started small and quietly grew, until I realized "something's wrong here!"
One of my favorite go-to resources is Raising Godly Tomatoes.
Lack of Quiet Time: Quiet time is essential, whether you stay up late after the kids are in bed, get up early to organize your day before they’re awake, or enforce a nap/quiet time each afternoon. Time alone in prayer, Bible reading, and just thinking are necessary to your sanity.
Training the children to have a daily quiet time is wise. If you have young nappers, have the older kids read or rest for an hour (in separate rooms if possible). They are in training! It sets a peaceful tone for the entire house each day, and teaches them good habits for the future.
Lack of Order: If your house is out of control, it's likely to make you feel like you "can't do this."
# 1 and 2 above can contribute to a lack of order. If behavior and quiet time are not the issues, consider how your day looks.
Do you follow a schedule, or just "wing it?" Having some sort of daily plan will work wonders, for you and the children.
Do you have a regular routine for laundry, meals, and housework? Are the children doing their part? If your children are not working alongside you, you have a problem. Children of any age are capable of all kinds of chores. The older they are, the more they are able to contribute to an orderly home.
I've said plenty about this book in past posts, but let me just recommend it one more time (to a family of any size): Large Family Logistics. It's all in there.
Wrong Expectations: This is tricky, and expectations will differ with each family. But consider what you are trying to accomplish in your homeschool. Are you using a certain curriculum because all your friends use it? Maybe it's not for you. Are you trying to produce college grads by age 18? Is that what God has for your children?
Another thing to consider is the amount of time you spend "getting it all done." Teacher manuals are not the law. You can skip projects here and there, jump ahead to the next chapter, or skip a unit altogether based on your family's needs. In case you've forgotten what public school is like, remember that they rarely finish a book!
Simplify your homeschool. If you have multiple ages, getting a separate curriculum for each one can be overwhelming. What subjects can you combine for the whole family? My five children range in age from 2-16 and we share Bible study, History, Geography, Literature, and Science. 
A note to Dads: I have personally witnessed families where Dad made an "executive decision" on a curriculum at purchase time, and then left Mom holding the responsibility of making it work. Then, when there are problems, Dad won't consider other options. I adore families where Dad is involved, but I believe it should be in all phases; not just choosing the books.
Overcommitment: Are you trying to do too much, or be involved everywhere? Learn to say NO. Cut back on your outings. Reduce your volunteer work, classes, and other commitments to a bare minimum.
Whether you have burnout, or want to avoid it, you need to:
My best advice: take a break! Sometimes one day off will refresh you. Or your situation might require a few weeks off. Start with a day off for relaxation and rest. Then decide whether you need more than one day.
During this time, rest, relax, and have fun with your kids while considering the causes of burnout. Then take time to implement a solution, whether it's focusing on behavior, housework, schedules, meals, curriculum, or all of the above.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! God gave these children to YOU, and no one loves them more than YOU!
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