Homeschool mom burnout is a very real problem in our communities. I often hear the discussion, but the solutions offered don’t really help. I often hear ‘push through’ or ‘just stop, you don’t have to complete anything.’ Neither piece of advice is good advice, especially for high schoolers.
Being a homeschool mom is wonderful and amazing. But because you are both teacher and mother while trying to run a home, you can easily get burnt out. So often, homeschool moms see a lack of breaks and downtime. I see more burnout among homeschool moms than I do among moms of public/private schooled children in my social circles.
Your children can burn out from no changes in scenery. They get bored being at home all the time. Not having enough quiet or downtime or having too much schoolwork for their mental or emotional capacity at the time will also wear them out.
Burnout Isn’t Inevitable
But burnout doesn’t have to be a part of being a homeschool mom. This year, I only have high schoolers where burnout is more possible due to the workload. As I have been a homeschool mom from the beginning, I learned that there are strategies to help prevent homeschool mom burn-out, especially towards Christmas and the end of the Spring semester.There are strategies to help prevent homeschool mom burn-out, especially towards Christmas and the end of the Spring semester. Click To Tweet
Are you a homeschool mom who has burnout in past years and wants to prevent it this year? Homeschool moms carry a heavy load and burnout only makes it larger and more stressful. But burnout can be prevented with some planning.
Whether you are doing online homeschool, using homeschool curriculum, using a homeschool co-op or a homeschool group, use these seven strategies to prevent homeschool mom burnout and to keep your kids going through the end of the school year.
Trying to squeeze yourself into a traditional, 180-day public school calendar is a recipe for burnout. If your kids are late-elementary or older, plan to start early, finish late, and take frequent breaks. I found that burnout was more common for us when we tried to squeeze a whole year in from mid- to late-September to early May with no breaks other than holidays.
I also noticed more burnout among friends who don’t start the school year until late September. By mid-April, they’re feeling like they should be done already. The older the kids, the more work per grade. It magnifies the effect in middle and high school.
In short, I found running things are if we were on a public school calendar was a disaster. And the older the kids were, the truer this became.
Our state runs their Department of Non-Pubic Education schedule from July 1st to June 30th. So we begin our school year on July 1st every year. We do a Fall Break, a full week off at Thanksgiving, three weeks off at Christmas, and Spring Break, two other breaks, every birthday and lesser holiday.
Plan to also take days off through the school year to do the fun things. Theme parks or the beach are too crowded during the school year and are more fun when the crowds are low. Breaks for ‘Camp Grandma’ or a week away at camp are wonderful breaks. And, of course, always allow for sick days if needed.
A good principle is six or seven weeks on, one week off. And instead of 180 days a year as our state requires, we tend to log over 210 days. The end result is a mom and kids that are less stressed. The workload is spread out and they forget less math and science due to shorter breaks over holidays and Summer.
Here’s our proposed schedule for 2019-2020, giving us a possible 213 days if we do no Saturday field trips. That gives us 33 days of flexibility for sick days, holiday and extra time off. The two missing days are family member’s birthdays that fall while we’re in session, we always take birthdays off.
- July 1 to August 9. We start with math and literature on July 1st and add in all other classes as their materials come in. Until then, we do student-led history, science and other subjects using the public library, documentaries on Netflix, and work on practical skills from Youtube. I try to get everything here by July 15th.
- August 19 to September 27. I move this end date around a little to accommodate any Fall fun we can schedule during our off week.
- October 7 to November 22. This is seven weeks so that the break falls on Thanksgiving week. Thanksgiving is November 28th this year.
- December 2 to December 12, taking off Fridays if needed for scheduled Christmas activities. During the Christmas break, they might do a little schoolwork if they are bored and I do count those days. We do school on long car trips for the holidays and I count those days for school.
After Christmas, we get going again the first Monday after New Year’s Day.
- January 6 to February 21
- March 2 to April 9. We normally wrap up history, science, grammar/writing and all electives during this block. Good Friday is April 10th and Easter is April 12th this year.
- April 20 to May 29th. By now we’re normally down to only math and literature, as I require both year-round. This is when we tend to schedule fun, as it’s warm enough but Spring Break is over and school isn’t out yet. History and science switch to entirely student-led but I still document it.
- June 8 to 30. They do one math lesson four days a week and read library books. Oral reports for the books once you complete your required number of written reports for the school year. This is where they read the whole Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time and we do student-led science and history. They deep-dive on the areas of interest they want to learn about.
Avoid Homeschool Mom Planners
One of the biggest mistakes I see is using a homeschool mom planner to plan a whole year, only to spend the rest of the year trying to catch up to the plan. Unforeseen illness or even good things like unexpected field trip opportunities or visits from the grandparents throw you off schedule. Normally you’re off of your plan by the Friday of the first week of school and you’re aggravated.
Children also tend to absorb concepts in bursts, so a set schedule can drive you mad. This was especially true for us in math. One child was prone to needing to spend 3-4 days on one lesson to truly master it before moving on. Then later she would be able to breeze through ten or twelve lessons in a week. I quickly figured out that a year-long math schedule for her would be a headache for me because we’d never be on schedule after the first day!
If your state does not require paper plans and quarterly proof of work completion, I recommend you only plan one week at a time, with an eye on getting 80-100% of the way through the curriculum by the end of the school year.
I like to set benchmarks instead. If we aren’t 25% of the way through the curriculum by the early October break and 50% of the way through by Christmas, we need to pick up the pace and schedule more work in that subject. This is where starting earlier in the year benefits you so much.
I am not opposed to letting children get ahead in some curriculums. I know that later in the year they may need to slow down when it becomes more difficult for them. The first six weeks of many curriculums limit themselves to reviews of previously learned concepts and skills, anyway. Letting them speed ahead through what they already know will not hurt.
How I Plan
As a homeschool mom, I prefer to use a bullet journal to record everything so that it is always easily accessible. This year, because we are doing high school, each child has their own bullet journal. It is a good way to show what we’re doing for the college admissions process. It keeps track of grades. I feel like a student bullet journal is flexible and easy to use, makes recording activities and grades simple and keeps us organized and on task.A homeschool student bullet journal is flexible and easy to use, makes recording activities and grades simple and keeps us organized and on task. #homeschool Click To Tweet
However, we do not fill these out far in advance and they don’t have to be decorative or pretty. I use them to plan the week on Sunday, then record what we accomplish each day. We don’t decorate it, we keep ours very simple to save time.
I will be posting more about this method soon so you can see how we do it. In the meantime, check out my Pinterest board on Bullet Journaling so you can learn more about bullet journaling for moms and teens. Find more posts about bullet journaling on the bottom of this page.
This is the bullet journal I use for myself and my children. It’s about the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. That gives me plenty of room for layout options and record keeping. I tried smaller bullet journals in the past and I figured out that if the whole week wasn’t on one page, I would forget to flip around in the book and record everything in different places.
One Large journal that stays at home and doesn’t go everywhere with us for each child is perfect for a one-page spread every week. Get each student a different color. They’re large enough that we can record everything for multiple years in one book.
If you’d like to see how I set my own personal bullet journal up to manage home, school and a business, see my 2019 setup using the above journal here.
School At Home
Don’t school at home, as if the children are in public school and on a public school schedule. It will wear even the most experienced homeschool mom out. Your kids don’t have to sit from 8am-3pm five days a week to learn. Instead, let them move and let them find the times that their brains and bodies work best.Your kids don't have to sit from 8am-3pm five days a week to learn. Instead, let them move and let them find the times that their brains and bodies work best. Click To Tweet
With small kids, I find that letting them run laps while doing memory work is the fastest way to memorize something. They got their PE as they memorized at a record pace. If I made them sit still while trying to memorize, they would take forever and fidget through the whole process. And everyone was horribly bored.
All of the school work doesn’t have to be done in the morning. If your child is a night owl and someone can night owl with them, that might be the best time to have them do their hard subjects and let them sleep in until noon every day. This has been a helpful strategy with one of my children. She wants to stay up later than my 10pm bedtime and her night owl daddy, who is a math whiz, is there with her. My other child is up by 7am, no matter what, greets the dawn and hammers down on his assignments. That is a very unusual pattern for a teen, but it fits him.
My high schoolers now naturally fall into a pattern. Two hours of focused work, a fifteen-minute break, another two hours of focus, then a long break before they return for a final session if needed.
I find it is best to update lesson plans and necessary record keeping weekly. I do this on Sunday evenings, as we do not have church. My teens are at youth group and I do my record keeping when I pay bills and handle household business while they’re out. I can have as many as four uninterrupted hours on Sunday night.
But the idea here is to find a block of time where you won’t be interrupted. Hammer down to get all of the required records and planning done along with any household planning you need so the week runs smoothly. You waste less time during the week having to do these things on the fly. Doing anything on the fly for a homeschool mom seems to take three times as long.
I hurry through the planning so I can have some ‘sit and knit’ time in front of the TV in peace. I find I can do all of the necessary home, business, tax, and school planning in about two hours if I don’t waste time. If your family doesn’t have multiple home-based businesses, your time will be less.
Grade everything, pull the best example work and file it away, then update lesson plans for the previous and coming week. Fill out any forms, do any needed online shopping or making shopping lists, then prep any upcoming labs, field trips and the like.
Choose your record updating time during quiet time or when you’re home alone to minimize interruptions. I’ll share my entire Sunday evening routine soon so you can see how I use it to keep both the home and the homeschool running smoothly with minimal problems.
Quiet Time To Soothe The Homeschool Mom Soul
If you’re an introverted homeschool mom like me, people at home 24/7 can quickly wear you down from a lack of silence. I need quiet time daily, with everyone in their own room working quietly. It fortifies me to get through the noise level of every day.
If you have any children who are introverts, you might find that the daily enforced quiet time is critical to helping them cope with the constant presence of their parents and siblings. For my one introverted child, it prevents bad attitudes, irritability, and exhaustion by dinner time.
Quiet Time with Small Kids
If you have young children who can’t be away from your eyes, keep them in the living room and play a quiet video. Or baby gate them into a room that is completely safe for them, as long as they will tolerate it. When my kids were little and needed constant supervision, I only got about a 20-minute break. Later, that stretched to an hour. Now we have a silent 2-hour work block after lunch every afternoon. They do their reading for literature and history or bookwork for other subjects. I rest, read, nap, knit, sneak snacks in my closet or blog.
When my teens show signs of exhaustion or burn-out, quiet time helps them regain balance and their will to persevere. Even for extroverts, extra quiet time is the closest thing to a reset button that I’ve found as a homeschool mom. It always works for my introvert. If that doesn’t completely fix the burn-out for the extrovert, we schedule some extra social time. Between those two, it rebalances my extrovert child so they can continue without exhaustion.When my teens show signs of exhaustion or burn-out, quiet time helps them regain balance and their will to persevere. Click To Tweet
How do you prevent burnout? What have you found helps you and your kids to persevere through the school year? Share in the comments below!
Check back later this week where we cover five more tips on how to prevent homeschool burnout.
Want more homeschooling help? Check out my Pinterest boards filled with information on homeschooling all ages!
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