One of the many seasons homeschoolers will go through is burnout. It can sneak up on you in the guise of exhaustion and depression. You might find your routines begin to slip, you focus less on the enrichment activities you aspire to do and isolate more than usual. As unschoolers, it was easy to keep putting things aside, thinking there's no race, there's no reason we can't take a break and this is true. The problems arise when everything begins to be affected. We become so laid back, we end up stuck on screens all day. We start staying up later than usual and sleeping later and not getting as involved in our community. This is how it's looked for us the past couple of months. Coping with a pandemic has sent many of us into a tailspin and I'm no exception. While I struggle to get us back into a routine, I'm taking pains to connect whenever possible. Some activities we've done include Charades, picnics, playing in the sprinkler, and going for walks. We finally made a trip to the library and got a ton of readers to help my daughter learn to read. Our favorites include Frog and Toad, Olivia, and Elephant and Piggie books. Since I'm struggling to maintain focus and motivation lately, I gave up my stance against workbooks and bought a Brain Quest Kindergarten workbook so we could work on handwriting and letter sounds with less effort on my part. This part is easy because my daughter wants to learn and asks to do these things. My 12-year-old son is completely uninterested in anything except computer games and a book we're reading together titled Pax.
Recognizing burnout can be difficult because we all get tired and unmotivated from time to time but with burnout, the symptoms are often much more severe. I am normally a very organized, upbeat, and on the go type of person but have been feeling completely overwhelmed to the point of giving up on maintaining anything. A clean home, any type of schedule, and even reading. We've all become irritable and just making it through the day. The best thing to do in this situation is to figure what is in your immediate control. My instinct was to take a break from working so much so I made use of savings and shortened my work hours. Next, I started counseling which gave me one kid-free hour a week to talk to another adult who might be able to help me out of this rut. I slowly added some easy games and we made ourselves spend time outdoors. We are currently cutting down on screen time and trying to get to bed earlier. It's not easy, I'm still very overwhelmed most days but I'm learning to give myself grace. I thought of something I do when I'm depressed which is to make a list of things that make me feel good and go through it to see what I can do at the moment. I'm having the kids and I sit down to make a list like this and go over it together. The most important thing to remember in this season is that burnout happens to everyone. It doesn't make you a bad parent or bad at homeschooling and it doesn't mean you should give up. It's okay to take time to regroup. Even if it takes a few months like it seems to be taking for us at the moment.
I’m a homeschool mom of two, ages 11 and 5. We’ve been homeschooling from the beginning for 6 years and our preferred method is unschooling with a Charlotte Mason twist. I love homeschooling for the freedom it gives us and because I enjoy learning alongside my kids. Our favorite ways to indulge our interests are by exploring the world around us, doing experiments and activities, talking to people who are passionate about their fields, and reading well written books. I believe so much in what we do, I’ve kept it through divorce and now working full time from home. It’s my hope to continue our journey until college or whatever next step my kids choose to take.
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