Are you burned out? Done with homeschooling? Do you really just want to quit? Before you do, take a minute to regroup, reevaluate, prioritize, and try something different. You might just be surprised at the result.
Two years ago I was done with homeschooling. The kids were unhappy, the house was a mess, and all I wanted was to send my kids away so I could have five minutes of peace and quiet.
I had planned out my year. I thought I knew how to make it work. Apparently, all I really I knew at that moment was that pulling harder and squeezing tighter would make my school and family life fall into place.
My life was a Chinese Finger Trap. It was absolutely no way to live.
Unfortunately, my experience isn’t uncommon. Homeschool moms often fall on the type A personality scale. Many of us are driven, confident, and focused on creating the right educational environment for our children.
We’re also working multiple full-time jobs on the home and career front, and the potential for burn out is high.
The goal, of course, is to stem the tide of overwhelm, preferably before it consumes us. But how in the world do we that when everything else is falling down around us?
Simple. We regroup, we reevaluate, we prioritize, and then we switch things up.
How to Save Your Homeschool When You Feel Like You Want to Quit
The first step is to breathe. Make sure you are taking care of your basic needs first. You can’t give your family (or your homeschool group, or your co-op) what you don’t have.
- What does my prayer life look like? What do I want it to be?
- What are three things I can do every day to make sure I’m taking care of myself?
- What is my favorite way to unwind, and how long has it been since I engaged in that activity?
- In what areas do I need help? To whom could I go for help?
- Who has offered to help in the past? Did I take them up on the offer? Why or why not?
These are questions you should be asking yourself periodically, at the very least once a month. They will help you identify where your self-care is lacking and allow you to make course corrections as needed.
Once you’ve taken a look at your self-care tendencies, it’s time to reevaluate what’s happening on the homefront:
Take a look at your Curriculum
- Which areas are the most successful? Why?
- Which areas cause the most strife? Why?
- What can I do to relieve that stress?
- Should I hire out?
- Find an online resource?
- Switch to a different curriculum?
- Use a hands-on (or hands-off) approach?
- General upkeep
- Who is doing the bulk of the chores? Could the rest of the family help out more?
- What systems can I implement to make life easier? (Zone cleaning? A token economy?)
- General upkeep
Take a look at your mother/child relationships
- What are my mothering successes?
- How have I connected with my children?
- Is there a child with pressing needs?
- What are the stumbling blocks in my relationships with my children?
Don’t let this reevaluation stress you out. Rather, use it to create a set of benchmarks by which you can measure progress in those areas of need. Once you’ve taken stock of these items, you can begin to move forward in making positive changes. This is where the next step comes in:
Staring at a huge list of action items is intimidating and totally stresses me out. That’s why I try to list these items in order of priority. That way, I know where to start.
I ask myself the following questions:
- What school tasks should be completed today? By the end of the week? By next week? By the end of the month?
- What tasks around the house should be completed today? By the end of the week? By next week? By the end of the month?
- What self-care items should be completed today? By the end of the week? By next week? By the end of the month?
- What child-related issues need to be addressed today? By the end of the week? By next week? By the end of the month?
- What are my work goals for today? The end of the week? Next week? The end of the month?
Once I identify these priorities, I am better able to separate them into manageable tasks. Some tasks go in my planner while others are handed off to other people. Looking at one thing at a time does wonders for avoiding overwhelm.
Switch Things Up
Sometimes all we need is a way to reorient ourselves to homeschooling once again. If the way you’ve been doing things isn’t working, try doing something else!
Flip the classroom and let your children do the teaching.
Give them a topic, then ask them to find a creative way to teach it to you. This encourages researching, reading, thinking, writing and synthesis as they process the information and present it
Make a general list of items you need to accomplish then check them off as you go through your week. Pam Barnhill and Sarah McKenzie have practical suggestions for how to do this.
Try doing a little from one subject each day
Watch a science video one day, then write about it the next. Do an experiment on the third day, then go on a field trip on the fourth. Much like breaking down your schedule, breaking homeschool tasks into chunks can make bigger topics feel more manageable (and meltdowns less likely).
Devote one day to a subject
We did this for a while and I really liked it. We binged math on Mondays, history on Tuesdays, science on Wednesdays and reading and writing on Thursdays. You don’t have to limit your school day to those subjects alone, but you can make them the main focus and spend shorter amounts of time (15 to 20 minutes, perhaps) on the others. This is especially good for days when you might have a larger project to tackle.
Finally, go ahead and quit
Leave the books and papers at home and take a week to explore local museums. Go camping or take a hike. Immerse yourself in the arts for a few days. Just walk away and do something different.
This doesn’t have to be impromptu. You can schedule weeks of downtime throughout the year. Learning can take place anywhere – even when you’ve taken a week off from school.
We carry a great deal on our shoulders, not the least of which is forming the young minds who will one day be in charge of this crazy, beautiful world. It’s OK to feel like quitting. It’s OK to feel like taking a break. It’s OK to feel like you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and start from the very beginning.
Take a deep breath. Look at your children. Know that whatever choice you make, you are doing what’s right for them because it is the choice to which God has brought you. And then move forward, confident in your path.