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Monday, January 07, 2008

Homeschool Burn-out

The Lost Files
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 1
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 2
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 1
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 2
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 1
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 2
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 1
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 2
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 1
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 2
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 1
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 2
Chapter 9: A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 1
Chapter 9 : A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 2
Chapter 10 : Homeschool Burn-out

When I began reading and studying about homeschooling, I noticed that every book I read mentioned the possibility of burn out or stress. .What weak-minded individuals., I thought. .How can your own children burn you out?. I thought that preparing to and becoming fully educated before beginning to homeschool, would somehow magically prevent such burn out. I was in for a big surprise!

I will not say that I completely burned out, but I can say I saw it coming. As is usual every winter, right before Christmas, my mood shifted to gloomy. (Even though this happens every year, somehow, I am never prepared for it.) In previous years, I combated this feeling by sleeping a bit more, and cutting back on my workload. Because I was homeschooling this year, I never found the time to take my normal 2:30 nap, and cutting back on my workload this year would mean not teaching my children. I was not willing to do that. Therefore, I had to learn to deal with my stress.

There are days when my kids and I do get sick of each other, from being joined at the hip all day, and I cannot wait for my husband to get home. On some of those days, run for the computer room and shut the door, other times I go for a ride because I am overwhelmed and need a break. There are other days when I have the good sense to say, .let us just stop everything, sit down, and enjoy each other.. Days like this make up for all of the stresses.

Occasionally changing our routine has helped me relieve a lot of stress. On some days, we do social studies in bed. As we snuggle amongst the soft down comforters and fluffy pillows, I read and explain each chapter and we memorize rhymes to our hearts’ content. When they do not understand something, I can draw pictures for them, and that helps them to. Because of this, I have realized that they are visual learners, and my talent for art suddenly has become more useful than I thought. So when the days get too monotonous, and I feel the stress level rising beyond my control, I like to yell out, "History in Bed!" and we race up the stairs to read and learn and rhyme and to be close.

Still there were days when I was unable to shake that gloomy feeling, and find a creative way to get through the day. On those days, I would have an overwhelming need to be alone. Things that would never disturb me on a normal day would annoy me. Offenses like a child asking the same question for the third time, or my son saying, "She.s looking at me again" would cause me to raise my voice for no good reason, or to stay silent when I should have intervened. Fortunately, those days do not happen often.

As a homeschooler there are and will be days when it just seems like torture. This is especially true when you experience a seasonal slump like me. All I can tell you it that this too will pass.. The reward here is that you are spending this time with your children vs. a boss or co-worker who will not care that you are having a bad day. Also instead of just sleeping the days away, the children keep you active and functioning on a higher level than you normally would.

I had many days this past winter when I would have preferred to be sleeping rather than homeschooling. Somehow, I found the energy and drive to keep going, and fortunately, my children knew me well enough to help my moods with silly games and exchanges. They also know when to grab a book, and avoid me completely. It is on these days when I am most keenly aware of the value of my children. I am painfully aware of their constant presence, but I am also aware of how much they need me to take care of myself. Sometimes they even have enough presence of mind to ask me when I had my last pedicure. (Insightful for seven and nine year olds!)

Next winter, I plan to be more purposeful about getting away for some long weekends. I hope it will take some of stresses off all of us.

Read more Notes From a Homeschooling Mom

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