Taking Care of Yourself – How to avoid homeschool burnout.


Keeping burnout at bay

Taking responsibility for your children’s education is a massive leap of faith at times, a no brainer at others. The moments where you feel either totally on top of things and totally unsure of what you are doing can easily occur in one 24 hour period. Sometimes multiple times. Taking care of yourself is essential to being able to take care of others. Pouring from an empty cup….. etc. etc. You know the positivity memes well. Bottom line is, if you feel burnt out and worn out, something has to change. Setting up some good habits can hopefully keep you on top of things.

Time out – Put yourself in it

If things aren’t going too well, give yourself a ‘time out’. As a home educating parent, being with your children full time can have its overwhelming moments. Giving yourself permission to just relax is really important. I look forward to my morning ‘coffee time’ where I make a big (and I mean a giant tea cup sized) coffee and grab some dark chocolate and just chill out for a while. When the kids were smaller I would take it outside so they could show me their tricks on the rope swing, or out to the front lawn. In order to distract the littler ones, I would often prepare a snack plate for them too. That was a win-win. My big kids now enjoy a tea or a smoothie and I see them setting up these little break times for themselves with a drink, their book, a little snack and a sunny spot to sit.

By caring for ourselves we are we are truly showing them how to do the same. They will take on way more of what we do than what we say.

Keep things in perspective

Ask yourself, will this really matter one year from now. It’s so easy to cascade in a bad moment. It goes something like this. Your child is resistant to doing something, you try very kindly to encourage them, they still won’t do it. You go to a place in  your head where you think they will never be able to write/read/do maths or whatever it is you are trying to encourage. It may just mean that it’s not the right moment. Come back to it. Change it. Offer to sit with them while they do it. Change your approach. Some kids just hate being told what to do and need time to do it (that is their own time). Another approach could be to give them the info and just let them come back to it when they are ready.

Speak to the freakouts

Those 3 am wake ups can be tough. Often there is no one else for you to bounce things off. Use your most rational voice, perhaps a ‘friend’ or alter ego who is wise and calm. What would she say? Speak to your own ‘freak outs’ with wise words like, well they may not be able to read yet, but are they on the right track?

Are they on the right track

Rather than measuring accomplishments, asking yourself, are the heading in the right direction? Making progress is key. Even with progress, there can be stagnant periods where not much happens.

Comments from others can get you down

I have loved Brene Brown’s writing for some years now. Her famous quote,

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not the Jackass whisperer.”

applies perfectly to this topic. Family and friends can be less than supportive of your choices, which can really hurt. That said, it is NOT your job or your purpose to convert them. You don’t have to and you don’t need to. You have decided this for your own family, they make decisions for theirs. Spending precious energy in arguments with well-meaning relatives or friends who are ‘concerned’ is counter-productive. It is also a big fat waste of your time. You know why you are home educating and you didn’t make the decision lightly. You’ve done your research, and you’re happy with your choice. Gathering evidence to make someone else feel comfortable is not your job. If they want evidence, let them find it. No, you are not the Jackass whisperer.

Finding your tribe

Finding your tribe in Home Education is really important. Having a good friend to debrief with, have a laugh, and the kids have a play will keep you sane. Sharing the highs and lows and just having some company can do wonders for your mental state.

Rough day rules

If you’re having a rough day, be kind to yourself and them, if nothing else. If that’s all you can do, it’s more than enough. Calling it and going for a drive, an ice cream, a walk, a box of donuts, is better than fighting.

It doesn’t have to be amazing every day

We want our children to have the best education we can provide. Yes, we want them to have great experiences and adventures but life is not an Instagram picture. What are some of your favorite childhood memories? I wasn’t home educated. Most of my best memories are of everyday things, like baking on a Saturday afternoon while listening to the footy on the radio, eating fish and chips in the car, and being tucked in at night by my dad. In the 70’s we didn’t go to Europe for holidays or Disneyland. Your kids don’t need amazing experiences to be happy. Giving them you is way more important.

Mindfulness. Doing things with intention

Definition:

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Doing things in your day with intention can really help. I also find a mindfulness mediation, often first thing in the morning before I am too awake, is a great way to start the day. I use the free app, Insight timer, for a 12minute timer only meditatation. Funny, these days I often have company out on the veranda. Turns out some of the kids are into it too. The cat often joins us as well.

https://insighttimer.com/

Beware of perfect social media picture

 Pictures of perfect ‘home school rooms’ can leave you feeling pretty inadequate. If creating a beautiful space your thing then go for it, but for us, learning happens anywhere, and our home and the whole world is where it happens. I learned very early on that I did not want to replicate school. What I wanted was a comfortable and functioning environment. Our dining room table and island bench in the kitchen are the scene of craft projects, meals, food preparation, baking, computer viewing, structured academic work like Italian for the older girls, and just simple everyday life. Some days, those are our adventures. I do like big adventures too, where we learn from our environment. We go to regular home school camps and travel as often as we can. Keep it focused on what YOU see as important, not what someone else is doing. Let them inspire you, but remember comparison is the thief of joy.

Count your blessings

 Gratitude combats fear, though combat is maybe not the best word. It disarms fear. When I wake at 3 am with an anxious feeling that quickly turns to “I should be doing this / I should be doing that/ I’m not doing enough of that” I turn to gratitude. I ask myself for “ten things that are good”. It often starts with my comfy bed and coffee almost always gets a mention. Once I have got to the end of the ten things, I have soothed the anxious thoughts.

No one said it would be easy

Not easy, but worth it. Relish the great moments, get through the rough ones and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Reach out to your tribe and take a fun day out when the mood strikes you. Most of all, be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back when you need it, and a big strong coffee when you need it too.

Rachel

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