One Mom’s Story of Homeschool Mom Burnout
Editor’s Note: Today we’re blessed to have Lisa from Rest for the Weary as a guest writer. I’ve heard many moms talk about homeschool mom burnout over the years. While learning how to avoid homeschool burnout is important, hearing Lisa’s personal story of dealing with homeschool burnout is sure to help others.
Lisa’s website is dedicated to helping parents who face homeschool burnout. As a mother of seven, she understands the demands of homeschooling. Lisa shares her balanced view of homeschooling that helps other homeschool parents as they face the decision to send their children to school.
If you’ve got no time to read right now or want to save this article for later, please save it to Pinterest for easy access later.
The Early Years of Homeschooling – How My Homeschool Mom Burnout Began
I began my homeschooling journey in 1995 with my 5- year-old and 3-year-old tagging along. I’d known since college that I would homeschool because I wrote my final research paper on this very subject. The family bonding and the amount of time children had to learn and just be kids fascinated me.
At the beginning of my journey, I homeschooled for social and academic reasons. As I continued on, I discovered another reason I wanted to homeschool – religious reasons, to be able to impart the faith all day to my children.
In the beginning of this season, life was quite blissful. We enjoyed the great outdoors, lots of reading time together, free play including dress up, crafts, and cooking. As they grew, I added in more academic type work with lots of free time afterwards.
As the years wore on, I had five more children. With a large, young family there were several babies, toddlers, and preschoolers thrown in the mix while attempting to homeschool. I had one son with ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and learning problems.
With all of this on my plate, I quickly spun into what I thought at the time was burnout, but after trying all of the usual burnout remedies and not improving, I knew it was something more. I discovered I was actually depressed and suffering anxiety as well.
The Pressures of the Ideal Life
Other causes besides homeschooling fueled my depression and anxiety. Many homeschoolers promote other causes while trying to cure America and society of its ills. We became a quiverfull family, which means we allowed God to plan our family size.
Idealism Leads to Burnout
We also did many things to save money like grow and raise our own food, cook everything from scratch, and use natural remedies while shunning doctors. I also got caught up in the modesty principle and began wearing skirts only. In addition, I strictly controlled my children’s friends, shunned TV and movies, and analyzed every book they read.
All of this led me to crash and burn. It was too much to take on my shoulders. I wanted the perfect family and children. I wanted to help save our country. My ideal homeschool family shattered when my oldest son received an official diagnosed of bipolar when he went into a psychiatric hospital as a teenager. He went on to become a prodigal son, and I found my perfect plan did not guarantee what I hoped it would.
The Transition from Homeschooling to School
Something had to give after I hit bottom. I couldn’t function well enough to meet basic needs for everyone and homeschool, too. I agonized for months over the decision to send my children to school. Although I hated to admit defeat, which really was prideful of me, I finally relented.
In 2011, after sixteen years of homeschooling, I realized my ideal and my reality did not match and that’s why homeschooling wasn’t working. We began [to make changes] by putting our oldest child at home into high school. Two years later we sent three more of our children to school. Finally, this fall (2014), all five of my children living at home are in school.
As you can imagine, this has been an enormous change for my family. The children have adapted well, but I have had more of a problem. This change has been like losing a job. It has been my job for nineteen years.
I have looked pride in the face and realized that I have made homeschooling and my family an idol. It’s painful to realize that I placed my identity in homeschooling.
Following God’s Will
God has stripped me of so much and is making me see my need for Him. I’m slowly realizing that I am not the one in control. Now, I can admit that I have been trying to control all of the results and it comes down to me not trusting Him.
I have come to realize the startling fact that God can protect and take care of my children no matter how they are educated. I have to do my part, but He is about results. He can work grace into any situation. This is how I am slowly making peace with everything.
Caring For Myself So I Can Care For My Children
I also realize that I have to take care of myself so that I can care for my family. You can only pour yourself out so much without needing to replenish. God has let me know this is my time to do this replenishing.
It feels so strange to me not having so much responsibility for my children’s education. However, deep down, I know this is His will for us right now.
I’ve felt like a failure and even had other homeschoolers say that I gave up. This is not helpful at all, but I have to tune out the naysayers, including myself, and listen to Him.
I’m using this time for much needed rest and recreation. I am tending my physical needs, my spiritual needs, and my emotional/mental needs. Also, I’m taking time to nurture my marriage, my relationships with my children, volunteer at their school, and develop some new hobbies. In addition, I have sought the help of a counselor for getting through these feelings of failure and guilt. Counseling has helped me tremendously.
What I Would Change to Avoid Homeschool Mom Burnout
I’ve been a mother long enough to know that if you just wait, something will change. I know that I may never home school again or I might. I am keeping that option open. However, if I do home school again, I will do some things very differently than I did the first time.
More Self Care
First, I’d take much better care of myself – similar to what I am doing now. One neat concept I came across when I was making the decision to send my kids to school was the idea of paying yourself. This basically entails doing things or buying things for yourself as a sort of payment for the work you do as a mother and teacher. Also, I would no longer feel the need to mix causes with homeschooling. I don’t need to save the world. That’s God’s job so I can just choose things to do that I like such as gardening.
More Outside Accountability
In addition, I would have more outside accountability for myself and my children through academic co-ops and enrolling my children in a homeschool correspondence school once they’re in middle school. That way they have someone else to answer to, which motivates my children. Sadly, they perform better for others than for me.
More Support For My Family
And last, I would find more support for myself and my children. During the years I homeschooled, our support included just a few families. My children crave more friends so I think having a co-op and a bigger support group is beneficial. I would also make time for my friends, preferably alone.
Homeschooling Provides No Guarantees
All of this change has made me question things a lot. I know I have been a bit of a control freak, trying to make the perfect life for my children. I’ve realized there are no guarantees and no perfect solutions. All educational choices have their pros and cons. I have seen God provide for my family, even without me being the main educator. He will work in my children’s lives no matter where they’re educated, and school can provide many good opportunities for them.